Sliding Loop Technique

Have you ever wished you could rip back just one section of an intarsia project? Well then, I have a nifty trick for you!

After knitting most of the back of the Lucy design, I decided I didn’t like my colour choices.  I wanted to swap out the turquoise for a rich bright pink.  Instead of ripping all the way back (the cast-on edge also needed to be changed), I decided to try a little experiment. I replaced just the turquoise block of colour without ripping out any of the other knitting.

Intarsia project with the purple half on the needle and the turquoise half with needle removed.

Quite some time back I read about Rick Mondragon’s sliding loop technique as an alternative to working intarsia.  I was sure the technique could also be used to replace an intarsia section of colour just like this.  I was able to track down the article in Great Knits edited by Threads. The technique was also published in Knitter’s.

Unravel Unwanted Colour

Ripping out the offending turquoise really helped me see where to insert the needle when I try out the new technique. It will become clear a few steps from now and you may want to scroll back up to take a closer look at these photos.

Ripping back the turquoise colour block while the purple block remains on the knitting needle. Yarn pulled taught to show where it joins to purple block.

Ripping back turquoise colour block with purple colour block remaining on knitting needle.

With all the turquoise gone, notice how the edge of the purple is just a simple stocking stitch edge – no special edge treatment like a slipped st or a garter st edging.  This is key.

Intarsia project with large colour block removed and knitting needles on two different rows several inches apart.

Step 1

Join new colour and knit across the row towards the block of knitting to which you’ll be joining.

Step 2

Reworking and intarsia colour block with right needle pointing towards selvedge loop where it will be joined.

Right needle in selvedge loop, ready to pick up and knit.

With right side facing, find the little twisted st on the edge that sort of looks like a little knot and slip the needle into it.  This is where studying the path of the yarn when I frogged it earlier came in handy.

Step 3

Fingers enlarging a stitch so it's becoming a large loop of yarn.

Pull a loop of yarn through and enlarge it.  This is the sliding loop and becomes the working yarn for the wrong side row and then the following right side row.

Step 4

With wrong side showing, fingers holding up a large loop of yarn being used to purl a new row.

Turn the work and with wrong side facing, start purling back using the big loop of yarn as your working yarn.

Step 5

With right side showing and ready to work a right side row, you can see the loop of yarn that's attached to the left selvedge edge.

The next row, a right side row is worked still using the big loop of yarn that was pulled through the purple edge.

Step 6

With right side showing, right side row is complete and an arrow indicates the direction to pull the yarn to tighten up the slack on the large loop.

When you get to the end of the right side row, pull on the working yarn until the loop disappears.  Repeat from Step 2, pulling a new loop out of the next “knot” on the purple edge.

Intarsia project on the needles showing that the colour block on the right has been replaced with pink yarn.

Et voila, the pink has replaced the turquoise.  I’ll be using this trick again, I’m sure!

Back of Lucy cardigan with intarsia blocks of colour and self-patterning yarn.

Next time I’ll show you how to get rid of the bottom 6 rows and replace them with another colour.