Thank you to everyone who wrote with hints on how to tame the entrelac beast!
I mentioned wanting to introduce shaping into my garment, and Jaya (of extensive modular knitting experience) suggested I plan on changing the size of the entrelac blocks in those areas. She says she uses either extra decreases or increases to alter the size of individual modules as required and then restores them to their original shape after the need for the width alteration has passed. (You can see some of Jaya’s killer work in her picture album). She also suggested I look at Annabelle Dawson’s entrelac sock pattern because that uses entrelac diamonds of different sizes to change the diameter of the total piece.
Debbi sent in some thoughts about yardage consumption. She said that the entrelac front of Oat Couture’s Tuxedo Vest used less yardage than she would have expected, so I shouldn’t worry about not having enough yarn. Just in case, I’ll do the front of my project first. I can always do plain stockinette for the back.
As to what that thing will be, I’m not sure yet, but I didn’t let that stop me from casting on. I did the math on my gauge swatch, and cast on 138 stitches. I’m working the short-row method for the foundation row of triangles, as per Carol Wyche’s Untangling Entrelac article(great resource!).
I’ll do a couple of courses then begin to think about trimming out a small bit of bulk to make a nip-in at the waist. Not much, but enough to avoid an overly boxy sillhouette. I haven’t decided on much for the upper body. I’m thinking square neckline. I’ve got an Elizabethan shape, so they work well on me, plus it should be easier to do a square neckline than a Vee in entrelac. We’ll see how much yarn I end up having left over for sleeves. I’m open to anything from "just barely" to three-quarters. Which brings me to my big learning experience of the day:
Backwards We Will Be Knitting
The most commonly repeated hint I ran across was that given the back-and-forth nature of entrelac, lifewould beless cumbersome if one learned to knit backwards – from left to right. That way the little entrelac gobbets could be done without the need to flip the work over. Given the fact that I’ll be doing LOTS of 6-stitch wide gobbets, I thought I’d play with it.
Since the whole idea of knitting backwards is to minimize all interruptions in the flow of stitch formation, I decided I didn’t want to switch the hands in which I was holding my yarn. That means I’d be going forward in my usual Continental style, but heading back doing some left-handed variant on English/throwing style.
Now, I’m a Continental knitter to the bone. I’ve done contrasting colors in using throwing, mostly back before I learned to hold both colors in the same handwhile stranding. I’ve also taught others to do it, and in a pinch can demonstrate most techniques in it for people who have problems seeing what I do and translating it to their way. But it’s not my method of choice, and certainly far from a habit that’s become hard-wired for me (I knit Continental exclusively when I dream about knitting. What? you don’t dream about knitting? Hmmm….) At this point, I have to think hard to knit properly using throwing.
I killed most of yesterday playing with different ways of wrapping the yarn and forming the stitches. First forwards, then backwards – sometimes both at once on two different sets of needles so I could see where I was going wrong. I will say that if you want to experiment with this, there are two knitting basics of which youmust be aware. First, make sure you’refamiliar with the difference between stitches mounted on the needle with their leading legs in front, and stitches mounted with their leading legs behind:
The leg in front orientation is the most common. It’s the expected orientationagainst which 99.999% of knitting patterns are written. There are exceptions of course. People who knit Eastern Uncrossed like my mom alternate orientations between knit and purl rows, but they knit into the back of their stitches when working stockinette so that they avoid making twisted stitches. The second thing to recognize is whether or not the way you are forming a stitch will produce a normal U-shaped stitch, or a twisted one. (The twisted ones look like toddlers-in-trainingpostponing the inevitable.)
Recognize these knitting basics and experiment with different ways of wrapping the yarn and making stitches so you know what combo of stitch entry and yarn looping produces each effect. That will make it easier to figure out what’s happening when you try toknit backwards. It took quite a few passes before I was able to produce normal untwisted/leading-leg-forward stitches.
What I ended up doing was keeping my yarn in the left hand, exactly as I usually hold it. I took my left hand needle tip and put it into the stitch to be knit, from front to back, as if I were knitting through the back of the stitch (pretty much what my Mom does when she makes a knit stitch, but from left to right instead of right to left). Then I used my yarn-holding index finger to wrap my yarn down over the left-hand needle tip. I then used the right-hand needle to lift the old stitch over the newly made loop, dropping it off the end of the needle. Voila! One backwards-knit knit stitch.I apologize for not having pix, but I’m alone right now and without growing several new appendages, I can’t photograph and knit at the same time.
Needless to say I’m kitten-clumsy on this, and have nothing like the speed with which I can knit in the normal orientation. But after working across my entire short-rowed set of edge triangles, it doesn’t feel as abjectly alien as it did last night.