One of the biggest drawbacks of Fair Isle and other stranded colourwork is the long floats that form at the wrong side of the project. These floats not only catch our rings and even fingers, but also affect the tension and the elasticity of the fabric.
To cope with these side effects, we tend to choose colour patterns with smaller space between sections worked in different colours, and use needles in a bigger size to compensate for the difference in gauge.
We can avoid these measures if we use a clever trick known as Armenian knitting. This method allows us to add any motifs and colour patterns to our projects, even the big motifs that we would normally make using intarsia.
This approach became well-known thanks to the iconic “Bowknot Sweater” by Elsa Schiaparelli. According to the legend, the sweater was knitted by an Armenian lady who used this method to add a bow motif right underneath the neckline of this sweater. That’s how this method got its name – Armenian.
We would never know whether this technique originated in Armenia or not. Considering that a similar approach is used in making famous Cowichan sweaters, it is more likely that this ingenious trick came to knitters in different parts of the world as a logical common-sense solution.
In this tutorial, we’ll see how it works.
Aside from adding motifs to our knits, this method has other applications – we can use it to make the fabric thicker for added warmth, or to decorate the fabric with tiny specks of a different colour.
If you are after this decorative effect, use the needles that are a few sizes larger than the size recommended for the yarn, and work the five steps described in this tutorial in every row or round twisting the yarn in the main colour with a strand in a contrasting colour. Then block the fabric to open the stitches of the main fabric letting the specs of the contrasting colour to show through.
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If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.
Dealing with Unfinished Projects
Dictionary of Knitting Symbols and Abbreviations – E-Book
Eastern (Russian) Knitting Simplified
How to Shape Neckline Without Binding Off Stitches – E-Book