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.
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.