Advanced entrelac tips and tricks

Tips for knitting entrelac patterns to achieve neater results. How to prevent holes, yarn peeking through, and perfect your edges.

I personally believe entrelac is one of the most underrated knitting patterns out there. You can achieve such stunning effects with this ingenious technique. Alas, most tutorials will repeat the same old instructions that result in a lot of problems. And that’s why I decided to compile a list of entrelac tips for advanced knitters I personally use for all my projects.

close up of a neat entrelac pattern knitted employing tips for super neat results
That’s what you can achieve when employing some basics entrelac tips

At the core, the entrelac pattern is just a simple way to knit a garland of rectangles. And then you knit another garland on top of the first one – but instead of casting on stitches, you pick them up from the edges. As easy as this sounds, problems arise when you deviate even a fraction from the perfect repeat.

Think about it that way: If you are knitting a simple sweater in stockinette stitch and then you accidentally purl one stitch in the middle – it’s going to stand out like a lighthouse on a dark shore. And entrelac IS knit in stockinette stitch. So, above all, it’s about consistency and perfect tension.

But there’s a couple of other things you can do to get neat results and prevent holes. Here are my 5 best entrelac tips!

One important note: This article is not meant to convince you to abandon your technique if you are happy with it.

1. Pick the right yarn & needle size for entrelac

close-up of an entrelac swatch knitted with advanced tips
Knitting entrelac with Regia sock yarn and 2mm needles

My number one entrelac tip really is knitting with a slightly fuzzy sock yarn (or any other very evenly spun, worsted, and durable yarn). Just like when you are knitting intarsia or any other colorwork technique, you need a fiber that hides minor mistakes and color transitions well.

Because let’s be honest, you are probably not a knitting machine and there will be flaws, moments of inattention where your tension is not ideal, etc. And this will show if you are knitting with cotton or similar fibers from three miles away. Also, you are turning your work around a lot and this will add (or subtract) twist from your yarn – and if your yarn is only loosely spun, to begin with, this will also result in a less than neat stitch definition.

On top of that, I recommend knitting with a relatively small needle size compared to your yarn weight. That way, you will produce a much more condensed fabric that will add to the overall basketweave appearance of entrelac. Knit with too loose a gauge, and everything you want hidden will peek through.

2. Pick up stitches the right way

entrelac knitting tips employed on a swatch for super neat results without holes

Now, picking up stitches deserves its very own article, if not a whole book. And there are quite a lot of tips and ways to improve your entrelac knitting, but if you stick to a couple of simple rules you can improve the look of your finished projects tremendously. The way I see it there are three issues: How to do it, where to do it, and how to treat the corners. Let’s go through it one by one.

1. There’s beauty in symetry

entrelac pattern in two colors with slanting corner stitches
An entrelac pattern where I picked up transition stitches from the previous edge.

My first and most important tip here would be: No matter which technique you chose, do it consistently. If you pick up a stitch through every second edge stitch for your first entrelac rectangle and for the second you start with the first and then through the corner, this is bound to look less neat.

At its core, no single knitting stitch is less beautiful than the other. But if you repeat the same motions over and over again, your brain will be able to see patterns and not just chaos. And usually, that’s what we call beautiful or pleasing to the eye. You’ve probably experienced this when you started knitting moss stitch, brioche, or any other knitting stitch pattern with a more complex repeat. After only 2 rows it will always look like you did something “wrong” – the pattern will take a while to emerge.

2. Consider going through the little knobs

In half the books I read about entrelac, they tell you to knit a slip stitch selvage for your right or left-leaning rectangles. So, you always slip the first (or last) stitch of every row. This will create an edge where it’s very easy to pick up stitches. But will it also result in a neat color transition? I personally didn’t find that to be true!

