Sweater Workshop: Betty’s Tee

A note from Kathleen: It's time for our Sweater Workshop from the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. Eunny's here to take us through Tram Nguyen's Betty's Tee, a deceptively simple little blouse that's versatile and flattering. Take it away, Eunny!

Betty's Tee: An Adventure in Entrelac

Betty's TeeThe sweater I'm talking about today just gets more interesting the closer you look at it: Tram Nguyen's Betty's Tee takes a well-loved technique, entrelac, and blows its building blocks up to sweater-size proportions that are really fun to knit and make a flattering finished garment. I'm planning on actually knitting this one for myself eventually—but for now, let's take a closer look at its anatomy.

What makes this garment unique?

Betty's Tee back view1) Adapting a classic technique for modern fit. Entrelac is usually thought of as a flat technique that mainly influences surfaces—because it has some shape and size limitations, it's usually relegated to (beautiful) shawls, panels in sweaters, and straight tubes like those in socks. Betty's Tee, on the other hand, takes the sculptural possibilities inherent in the technique and runs with them—a fresh, modern take on a classic.

2) Intriguing construction that's both simpler and more interesting than it seems. Betty's Tee is essentially knitted in the round—there are only two very small seams to sew. Each entrelac block is knitted flat, however, which means that you'll be knitting back and forth for most of the garment.

The magic is in how these large entrelac blocks fit together. Take a look at Figure 1, below, which represents an exploded view of the garment with some fold lines and construction lines marked: Two large base triangles form the hem of the body. Two large blocks become most of the body. Smaller blocks—still fitted into the entrelac Neck detailpatterning—form extensions that run up and over the shoulder, and two final smaller square blocks become the bridges that connect the front to the back.

Now match notches to notches and take a look at Figure 2, below, which shows how all these pieces fit together: The body and base pieces fit into a neat tube, and the shoulder extensions fold over and join to the opposite side. Very clever! Every new block is formed by picking up along an existing block, so there aren't even any ends to weave in, except after sewing the two small seams that finally connect shoulders to fronts.


Figure 1 Figure 2

Betty's Tee: detail view
3) Clever detailing.
You've noticed by now that we've been working with straight squares and rectangles and then forming them into a straight tube. But the human body isn't a straight tube, of course—we like our sweaters to flatter. The designer came up with a really clever solution for this—a simple, large-scale rib that gives some elasticity to the fabric, letting it cling where it should and drape away where it shouldn't. Because the ribbing follows the direction of knitting, the ribs run in perpendicular directions, creating a fabric that has great stretch both horizontally as well as vertically.

4) Customizability. This sweater is an amazing blank canvas for surface design. How about throwing a baby cable into your ribbing? Or working a larger-scale cable motif into each block? How about lace, or colorwork that tilts on a bias? You can pattern the blocks however you like as long as your gauge will let you work with the basic construction.

Try a cable design. Or even a Fair Isle pattern!

If you've never worked with entrelac before, you may want to learn more about the basics by downloading Beyond the Basics: Entrelac. Once you've got the hang of this basic technique, dive into Betty's Tee with me!

Eunny JangHow will you be knitting it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Have fun,


Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

58 thoughts on “Sweater Workshop: Betty’s Tee

  1. Eunny, going beyond the basics includes using the “knit backwards” method of doing your purl rows in entrelac. It’s extremely fast when you eliminate all the work-turning. I learned from a CD I ordered online, but you might put a quick vidoe of it on the Interweave site. It is extremely easy to knit backwards and highly useful with entrelac.

  2. I’m thinking of making that sweater because I love entrelac and the unique construction. *But* I don’t love the the huge neckline, so I am planning to either fill it in with mitered ribbing or else short-rowed triangles fore and aft.

  3. I am going to make it for BIG sizing. We need 4xl here and some times 6 xl here.
    Many big people are out there ——-
    I am also going to try to make a simple vest out of it ????
    I need clothes for men in 6 xl PLEASE PLEASE and make them simple

  4. I don’t know how I might knit this one yet but it is a very intriging pattern that I will have to try. Along with the beautiful Yggdrasil Afghan, Hankerchief Tee, Jellyfish bag ,and others. This Spring issue is filled with wonderful new, inventive patterns. Thanks, Interweave for continuing to be one of my favorite knitting resources., Linda martindale, Sugar creek, WI.

  5. I’m thrilled to find a pattern for a garment in Summer Tweed which most likely won’t sag. Summer tweed is a gorgeous yarn that I’ve been longing to use more often, but the only garment I’ve made out of it (a bolero) has stretched to the point of being unwearable. I’m hoping that the entrelac construction of this tee will eliminate this issue, so I will be knitting the pattern just as it is!

  6. I really like the look of this… and this whole issue is great. One of the better issues, for sure. Anyway… I have some yarn (imagine that, a yarn stash) that I think would work for this. I hope. But it will have to wait. The knitting queue is loooooong. 🙂

  7. Eunny, can you help us out with steps to adapting the back v-neck into a ‘normal’ back? The back of my neck at gets cold, even in the spring!
    Entrelac is my favorite technique right now – brings lots of oohs and ahhhs because it looks so complicated, but it really isn’t difficult. I encourage everyone to try it!

