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With this step-by-step tutorial, I’ll  demonstrate how the Picket Fence Afghan, a project that looks rather un-ease worthy in the photographs, is actually exactly right at home among the lazy summer knits in MDK Field Guide No. 7.

Because many knitters are visual learners, there will be pictures. And as always with knitting tutorials, everything makes the most sense when you have your own needles in your hands. Cast on and follow along.

This particular take on intarsia—a move that I call the “slip and flip”—sounds far more complicated than it is on your actual needles. Once you work a stripe or two, you’ll probably have a little light bulb moment and proceed on your own.

Here We Go!

Begin with the cast-on and knit the first stripe (a full-width, non-intarsia stripe) using C1. End with a WS row, with the yarn at the right edge of the RS of the fabric.

Note that for the purposes of demonstration, I’ve worked a miniature version of the Picket Fence block, knitting only 3 garter rows for each stripe. It’s the same technique as the full-sized square, but I sped things up to catch the one hour of perfect afternoon light for photographs on my screen porch.

New Stripe!

Still using C1, knit the stated number of stitches. Leave the C1 yarn there, right in the middle of the row.

Now slip the remaining stitches in the row without working them. See where the arrow is pointing?

There’s your C1 waiting for you to come back.

In the following pictures, always note where the yarns are coming from in the work, either at the edge or from the middle of the row. This will give you a clue about where you are in working the stripe, in case you ever have to put your knitting down. (Who among us hasn’t had to do that?)

Turn your work to the WS, and introduce C2, using it to work the unworked stitches in the row (the ones you slipped). To keep the garter stitch consistent, you will be working C2 in purl, all the way back to your waiting first yarn. Trust me on this.

Perform an intarsia join, so that the “new” yarn (C1) comes up from underneath the yarn you have been working with (C2), making a twist that looks like the middle of a Bavarian pretzel.

Drop C2, and with C1, knit the remaining stitches in the WS row. On the WS, it will look like this at the end of Row 2 in the pattern:

A note on that spot where the yarns meet on this and each following stripe: some knitters get a small gap there. My recommendation is to make sure the neighboring stitches are snug, and you’ll avoid that problem altogether. (And remember that with Rowan Denim, the shrinking in the wash is going to smooth out a lot of things in the end.)

Turn your work to the RS again, knit with C1 to the join, twist the two yarns, and purl with C2 to the end of Row 3.

Follow the instructions for how many rows to work until you complete the final WS row of this stripe, leaving your C2 in the middle of the row, and your C1 at the right edge with the RS facing.

The pattern says to slip all C2 stitches on the WS to where C2 is waiting, but I took the shortest route to the waiting yarn this time, by slipping the C1 stitches instead. (Someone didn’t even read the instructions she was illustrating).

(Instead, with the RS facing, I slipped all the C1 stitches until I got to the mid-row spot where C2 was waiting. You do you, as long as you get to C2.)

Now purl the C2 stitches to the end of the row. This will leave each yarn waiting at its respective edge.

The stripe is now complete!

Next Up: New Stripe!

Using  C1, on the RS, knit the specified number of stitches . . .

Leave C1 there and slip the remaining stitches in the row (they are in C2) without working.

Turn to the WS, purl with C2 to the join, twist the yarns, and knit with C1 to the end of the row.

Finish the stripe by working back and forth just like you did for the previous stripe, always knitting with C1 and purling with C2, and leaving C1 and C2 at their edges when complete.

Next Up: New Stripe!

On the wrong side (yes, there is a typo in the printed pattern, which says RS), purl with C2 the required number of stitches.

Leave C2 waiting, and slip the remaining stitches in the row (which are in C1).

Flip to the RS, knit with C1 to the join, twist, and complete the row by purling with C2.

From now on, it’s just a repeat of this now-familiar sequence, always knitting in C1 and purling in C2 and doing a bit of slipping and flipping to get both yarns to the ends of the piece. At the end, you finish with a full-width C2 stripe and bind off.

Extra-secret wizard tip: if you tire of purling, you can cheat that last full width stripe by (horrors) cutting your yarn and re-attaching it to the right edge on the RS and knitting the rest of the way, but that would mean two extra ends to weave in, so it’s up to you to choose which task you prefer: purling 12 rows or weaving in two extra ends.


Editor’s note: Looking for more slip-and-flip intarsia? Check out Metronome, the stunning shawl pattern that set Julia off on this adventure. Also, keep an eye on Julia’s Instagram, where she’ll be knitting a rectangular wrap version of the Picket Fence Afghan all summer, as part of the MDK Ease-along.  