Picking up stitches through the “knobs” of the edge

Instead, I knit across all rows without a special selvage technique. And then I go through the little “knobs” of the edge using my crochet hook (or knitting needles). There’s always a little “V” of a knit stitch, and in between those Vs you will find a little loop that is the result of the yarn being drawn up one row. And I pick up my stitches through those knobs.

different pickup techniques show on a swatch - through edge stitched or through the knobs

Why? Well, first of all, it will result in wider rectangles. You don’t forshorten the fabric by cutting off the selvage. But I also feel it creates a cleaner edge and the colors intermingle a bit less.

wrong side of an entrelac pattern showing super neat transitions
The wrong side of an entrelac pattern without the “welts” you create when going through the full selvage stitch.

On top of it, it also creates a cleaner seam on the wrong side. So, I personally find it’s so much more attractive. Sure, the immediate edge might not look perfectly in sync with the overall stockinette stitch pattern. But as it usually gets drawn in a bit, that is much less noticeable than what you end up by going through the full selvage stitch.

3. Pick the right corner stitch

comparing different ways to pick up the corner stitch in entrelac for the best results

Maybe the biggest flaw of all entrelac patterns is the corner stitches. So, the spot where four rectangles meet in the middle. And here you have, if you ask me, three options:

  1. You go through the first corner stitch.
  2. You go through the last selvage stitch.
  3. You go through both and knit (or purl) them together right away in the return row (instead of just knitting across).

I usually go right through the first corner stitch. The result will be a slightly slanting stitch. I feel this is just perfect when you are knitting entrelac in only two colors as that stitch serves to connect the two rectangles in the same color.

If you are knitting in multiple colors, it’s sometimes better to pick the last edge stitch. This will create a tiny little hole and you will see the kind of marbled intersection stitches. But if you are knitting with a tight enough gauge, this typically gets drawn inward.

4. To SSK or not?

difference between decreasing entrelac squares with k2tog and ssk - with or without yarn peeking through
You can see the green yarn peeking through those SSK stitches.

I am not sure how much you know about knitting theory. But there’s quite a lot of problems with left-leaning knitting decrease (click on the link for the details & the best alternatives). As a result, your left-leaning entrelac rectangle, where you SSK the last stitch together with the first stitch of the adjoining rectangle from one row below, often has a bit of yarn peeking through.

Now, you can purl these SSKs through the backloop in the return row for a more balanced decrease line, but that won’t fix the bleed through. That’s why I typically will knit a k2tog instead. I’m aware that this is not a left-leaning decrease and will not result in a neat decrease line. However, as it twists the stitch around its central axis, the color transition is much more distinct.

Obviously, both versions are okay. I guess it boils down to personal preferences and which compromise you want to live with.

5. Perfect those left triangles

neater left triangles with a tip for entrelac knitting to create perfect transitions

I personally prefer knitting in the round (that’s actually my go-to entrelac tip!). It’s much easier and you don’t have to deal with these filler triangles on the left and right sides of every second row. But apart from them being a nuisance to knit, they typically also don’t look very neat – especially the left triangles. They usually don’t look like a perfect triangle and are often quite distorted.

different left triangles for entrelac so you can see the difference
The lower version doesn’t have a sharp tip, you can see the yarn peeking through, and there are holes below the decrease line

So, I came up with an alternative that’s a bit more difficult to knit but really pays off. The best part, you don’t even end up with holes around the decrease line. Here’s the repeat:

  • Step 1: One row before you finish the last left-leaning rectangle, join in a new color.
  • Row 0: Knit across and SSK (so finish the last row with the new color).
  • Row 1: Pfb. turn.
  • Row 2: k2. turn.
  • Row 3: Sl1, PLL, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 4: Sl1, k2. turn.
  • Row 5: Sl1, PLL, p1, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 6: Sl1, k3. turn.
  • etc.
  • Last row: Knit across and p2tog (so skip the increase).

And I feel this repeat results in a much smoother left triangle compared to all the other versions I ever found. It’s my personal go-to repeat. You get a nice sharp tip, a neat slip stitch selvage, no yarn bleeding through and no tails to weave in on the edges.