  8. When I saw your pattern in my most recent issue, I literally salivated!! I love geometric – and have done some scarves using entrelac. I can’t wait to start this. (Maybe after I finish at least one (out of four) of my current projects.) I even have the yarn in my stash. It’s beautiful, interesting, will be fun to knit too……..Thanks for such creativity!!

    Norma May

  9. Eunny, I tried to download beyond the basics:entrelac and the file said it was damaged and couldn’t be repaired ! Did anyone else have this happen? I really wanted to have this info. Annette

  10. Would like to try entrelac for the first time. What do you mean by diving into Bettys T with you? Will we be following you on line? I’m new to this. I like the shape of this design and can see how versatile this could be. Right now I think I will be knitting this as shown. That way I can do and learn. Thanks Pat

  11. I think this would look great on my daughter but she’s short waisted . Where could you shorten this? I just don’t see a likely place on the diagram.


  12. This is going to be a real challenge, an octogenarian who never did entrelac. It appeals to me as a REAL T shirt, to cling to the body in the dead of Saratoga Springs winter (October-May) will try to modify a higher neck in the back. Yarn will be light-medium weight oddments of an alpaca stash.
    Second effort will be a spring/summer yarn for a grand daughter. Hopefully, all mistakes will be corrected in the former effort.
    LOVE your daily emails Sally

  13. When I saw this in the magazine I really liked it but thought it would be to complicated; but with your explanation of the pattern shows that it’s not hard at all. I think this pattern would be a good knitalong project. Thanks Eunny for all your good work and I do have to say that since you’ve been editor, Interweave is getting better and better.

  14. I’ve never done entrelac and have always wanted to try it. I’ll definitely be trying this project… it’s so intriguing!! How do I get the pattern?

  15. I’d love to try it, but on me, the shoulder will fall off, so I must think before I knit. I’d have to bring the design higher so I must figure out how.

  16. I have the whole sweater knitted as described in the pattern. If this works out I think I have enough yarn to do another one and I might get adventurous with a cable or other stitch pattern. I am as far as sewing the shouder blocks to the body but it looks like the seam may make it lay funny. There aren’t really any instructions as to how to seam it (I hate seams anyway). If you have any tips I’d appreciate it. Otherwise, I love the look of this Tee.

  17. i would love to see if i could figure out how to make it with a higher front neckline, leaving the deep back. i had a double mastectomy and don’t want anything that is low (who wants to see my scars? LOL) but i love the deep back (i am still proud of my back line 🙂 ) this would be a cool palette to work on – i have been thinking about cables across or at an angle, this would be wonderful!

  18. I love how this designer has used entrelac to add interest as well as create the construction of this garment. However, I have noticed that garments with a deeper neckline that is the same front and back tend to slip off my shoulders. That slippage makes it uncomfortable for me to wear since it exposes bra straps, etc., if you are not wearing it over another top.

  19. I was thrilled to see your article. Just bought some Cascade Sierra Quattro in 3 different coordinating colors, wondering what kind of pattern. I think this just might be IT!!

  20. I like this one, too. Like several others, I would adjust the neckline to be not so deep. I’d love to see a Knitting Daily post with suggestions 🙂

    I love Interweave. Thanks for putting out good products.

  21. I agree with someone who wrote about filling in the back. i won’t wear a tee that needs another shirt under it to cover your bra (it’s hot in Utah!). I have no idea how to fill it in with short rows–help!

  22. This looks so intriguing… are the directions available? ie: the yarn & yardage used for the sweater displayed, needle size, # of stitches? It would make a really fun project for a knitting circle to see what kinds of variations in patterns and color combinations used.

  23. I saw this and love it. I would love for you or Kathleen to do a knit a long. This project may be a streatch for me, but I am ready. Let me know, and I just took knitting in both directions with Gwen Brotner at Stitches West, fabulous.

  24. I have some handpainted yarn that I didn’t like how it was creating drifting stripes on the sweater I wanted to knit so I think this entrelac tee might just be the ticket because it will break up the stripes. Hope it works

  25. I agree that this issue is chock full of goodies!! This top caught my eye because it looks just as interesting to make as it is pretty. Thanks for getting into more detail about the unique construction.

  26. I would like to try this sweater, having “sharpened my teeth” on several Entrelac sweaters already, but am I to ASSUME that this pattern is in the current Interweave Knits magagazine? Somehow I missed this important piece of information!

  27. I seem to be in the minority, but I just don’t care for this design. I love Summer Tweed and want to make a summer item out the yarn I have, but it will probably be Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Ribwarmer.

    Based on the last two issues of IK, however, I do plan to reinstate my subscription, which I allowed to lapse last summer. IK seems to be better than it was for a while.

    But how about a simple, straight-forward tee pattern for summer? Or a cute vest?

