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Technique Number 2: Intarsia


Yes, that all looks right.
The first time you work through row 97 you start the row with K3, slmx, M1R, knit to y-marker. When you come through row 97 again (when it’s row 115) it will be Knit to y-marker as row 115 isn’t an increase row.

The body shawl increases are always worked in yarn A as M1R.
There are other M1R’s, but they are in the shift rows like row 101, where you work a decrease in yarn A and then a M1R in yarn B.

The shift rows are written out, but there are times when you need to add a shawl body increase to a shift row. In which case you do it in exactly the same way. So row 95 the first time through is not an increase, so replace “Work with yarn A” with “Knit with yarn A” since there is no increase. The second time you work row 95 (when it is row 113) it will be an increase row, so replace “Work with yarn A” with “Using yarn A, k3, slmy, M1R, knit to…”

Hope that helps! Jen


I would, but I think it is going to be lovely finished. I was so excited to try intarsia but this has made me realize it is not my cup of tea. I will stick with fair isle for color. But that is what this whole process of learning is about!


Hello Jen,

You are a miracle worker. I totally see how this work now.

You definitely have the knack to help people out with knitting issues. I had a hard time figuring out how to express my being lost.

I hope you don’t mind that you will be my “go to” person for my journey this year.

Thank you so much.




Woo hoo!! I have finished knitting Brambling Shawl and I am soooooo pleased with it, beautiful. Now I can cast on Alex guilt free. :relieved:


That’s great! Enjoy your mousy adventures


It’s my pleasure! I love that moment when someone “gets it”. It’s one of the things I miss from when I was a chemistry teacher, so it’s lovely to be able to enable knitters these days. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


Yay! Congratulations. :sunny:
Have fun with Alex, won’t you? :mouse:


Hi Jen,

I am just thrilled to have someone to give me some help when I stumble this year.

I like the idea of this year of knitting to expand my abilities. Up until now, I stayed in my knitting comfort zone.

Your teaching years aren’t over!!



Thank you for your great videos, I am going to look for another intarsia to reinforce the learning. My Brambling Shawl will be a Mothers Day gift for my lovely stepmother.


I’m a month late on Technique 2. I made it through section 4 with the right number of stitches. Now at Row 137 I can’t figure out how to do a M1R when the next stitch is in Color B. The only strand between stitches here is a color B strand from the ITy in the previous row. Does a backward loop cast-on work here or is there a better solution? Thank you.


Hi there!
From memory, I don’t think it matters hugely which colour thread you pick up at this point, since you’re on the boundary between the two anyway, and the loop picked up kind of melds into the stitch below. So I think you should be grand either way. A backwards loop would be fine too I’m sure. :slight_smile: Hope that helps! Jen


Thank you so much, Jen. I am enjoying this pattern very much.


I finished! You were right Ann, the second part went much faster. I did feel like I got the hang of it. If it was’t for the deadline of getting to the next project, I probably wouldn’t have felt so bogged down. It was a good knit and I love the yarn.


You know I wasn’t going to write anything about how angry I got with this pattern, but reading this tipped me over. Look, the instructions are 8 pages long, and if it ended up 15 pages but clear I think every single one of us would have thanked you. Instead I have a shawl that I hate,. Yes I no longer fear intarsia, but I dread ever seeing your instructions ever again. I literally lost my mind trying to figure out when your instructions meant I was supposed to do something or not. And then when to figure out how many stitches of anything I was supposed to have made me even crazier. To anyone else who had a horrible time with this, don’t blame yourself, blame the instructions. When basic math doesn’t compute, then it’s not your fault.


Wow, you were extremely frustrated by how this pattern was written. It is discouraging to not understand something and can make you want to scream!
Some people seemed to not have problems, others had varying degrees of being confused/frustrated.
I look at knitting instructions as a kind of language, so a pattern can be seen as similar to a novel. Some people love certain authors, while others can’t stand to read them.
one of the things I like about knitting is that you learn something new all the time. From this project you learned
1- how to do intarsia
2- you do not like this designer and will avoid her patterns.
3- hopefully in the future you will be able to read through a pattern beforehand and if it’s similar to this one, you can see the similarity and say "no way! I do not want to use this!"
Thanks for honestly sharing your frustration. We’ve all had projects that (for various reasons) we’ve wanted to throw out the window and never look at/think of again.


Hi PurlMeToo! I’m so sorry this pattern was so frustrating. Our Number One Rule is that knitting is supposed to be fun. This was a challenging pattern for me, too. It has, however, given me the chance to think about how knitting patterns work–how they communicate the steps needed. I kept craving a chart of some kind that would show the various increases and color shifts. There’s no complex knitting required at any point–no elaborate cables or lace or whatever–but there were constantly shifting increases, decreases, and shifts in color. And I’m visually oriented, so a chart would have let me see where I needed to do the next special stitch. Of course, the pattern is 600 rows long, so a 600-row chart is possibly cumbersome to create. But a six-page chart with 100 rows per page would still be only 6 pages long. Hmm.

I will say that the next Year of Techniques pattern, launching June 1, is going to be really beautiful and fun to make. I hope you’ll give it a try. Thank you for taking the time to tell us your thoughts–it helps us to hear about your experience.


Hi, PurlMeToo–I’m right there with you. I didn’t get beyond 100 rows of the shawl because of my inability to make friends with the pattern.

Melissa_J, you’re exactly right, I don’t fear intarsia anymore and I will be extra careful to read through a pattern before I leap.