6. A better way to cast on without holes

entrelac base triangles without holes
A super neat and tidy row of entrelac base triangles without holes

And the last issue that personally bugs me a lot is the tiny little holes along the cast-on edge. Some patterns will tell you to knit proper short rows for the base triangles (e.g. German short rows) but that only helps a bit.

entrelac base triangles without holes compared to standard edge
Upper left corner: basic entrelac repeat that creates holes. Compared to my improved version (distributed to separate needles so you can see it better).

That’s because these holes are created because of the slant of the stockinette stitch. As a result, the stitches need more room and draw the cast-on stitches apart. So, here’s how I fix that:

  • Step 1: Cast on however many stitches you need with a longtail cast on (around two needles).
  • Step 2: Purl across.
  • Row 1: k1. turn.
  • Row 2: p1. turn.
  • Row 3: k1, then lift the left loop of the stitch of the first row right below back to your left needle, and ssk that loop and the next stitch together. So, it’s the loop that is directly connected to the next stitch and if you pull on it you should be able to affect the next stitch. It’s a bit like knitting K1tog LL or other lifted increases. turn.
  • Row 3: p2. turn.
  • Row 4: k2. lift & ssk. turn.
  • etc.

I know this is a bit awkward to knit but I promise you it will fix these annoying holes in the cast-on edge. It will, however, also take away a bit of the stretchiness. So, that’s definitely something to consider.

7. Learn to knit backwards

difference between normal and backwards knitting continental style

When you are knitting entrelac, you are constantly turning around the work. This happens every 6-7 stitches and can be both annoying and very awkward with bigger projects. By learning how to knit in the opposite direction, you can avoid this (and knitting a single purl stitch). It will take quite a lot of practice to get a nice stitch definition and a uniform gauge but it can be so worth it!

Here’s my tutorial on knitting backwards

[Bonus entrelac tip] knit intermission rows

One thing you may consider is called intermission rows. It’s something I personally don’t do because I don’t like the look of it but it does have a couple of advantages.

It sounds complicated but it’s actually very easy. So, at the beginning of a row, start picking up stitches as you normally would. But then, don’t continue knitting your left- or right rectangle. Instead, knit across the next couple of stitches, and then pick up the next set of stitches from the next edge and so on.

And then, start knitting your little rectangles one at a time the normal way starting on the wrong side. Consider slipping the first stitch of every return row (so the remaining stitch after your SSK or p2tog). That way, you avoid holes from forming around these decrease lines.

This would be a good choice if you are working on a project with a lot of negative ease where you plan to stretch out the fabric a lot. Then these intermission rows can look very charming.

Anyways, those were my entrelac tips. Please, comment below if you still have a question.

essentials tips for entrelac knitting to achieve neater results, no holes and pretty edges

23 thoughts on “Advanced entrelac tips and tricks”

  1. Of all the Entrelac tutorials do believe your method makes sense to me seeing watched over and over other videos. Therefore avoided trying Entrelac knitting. Although having made Sock Blanket with leftover yarn pattern diamond shapes fun to knit as well.

    Reply
  2. In Item 6, “A Better Way to Cast On Without Holes, I’m confused about Row 3. It states to k1, then lift the left loop of the first row on your left needle, and ssk that loop and the next stitch together. Do you mean to lift the left loop of the stitch below that first k1 stitch?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Samantha,
      I am not sure what exactly you mean? Would you mind elaborating? I can’t quite picture what you mean with sprawled all over the place.

      Reply
      • I mean that my finishing row triangles are very loose. The cast on edge triangles are 4cm along the long edge and the cast off edge triangles are 7cm along the long edge. It gives a very rippled end to the scarf.

        Reply
        • I can only guess but you probably picked a cast-on that was not all that stretchy, and now the way you bound off is stretchy and that results in the imbalances. Not a lot I can suggest here, other than knitting a little bit more tightly.

          Reply
        • The way to fix that is knit 1, pick up one, from the strand between the two stitches, all the way across the row. Basically double the amount of stitches on the row. They cast off the whole row. That will fix the spaces and looseness of the top row.
          Hope this helps. 😉 Stu

          Reply
  3. Hello Norman, I’m very excited to try your suggestions as I’ve been having trouble with many of the issues you address. Do you have an illustration of the intermission rows? I don’t get it, but have a niggling feeling I’ll enjoy it

    Reply
  4. Hi Norman, I love your tutorials. I knitted an entrelac shawl by knitting regular and knitting backwards. I would like to know what is the best stitch to substitute for the “SSK” when knitting backwards. I used your tutorials and chose the “slip, knit, pass over” but it was quite loose. Would you still recommend the K2tog?

