The Edge of Entrelac

6 November, 2008 at 11:29 am (knitting)

As promised!

(Please note that this tutorial assumes that you are already familiar with the basic steps of how to work entrelac.)

First things first: what’s wrong with any of the usual cast ons for entrelac? Well, nothing if you’re planning to cover it up with fringe or an edging or anything else. Next to nothing if you’re doing your entrelac in a solid coloured yarn. But when worked in a multi-coloured and especially in a self-striping yarn, it ends up looking less than lovely.

And of course, the more stitches you cast on and the longer the edge, the worse this effect gets. Even beyond the colour differences, the cast on is a bit sloppy looking, which I wouldn’t mind in most things, but I do mind in this.

Now, I’m sure you could use some method of mid-row cast on to simply cast on stitches for each base triangle as you worked them, but I suspect that might leave some gaping problems and also potentially some edge stability issues. So! I present to you, the Jesh method.

Start by casting on your preferred number of stitches, using a loose long-tail cast on in waste yarn.

Then, work your base triangles in the usual fashion, as well as the first tier of squares. Be careful when working the squares not to pick up stitches off of the cast on; instead, if you find you are short a stitch, pick it up from the strand of working yarn in between the triangles, as badly shown here on the left needle:

Stop just before picking up the stitches for the far side triangle—for me this is on the left side, since I started with a purl row. Yours may be on the right side, but it doesn’t matter either way.

Now, here comes the scary part. Ready? Are you sure? Break out the scissors and…

Cut off the cast on!

Note that if the scissors make you squeamish you can just start at the other end and unpick the cast on, but that is not nearly as thrilling or fun.

After you remove all the cast on bits left behind, you will find that you have one unsecured stitch:

Don’t panic! But don’t try to pull it out, either, unless you really want to unravel all your hard work. Instead, use that stitch when you pick up the stitches for the side triangle,

Then work the side triangle in the normal fashion. And you’re good to go with your nice clean cast on edge!

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13 Comments

  1. trillian42 said,

    Ooh! Nifty idea! I’ll have to try that if I ever get around to Lady E, since I’m not a fringe kind of gal.

  2. orata said,

    this is great! Thanks for sharing.

  3. loumms said,

    Awesome idea, I’m going to have to try that one out.

  4. Erika said,

    Very nicely explained and photographed.

  5. LittleWit said,

    Wonderful. 🙂 Now I just have to remember to look here whenever I do entrelac for the first time 🙂

  6. Vismajor said,

    Ah, scary! Cutting off the cast-on?! Seems like crazy talk, but it did leave a great looking edge in your pictures.

    All kidding aside, this is a great tutorial – I’ll definitely use it in my next entrelac project.

  7. JenC aka Soc ks said,

    this has been added to my favorites folder for pages I can’t live without!! Great tutorial jesh!!

  8. Nancy said,

    Perfect timing for you to post this technique! I’m awaiting either a friend to lend me her book, or the library to notify me this week when it comes in as I got delivery of my yarn to attempt Lady E.

    Bravo Jesh and thank you for posting this!

  9. turtlegirl76 said,

    Where the hell was this fabulolus tutorial back in february when I started my Lady E? Eh?

  10. Bianca said,

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m working on two entrelac stoles right now, one in self-striping and the other in a solid color. If I knit another entrelac scarf or stole I will be sure to use your cast on technique.

  11. Rachel said,

    Brilliant!

  12. Tsock Tsarina said,

    Hey, Jesh – is there any reason you couldn’t do this clever trick with a crochet-chain provisional cast-on instead of a regular long-tail? I can’t think of any. That way, instead of cutting off the cast-on you could just release the end and unzip it. Which would be less terrifying but have its own kind of fun coolness factor, seems to me.

  13. pdxknitterati said,

    I was just thinking about a crochet chain cast on, and came back and found that Tsock Tsarina beat me to it!

    But what about the other edge? What did you do for the bind off?

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