  28. I am looking at the pattern and for a higher back I am thinking of an entrelac triangle; Eunny, do you think that is a good idea? I am not a designer and do not want to end up messing up a pretty tee.

  29. ChickG: The pattern is in the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Knits—I mentioned this in my intro to Eunny’s workshop, but maybe we should have said this in the meat of the post, too. Sorry about that.


  30. I like the way this looks from the front. I don’t like and don’t wear items with deep vee shaping in the back. Considering that it’s entrelac, not sure how I would “fix” that. Maybe working entrelac triangle.

  31. Like many others I am intrigued by this pattern (and happen to have the yarn in my stash). However, I also would prefer not to have such a low neckline. Any suggestions for modification would be helpful!

  32. Like many others I am intrigued by this pattern (and happen to have the yarn in my stash). However, I also would prefer not to have such a low neckline. Any suggestions for modification would be helpful!

  33. I’ve already bought some silky tweed cotton to follow the original pattern. Next time out, I’ll go with a self striping wool, and perhaps try creating some sleeves.

  34. this issue is great and I went and bought it just for the Betty’s Tee pattern. I also really like the sweater pictured on page 15 that says New Orleans under it. I was wanted to know where I could get the pattern for this sweater.

  35. Thanks for this idea. But I am applying the design to weaving. I have been weaving 4 and 2 inch squares with an old fashion Weave-it loom. I was just going to put all the squares together up and down right and left to make a sweater. Never thought of turning them diagonally. It wil make a great design and look classy and I can put edging on the neck, sleeves and bottom with crochet or knit. Now I know what I want to do with all my squares. Thanks

  36. Okay, cast on today with a plan to do blocks in different colors. Never done entrelac before, hope it works out. Since this is not in a KAL after all, posting on Ravelry. I’m not really adept at groups and forums there…if anyone knows how to do a KAL on Ravelry for this project?

  37. Like so many other readers, the neck line didn’t thrill me. Then my mind’s eye pictured the top in a dressy yarn – with mettalic or maybe beads or sequins. That would be lovely with my tea length black chiffon skirt!
    I’m going shopping!


    I am working on this, and it is not turning out correctly, as per your diagram.

    I finished 2nd Body Block, and then made Shoulder off the 2nd Body Block. At this point, I had stitches on holder from 1/2 of top of 2nd Body Block. Now instructions say to put those onto right needle, which I did, slip one onto left needle with my Shoulder stitches.

    Now, I knit to builder Shoulder Block, using shoulder stitches, that now are worked into those held stitches from the top of 2nd Body Block. But this puts armhole in the wrong place!

    What am I doing wrong? I don’t know where to turn for help, as the rest of instructions just say to do the same steps for Shoulder and Shoulder Block, starting from Body Block 1. There is no indication of where the two are joined.

  39. Okay, as a newbie to entrelac, the diagrams and pattern instructions miss an element that evaded me in my late night panic.
    After working Body Block 2-Shoulder 2, you start Shoulder Block 2. What is not shown, is that Shoulder Block 2 is joined on its “side” to the top of Body Block 2. This forms an armhole “loop”, not easily seen in the diagram. Your arm goes through the “loop” formed by the Shoulder rectangle . I kept waiting for the knitting to join the Shoulder Block to Body Block 1. But turns out those 3 little arrows are for the BO “end” of Shoulder Block 2 that will be sewn to Body Block 1 during finishing, NOT during knitting.
    If I’m not the only one confused by this, I hope I have helped.

  40. AnnetteL@5, I found that if I was not signed in to Knitting Daily, I would get that message. If you go to the top of the page, there’s a place to sign in to Knitting Daily. Sign in and that should fix the problem. HTH

  41. Hi Eunny: Love the Tee and yes I plan to knit one or two! I have a lot of yarn so I can have some fun! Mostllikely I’ll bring the back neck line up a bit as i don’t wear layers in warmer weather! It is very lovely and you are very gifted!

    Thanks for the information!

    Hugs Vona

  42. I made this tee and finished it in about two weeks. I had a little trouble figuring out the shoulder straps but after doing it a second time, it worked out fine. Was just a little snug (go up a needle size next time) but once I blocked it to the right dimensions, it fit great. Used Cosa, a silk/microfiber yarn from Lana Grossa. Great yarn. Thanks for giving knitters challenging, interesting and fun designs to stretch our skills!

  43. Another adaptation I would be interested in some guidance on would be to lengthen the sleeves a bit – many of us “older” folk don’t do so well with such a short sleeve.


  44. I made it and love it! If I make it again, I’ll use a different yarn, something that doesn’t snag like the yarn I did use. Love it, though.

  45. @Gauss – I’m pretty late to the party, but for anyone else who’s wondering the same thing: Because the piece is made in modular bits (rectangles and triangles), entrelac fabric is not as drapey nor as elastic as the same yarn knit in a “conventional” stitch pattern.
    So, yes the neckline is both wide and angles towards the shoulders, but the fabric will stay put, especially when worn as a layering piece as shown on the model.