This Could Come in Handy

If you’re postponing your date with the slip-and-flip, it would be nice to be able to find this tutorial when you’re ready. Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

As a blogger, writer, teacher, lecturer, designer, and catalyst in the knitting world, Julia Farwell-Clay has for the past ten years dug herself ever deeper into the world of textile traditions and personal decoration. She is the designer of all of the patterns in Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 7: Ease, and  has been published as both a writer and a designer in Knitty, Interweave Knits, PomPom Quarterly, and Twist Collective, among others.

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  • Thank you for the fabulous tutorial. I have the yarn, book marked the article, and am ready to go….after I finish a summer top and a sweater for my grandson. Looks like I will be easing into winter.

  • Thanks for the wonderful visuals Julia – this is such a tidy way to do intarsia stripes!

  • I am very interested to try the Metronome scarf.
    Thanks for the tutorial – very helpful.

  • Thank you! I was fretting unnecessarily over the gaps at the intersection, and you set my mind at ease.

  • Such a great tutorial Julia! I have saved it and we’ll be using it soon.

  • Thank you so much for this great tutorial. It just makes things so clear when you can “see” what you are reading.

  • Thanks so much!! The visuals really help me. I’m still a beginner but am getting quite brave these days. Think I will start with a mini-version and use it as a dishcloth.

  • This looks like my kind of fiddling around (very ingenious) and would help me to incise into my memory the correct way to twist the yarn for color changes. Summertime is my busy time as I am at the age which I am starting to call Early Elderly and need heat to get my brain and body going. But your wonderful tutorial helped me grasp enough of the concept that I too (shivering at the very thought of August) want to ease into winter with Field Guide No. 7.

  • Oh my goodness, what I thought was impossible, I now understand! LOL I guess I am a visual learner. Thanks so much for the pictures. I am excited to make this in a few months! Too many other projects now.

  • I am still as confused as I was when I read the pattern. I’m good up until the end of the C2 stripe, where you differed from what the pattern says to do. You stated on the RS, slip the C1 stitches to pick up the C2 and perl to end so now each color yarn is at the end of the row. That makes sense, but for the new stripe on the next row, you say to be on the RS again, but starting with C1. How did you get there without slipping all stitches or completing a WS in there? The pattern also loses me here. Can you please clarify this for me?

    • If you are working on a circular needle you just slide to the end where the C1 is and start knitting there.

      Does that make sense?

      • So you just work 2 RS rows in sequence skipping the WS one? Think that makes sense now. It’s right where I left off so I’ll try it – thanks!

        • It worked beautifully, thanks! I finally got it thanks to your visuals and wonderful write up.

  • I can’t wait to start this blanket (says the woman who, until last winter’s log along swore she would never knit a blanket). Except I ‘accidentally’ keep buying other yarns with my yarn fund. I need an intervention!

  • Julia is *brilliant.* I love this pattern, and this technique! Thanks JFC!

  • Hmmmm….. I think I can do this, as long as I don’t call it intarsia!

    • We don’t call it intarsia.

  • Instead of cutting the yarn, how about knitting backwards?

    • I hate to purl. It is tough on my arthritic fingers. Is there any way to do this pattern with only Knitting?

  • Having made the Metronome Shawl, after Kay wrote about it, I can attest to the cleverness of this technique! The best advice I have is just to pick up your needles and do it – then it will make sense. Thinking about this blanket as a great winter project…

  • Wow thanks so much for the save link!

  • Succinct, not a wasted word. Brilliant technique.
    Thank you so very much for the tutorial. I am off to knit now.
    Have a great day… KNITTING!

  • Where did you buy this gorgeous yarn?

  • Life saving tutorial

  • This tutorial clears it all up ! Thank you so much !

  • A video would be much easier to understand. I can’t follow your written instructions.

  • In the tutorial it states: “On the wrong side (yes, there is a typo in the printed pattern, which says RS), purl with C2 the required number of stitches.”

    Has this typo been corrected?

  • Well I am
    Sooo glad I just searched all your articles on the Afghan pattern because that typo saying RS instead of WS had me stumped!!! Perhaps you could put this fact in a more prominent place somewhere here?? Like at the beginning of all your posts about this pattern? Because I’m sure I’m not the only person who was thrown off by this mistake in the pattern… thanks. Just a suggestion.

  • I was wondering…I purl so much more loosely than I knit. The B color stitches look 5x larger than the regular color a garter rows. Would it be possible to knit this pattern/technique with 2 different sized double pointed needles? So I could purl with a smaller needle? Or 2 different sized circulars? Or will it all come out in the “wash…”

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