Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Entrelac: Parts 1 - 2.5

I've been on and off with my fascination with modular knitting in the last couple of years. I have months where it's all that sits upon my needles, and then months where I forget about it for the classics and lace work.

Now, I don't want to confuse anyone, entrelac and modular knitting are two separate entities. But if you're anything like me - starting with entrelac is the best way to introduce yourself to modular knitting. It gets you familiar with working entirely separate pieces of knitting, all on the same solid piece of growing work. In the beginning, it will make your brain hurt. It will make you want to rip all the stitches out, yell, and go crochet your heart out to spite the world of two needle crafts.

Have faith, oh grasshopper, it will come to you. And you know, anger will only lead to the darkside. That's bad ju-ju.So, I thought I would add a little tutorial of my own, to help those struggling with entrelac work through it. So, put 'yer thinkin' caps on! And grab two colors of yarn, and some size 8 needles.

Part 1: The Base Triangles

We have to start our entrelac with three base triangles. Well, three in this case, it ranges for every pattern. But three is the number I need for my pot holder pattern. This tutorial is not for in the round entrelac, just flat work. I will make a subsequent in the round post later. :)

Cast on 24 stitches, loosely. I used the long tail cast on, but nearly any 'stretchy' cast on will work just fine. I used a size US 8 needle. You will want to continue working a little more loosely than normal, it will help hide the picked up stitches.

Now, here comes the tricky part. But it's not really tricky.

1. Knit 1 stitch, turn. By turn I mean switch your right hand needle to your left hand, and likewise. So your work is literally turned around.
2. Purl the stitch you just knit.
3. Slip 1 stitch, and knit 1 stitch (adding a stitch), and turn.
4. Purl across.
5. Slip 1 stitch, knit to last stitch, and knit one more from the left hand needle, again adding a stitch.
6. Purl across.

Edit: I had some questions here as to why I knit the very first stitch the first time, rather than slipping it. I choose to knit that stitch to add more stability to the base of my piece. This prevents the top from being more firm than the bottom. I hope that makes sense. Questions are always welcome! :)

Continue to work in this fashion, adding one stitch to your needle with every knit row, until you reach your goal number, in this case that is 8 stitches, by adding one of the existing stitches each knit row. And turning after that addition to purl across. We're slipping the first stitch so we have a nice neat visual of where we will be picking stitches up later on. In the picture above, we have 4 stitches cast on, and you can see the growing base triangle forming from the turning.

Oh no! Did you lose count of how many stitches you've added? Well, it's okay. When you turn your work back around after the purl row, you will see a clear indication of where you left off by the gap. Shown here:

There's a pretty clear little "hole" you can see, so we have 6 stitches on, and two more to add.

When you reach your goal number of stitches, do not turn and purl across. You will stop right there, and begin the next triangle in the same way as the first. Working until you have 8 stitches of that set.
One triangle, done, again, no turning, you want the "right side" of your fabric facing you, working yarn behind. Now, go back to the start and make two more triangles, ignoring the finished ones.

We now have three finished triangles. I placed stitch markers so you can easily see the three separate triangles, you don't have to use them. Now I know these look pretty wonky, but it will all start making sense soon.

Now we're going to move to the next step - 'filling in' our empty spot, and placing the side triangles, to even it all out.

Part 2: The Left Side Triangle & 2 Central Diamonds

So we're looking at what we ended with in step 4 of part one, and it looks a little crazy. If you're using two colors, cut a three or so inch long tail, and pick up your second color.

1. Purl into the first stitch with new color, turn and knit front and back (kfb), adding a stitch in the new color.

2. Purl 1, purl 2 stitches (green and blue) together. Turn.

3. Knit front and back, slip 1 purlwise. Turn.
4. Purl to last 'new colored' stitch, and p2tog. Turn.
5. Knit to the last two stitches, kfb, slip 1 purlwise.

Essentially, we're slowly eating away those green stitches, by combining them with our new blue stitches. Keep moving along in this way until all of your green stitches are gone, knitting front and back on the second to last stitch on your knit row, and you have 8 blue stitches. Do not turn on the last p2tog, you want the 'wrong side' facing you for the next step.

You should end up with a little something like this:

The 'live' original green stitches are now the underside of the side triangle.

Part 2.5: 2 Central Diamonds

Now we're going to build two central diamonds. 

Above, you were slipping the last knit stitches purlwise, this leaves us with a nice edge to pick up our diamonds from. 

1. Pick up 8 stitches, purlwise, along the edge of the first triangle.

2. Grab the last picked up stitch, and place it on your left hand needle, from there purl this picked up stitch and first green stitch together.

A note on picking up: I feel terrible, because I feel I've caused some confusion. When you're picking up a stitch, if your right side of the work is facing you, you'd pick up just like if you were to knit across, yarn in the back. And if the wrong side is facing you, you'd pick up as if you were purling across, the yarn will be in the front. 

3. Turn and knit 7, slip 1 purlwise. Turn.
4. Purl across to the last blue stitch, and purl 2 stitches together.
5. Turn and knit 7, slip the last stitch purlwise.

Like usual, continue doing this all the way across, until you're all the way across your green stitches. (Or, whatever color you're using.) You'll have this:

After the last purl 2 together do not turn your work. Start at the beginning of part 2.5, picking up the edge stitches on the middle triangle, just as you did for the first. Working across in the same way.

Tune in tomorrow, for the rest of my entrelac tutorial.


  1. Thanks for this great post. Saved and will be waiting for Part II before I try for myself. Love the look plus the colors you picked.

    1. Thank you! The yarn is bernat "peace and love" I believe. I typically go for some out there colors of yarn, my husband pokes fun at me for it, but I have fun. :)

  2. Wonderful tutorial! Best I have seen! Saved this and am looking forward to part 2. Thanks so much!

    1. You're too kind :)

      And you're more than welcome. Part 2 is up! And as I said - feel free to let me know if you run into any problems, or an area where my directions make you scratch your head.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Serious bruises on my forehead from banging my head against this wall... Looking forward to part 2.

    1. I hope you heal quickly! :P

      You're very welcome, and feel free to let me know if you have any trouble, I'm just an email away.

  4. You're very, very welcome guys. I'm so glad I could help you out. And part 2 has been posted! :)

    And thank you for checking the site out, and your kind words.

  5. This is a very good tutorial. I am saving this and will be starting tonight. Thanks!

  6. Thanks so much ,very clear I'll be watching for the next part!

    1. Thank you :)

      The second part is located right here: http://mishmoshcrafting.blogspot.com/2012/03/entrelac-parts-25-4.html

  7. Tough to read your directions with the patterned background

  8. Hey - great tutorial on this. A friend recently loaned me a book on entrelac knitting, and as I was working it up, I thought, there's got to be a better way. The book has readers start on the wrong side, and after the base rows, knitters work ssks where you work p2 tog. The SSKs in the book didn't make a nice clean line, and I wondered if anyone started on a knit row in order to make a cleaner line - and voile, hear you are at my fingertips. Nice job, and I really appreciate you added an "in the round" section - great! I'll now be using your much cleaner technique. Thanks!