14 January 2014

Reversible Entrelac

So far, 2014 has consisted for me mostly of trying to put 2013 to bed. The list of unfinished business has been long.

I have been particularly troubled by a certain entrelac scarf. The very kind folks at Crystal Palace Yarns sent me four skeins of Mochi Plus last March with the specific purpose that they become a scarf similar to the lovely block I had knit for the TNNA Great Wall of Yarn. And according to my Ravelry projects page, I cast on 12 March and bound off 11 May. Not quite as fast as I would have liked, but nonetheless completed in the middle of STITCHES South, Unwind, and the disruption of my life that came from my Cuddly Hubby moving to Maryland. I made notes for writing the pattern. I shot some how-to videos. And on 16 June I even got Cuddly Hubby to take some pictures of me modeling the scarf at Point Lookout State Park, where the Potomac River empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

And yet, somehow, this pattern just refused to finish. During my three-week trek to the Maryland man cave for Thanksgiving, I limited my projects and took the pattern along. I sat in the man cave and test knit and test wrote. And then I came home and discovered that files written in Pages ’11 do not open in Pages ’09. A pox upon Cupertino, California! When Cuddly Hubby came home for the holidays, I was able to open the file on his computer, export it in the proper format, and open it on my computer. Then I just needed to wait for the holidays to end so I could work on it. (For those of you wondering, I don't want to upgrade my computer to Pages ’11 because it doesn't support some of the formatting I've used in my charts written in Pages ’09. It would be no small task to convert/rewrite all my patterns and class booklets. Again, a pox upon Cupertino!)

So, at last, in the middle of January, is the Sir Thomas Entrelac Scarf!

What is so awesome about this pattern, you may ask?

1. It used all the yarn. All. The note I wrote on Ravelry: "Had only 50cm/20 inches of yarn left before weaving in final end." You can weigh your yarn usage and knit until you run out. Maximize your project; minimize your waste.
2. It is almost reversible. It can be made fully reversible -- the pattern is simpler to work that way -- but then you'll get purl bump color blips.
3. This technique can be applied to other block patterns. If you don't mind that half the blocks are oriented top to bottom and half are worked side to side, this can be a very interesting way of joining blocks in an afghan. I'm tempted to work my reversible variation of Lizard Ridge as an afghan joined this way. And if you have a pattern in which blocks are four-way symmetrical, then turning half of them 90 degrees would hardly matter.

This is also the first time I am posting the pattern in a test knitting group. So this will be a new experience for me. Let's hope there isn't too much wrong with the pattern and that whatever isn't right is caught quickly by the testers.

Let me clarify a bit about the reversibility. It is reversible in the sense that it is a checkerboard. Half the squares have stockinette backgrounds running side to side and half the squares have reverse stockinette backgrounds running top to bottom. So when you flip the work, you have the same pattern on the other side. It is reversible in the same way that seed stitch is reversible. If you were to work it with all the knit on one side and all the purl on the other, then it would not be reversible.

I should add that in the model scarf I wanted to avoid purl blips, so that scarf is not quite reversible. The back of it appears at right. You'll notice some ridges run across the scarf, where the joins are not quite flat because I was avoiding blips on the front. You'll also notice purl blips -- dots of color formed from the interaction of different hues and values across a row of purls -- around all the edges of all the blocks.

In the photograph below is another piece of fabric, worked in the same way except that it is fully reversible and, since it is still on the needles, not yet blocked. There are purl blips on both sides of the fabric. In this particular yarn, the hue and value differences are less pronounced, so the blips are less obvious. And this fully reversible pattern is actually a simpler knit, because all the joins and knit ups are always worked the same way. So if you work this pattern, make an informed decision about which way you want to play.

In the resources for the pattern, and in the flat joins video, I do mention two important people who developed this technique. The first is Rick Mondragon, who published the wonderful article “Knit In Blocks of Color — without Bobbins” in Threads magazine No. 57 (Feb. 1995) on pages 44-47. If you have taken my now retired "Unventions" class, I've exposed you to some of my applications for this technique. And I've blogged about it before when I was working on the Puzzlemaker Jacket.

The other person I must thank is Jay Petersen. Although I was already familiar with the sliding loop technique, Jay introduced me to its applications in entrelac. You'll remember Jay from my posts about visiting Portland, Oregon in the summer of 2011. Jay is definitely the king of extreme entrelac, as he has explored three-dimensional, reversible, and patterned versions of it. He has even done some interesting experiments with pentagonal entrelac. His Ravelry page is definitely worth visiting.

Edited to add: Here is the link to this pattern on the Crystal Palace Yarns website.

As usual, the next posts will include the video tutorials for the technique. Enjoy!

No comments: