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Are you feeling the intarsi-love? I simply can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s endlessly pleasing to choose the next set of colors on my Watercolor Cowl, and I’m deep in the rhythm of those motifs. 

Today I’ve got a couple of tips to help you to manage more complex shapes in intarsia. First up is diagonal color changes …

The Key to Diagonals

Diagonal color changes are really common in intarsia motifs, and I’m not even sure how, but I got myself into a muddle the first time I did one. I was trying to put the old yarn over the new yarn, and just made a mess of things.

The key thing to remember is that the intarsia join movement is exactly the same. You move the old yarn out of the way in the anti-clockwise direction, and pick up the new yarn in the same anti-clockwise direction. If you are over thinking things (as I am wont to do) you may spot that this puts the new yarn on top of the old yarn at the join. Just roll with it—you’re doing it correctly!

Here’s a video to show you how it looks on both right and wrong side rows (you can scroll along to the part you are interested in, as the video is separated into chapters with headings over on YouTube):

No Tangle Tango

Now that you’ve got the hang of both vertical and diagonal color changes, let’s tackle a color change that happens a little distance from where it did on the last row. This tip is going to get a lot of use if you are a fan of intarsia picture knitting! 

For example, working on the Watercolor Cowl by Kaffe Fassett, once per motif, the yarn isn’t where I need it!

The trick is to carry the yarn behind the next color, so that you can drop it where it’s required for the next row. It might sound complicated, but it’s a piece of cake to do. The video below shows you how to spot that your yarn won’t end up naturally in the right place for the next row, and how to “move it” so that it does.

Now that you can snake your yarn along to plonk it down wherever you need it, the world is your oyster! You can create any shape you like. Go! Spread the intarsi-joy far and wide, and share your progress in The Lounge. I’d love to see what you’re working on.

Jen’s Watercolor Cowl

Background shades: Rowan Felted Tweed in Celadon and Pine—the pattern calls for one of each.

Contrast colors: Rowan Felted Tweed in Carbon, Ginger, Amethyst, Avocado, Gilt, Watery, Camel, Maritime, Frozen, Iris, Vaseline Green, Zinnia, Barbara, Turquoise, Clay—the pattern calls for one each of fourteen contrast colors, but Jen’s thrown in another for more play in her palette.

[Editor’s Note: Our Bundles of Ten would also work wonderfully for the Watercolor Cowl.]

This Could Come in Handy

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

We think Jen Arnall-Culliford is flat-out brilliant. Jen is one of the knitting world’s superb technical editors and teachers, and the star of the tutorial videos.

Cheerful. Cool headed. Supersmart. To take lessons from Jen ups our knitting game, every time.


  • This is SO helpful but I can’t find the save symbol to let me keep it.

    • Hey Sally, are you logged into your account? If you are, then the bookmark button is on the right just under the very top picture. Happy knitting!

  • I want to join the ZOOM today. Where is the link?

    • Found it Sally. It’s in Saturday’s Snippets post!

      • Although I had actually worked all this out for myself it is really reassuring and helpful to have these clear videos. I have book marked it as I am beginning to teach my husband how to knit! He say “if you can’t beat her…..!”

    • I’m also looking for the zoom link for today’s talk!

  • I’m unsubscribing from MDK. I’ve given this a lot of thought since your post on January 7th. You certainly have the right to say whatever you wish on your site, but I was not here for political commentary. I can find that and get that on other sites. I was here to see and hear about knitting and other non political topics.

    • Everyone has a different view of events. If you are going to politicize MDK remember that we don’t all watch the same news channel. CNN, MSNBC will say something different than NEWSMAX or even FOX. Different viewpoints for different politics. The news channels put different “spins” on the news, not report just the facts.

      You weren’t at the Capitol. You watched it on TV. Stick to what you KNOW, which is knitting and knitting supplies and leave current events to those who have the facts.

      • Kip, MDK isn’t your personal site, it’s Ann and Kay’s. They get to decide what they talk about, which has pretty clearly always been about more than knitting & knitting supplies. If you don’t enjoy what you read here, then your solution is to go elsewhere—but to try to dictate to Ann and Kay what to say or not say is arrogant, to say the least.

    • Cheryl, sometimes events are just too overwhelming not to talk about and will occasionally be more important, just for that moment, than knitting.

      • Absolutely. I understand wanting knitting to be a haven but that would be your own knitting. In a public forum I believe it would be irresponsible if not ridiculous not to at least mention that our government was under siege.

      • I was a bit surprised at it also but I think it was okay to mention. It was quite an overwhelming event that took place. I agree with you Nancy. We are all so very blessed to have such a creative aversion to all events of 2020.

  • Great videos, Jen. Very helpful. Thanks.

  • Could someone repost the link from Saturday’s snippets. Deleted it. The one for today’s event. Thanks!

    • It’s also in today’s email – we can’t see it; it’s just a hyperlink for me.

  • Thanks for sharing the different colors “background”. It makes such a difference in the look of the piece. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine. Great article, as always.

  • This forum usually does not discuss political events and doesn’t post most close to all commentary but the attack on the Capital disturbed many of us and I agree with Kay and Anne some recognition of the act was required. The name of the game now is tolerance, compromise, and kindness for all people including those who have a difference of opinion from our own. Nothing is accomplished through dis-information and violence. Knitting should bring us together, which this forum does but like 911 some Acts require acknowledgement.

  • Thank you for this very clear tutorial. I haven’t done any color work yet but this makes it much less scary. I’m now excited to try when I find the right pattern for me. I’m considering making something up based on the cityscapes pattern for a pillow, we’ll see.

  • The tutorial was very helpful but I hope that most people will notice eventually that this technique is much faster when one just holds the yarn in the other hand and brings the yarn forward of the needle instead of dropping the yarn and making the motion that much slower/bigger. I kept hoping she would show that.

    • Agree! The best thing I ever learned as a knitter was how to carry yarn as in Continental style knitting with my left hand and English with my right when making a beautiful Fair Isle sweater years ago. Now I knit Continental always except when doing two colors.
      I also notice she is using lengths for the main colors instead of carrying floats. Guess I will go that route when I start my cowl. (Yarn arrived yesterday, yay!)

  • I’m dying to jump into the Intarsia after denying myself for several weeks!
    Any idea when the bundles will be in stock? What’s my alternative to finding them, my LYS?

  • This is a very timely tutorial! I started a temperature wrap this year, but am not liking the pattern. So I’ve decided to use a smaller-scale version of this intarsia motif to mark out the day’s high & low, with the little square to indicate if it’s sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc. I’ve been playing around with a swatch and have not been entirely happy with how the diagonal line looks, but this tutorial should I think help. Off to swatch again!

  • Is anyone in the Zoom meeting successfully? All I see is that “the host has another meeting in progress”.
    It’s past 4 and I fear I’m missing out.

    • I’ve been having the same problem I’ll

    • I’m seeing the same thing you are. FOMO!!

    • I am having the same issue!

      • I’ve logged out and logged back in to a different Zoom account and same issue. Maybe the “room” is full :(.

  • I can’t get into the Zoom. It says the leader has another meeting in progress. Is the meeting full? Drats!

    • try the link in the banner at

  • I’m so sad that I was unable to join the Kaffe-along. When I clicked the above link I got a message “The host has another message in session.”
    Nevertheless, you have stirred my interest in intarsia and I am interested in trying a project from Field Guide No. 16.

  • I can’t get Zoom to cooperate either, must be them, not us, darn!

    • It’s definitely “them” not “us”

  • Help I cannot get in!

  • KEEP TRYING! It took me a few tries to get in but it finally worked. Darn zoom.

  • I had the same problem trying to get in. Use the link in the banner at the top of the post, not the link in the italics.

    Come on in, the water’s fine!

  • Unable to get into Zoom meeting. Having same issue as other comments above. Does that mean there is limited space available?.

  • As Amy wrote, it works at, there’s a banner at the top with another link

  • Try to join the zoom meeting but unable to do so. I tried the links a few times. What am I doing wrong?

  • The above indicates 4 PM CST time which is 2 PM PST time but it continues to show that the owner is in another zoom meeting was there a change?

  • I have not been able to join your zoom group using the link provided. Help!

  • The Zoom was so encouraging. Please continue to do them. Just listening to you chat and share others questions was so nice. There is a wonderful community out there of like-minded makers/artists/creators with so much to share. We desperately need this wonderful connection. Thank you so much!!!

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