Lucy Neatby's Intarsia Untangled 1 and 2 DVDs
Lucy Neatby is a walking rainbow. If you've ever seen her or taken a class from her, you know this is true. From her hair—which normally sports a splash of fuchsia, chartreuse, or whatever other color strikes her fancy—to her toes, each of which is often painted a different color.
So when it came time to take an intarsia colorwork class a few years ago at TNNA, I knew I wanted to learn from Lucy. It was a great class, and she managed to cover all the basics for us in just a few hours. But I knew that, no matter how good my notes were, I'd forget a lot of it as soon as I got home. And I did. If only I could've brought her home with me and kept her on tap for help.
Lucy on Tap
My prayers were answered at the most recent TNNA when she handed me copies of her new DVDs: Intarsia Untangled 1 and 2. They represent the equivalent of a weekend-long master class on the subject. And best of all, whereas Lucy may have to go home once in a while, the DVDs can stay with you forever.
The first DVD sets the stage for intarsia colorwork, explaining everything that the absolute rank beginner needs to know—but not in a dumbed-down, "Okay, kids, now we're going to use color!" kind of way. Lucy always respects your intelligence, which is one reason her DVDs are such a pleasure to watch.
Right away Lucy acknowledges the bad reputation intarsia has suffered over the years. "People quake when they hear the term intarsia," she notes before insisting that it needn't be that way. She maintains that intarsia can be very fun—you just need to be prepared.
First, though, she gives a brilliantly clear explanation of what intarsia is and how it differs from other types of colorwork. Within five minutes of watching her video I had to pause it and grab some yarn from my stash—she makes you want to knit along. And by the eight-minute mark, I was once again thinking, "I can do this!"
She spends a lot of time teaching you how to prepare for a project, since that's where many intarsia projects fail. You'll learn how to read the colorwork charts ahead of time, modify any potentially tricky areas to be more intarsia-friendly, photocopy and prepare your chart for easier following, and make a shade card to help you keep track of all the colors. Then she shows how to prepare all your colors and tools so that they stay orderly and accessible. All this preparation pays off in much easier, streamlined knitting. The last thing you want, as she puts it, is to find yourself on a double black diamond ski run when you thought you were just going down the bunny slope.
From here we journey deep into the land of technique—most of which is best learned by watching someone else—another reason this DVD is so incredibly helpful. She walks you through the basics and then explores all sorts of scenarios where intarsia could come in handy. And then she shows you a host of techniques for troubleshooting and fixing anything that could go wrong. All in all, by the end of the first DVD you're prepared to hit the intarsia.
And Then There Were Two
If DVD 1 is the master class, then DVD2 is what would happen if you stayed after class and had a cup of tea with Lucy while she showed you all the extra things she didn't have time to teach the whole group.
After a brief introduction (which is the same one you hear in the first DVD) she heads out into the deeper territory you'll encounter once you have a few intarsia projects under your belt. She has a tip for every situation you may encounter, from vertical stitch lines to long horizontal floats, checkerboards, and mixed textures. She also gives more advanced tips on how to finesse your intarsia, so that the fabric looks smooth, even, and pucker-free.
No Home Videos for Lucy
As with her previous DVDs, the production quality is very good. No barking dogs, no airplanes passing overhead, no buzzing fluorescent lights, just a few stray clanging noises in one sequence near the beginning of the first DVD. If you watch very closely, you may also catch a glimpse of color where the camera inadvertently panned over Lucy's head once or twice.
The video is shot in such a way that Lucy's hands and her knitting appear almost exactly as your own hands and knitting would appear if you were looking down on your lap. Your mind doesn't need to pause and translate what it's seeing. Lucy has a very graceful way of knitting that I love to watch simply for the sake of watching.
In terms of what she says, there is not a single stray "um" to be heard. They're all very carefully and seamlessly edited out. It feels more like an NPR documentary than a homemade DVD. Actually, this isn't a homemade DVD at all. Lucy works with a very well known Canadian video producer who just happens to have a soft spot for knitters. And boy, are we ever grateful.