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An Entrelac Knitting Tutorial

Sep 20, 2013

Look at this beautiful bouquet of yarn!
My beautiful Noro yarn is ready to become Kathleen Power Johnson's Lady Eleanor (shown below right), a stunning entrelac wrap from the book Scarf Style by Pam Allen.

But first I need to learn how to work entrelac, because I've never done it before! I've been talking about learning this knitting technique for awhile now, and I really need to buckle down and just do it!

I'm going to use my subscription, because there's a fabulous entrelac knitting tutorial from former Interweave Knits editor Eunny Jang. In the video, Entrelac Knitting, Eunny goes through the basics of entrelac and then she takes you beyond the basics, into more advanced aspects of working the entrelac stitch pattern.

Here's a little bit from Eunny, about the basic principles of entrelac knitting.


The Lady Eleanor stole by Kathleen Power Johnson, from Scarf Style

Knitting Entrelac

Entrelac fabric's series of tilted blocks are worked one at a time in tiers. Within a tier, blocks are worked in the same direction, either right to left or left to right. Each tier of blocks builds upon the one below it. Individual blocks are worked by picking up stitches along the selvedge of a block from the tier below and working stitches of the growing block together with live stitches from the top edge of the next block below.

To produce a piece with straight rather than pointed edges across the bottom and top, the first and last tiers must consist of rows of triangular half-blocks. For straight vertical edges, every other tier of a flatworked entrelac piece begins and ends with a triangle.

Individual blocks may be worked over any number of stitches, and a piece may have any number of individual blocks. In all cases, each block contains twice as many rows as it does stitches. Though the basic entrelac technique has several variations, the following method produces tidy results.

When you practice entrelac for the first time, try working every other tier of blocks in a different color to emphasize the basketweave effect and make it easier to identify the blocks and live stitches of each tier. Note: When you work the first stitch of every row, you can slip it for a tidy pick-up edge, but be aware that you will lose some elasticity in the knitted piece. Read more . . .

—Eunny Jang, from Entrelac Knitting—Block by Block

With fall weather setting in, I can't wait to cast on my Lady Eleanor stole. It's just gorgeous, and I think my yarn choice will be lovely in the entrelac pattern.

Join me in subscribing to Craft Daily so you can learn new techniques and skills for your fall and winter knitting!


P.S. Are you a seasoned entrelac knitter? Leave a comment and give me some tips so I can be as accomplished as you are!

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PennySeymour wrote
on Sep 23, 2013 2:00 PM

Ditto: knitting backward is much the best technique (instead of purling) BUT I find that with succeeding knit rows, knitting through back of loop avoids twisted stitches - nicer appearance.

My favorite book: "Entrelac: The Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting" by Rosemary Drysdale. Includes instructions for backward knitting and for finishing with triangles. I wonder, could one make a handkerchief hem by using full diamonds instead of triangles? Must try it.

PaulyH wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 10:46 PM

I knitted Lady Eleanor last winter, and what a fun and cozy project it was! It kept me warm and looked beautiful in the process. I loved working on just one diamond shape at a time with the entrelac. Even if I did mess up or lose my place, it was easy to back up and get going again without having to rip out rows and rows. And the knotted fringe really "makes" the project at the end. I love wearing it. But I agree with KarenanPuff. I wish I hadn't blocked it when I was through. It lost a lot of its lovely poofy texture. Still beautiful, but I wouldn't block it if I were to make another one.

KarenanPuff wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 7:08 PM

Hi, Kathleen,

The Lady Eleanor scarf is the reason I purchased Scarf Style.  I did it up in Great Adirondack Sierra 100% alpaca.  I had no previous experience with Entrelac, but that's the kind of knitter I am.  I see something I really like and I go for it.  The directions are very clear and easy to understand, so my faith in them was not misguided.  However, being a newbie to the style, I made a few rookie mistakes I will share with you. 1.)  Do not leave in mid row.  It is very tricky, with things going in all directions, to determine which way to continue after you've put things down.  It pays to write down on a post it, last row completed, next row to work, and stick it to the pattern in the book.  (My scarf  yielded an extra wayward flappy arm before I realized something was very wrong and had to frog it!)  2.  Block carefully.  The thing looks a bit like a wrinkly mess folding in on itself and you'll want to stretch it madly to get it to smooth out.  Resist the urge!  Pulling and flattening during blocking will ruin the lovely texture.  While I have nice uniform squares, my steam iron was too close to the garment and  the steam flattened them considerably.  Since alpaca has no memory they remain flat to this day.

Good luck.


keennitter wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 5:50 PM

Entrelac knitting is my love at the moment. I am a mad knitter and have learnt to knit entrelac in the last 5 or so months. I am selling them at about 1 a week but it takes longer to knit a baby blanket. It is so simple to do but I had to cast on with larger needles as it was too tight when finished. I also block the blanket when I have finished it. Had a lady a week ago buy a blanket so she could work out how to knit it. Good luck to her if she can follow a finished article. You Tube taught me in a few hours and then I bought the book. I am yet to branch out into different articles as the blankets are keeping me going at full steam. If you can't knie entrelac have a go it is very easy once you get the hang of it. A few hours should get you going.

ameves wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 12:53 PM

After  knitting for 70 years I discovered Entrelac knitting..  Knitted a baby blanket using the printed pattern that came with the multicoloured yarn ordered from a Canadian company (don't know if we are allowed to use names on this site or not).  I must confess I struggled with it at first, but after I finally got the hang of it, I couldn't leave it down - it's so exciting to knit.  Then I made a cushion cover in three colours to match an afghan which I had previously knit.  This type of knitting is addictive!  Recently I showed a granddaughter how to do it;  she went home and started a baby blanket, which she finished after a couple of 'help' emails, and quickly too.  I found it easier to follow the written instructions rather than any I have seen online.


MirandaF wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 11:42 AM

I love knotting entrelac! There's a great free pattern for an entrelac scarf on ravelry that I've done several times using bernat mosaic, every row comes out a different color automatically and looks so much more difficult! Next id like to do an entrelac sweater!

on Sep 20, 2013 8:55 AM

I love knitting entrelac!  I do a cowl in the round using a multicoloured yarn with long subtle color changes, such as Lion Brand Amazing.  It's so fascinating to see the blocks change color that it's hard to put your knitting down.  And yes, knitting backward is the key to carefree entrelac.  The cowl starts and ends with a few rounds of garter stitch on a needle two sizes larger.  The first and last tiers are base triangles to make a straight edge.  Have fun!

on Sep 20, 2013 8:37 AM

Entrelac is a breeze if you knit backwards on the return pass.  There are only a few stitches being knitted on each back and forth row, and if you knit backwards rather than turning the work every few stitches, you'll find yourself speeding through this project.  Felted entrelac in two deeply contrasting colors (like black and red alternate rows, for example) is truly magnificent, especially in a tote or bag.  

on Sep 20, 2013 8:34 AM

My favorite entrelac tip is to use a "stopper" marker when starting a new square.  It helps find your place when you pick up your work, saves some counting, and alerts you to stop and turn at the end of your rows.

AnnD wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 8:18 AM

I made a small decorative cushion cover in entrelac several years ago, and have never worked that techniques since!  Maybe I just got it "out of my system"?  The Lady Eleanor could just be the piece that makes me want to try this again.

mighty mo wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 7:59 AM

How do you end the Entrelac project.  Simply bind off does not work since project will stretch?

tlundy wrote
on Sep 20, 2013 7:42 AM

Once you're comfortable with the entrelac technique and have a good understanding of its structure, knitting backwards (i.e., not turning the work on purl rows) will make your project go so much faster.