How to do entrelac knitting

A step-by-step tutorial on the entrelac knitting pattern for beginners. Plus tips and tricks for a neat finish

Have you seen a beautiful scarf or hat with interwoven squares in many different colors? And now you are wondering how to knit the entrelac knitting pattern? Well, then you came to the right place because this tutorial is all about it.

multicolored entrelac knitting pattern seen from an angle

I have been knitting entrelac for many years and it’s actually one of my favorite patterns/techniques ever. It’s just so fun to knit! And I truly feel it has been misunderstood for way too many years. Because if done right, you can achieve some truly stunning effects. Lots of books sadly show you flawed techniques that only yield less than ideal results.

Reading tip: My list of 5 entrelac tips for neater results.

What is the entrelac knitting pattern?

close-up of the entrelac knitting pattern seen from the side

Entrelac is an advanced knitting technique that results in a diagonal basketweave pattern. It boils down to knitting many tiny little rectangles using short rows and picking up stitches from their edges in the next row to stack a new tier of rectangles leaning in a different direction upon them.

The entrelac pattern can be knit using one or multiple colors. It’s easier to knit in the round but can be adapted for flat knitting with some minor modifications. While the instructions for the pattern has many little steps, it does not require complicated knitting stitches.

the wrong side of the entrelac knitting pattern
The wrong side of the same entrelac swatch

The rectangles and triangles are simple stockinette stitch. You also need to know two simple decreases and one easy increase.

The term entrelac itself is french for “between the lakes” and has been used to describe interwoven patterns of all kinds starting from the 19th century. It’s sadly not a reversible pattern.

Let’s show you how to knit the entrelac pattern!

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Instructions for the entrelac knitting pattern

Entrelac is best thought of as a general technique and not a set-in-stone pattern. As such you will find many modifications. This is the version that yields the best results in my opinion. But they all share one commonality. Entrelac is always knit in tiers and it always consists of rectangles.

The size of the individual rectangles is up to you. They can be as small as 4 stitches and as big as you want. For this tutorial, I will work with 6 stitches.

Tip: Kindly use my knitting glossary if abbreviations are unfamiliar and check out this tutorial on how to read knitting patterns in case you need to catch up.

Tier 1: Starting the base triangles

base triangles to start the entrelac knitting pattern
Three base triangles next to each other (I transferred them to three needles so you can see it better)

Before you can start with the actual entrelac knitting pattern, you need to knit one setup row. These are often called base triangles.

  1. Cast on as multiples of the size of the rectangles you decided on with a longtail cast on around two needles for a stretchy edge. In this case, I will cast on 15 stitches.
  2. Row 1 (right side): Knit 1 stitch and turn the work around without finishing the row.
  3. Row 2 (wrong side): Purl 1 stitch and turn the work around immediately again.
  4. Row 3: Knit 2 stitches. turn.
  5. Row 4: Purl 2. turn.
  6. Row 5: Knit 3. turn.
  7. Row 6: Purl 3. turn.
  8. Row 7: Knit 4. turn.
  9. Row 8: Purl 4. turn.
  10. Row 9: Knit 5 and do not turn.

Note: Depending on your stitch count per rectangle, you will have to repeat increasing by one stitch per row on the right side and stop once you reached the desired number. Always stop in a right-side row. This applies to the rest of the pattern as well.

From here, you have to repeat these instructions over and over again until you reached the end of the row. You may place a stitch marker here.

So, knit one stitch, turn, purl one stitch, turn, knit two, turn, purl two, turn, knit three, etc.

Tier 2: Left stlantin gRectangles

Now that you finished the setup row, you can start knitting the entrelac pattern in earnest. But there is one little problem when knitting entrelac flat you need to circumvent. You can’t just pick up rectangles from the edges.

You start the second tier on the wrong side. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials showing you to do it on the right side (and the far left). But this obviously doesn’t work when you are knitting in one color only.

Filler triangle on the left

entrelac left triangle for the second tier - starting on the wrong side
The finished filler triangle on the left side of the entrelac pattern.

Before you can start with the second entrelac tier proper, you need to knit one filler triangle so you end up with a neat and straight edge.

