26 June 2015

Pentagonal Entrelac

One of my new library acquisitions this spring was Entrelac 2 by Rosemary Drysdale. Rosemary's previous entrelac book, Entrelac, the Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting, was published in 2010. In addition to having projects, the preceding book had a nice section of stitch pattern swatches. Entrelac 2 continues that exploration. While there are projects, there is also a large section of swatches of entrelac worked with different stitch patterns. So often we think of "plain" entrelac -- stockinette blocks with color changes to differentiate each course. Rosemary shows us that cables, lace, and texture can all combine with entrelac in ways worthy of the challenge.

I was particularly smitten by the pentagonal entrelac on the cover of the book and its variations on pages 63 through 75. The "Five-Star Knit 2, Purl 2 Rib" on page 72 was intriguing. Because Rosemary uses normal joins, her blocks are 8 stitches wide. I used Jay Petersen's flat joins à la Rick Mondragon and reduced the blocks to 6 stitches wide.

This was a project in search of a reason to exist, other than, "I just want to try it." Pentagons are surprisingly un-useful shapes. They don't seem to lend themselves to blankets. To be a shawl, they really need extensions along two sides. Mine is 18 inches/ 45cm along a side. If I wrap one edge around the back of my neck and pin it in front it almost works as a capelet. I suppose it could be a throw for a cat.

In the end, I decided this might work as a cover for my great grandmother's piano stool. The original fabric cushion is worn, as one might expect from a piece of fabric dating back 75 to 100 years. By dropping a cover over it, I am leaving the original fabric intact but updating the stool for modern use. And it is an item I use. Since it is adjustable, it is particularly good for sitting at the spinning wheel or the weaving loom. This stool also connects me to members of my family, all gone now. My grandmother was the previous owner of the stool. And when my father was a child, he and his Aunt Luella -- who was only a few years older, and still a child herself -- would take turns spinning each other around.

To give the edges of my pentagon a professional finish, I worked an attached i-cord in a method combining Rick Mondragon's sliding loop intarsia join and Gwen Bortner's method of picking up a reversible border. Video illustrating that technique is in the previous post. I turned corners by working a short round on the outer 4 stitches of the i-cord, then working a round on all 6 stitches normally, then working another short round. This technique produced not just an edging but a casing. I twisted the remaining yarn into a three-ply cord, and then threaded the cord through the casing. You can see the little knot where it pops out the side (upper right in the photograph below). I can drop the pentagon over the stool cushion and cinch it on. But I can also take it off and lay it flat.

The rib pattern was very appealing in entrelac; in my opinion, it is even better than plain entrelac because the directionality complements the construction. I am thinking rope cables might also be flattering. Working the ribs over 6 stitches rather than 8 means that the fabric is reversible but double-faced. Both sides are good, and it is difficult for me to say which I like better. The "right" side has blocks with two ribs and a gutter in the center, while the "wrong" side has a single rib highlighting each block. This would be a great pattern worked square or rectangular for a blanket or scarf.

For those of you wondering, yes, there was some grafting in pattern involved. I could work two rounds of entrelac, then I needed to cut the yarn and graft. Because I used a long-print yarn, it is pretty obvious where I shifted from round to round. You can even see where I grafted the i-cord closed.

No comments: