Objective: To knit a black hat in the round with a four letter word in blue on the front.
Is Intarsia the proper technique to tackle this problem? NO... most obviously because the contrast color yarn would wind up on the wrong edge of the design after one round.
How could we employ two color knitting with floats without making the full circle with our contrast color?
I devised a strategy which uses my ambidextrous knitting technique and three strands of yarn.
This process is a little like rubbing your belly and patting your head while walking and chewing gum. No one element is that difficult- but together they may make quite a muddle. Thankfully it's not important to do all aspects at the same time and if you break it down there are specific events occurring all around the circle of your needles (making the long stretch of no design a little more interesting to knit even!)
First- a person really needs to know how to knit in both directions- we won't be flipping back and forth in and out and purling inside our tube of work. If someone would like to translate this ambidextrous technique for the purlers- please be my guest. But for today- we knit in both directions. Oh- and before I forget- I made this up- but that's not so say that it hasn't been done before- if you have seen this method elsewhere- I'd love to see how it's presented!
The Action of Knitting
We are going to pick a point in our unpatterned stockinette to have our "seam" now this seam will be virtually invisible, perhaps a slight stiffening of the material and minute distortion of the stitches- so if you are doing this on a sweater knit in the round- I'd put the seam on the side not down the middle of the back. It's not important where the seam is- just make it somewhere away from your pattern zone. Mark this point with a stitch marker.
Now here is the tricky part - at that seam marker- Say you are approaching the marker from the right side with the gray yarn... when you get to the marker- pick up the red yarn in your other hand- hold both strands good and tight as you knit the first couple of stitches because they will want to loosen up- but you change direction and begin knitting with red- backwards. This will bounce you back toward your design and you will find your contrast color waiting there for you where you left it- ready to be knit backwards across the design with floats. When your red yarn has made an almost full circle and you are now approaching your marker from the left- you pick up the gray yarn- hold tight- and reverse direction- knitting with gray now.
When you knit past your design- it's pretty self explanatory- your contrast yarn can go back and forth- almost as if you were knitting flat- while your background colors will interlace row by row and produce the background field (come to think of it- it might even be fun to do this with two colors of background yarn!) The only tricky thing I can think to add is that you should carry a small float past the end edge of your design (I've been going 3 stitches past the end) and then twist the contrast color around the working yarn to hold it in place for when it doubles back. If you don't float past your design- the design will not be motivated to spread out wide and might just crunch up on it's supporting floats- by tacking the contrast yarn out into the stability of the stockinette it's going to work out better - but it will produce a slightly quilted effect when put under heavy tension. You will also (this will make sense when you do it) need to twist the contrast yarn so that it goes smoothly upward toward the next row it will be worked in.