  • Row 1 (on the wrong side): (join a new color) and purl front & back (pfb) and turn the work around.
  • Row 2 (RS): k2. turn.
  • Row 3: Pfb and purl the next two stitches togther (p2tog). The first stitch should be from the increase in row 1 the other should be the first stitch of the last base triangle. turn.
  • Row 4: k3. turn.
  • Row 5: Pfb, p1, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 6: k4. turn.
  • Row 7: Pfb, p2, p2tog
  • Row 8: k5. turn.
  • Row 9: p4, p2tog (attention: no increase in the last row!)

You should have 5 stitches on your needle (or however many stitches you decided on).

Right-leaning rectangle

right entrelac sqaures for the second tier of the his beautiful knitting pattern
Two finished right-leaning entrelac rectangles (transferred to separate needles again)

From here, you can start with the actual entrelac pattern. Again, there are many different versions of this, but I’ll show you the one that yields to the neatest results in my opinion.

the way you need to picking up stitches through the edge of the entrelac pattern
That’s where and how I pick up the first stitch

Preparation: Ignoring the 5 stitches on your left needle, pick up 5 stitches from the edge of the base triangle evenly. There are four rules you need to observe meticulously.

picking up one more stitch from the corner
That’s how and where I pick up the last stitch.
  1. You need to pick up the stitches from the front – either using your knitting needle or a crochet hook. I always skip the first stitch and I always pick up stitches through the top loop of the edge stitch. But you can also go underneath the V of an edge stitch (that’s what most books will tell you. I just fell that’s less neat).
  2. You have to pick up the stitches as evenly as possible.
  3. The last stitch you pick up should be through the corner to avoid creating a hole. This will create a slightly slanted stitch. If you are okay with a tiny little hole, you can also go through the last stitch of the edge.
  4. Make sure that your picked up stitches are tight and there is not a lot of slack in between them.

Once you picked up all stitches, the pattern continues like this:

  • Row 1 (RS): Knit across the 5 stitches you picked up. turn.
  • Row 2 (WS): p4 and p2tog (so that should be one stitch in the new color and one in old). turn.
  • Row 3: k5. turn.
  • Row 4: p4, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 5: k5. turn.
  • Row 6: p4, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 7: k5. turn.
  • Row 8: p4, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 9: k5. turn.
  • Row 10: p4, p2tog.

Note: For those working with more stitches; Repeat rows 3+4 until you used up (decreased) all stitches from the last base triangle ending in on the wrong side.

From here, you need to repeat these instructions over and over again until and stop before the last base triangle. So, pick up 5 more stitches in the exact same way from the next edge (through the front!), and start with row 1 all over again.

Filler Triangle on the right

right triangle filling up the end of the second tier of the entrelac knitting pattern
Finishing the second tier with another filler triangle

Now, there is one last edge left but it’s facing the right side of your work. So, you can’t add another full rectangle here as it would stick out beyond the edge. Instead, you have to add another filler triangle here to get a neat and clean edge.

  • Step 1: Pick up another 5 stitches from the edge the way you did so far.
  • Row 1 (RS): k5. turn.
  • Row 2 (WS): k3, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 3: k4. turn.
  • Row 4: k2, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 5: k3. turn.
  • Row 6: k1, p2tog. turn.
  • Row 7: k2. turn.
  • Row 8: p2tog. turn.

Note: For those working with more stitches per rectangle. Repeat decreasing in every WS row until you have 1 stitch left.

Congratulations, you just finished your first entrelac pattern row!

Tier 3: Left-slanting Rectangles

knitting entrelac left squares to fill out the third tier of this pattern
A row of left-leaning entrelac rectangles

From here, you can start knitting the third entrelac tier right away. And the good news is, you don’t need any filler triangles on the edges and you can work from the right side (so much easier to pick up stitches).

  • Step 1 (RS): Join new color and pick up 5 stitches from the edge of the filler triangle the way you did before. So skip the first stitch, 4 from every second edge stitch coming from the front as well, and one through the corner. You should have 6 stitches (so one more) on your needle now.
  • Row 1 (WS): p4, p2tog (so the first stitch you picked up and that single last stitch remaining from the second tier). turn.
  • Row 2 (RS): k4 and SSK (one stitch in the new color and the first stitch from the first full rectangle one tier below). turn.
  • Row 3: p5. turn.
  • Row 4: k4, SSK. turn.
  • Row 5: p5. turn.
  • Row 6: k4, SSK. turn.
  • Row 7: p5. turn.
  • Row 8: k4, SSK. turn.
  • Row 9: p5. turn.
  • Row 10: k4, SSK.

