You asked for it: Entrelac!

Note from Sandi: When I asked you how you were a Fearless Knitter in 2008, hundreds of you described not only what you had accomplished last year, but what you hoped to accomplish in 2009. And surprisingly, one of the top four knitting challenges you wanted to tackle was entrelac, that marvelous and seemingly mysterious technique where knitted square builds upon knitted square to form a lovely on-the-bias patchwork effect.

So I was delighted to find out that Lisa Shroyer, editor of Knitscene magazine, has included a lovely beginner-level entrelac pattern in the new Winter 2008/Spring 2009 issue of Knitscene–the Orchid Wrap, by Cecily Glowik Macdonald.

Here's Lisa to tell us more about this beautiful knitting technique:


Entrelac: An Overview

When Sandi asked me to choose one project from the new issue of Knitscene to feature this week, I went back and looked at the comments on past Knitting Daily posts. What one technique did so many of you say you wanted to conquer in 2009?


And it just so happens that we have a fabulous entrelac project in the Winter 2008/Spring 2009 issue of Knitscene. The Orchid Wrap by Cecily Glowik MacDonald is a great project for entrelac newbies, as it’s a long rectangle without the complexities of shaping, stitch patterns, or working in the round. Working entrelac in the round is, conceptually, a little daunting, so I don’t recommend it for first-timers.

But what is entrelac? Eunny Jang, editor of Interweave Knits, writes:
"Entrelac is a knitting technique that produces a fabric with a woven appearance—tiers of tilting blocks appear to run over and under each other. But the fabric is actually worked all in one piece as a series of interconnecting rectangles."

These interconnecting rectangles are worked one at a time, with lots of turning back and forth to work short right- and wrong-side rows. The rectangles, or blocks, are worked in tiers, building a vertical fabric. All the blocks of a single tier slant in one direction (i.e., to the right), then all the blocks of the following tier slant in the opposite direction (or to the left). You can pick out separate tiers in the Orchid Wrap because this project alternates a tier of teal blocks with a tier of pink blocks. Changing colors in entrelac is easy and creates really fun effects.

To work entrelac, you need to know how to:
1) Pick up and PURL stitches;
2) Pick up and KNIT stitches:
3) Work basic increases; and
4) Work basic decreases.
And that’s the extent of the know-how you need to make the Orchid Wrap.

The Orchid Wrap is, like I said, a simple rectangle in shape. But wrap it around your shoulders, folding back the top selvedge like a collar, button it asymmetrically, and you have a capelet. The size can be adjusted with the placement of the buttons, so it’s really a one-size-fits-most project.

For an in-depth tutorial on entrelac, including instructions for working entrelac in the round, see Eunny Jang’s "Beyond the Basics: Entrelac Knitting Block by Block" from the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. (Click here to subscribe to Knits.)

For those already in love with entrelac, you can purchase Eunny’s Entrelac Socks and Sandy Beadle’s Annetrelac Socks from the Knitting Daily Pattern Store.

On Friday, we’ll have a surprise for you…

— Lisa Shroyer
editor of Knitscene magazine


 Ask for Knitscene at your local yarn shop, or buy it online from us.

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Suddenly, I have become addicted to warm hats and I am obsessed with the idea of warm mittens…


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18 thoughts on “You asked for it: Entrelac!

  1. I just finished an entrelac scarf in Noro Silk Garden #84. It’s just gorgeous (even if I do say so myself). Learning entrelac bumped my knitting skills from beginner to intermediate. I became proficient in picking up knitwise and purlwise, M1 and SSK.

    I struggled in knitting the set-up triangles and first two rows; however, by the middle of the scarf, I could knit without looking at the pattern.

    It’s amazingly fun and looks magical when knit with self-striping yarn. I enjoyed it SO MUCH, I’m knitting a matching beret!

  2. ” For an in-depth tutorial on entrelac, including instructions for working entrelac in the round, see Eunny Jang’s “Beyond the Basics: Entrelac Knitting Block by Block” from the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. ”

    I wanted to let you know these intructions from Eunny Jang were really easy to work. I have made a bag using the instructions, called Entrelac Felted Bag. It can be found on Ravelry or on my website: Entrelac is a lot easier than it looks.

