Hooked on Needles

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Do you...uh...Entrelac? ~ Not-So-Scary Knitting

Have you ever seen a knitted, crocheted, quilted, sewn or otherwise handmade item that you thought was really awesome but looked much too complicated to attempt yourself? I surely have! Quilts used to intimidate me, especially the binding. Bag making scared me away for a long time before I realized how much creativity could be put into one fabulous bag. Crocheting never really intimidated me, probably because I started it when I was so young. And knitting...well, everything about knitting used to intimidate me. My mother-in-law used to threaten that One Day She Would Teach Me How To Knit! Oooooh, those were scary words! I've told my How I Learned To Knit story here before, so I won't repeat it now, but you can read about it by clicking HERE if you are interested. To sum it up though, it took a tragedy to make it happen!

Anyway, over the past many years, I have scoured books, shops, online retailers, blogs and Pinterest for all kinds of ideas for new things to try. One of the things that intrigued me the most was entrelac knitting. The word entrelac comes from a French word meaning to interlace, so that gives you a little clue as to how entrelac knitting might look. To me, it always looked so very complicated, and not being a real confident knitter for new techniques, I was always just a little too afraid of it to try. That is until I found this awesome baby blanket kit at Mary Maxim, one of my very favorite online retailers for yarny kind of stuff. It was just too amazing to pass up! I had to learn entrelac!

So now I've tried entrelac knitting and have a sample and an in-progress project to show you...

Here's my little sample that I worked out just to get the hang of the technique before breaking out the gorgeous yarn that came in the kit. Don't you think this would make an awesome scarf or wrap?

You can see the texture that the interlacing technique provides to the piece. It really does look like there are bands of knitting going over and under each other, but in fact it is just one single layer of knitting. Whoever invented this technique was so very clever!

And here is my project in progress using the same pattern as the sample above except that it is the proper width for a baby blanket so there are 10 sections of 10 stitches each for a cast-on edge of 100 stitches.

Aren't these colors just so luscious? And the texture of the entrelac is so very cozy and inviting!

I couldn't stretch out the circular needle to show the piece flat because I'm in the middle of the current row, but you can get a pretty good idea how this pattern is working out, with each pass adding a new layer of either right or left facing strips.

Here you can see some of the yarn ball and the gorgeous colors in this variegated yarn. It is Mary Maxim's Prism DK/sport weight yarn in Rainbow, and this pattern calls for 5 balls. I love working with the yarn and the blanket is turning out to be very soft and cuddly. This yarn is 100% acrylic, however it is a roving style yarn so hand washing in cold water and flat drying is necessary. Also because of the roving type of yarn that it is, there are sections of the yarn that are very tightly twisted and thin, and then other sections that are big and fat and fluffy with no twist at all. So if you don't like yarn with varying thickness, this might not be the yarn for you. I was a little worried about it before I started the project, but I'm finding it very pleasant to work with and it is creating a very lovely blanket.

So that is my latest knitting adventure using a new-to-me technique called entrelac. This is the project that called to me as I was finishing up my schoolwork for the semester, and now that I am working on it, I am glad I didn't start it until after my finals were over! It is very hard to put down! Between just wanting to finish this one little section, and wanting to keep knitting until the next color change happens, it's a real hard project to stop once I get going on it!

If you've ever thought about trying entrelac knitting but have been a bit intimidated by how complicated it looks, I highly recommend that you give it a try. It's made up of knit, purl, simple increase and decrease, and of course following a pattern. It can be done in any increment. This project is done in tens, but I've seen other entrelac projects online that have been done in fours or sixes or even larger numbers. Lots of possibilities with this fun technique!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Crocheted Christmas Afghan!

It's been so long since I've written something here at Hooked On Needles that I need to figure it out all over again! So how have you all been these last many months? Needless to say, I've been a bit preoccupied, but not with my needlework! Two more courses complete, which were the last of my prerequisites, my application has been submitted and I should know by March if I will be starting the nursing program at our local college in the fall. I also started working three days a week at a local doctor's office and besides providing some help with the family finances, it is also a great social outlet for me. As much fun as my quilting and bag making and other needlework is for me, it's not exactly the same as face-to-face contact with other humans! So I'm enjoying my job very much and am so grateful to have it. But I do miss being able to spend hours at a time working out a new bag design, or piecing a pretty quilt, or whipping up a new supply of little zipper bags for my etsy shop. I hope to get back to all that soon.

Even with all the homework and studying I had to do this semester in between working and running kids and keeping up the household, I was able to find time for a little Christmas crochet. Isn't it amazing how we can always make time for the things we really love to do? Here's what I made as a gift for my parents...

This is a throw size afghan made in Red Heart Holiday yarn from this pattern that my mother found on line and fell in love with. She sent me the link and gushed about how beautiful she thought it was back in early fall, so I promptly ordered the yarn and made it as their Christmas gift! Whew! That was easy!

The yarn was quite nice to work with and the interesting not-quite-granny squares worked up quickly. The pattern as it is written could use a little help, so I would not recommend this one for a new crocheter to try. I ended up having to figure out a few things on my own and rework some things, which I think would be so frustrating for someone new to crochet. But I liked the way it turned out and my parents have already received it and opened it, with permission of course! I thought it would be nice if they could enjoy it throughout the Christmas season.

I hope you and your families enjoy a very Blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy and crafty 2014!

Happy Stitching!

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