Note for everyone knitting entrelac with more stitches: Repeat decreasing in every RS row until you used up all stitches from the first rectangle of the second tier).

Next, pick up 5 (or however many stitches you need) from the next edge and repeat all over again start with row 1. There’s one important difference. As there is no stitch remaining from the second tier, you have to knit row 1 like this:

  • Row 1 (WS): p5 and turn.

So you just skip the last p2tog and ignore the stitches that remain from the first rectangle of that tier. Repeat until you picked up stitches from every edge of the tier below.

I do have to say that I usually don’t knit an SSK for the left rectangle. I will do a k2tog and I actually believe it creates the neater join as you won’t end up with any color bleeding through. But that’s just my personal preference. The fabric will, however, lay less flat.

From here, you can simply start with a tier of right-slanting rectangles all over again followed by a tier 3 and so on. Repeat however many times you see fit.

How to finish entrelac knitting

finishing the entrelac knitting pattern with triangles and a simple bind off

Once your project reached the desired length it’s time to bind off. But how do you finish entrelac knitting? You cannot simply bind-off as that would create a zig-zag line you don’t want, plus there’s not a continuous line of stitches, to begin with.

Well, the answer is, how could it be different, another set of filler triangles.

finishing the entrelac pattern after a right leaning row to make this easier
You should start the bind-off after a right-leaning tier

I always start binding off after a tier 2 as I feel it’s much easier and neater. If you want to finish after a tier 3 that leads to all sorts of problems. On top of needing triangles to fill the top, you also need special filler triangles on the left and right side and those will always look wonky and you don’t want that.

  • Step 1 (RS): Pick up the 5 stitches from the edge as you normally would. turn.
  • Row 1 (WS): p4. p2tog. turn.
  • Row 2: bind off 1 stitch, k2, SSK (one in the new color and one from the tier below). turn.
  • Row 3: p3, sl1. turn.
  • Row 4: bo1, k1, SSK. turn.
  • Row 5: p2, sl1. turn.
  • Row 6: bo1, SSK. turn
  • Row 7: p1, sl1. turn.
  • Row 8: bind off one stitch and ssk at the same time. (So, knit one, ssk, and slip the stitch you knitted over the ssk.) don’t turn.
  • Row 9: Slip the remaining stitch from the previous rectangle knitwise, slip the remaining stitches back to the left needle and knit them through the back loop.

From here, pick up another 5 stitches from the next edge and start with row 1 all over again. Repeat until you reached the edge. Turn the workaround, and bind off with a moderately stretchy bind-off of your choice. If you want, you can purl across one more row before you bind off.

entrelac knitting pattern bind off close-up

Important: I’ve seen a lot of tutorials showing you to bind off right away – mostly through decreasing the last two stitches of the wrong side. I do not feel this creates a very neat edge. But if you want that you could do it like this:

  • Row 1 (WS): p5, p2tog (the stitch from the previous row). turn.
  • Row 2 (RS): k5, SSK
  • Row 3: p4, p2tog
  • Row 4: k4, SSK
  • etc..

I personally feel that finishing the entrelac pattern like that will create a wobbly edge with not so neat transitions. But, as always, I leave it up to you.

Last steps

weaving in the tails on the wrong side of the entrelac knitting pattern

If you have been knitting entrelac in multiple colors as I showed you, you will end up with quite a lot of tails – one for each tier. And the bad news is: You have to weave them in the traditional way.

I always do that on the wrong side using a sharp tapestry needle and going diagonally (and then one more time in another direction). You can check out my full tutorial on how to weave in ends here. You could also go through the pick-up edges instead. This will reinforce them even further, though, but it might be a bit easier for you.

