Fearless Knitting – Tackling Entrelac

Twelve years ago, I picked up my first pair of knitting needles and a skein of blue yarn and set out to make a scarf.  No swatch.  No pattern.  Already a craft-lover, I knew I would love knitting and I wanted to make things, and make them well… instantly.

I did finish that stockinette scarf and gave it to my little sister.  That scarf was my gateway-drug into a world of handmade hats, afghans, sweaters, bags, and more.  I would try any pattern I found, completely ignoring the difficulty level or required skills.  “I can do this.  It’s just a matter of following directions,” I told myself.  I studied and scrutinized every stitch pattern and technique, but always figuring it out along the way.  Did I know how to pick up and knit stitches for an armhole?  No.  But I did it anyway.  Had I ever used a provisional cast-on?  No.  But I started that shrug anyway.  Avoiding a beautiful project seamed ridiculous – whatever I needed to know, I would learn.  No problem.

The ribbed sweater – 3 sizes too big, even after much careful math

As it turns out, most of my first projects didn’t turn out.  Some were completed, and the ones intended as gifts were always a success.  But the pile of unfinished sweaters is a testament to the careless way I went about learning to knit.  Fearlessly diving in to any project wasn’t my downfall.  In fact, I think my fearless knitting has been a great strength, especially coming from someone who is often plagued with anxiety about not being able to do anything right.  Now as a more “mature” knitter, In can see that my problem was that I would rarely make swatches and put in a little practice first.  I was far too impatient and too eager to crank out that fabulous cowl-neck top.  A few hours spent learning a new technique with some scrap yarn would have saved me countless wasted hours and probably hundreds of dollars worth of unused yarn.

I still tackle any pattern and any stitch without hesitation.  I can and will make anything I set my mind to.  Yesterday, while nursing an endless cold, I picked up my needles, some leftover cotton yarn, and laptop and learned a stitch pattern that I long considered to be “too advanced” for me – entrelac.  To my surprise, it was much easier than I ever imagined!  I kept thinking, “why didn’t I try this years ago, it’s so beautiful!”  And that’s when it dawned on me.  It was beautiful because I was practicing before taking on a giant entrelac afghan with intricate cables and multiple colors.  I identified the tricky parts and problem-solved first.  I kept going until I got it right.  ThenI started a design for a cowl with $40 worth of yarn.  When did I grow up?

The Beginning of the Entrelac Cowl

Celebrating the Entrelac Swatch

Here is the tutorial I used to learn entrelac.  I love that if focuses on how it works – the engineering, if you will – and not just a specific pattern.  Not all of the links work properly, but all of the parts are there!


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