Adorable Ewe – Part 2

With the simple sleeves complete, we bring our attention to the attention-getting back of the sweater.  This adorably textured sheep is knit with Japanese bobbles using the Intarsia method.

Intarsia – See Intarsia video

Intarsia is a technique used to create separate areas of color, or “pictures”, within a knitted fabric enabling multiple colors to be worked across a row. Most Intarsia is worked from a chart to clearly illustrate the motif and is commonly knit in the stockinette stitch.   Each area of color is worked from its own individual ball of yarn that is held to the wrong side of the work until needed.

Because each section of color across the row is worked from its own skein, there is no strand of yarn connecting one color to the next. This missing running thread will cause a hole in the work unless special precautions are taken. To prevent a hole when transitioning from one color to the next, the yarns must be interlocked at each color change. The interlock links the two colors together for a gap-free transition. When viewed from the wrong side, the interlocks appear as a tidy line of stitching outlining the motif.

Joining a New Color

In Intarsia, new color areas are added mid-row making it necessary to both join and interlock the new color at the point of introduction.

Begin by working the required number of stitches until a new color is indicated. Drop the old color to the wrong side of the work. Leaving a 6” tail of the new color, work the next stitch in the new color and then drop this yarn to the wrong side. Pick up the old color and bring it over the new color keeping it secured with the left hand. With your right hand, pick up the new color from under the old color and work the next stitch with the new yarn. The new yarn is now joined and interlocked to your knitting – the old yarn may be dropped to the wrong side. Continue knitting with the new color until another color change is indicated. Repeat the above process with each initial join of a new color.

Interlocking a New Color After the Initial Join

After a color is initially joined to the work, it must be interlocked in subsequent rows at each color change. Follow the chart to the color change and drop the old color to the wrong side of the work securing the old color yarn to the left and over the new color. Bring the new color yarn up and over the old color as you work the next stitch. The new color is now interlocked and the old color may be dropped.

Pay close attention to the tension of the stitches adjacent to the interlock. When executing the interlock, strive to work the stitches with the same tension found throughout the fabric. Yarn held too tightly will cause a stitch to disappear into the knitting. Loosely held yarn yields a larger, wonky stitch. After working the stitch following the interlock, take a moment to assess its size and make any necessary adjustments to maintain an even tension.

Managing the Yarn

Juggling multiple skeins of yarn can be a tricky business! To minimize tangling, line up the individual skeins of yarn in the order they will be used across the first row from right to left. As you work across the row and interlock the colors, the yarns will become twisted – resist the urge to untangle. Turn your work clockwise to the Wrong Side. On the next row, as you interlock at the color changes the yarns will untwist themselves. Lastly, turn the work counterclockwise to return to the Right Side. Voila – no tangles!

Japanese Bobbles

The charm of our sheep is found in the simple to work three-stitch Japanese bobble.  Bobbles are found in knitting patterns worldwide following many different formulas. The dainty Japanese-style bobble uses an economy of stitches to yield a tidy ball. To begin, one stitch is increased to three stitches then purled on the wrong side. Lastly, a Central Double Decrease completes the bobble on the right side – slip two stitches together knitways, knit one, pass the slipped stitches over the knit stitch and off the needle.  See Bobbles – Japanese Version video

Duplicate Stitch

Small areas of color are easily added with the Duplicate Stitch.  Many knitters use the Duplicate Stitch in lieu of areas of Intarsia consisting of only a few stitches.  These added stitches are placed on top of stockinette stitches after the piece is complete with the use of a tapestry needle.  The Duplicate  Stitch is also a great way to cover errors and wonky stitches you wish you had discovered prior to binding off.  The legs and tail of the sheep are too small for successful Intarsia and are worked in the Duplicate Stitch at the conclusion of the Back.  The sheep’s head may be knit using Intarsia or added later with the Duplicate Stitch.  Both methods are acceptable here and the choice is yours.    See Duplicate Stitch video


Adorable Ewe – BACK

Work the rib using smaller needles and Main Color.

Change to the larger needles and work the Set Up Rows.

Sheep Motif

When working from the chart, odd numbered rows are knit/bobble rows and read from right to left; even numbered rows are purl rows and read from left to right. 

With RS facing, place a marker after the 7th stitch and after the 33rd stitch on the left needle.  There are 26 stitches between the markers.

Rows 1-4 in the chart were knit in the Set Up Rows using MC.  Begin knitting the chart over the 26 stitches between the markers beginning with Row 5.

I’ll walk you through the first few rows.  Remember to watch the Intarsia video – it’s a big help!

Row 5. (RS)  With MC, knit to the first marker.  Continuing with MC, k12 in MC.  (Ignore the black leg stitch.  It must be knit in MC with black added later.)  Join sheep yarn in next stitch.  Interlock the MC yarn and the sheep yarn before knitting the second sheep color stitch.  Knit 3 more stitches in sheep color.  There are 5 sheep colored stitches on the right needle.  Join second skein of MC in next stitch.  Interlock the sheep yarn and the second MC yarn in the second stitch following the sheep.  Knit to the end of the row with the second MC yarn.

Row 6. (WS)  With the second MC yarn, purl to the the marker.  Continuing with the second MC yarn, p7.  The yarn has already been joined for the sheep so from now on the yarns must be interlocked BEFORE changing colors.  After the p7, interlock the second MC and the sheep yarn, then p9 in the sheep yarn.  Interlock the sheep yarn and the MC yarn (original skein).  Purl to the end of the row with MC.

Row 7.  With MC, knit to the marker.  Continuing with MC, k9.  Interlock the MC and sheep yarn.  With sheep yarn, k1, (bobble, k1) 5 times.  Interlock the sheep yarn and second skein of MC.  Knit to the end of the row with second skein of MC.

Row 8.  With second skein of MC, purl to the marker.  Continuing with second skein of MC, p5.  Interlock the second skein of MC with the sheep yarn.  With the sheep yarn, p13.  Interlock the sheep yarn with the MC yarn.  With MC, purl to the end of the row.

Continue to work the chart over the 26 stitches between the markers.

Row 15.  If working the sheep’s head in Intarsia,  the yarn must be joined and interlocked as above.  If adding the head stitches later with the Duplicate Stitch, simply work the head stitches in MC.

Row 24.  If working the head in Intarsia, the MC yarn will be resting below in Row 23 seven stitches from the needed interlock position in this row.  Just bring the MC yarn over to the correct stitch taking care not to pull it too tightly across the back.  This long strand can be sured later with a yarn tail.  Below, is a photo of the wrong side of the head where the black tail yarn was woven over and under the long gray MC strand a few times to secure it.

Continue knitting the chart through Row 29.

After Row 29, return to knitting with the MC skein only.  Work in established stockinette stitch until the Back measures 10 1/4″ from the cast on edge, ending after a purl row.

DO NOT bind off the stitches.  Cut yarn leaving an 18” tail. Place stitches on a holder or piece of waste yarn.

Below is a view of the wrong side before weaving in any ends.

With black yarn, work the legs and tail in Duplicate Stitch over the MC stitches as indicated in the chart.  See Duplicate Stitch video

While the Back has no shaping, a schematic is provided for your reference.


I will be offline on Easter Sunday to enjoy time with family.  Enjoy the fun design and I will see you next week!

Happy knitting,