JenACKnitwear, thank you for trying to help me make my way through. Your patient instructions and links to other knitters’ solutions to my problem made me think for a few minutes that I could knit on through all frustration but I just couldn’t.

But I’m very disappointed that the pattern included in AYOT to teach intarsia changed on every row, never giving a newbie a breather. I loved the Hempathy yarn I chose and the colors, probably should have used a bigger needle, but the pattern just flayed me. Maybe when I’m not so peeved about it and my life smooths out a bit I’ll frog what I have and take another stab at it. Maybe if I up my Xanax…


Hi PurlMeToo and @bookie1510

I am really sorry that you were so disappointed and frustrated with your experience of knitting the Brambling Shawl.

When we commissioned the designs for A Year of Techniques we were aiming for patterns that would be interesting to knit, as well as teaching (or revising) new techniques. We were aiming for an intermediate level of demand (although I’m always aware that how difficult a design is for an individual knitter is a very subjective thing and depends on that knitter’s individual experience). We were aiming to teach intarsia in an interesting way.

I am very aware that a number of people found following the Brambling pattern challenging to different degrees. But it is also true that lots of people found it straightforward. I’m afraid that it was one of those designs that in the UK we would describe as “Marmite-y” - love or hate and not much in between. That’s something that is incredibly difficult to predict in advance. Indeed it’s the first time in my tech editing career that this has been an issue.

As a publisher we have to balance the different demands of space within the book, accessibility (digital vs print), cost and all sorts of different factors. And on this occasion providing the written pattern only was the choice we made. Writing all of the sections out in full sadly wasn’t an option due to the constraints of length - the book can’t be an unlimited number of pages long. Bristol and I both worked hard on the best way to present the pattern, and the design was also test knitted with no difficulty.

Please be assured that Brambling is the only design in the collection to have posed this pattern writing/reading challenge.

If you are aware of any mathematical errors within the pattern, I would be very grateful to know about them so that they can be checked and if necessary corrected. At this point in time, none have been brought to my attention.

If you would like any further information, or to discuss it further, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our website:
Best wishes,


Hi Jen,
Thank you so much for talking to me directly. I really wasn’t going to mention how this pattern baffled me (and I consider myself an intermediate knitter, and literally have never encountered this much angst). I do read a pattern ahead of time, and after reading through a couple of times I thought I understood what was happening. The problems were numerous, with unclear instructions when I was supposed to believe was to decrease, and at what point was the overall total number of stitches on the needles and what were just the overall decreases. And then there was the basic math - there were several times where the math simply didn’t work. I honestly don’t want to go back and figure out where the errors are, and frankly I just may take a photo of what I ended up with, based on how I interpreted the instructions.
Now I will say I have never before tried to learn Intarsia (you hear so many scary things), and I certainly will try that again. I have never knitted with such fine yarn, nor a shawl, and I will certainly try those again. I have never come up against such a problem with instructions, and I think the lessons I will take from this is to either reach out for more help than scanning what everyone was saying, and/or quit sooner. I think I was so excited to try a project with a group, and a deadline I pushed through when I should have realized me and this pattern were never going to be friends. Thing is I’ve knit so many other things, and have learnt enough work-arounds, I really thought we could come together.
Did it make me decide not to continue with AYOT, heck no. I’m looking forward to June 1st, and have my bag of summer yarns sitting beside the couch so I can keep peeking at their lovely colours and textures.
Out of curiosity, was the pattern test knitted by you, the tech editor? See I think by the time you knit it, you understood it.
Thanks again Jen.
PS. Ok, I went back to my scribbles and notes, and found a few places of bad math: a) Rows 21-56: Rep rows 17-20 a further 9 times (56-21=35, 35/9=3.89) so instructions for 35 rows, but (9x4=36) covers 36 rows. Which is correct? ; b) Rows 169-204: Rep rows 157-168 a further 3 times (168-157=11, 11x3=33, 204-169=35. So instructions for 33 rows, but this covers 35. So which is correct, stop after the 33 rows or 35 rows? ; c) Rows 209-232 & Rows 237-300, same problem. Now this may sound silly if your number of stitches of each colour, and the total number of stitches is correct, but because I couldn’t figure out when to trust what was written down or what I’m beginning to think is to follow the other instructions of when to decrease whatever color overall (the overarching comments of decrease yarn A every x rows, and ignore the instructions of the repeated rows). You see I blended the two, not knowing which took precedence. Thus I either ran out stitches for various yarns, or had too many stiches of another colour. Yes, I will take a photo so you can see what I ended up doing. That might help you in the future.
Wow, I didn’t mean for this to turn into full analysis /confession, but I’m doing this for future knitters. Hope this helps.


Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I really appreciate it, and particularly the notes on the row numbers. I’m on a train away for the weekend, so I’ll check the pattern properly on Tuesday when I’m back at my desk, and make any necessary update, and let you know.

No, it wasn’t me that test knitted. I know that wouldn’t be a good check. :slight_smile: I asked a friend from my knitting group who isn’t very confident and often struggles with what written instructions mean. I purposefully asked someone I thought would find it hard. But she didn’t. I think this pattern divides people in a way that’s hard to explain. It is something to do with pattern recognition I think. And as I said, it’s not a difficulty I’ve come across before, and I’ve certainly learnt from it. I’m always looking to improve. :slight_smile:

I’m really happy that you’re looking forward to the coming patterns - so many beauties still to come! And please don’t hesitate to post here or over on Ravelry, or contact us via our website if I can help with anything. We’re here to help. :slight_smile:
All good wishes,