Entrelac: Knitting Back Backward

Winter has come. Its chill has been nipping at my needles, bringing on serious hankering for a new pair of mittens. Fortunately, PieceWork’s 11th annual Historical Knitting issue features three tantalizing pairs to choose from, and the Lithuania-Inspired Floral and Entrelac Mittens by Donna Druchunas have charmed their way to the top of my project list. Have you knit entrelac?

Entrelac is a form of modular knitting where right- and left-leaning rectangles build on one another in tiers from a base of triangles. Although these entrelac and stranded colorwork mittens are knit in the round, each triangle and rectangle is worked individually. Patterns written for entrelac require a whole lot of turning. But is there a way to avoid all of the turning? Knitting back backward is the answer and lessens all of the traditional turning to purl the wrong side.

Donna Druchunas’s gorgeous floral mittens were inspired by the love the people of Lithuania have for flowers.

Donna Druchunas’s gorgeous floral mittens were inspired by the love the people of Lithuania have for flowers.

To knit backward, and re-create stockinette stitch without turning your work, knit to the end of a right-side row. Do not turn to purl the wrong-side row. Instead, insert your left needle tip front to back through the back leg of the first stitch on the right needle. Wrap the yarn around the needle as if to knit, and pull through the stitch. Repeat across the row. If you turn your work around or look in the mirror while you are knitting back backward, it will look like you are purling. When you reach the end of the row, knit across as usual. Soon you will be knitting off your left needle and then knitting off of your right needle. No purling; no turning.

Worked in soft and warm Peruvian Highland wool yarn, they will keep one toasty and provide a reminder that spring is coming.

Worked in soft and warm Peruvian Highland wool yarn, they will keep one toasty and provide a reminder that spring is coming.

With practice, knitting back backward will become second nature and it eliminates almost all of the turning when knitting entrelac. Learn all about the Glorious Floral Mittens pattern in PieceWork’s January/February 2017 issue along with six additional projects to knit.

Happy knitting!
Elizabeth

Featured image: Guard against winter’s chill with these lovely entrelac and stranded colorwork mittens. Photos by Joe Coca.


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