    My next project is a bag using the crocheted version of Entrelac.

    Cora Shaw

  3. I am delighted to see the interest in entrelac. I did my first piece of entrelac this past summe/fall — the wonderful shawl in the Best of Interweave Knits First 10 years book (do I have the title right — the book is not physically where I am). It took quite a while, since it had nupps ,VERY FINE yarn and small needles, as well as entrelac — but it was fun and I ended up with an elegant shawl.

  4. Hi Sandy,
    My mother in law used to knit “window pane” mittens – two layers of warmth. You may also want to try you’re hand at the perenial Canadian fav “thrums”.

    Great article on Entrelac

  5. I’d like to see more entrelac in ONE varigated yarn instead of two. I think the Harlequin a bit much. Using just one of those yarns give you a strong basketweave affect as well!

  6. We have a large County Fair where I live, and I have always admired all the quilts displayed there. I am not a quilter, so decided to try to knit a quilt. I chose entrelac as my technique and the “Card Trick” quilt pattern since it is made up of squares. When it was finished, I felted it lightly to flatten the woven effect and make it look more like it was stitched together. Being bold and “fearless,” I knitted it in bright red, orange, yellow and black. Since it was not truly a quilt, It had to be entered as an afghan. It won a blue ribbon. Entrelac, once learned, is enchanting and versatile.
    Marian Mackey

  7. You got me again. When I saw the title of this newsletter, I thought there would be some informative content about knitting entre lac. Instead it was just another teaser for for buy, buy buy. Already have Spring 2007 IK and Holiday 2007 so don’t need or want to purchase patterns.

  8. This whole “Knitting Daily” seems to have become little more than constant ads for purchase of various things, which I would already have should I wish to own them. A little more advice and explanation of various tehniques and a lot less commercial plugs would be greatly appreciated.

  9. I most certainly did not.

    I do not understand the fascination with entrelac – I find it tedious in the extreme and not particularly attractive. How about info on some less widely known cast ons or bind offs for folks to learn (or brush up on) some techniques?

  10. I’m sorry, Sandi but this pattern is really unattractive and garish. I know Lisa can design something really great, but this is not it. And I also am not interested in entrelac.

  11. From Michele M.
    I picked up a kintting kit from Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT. Loved the triangular shawl and the colors.

    Only when I finally opened the kit and after I had cast on the 200+ stitches did I read what my next step was. Surprise – I was doing this pattern even if I did not know how to. You do have to read the directions and not be bothered because you will have to be counting all the time. But the end result is worth it. Hang in there and you will be very pleased and proud of yourself and your finished project.

  12. I think the pattern is lovely; it’s the colors that are a bit garish. How about giving us some different color combinations, Sandi? I want to knit this but don’t like the orchid and teal. I am “color challenged” and don’t know how to identify a different color combination.
    I’d appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

  13. This is really ironic – last night I pulled out entrelac instructions and knit my first piece of entrelac – about 4 inches. It was a learning experience because a woman in our knit group needed help doing it. Now, I’m encouraged to make this piece long enough to be a washcloth. I like small pieces to learn a technique.

    I wonder what self-patterning sock yarn would look like in entrelac – worth a try, eh?

  14. Entrelac is good for what ails you–but you do have to pay attention and get used to only moving along one little square at a time, and be OK with picking up stitches all the time.

    It can be used in the round as for sock tops and bags, It can be SHAPED. I just did a beret that moved from large to small squares. it can be turned up on its end, for squares, not diamonds. It is perfect for hand-dyed and space-dyed or self-patterning yarns, yet absolutely suitable for solid color work, since it adds texture.
    Iit is still quite mysterious to me to design with–how to set up the first row of base triangles, or edge triangles. When to even use triangles? Why to design flat fronts and backs versus working in the round.

    I sort of think the Orchid Wrap would be better with more zig-zaggy edges and less edge triangles–

    My biggest issue is with integral shaping: Increasing within the blocks themselves, rather than on an edge. Doesn’t this involve EEEWWWW —GAUGE? MATH?

    those Eunny Entrelac Socks DO NOT FIT ME and I need to increase the calf size.

    I could get with more in-depth tech info, or maybe there is a book out there in the making?