Your First Entrelac

Would you love to knit a beautiful entrelac project like this?

first entrelac
My first entrelac project, knit in Noro Kochoran.

After completing 20 entrelacs I consider myself quite experienced. Many knitters have told me they would love to try it, but thinks it’s too difficult.  It’s not!  Really.  Here are some tips to make your first entrelac a success.

Pattern Choice

I always use the same pattern, if I want a bigger or smaller entrelac I change the number of stitches I cast on. My go-to pattern is The Basic Entrelac Scarf by Lisa Shroyer.  Find it on Ravelry here.  You’ll notice the shawl pictured above is featured on this pattern page.

The stitches are cast on in groups of 8, sometimes I’ve cast on as few as 16. The usual number is 24.  Right now I’m working on a huge custom wrap for which I cast on 48 stitches.  This project is is using 6 balls of Noro Nadeshiko, which is discontinued.

IMG_5418
The Giant

Start with 16 or 24 stitches on your first project.

Just follow the pattern, it’s very clear and well written. If you have any trouble understanding it, here is a tutorial on YouTube.

Yarn Selection

I recommend using bulky yarn for your first entrelac. You’ll see quick progress and the heavy yarn will make your stitches easy to see if you need to tink (unknit) something. It also makes it much easier to see what you’re doing when you pick up stitches to create the new blocks.

To get an entrelac with solidly colored blocks you’ll need a yarn with a long color change. My favorites include a lot of Noro yarns. I’ve used Kochoran, Nideshiko and Transitions. These are all discontinued. Many Noro yarns would work.

entrelac_in_transitions_medium
Noro Transitions

Once you get comfortable with picking up stitches (or if you have some experience with this) try a worsted weight yarn.

taos entrelac
Crystal Palace Taos, worsted weight yarn

 

bright entrelac
Knit One, Crochet Too Paint Box, worsted

If you like striped blocks like this, try a hand dyed or commercial yarn with a short color repeat.

hand dyed yarn entrelac
Hand Dyed Yarn with short color repeats

Neutrals can be beautiful too!

entrelac latte ecoduo
Cascade Eco Duo (which is one of my very favorite yarns!)

Other Tips

When completing a row, spread out the project and make sure the edges are even. It’s easy to forget or add an extra a side triangle and once you continue there is no way to correct without ripping back to that point. Best to examine each row and avoid any anguish when you discover something awry rows later.

I like to use circular needles, it keeps the edges from slipping off best, but I use circulars for everything.

Picking up stitches intimidates a lot of knitters. I was nervous about it in the beginning. The important thing to remember – it’s easy to rip them out and begin again. Entrelac is the perfect way to get really good at picking up stitches, both knitwise and purlwise. You will be an expert after your first project and never hesitate again.

If you aren’t sure exactly how to pick up and knit, check out this YouTube video on picking up knitwise.  This is focused on socks, but the principle is the same, and the stitches are very visible in this video.

Picking up purlwise is shown in this short video.  This is going to feel very awkward at first!  Keep at it and it will become easy.  Remember, practice is the way to learn anything.

The little holes at some intersections of blocks are normal. Using a slightly fuzzy yarn will help hide them. This is a perfect excuse to use a yarn with a bit of angora, again Noro is a great choice for this.

View your first entrelac as practice. Focus on learning the skills you may not be comfortable with when you begin. Don’t worry about the result. The wonderful thing about knitting is that it’s easy to tear it all out and begin again. Entrelac’s block by block construction makes it especially easy to tear out a block and correct something you don’t like.

See all my entrelac projects (and everything else I’ve knit) on my Ravelry project page. Friend me!

Good luck with your first entrelac project. I’d love to see what you create.

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Spring Knitting, Part 2

People ask me how they can wear hand knit accessories in the spring and summer.  Here are some examples that I think work well.

This frothy lime shawl is knit in 100% pima cotton, so it’s light, soft, airy – just right for cool summer evenings or chilly movies.  It’s an asymmetrical triangle, so it’s a bit unusual, not like anything commercially produced, perfect if you like to be just a bit different. 

Lime Shawl
Lime Shawl

Lime not your thing?  How about coral?  This is a rectangular scarf,  it makes an excellent sarong.  It’s cotton, so it dries in a flash.

Coral Rectangular Shawl
Coral Rectangular Scarf

Perhaps cooler colors are more to your taste?  Noro Nobori knits up into a gorgeous blue and purple rectangular scarf.

Noro Nobori Fishnet Shawl
Noro Nobori Fishnet Shawl/Scarf

Looking for a gift?  Finding it tricky to buy colors for someone else?  Teal looks great on almost everyone, and this 100% cotton is soft, fluffy and generally fabulous.  This is another one of those rectangular scarves that you can wear in several different ways. Doesn’t it look great with the seahorse shawl pin?

Teal Rectangular Scarf
Teal Rectangular Scarf

Spring Knitting, Part 3 will be coming soon.  We just keep creating the beautiful stuff!

A Weighty Subject

I’ve been made aware (in a traumatic way) that not all skeins of yarn are created equal – they don’t all weigh what the label says they do.

Recently, I was knitting this lovely small shawl

Blue Lagoon Scarf/Shawlette

and I ran out of yarn long, long before I should have.  The only reason I caught on is that this was the second time I used that yarn to knit the same pattern.

The yarn was Knitpicks Chroma fingering weight.  I called the nice Customer Service queen and she apologized profusely and immediately dispatched another ball at no charge.  She asked me to let her know if there was a problem with the new ball, because that might indicate there were short weights for the whole dye lot.

The new ball was fine, but this whole experience made me think (uh-oh) and I began to weigh many different yarns.

Here are some results.

Yarn

Labeled Weight (grams)

Actual Weight (grams)

Noro Kureyon             100               99
            100               90
Noro Kochoran             100               92
            100              107
            100              107
            100              103
            100              97
            100              92
KnitPicks Gloss DK             50              47
            50             49
            50             50
            50             52
Karabella Soft Tweed             50             53
            50             50
            50             50
KnitPicks Stroll             100             102
Noro Silver Thaw             100             97

What I discovered:

1.  Yarn weights are all over the place.  8 were under weight, 6 were over weight, and only 3 were accurate.

2.  Some of the underweight balls were very short, up to 10% less than labeled.  This can cause a big problem if the weight indicates that there is less yardage than labeled.

3.  Noro was the worst offender.  The reason I weighed so many Noro yarns is because my first results were so crazy (and because I have a lot of Noro).  Karabella was pretty consistent, Knitpicks Gloss was pretty close to stated weight or a bit over.

Now, all this brought more questions to my inquiring mind.

What does it all mean?  Is the yardage short?  Is the yarn underweight because it lost moisture in storage?  Does humidity in my house affect the weight?

I am willing to believe moisture is a factor, but 10% underweight is a bit much.  I googled around a bit – searched underweight yarn skeins – and found plenty of yarns for sale with the disclaimer “slightly underweight”.

Of course, I absolutely do not believe any of this is done purposely.  But, it’s impossible to know how much yarn I use if I don’t know what I started with.  And sometimes I need to know.  For example, when designing a pattern it’s necessary to know how much yarn it takes.   Also, if I don’t know how much I started with, I don’t know what I have left.  Since I often use leftovers for smaller projects, that matters to me.

So,  I’m weighing all my skeins from now on before I knit them.  I’ll record the weights on my Ravelry project page.  And, if I notice a consistent pattern of shortages then I’ll be able to make an informed decision about buying that yarn in future.