    Reply
    • well, I cannot really help you there but an SSK is loose to begin with. And when you knit it backwards, it’s gonna be even looser. So, either practise, look up some different left-leaning decrease (like k2tog-l), or switch back to standard knitting.
      i never knit entrelac backwards.

      Reply
  5. Hi. I’m knitting a top down sweater. The yoke is entrelac. How do I knit half blocks while keeping stitches live so as to continue in stocking stitch. There are some really basic instructions on the pattern, just can’t get my head around it.
    Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Thankyou in advance.

    Reply
    • i am not sure I totally understand you. But I would asume that the basic instructions for the last set of triangles before the bind off is what you mean. Thtese steps are described in my main entrelac tutorial (link above)

      Reply
  6. Hi Norman, thank you for all your helpful videos and website.
    I am knitting a tote bag with entrelac (which will be felted); and I would like to finish the top with triangles and then some rows of normal stockinette. I understand the instructions for ending triangles which bind off the work but I would like to finish the entrelac part with live stitches. Can you help?

    Reply
    • well, it’s the very same technique. But instead of binding off (as in pass the stitch over) you always keep the one stitch that you added on the needle and with every pass another gets added. and then you knit across. it’s that simple.

      Reply
  7. Hi Norman, I couldn’t find detail like this on entrelac anywhere else so many thanks.
    Just one question, when doing the improved cast on, how does it progress? On the video you seem to be saying take the loop from the first row above the cast on to SSK on the third row of the triangle and then take the loop from the 2nd row on the 5th row of the triangle. Here in the written instructions you just mention the first row so I’m a bit confused. Thanks

    Reply
  8. Hi, Norman

    I love your site, tutorials and videos. They have been so helpful as I improve my knitting skills.

    I have been working mostly small portable projects like face/wash cloths to try out new techniques. I recently came across a dishcloth pattern the author calls “Garterlac” because it is knit in garter stitch rather than stockinette. This led to another website where Cathy has presented the “one stitch garterlac cast on.” This inspired me to try my first entrelac sample.

    I love the way this pattern ends with a decrease at the edge of each top triangle so the the bind off is accomplished as the triangles are knit. Start with one stitch and end with one stitch.

    Thank you for all your helpful tips on perfecting entrelac. The cotton garterlac washcloths that I am currently knitting with uneven yarn hide a multitude of errors. But now that I have your additional tips I think I am ready to start a project with good yarn meant to be displayed!

    Reply
  9. I am just doing a test piece right now with a cast on for 8 triangles across. I’ve had to redo this swatch about 5 times already, but the first 4 times I have not noticed any holes at all, however this time there are large holes in the knitting. The holes are seeming to be on the last stitch after the last knitted stitch. I’m using the knitting backwards technique on this one. How do I get those holes to disappear? They are quite large about the size of a penny. To me it is very unsightly to say the least. I’ve been knitting now since 2001 so 22 years but just now trying to knit this entralac, but not being very successful at it with these holes. Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  10. Hmmmm…I did post a comment, but it is not showing up once I hit refresh….I’m having a problem with the holes in my work…I would post a picture to show you but this is in my browser Safari and it isn’t showing that it allows to add pictures. Anyway on the last stitch of each triangle there is a big hole in my work. It is next to the 5th stitch worked…the one that you don’t purl since it is the last stitch. How do I get rid of that hole…it is “FAR” from tiny. I’m using size 7 knitting needles and using a crochet hook to pick up my stitches. Seems it is the cast on edge that has the biggest holes and I work it tight in hopes to avoid them holes on the “Cast on” row….but alas they are still there. I will frog this first base row of triangles and try again while I’m waiting on your reply.

    Reply

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