You Can Entrelac!
I teach a lot of knitting, and my students usually take what I give them with enthusiasm and blind faith. The only reason I have to qualify that sentence with “usually” is entrelac. I love entrelac! I love that it can be manipulated to look like large rectangles with lots of drape or tiny rectangles that work like ribbing. I love it when it’s worked in one solid color, striped, and in variegated yarn, like in my Reservoir Mitts pattern. I love that a finished project involving entrelac amazes both knitters and non-knitters alike. I love that it takes a little extra patience and attention to get it to work out, and that once it works out, it is always stunning.
This love of entrelac permeates both my designs and my classes, much to the chagrin of many of my students and followers of my knitwear designs. And no matter how long I stand on my soapbox singing the praises of entrelac—“But it’s easy! You just have to get the hang of it! It’s really not counting but identifying your stitch placement! It’s all about turning and decrease stitches!”—it usually falls on deaf ears.
But not today. Today is the day you pick up your needles and say, “You know what, Allyson? I believe you. I can entrelac!” Because you can entrelac. And I’m here to help. My Reservoir Mitts pattern is a great introduction to entrelac because you cast on only 16 stitches. If things start going south, you can rip back, start over, and get back on track quickly. But things aren’t going to go south, right? You’ve got this. Because you can entrelac. Follow the images here and you’ll learn how to work entrelac, without a teacher by your side.
One of the reasons entrelac beginners get tripped up is that most tutorials illustrate instructions without the needles included. Without the needles in your work, the fi st row of entrelac would look normal. You would be able to see four 4-stitch triangles easily. But with the needles in place, your first row looks like a big mess. Pictured here in bulky yarn and larger needles for clarity’s sake, you’ve got stitches sticking out and pulling all over the place. But it’s supposed to look like a big mess. If your entrelac looks like a big mess, you are doing it right!
But after the base triangles are complete, and you move on to the first tier of blocks, things start to settle in. You work side triangles and blocks into the existing triangles, match sides by decreasing, but don’t lose stitches. It’s magical.
With the second tier of blocks, you can actually start seeing the stitch pattern take shape. Turning every row is getting fun, and you don’t have to count every stitch because you are starting to see where to decrease, where to turn, or where to pick up your stitches. You are getting the hang of it!
And after a few tier repeats, you are rolling. Side triangles are in the right place, blocks are even, and your picked up stitches are getting smoother and tighter. You are decreasing in the right place every time without counting, and you are sad that you are almost done with the entrelac part of your new Reservoir Mitts. Lucky for you, you’ll need a second mitt! Something tells me that before you finish you’ll be searching for your next entrelac project.
Because you can entrelac!
Allyson Dykhuizen is a knitwear designer and teacher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She blogs and publishes her patterns at www.thesweatshopoflove.com.
Posted May 2, 2017. Updated June 19, 2018. Featured image is the Cochin Shrug designed by Eunny Jang. Photo by Joe Hancock
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