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The entrelac knitting pattern

the entrelac knitting pattern in multiple colors

Entrelac is knitting in tiers. After a preparation row, you add a row of right-leaning rectangles, followed by a row of left-leaning rectangles. And once you are satisfied, you need to know across a special row of triangles before you can bind off.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Instructions

  1. Knit a row of base triangles.
    base triangles to start the entrelac knitting pattern
    Cast on as multiples of the size of the rectangles you decided on with a longtail cast on around two needles for a stretchy edge.
    Row 1 : K1 and turn.
    Row 2: P1. turn
    Row 3: K2. turn.
    Row 4: P2. turn.
    Row 5: K3. turn.
    Row 6: P3. turn.
    Row 7: K4. turn.
    Row 8: P4. turn.
    Row 9: K5 and do not turn.
    Repeat rows 1-9 until the end of the row.
  2. Start knitting the second tier with a filler triangle on the left.
    entrelac left triangle for the second tier - starting on the wrong side
    Row 2 k2. turn.
    Row 3: Pfb, p2tog). turn.
    Row 4: k3. turn.
    Row 5: Pfb, p1, p2tog. turn.
    Row 6: k4. turn.
    Row 7: Pfb, p2, p2tog
    Row 8: k5. turn.
    Row 9: p4, p2tog
  3. Knit left-leaning rectangles across the whole row.
    right entrelac sqaures for the second tier of the his beautiful knitting pattern
    Pick up 5 stitches from the next edge
    Row 1: K5. turn.
    Row 2: p4 and p2tog. turn.
    Row 3: k5. turn.
    Row 4: p4, p2tog. turn.
    Row 5: k5. turn.
    Row 6: p4, p2tog. turn.
    Row 7: k5. turn.
    Row 8: p4, p2tog. turn.
    Row 9: k5. turn.
    Row 10: p4, p2tog.
    Repeat rows 1-5 until there's only one edge left.
  4. Finish the second tier with a filler triangle on the right.
    right triangle filling up the end of the second tier of the entrelac knitting pattern
    Pick up another 5 stitches from the last edge.
    Row 1: k5. turn.
    Row 2: k3, p2tog. turn.
    Row 3: k4. turn.
    Row 4: k2, p2tog. turn.
    Row 5: k3. turn.
    Row 6: k1, p2tog. turn.
    Row 7: k2. turn.
    Row 8: p2tog. turn.
  5. Knit a row of right-leaning rectangles.
    knitting entrelac left squares to fill out the third tier of this pattern

    Join new color and pick up 5 stitches from the edge of the filler triangle the way you did before.
    Row 1: p4, p2tog. turn.
    Row 2: k4 and SSK. turn.
    Row 3: p5. turn.
    Row 4: k4, SSK. turn.
    Row 5: p5. turn.
    Row 6: k4, SSK. turn.
    Row 7: p5. turn.
    Row 8: k4, SSK. turn.
    Row 9: p5. turn.
    Row 10: k4, SSK.

    Repeat rows 1-10 for the remaining edges of that row
  6. Finish the entrelac pattern with a row of triangles after a left-leaning row.
    finishing the entrelac knitting pattern with triangles and a simple bind off

    Pick up the 5 stitches from the edge as you normally would. turn.
    Row 1: p4. p2tog. turn.
    Row 2: bo1, k2, SSK. turn.
    Row 3: p3, sl1. turn.
    Row 4: bo1, k1, SSK. turn.
    Row 5: p2, sl1. turn.
    Row 6: bo1, SSK. turn
    Row 7: p1, sl1. turn.
    Row 8: knit 1, ssk, pass the second stitch over the first. don't turn.
    Row 9: Slip the remaining stitch from the previous rectangle knitwise, slip the remaining stitches back to the left needle and knit them through the back loop.
    Weave in the remaining tails.

Notes

Try to knit as evenly as possible. Also, try to pick up stitches in the exact same way for every edge. The more you stick to that rule, the neater your finished project will look. And don't forget to block your finished project. Entrelac knitting patterns usually look much better after a good wash.

Anyway, that’s how to do the entrelac knitting patter. Comment below in case you need any help

how to knit the entrelac pattern for beginners - step by step written instructions plus video

1 thought on “How to do entrelac knitting”

  1. Brilliant Norman this is just what I have been looking for a full and concise description of how to actually do Entrelac Knitting,, thank you,
    marilyn

    Reply

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