I couldn’t turn down a chance to use that as a title, it just had to be done. In fact, after my interview with Anne, I got to thinking. Of course, her book is a fantastic reference and I would suggest knitters interested in Argyle get a copy. But I also wanted learn more and to see what other knitters were doing with this technique. So I decided to do a little hunting.
First off, for our history buffs out there (yes, I know they were outvoted in the last poll, too bad), it turns out unsurprisingly that the technique comes from Argyll, Scotland, where the design was devised from the Clan Campbell tartan. Wikipedia has it dated to “at least” the 17th century, but between you and me and the blog, I’d bet it goes back even further than that as colorwork is one of the oldest forms of knitting – as proven by surviving samples from the 12th century. If you’re interested in the history of knitting/ or colorwork, A History of Knitting by Richard Rutt is an absolute must.
Second, Argyle is a form of intarsia, a colorwork technique similar to tapestry weaving. Instead of carrying two colors across a row, sections of the piece are knit with one color then the next. Where the two colors touch, they are twisted together. Traditionally, Argyle is knit with three colors – two as the main diamond colors and a third accent diagonal color that is usually embroidered or duplicate stitched. The Italians call this the “kiss and run”. No joke, I learned that in a tapestry class.
And, finally, there are patterns and a few tutorials to be found. As Anne said in her interview, learning from an instructor is usually easier for most – but not essential. I taught myself to knit intarsia and Argyle three years after learning to knit… using Stitch ‘n’ Bitch as a reference. If you’re out there alone in a vast wilderness of nonknitters, never fear – you can do this.
In addition to Anne’s excellent recommendations (you REALLY should see colorworKAL: Interview with Anne Berk for tips, tricks, and techniques), I’ve found some other resources online:
- Cybersocks: Agyle Sock. Online Sock Knitting Classes with Edie Eckman
- Argyle Origami by Moth Heaven
- Knit Science, Episode 17: Mighty Argyle. Podcast by Miriam Quinn.
- Duplicate Stitch – How To by Knitting Daily
- Argylers Anonymous group on ravelry
In terms of patterns, I had a great time compiling a selection. The first two patterns that popped into my mind, I have to admit, were Anne’s lovely multi-size Argyle Sock pattern, from Shibui Argyle:
|Image copyright Shibui Knits|
There’s something so classic about an Argyle (or ‘tartan’) sock. Then, of course, I have long coveted Eunny Jang’s beautiful Deep V Argyle Vest:
|Image copyright Eunny Jang|
Because it makes Argyle sexy. You can just imagine this on some chic executive in Manhattan. Or I can, anyway.
When I search ravelry, as you’ll discover in my interview with Anne, there were over 140 patterns to choose from! Admittedly, some were more appealing to me than others, so I only selected a handful to share and inspire. Strangely, most of them were vests. I honestly don’t have a preoccupation with vests, but they do seem to be the vessel for Argyle experimentation these days.
First, the man’s Argyle Vest from Veronik Avery’s Knitting Classic Style:
|Image copyright Veronik Avery|
The design is very graphic in an Atomic Ranch way. Note the lack of diagonal accent lines. It’d be hard to imagine a man turning this down. And, added bonus, no duplicate stitch afterwards!
Next, Ann Budd’s Argyle Vest from Color Style:
|Image copyright Interweave Press|
This design is also extremely striking and quite reminiscent of the Atomic Ranch aesthetic, though it would look super-cute over a button-down blouse and a pair of jeans or slacks. The one concern I’d have would be for beginning intarsia knitters, as Anne correctly warns knitters from starting out with patterns with too many color changes every row. This design has six colors, so it might be for you Intermediate to Advanced Argyle knitters out there.
|Image copyright Caroline Bergernon|
This design is entirely modern and would look adorable over a mini-skirt or slacks with a turtleneck, camisole, or blouse. I also think the cut and style are ageless, and would look fabulous on different body types. It could be styled casual or dressy, work or play.
Now, I would include a staff colorworKAL update, but this post is getting quite lengthy. Next week, then! We also have several more interviews to look forward to in the coming weeks. Some of the biggest names in colorwork have signed on to answer our questions, including Ruth Sorensen and Lucy Neatby. If you have any question suggestions for these talented ladies, please feel free to include them in the comments.
Until then, why not try some intarsia?
~ Sara M.