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November 20, 2009

Knitted Entrelac tutorial: step-by-step with pictures

I've become addicted to entrelac! I love it. The most important thing I can tell you about entrelac is that the first time you make this pattern you must take a leap of faith. Follow the pattern even though it appears you're doing it all wrong. Most patterns make sense almost as soon as you start them but this one may take a while -- hang in there, it's worth it!

For the purpose of this tutorial, I am knitting a scarf using the BEST free entrelac pattern online, written by Allison LoCicero. You can find the free pattern here, and it's one of the few rare patterns I've ever found online that has not a single error. If you have the book Scarf Style and you've wanted to try the Lady Eleanor stole, this tutorial will work exactly the same. The Lady Eleanor pattern is almost identical to the scarf, except it's much larger in scale and is worked over 10 stitches in a section instead of eight.

Let's get some basic terms out of the way:

RS - Right side. This is the stockinette side.
WS - Wrong Side. This is the reverse stockinette side.
section - each chunk of the pattern, for example one square is a section, and one triangle is a single section.
tier - A tier is a group of sections (triangles and squares or some combo) that go all the way across the scarf.
slip - move one needle to the other needle without knitting or purling it.
ssk - slip as if to knit, slip the next stitch as if to knit, then knit them together. For videos of this decrease, check out KnittingHelp.com
kfb - knit into the front of the stitch but don't drop the stitch off the left needle. Now knit it again through the back loop. This makes two stitches from one.
m1 - Make one, another type of increase. The best way to explain this is for you to watch the video on this page at KnittingHelp.com -- by the way, I use the version she calls "M1R (Make One Right) or M1B (Make One Back)." It is not the easiest stitch to work but makes a tight, neat little increase with a barely-visible hole.
pick up stitches - Knitty has a picture tutorial on picking up stitches. I talked a little about picking up stitches in this entry, but most of entrelace is picking up stitches, so try it a few times and before you know it you'll be doing it like an expert.

turn - The one term I had to get used to was this little tiny tricky word: turn. Turn? Turn what? Well, TURN simply means "turn the work." If you're holding the needles like this:

And the pattern says to turn, you turn it over so now you're holding the needles like this:

It's that easy. Yes, the yarn tail is now connected to the left needle. Yes you begin working in that position. Yes, it will really work. (Note: I know many folks have written to me to tell me I should learn to knit backwards so I'm not doing any turning but I like turning the work. This tutorial follows the pattern exactly, which includes turning the work back and forth.)

The pattern talks about base triangles, left side triangles and middle squares. Here is a visual illustration of where those bits are in the finished piece:


- - - -

I'm not going to break down the pattern word for word, only illustrate the parts that confused me when I first tried it. This is not a tutorial on techniques (like picking up stitches), so you will need to practice those on your own. If you get stuck and one of the pictures or the words make no sense, just look at the work in your hands and try doing the next logical thing and you'll know before long if it worked or not. Look for whatever seems to be the next stitch to knit. Or, look for a finished adjacent edge to start picking up stitches.

Once you knit a few tiers of the pattern it will start to make sense but until then you have to loosen up and just trust that what seems like a mad mess in the beginning will eventually come together.

Here goes!

- - -


Cast on:


Then the pattern says, "*Row 1: (RS) k1, turn
Row 2: and all WS rows: purl all sts in that section"

What it means: You are making the base triangles, which means you begin with one triangle. And every triangle begins with one stitch. Knit one stitch and now that "section" is just one stitch long:


Now purl the one stitch you just knit. Turn the work -- that means flip it over again. Purl that one stitch:


Now just follow the pattern exactly as written. Turn again. Slip a stitch (on a knit side, I always slip a stitch as if to knit. That means place the tip of the right needle into the stitch as if you were about to knit it, but don't knit it, just slide it onto the needle.) And then knit the next stitch and then turn.

You'll be working each step as it comes, stitch by stitch:


Until you finish working all the instructions in the section and you will have one completed section, a base triangle:


Now you repeat the instructions as written, starting again with a single stitch and knitting into it to begin another section:


Work the section until you have two triangles completed:


Repeat until you finish the third triangle, it will look like this:


My cast on edge is a bit tight so it really curls inward, but even if you cast on loosely it will do this to some degree. Congratulations, you have just completed the base triangles!

- - - - - - - - - -

(Left side triangle, two squares, right side triangle)

This tier begins much like your first base triangle, making something out of pretty much nothing! You begin by knitting one stitch. Turn. Then kfb. You just carefully follow the pattern's instructions on this triangle and before you know it your piece will look like this:


That's three base triangles with one left-side triangle.

Now comes the part that really stumped me the first time I made entrelac:

(middle squares) Row 1: (WS), With wrong side facing, pick up and purl 8 sts along selvedge edge of next triangle. Sl last st picked up onto left needle and p2tog, turn.

Don't get stuck on the term "selvedge edge." It's just a finished edge. In this pattern you do a lot of slipping of stitches, all those slipped stitches make for a great finished edge, easy to see where to pick up stitches. In this pattern you sometimes have to look for the most logical next place to pick up stitches. At this point, you will be picking up stitches here:



Posted by laurie at November 20, 2009 3:03 PM