In this post and the next, I want to describe the process I go through before I cast on an entrelac piece, how I figure out the way the entrelac squares have to go together to create the shape I want, in such a way that I can knit the piece continuously with one length of yarn.

To join entrelac squares in such a way that the fabric is reversible is a topic for another post. In this one I'll describe how I make diagrams that show me how and in what order to knit the entrelac squares.

For the Ribbed-Entrelac hat, I figured that I would do five squares at the crown. I probably could have done four squares, but I figured 5 would be more interesting. First diagram is here:

This diagram shows the crown of the hat at the center, and the hat stretched out flat. Each of the 4-sided shapes in the diagram is a square in real life, well, an entrelac square made of ribbing, so not really a square, but square enough.

Once I have the squares plotted out, the next thing to do is to show the grain of the knitting. In entrelac, squares that are next to each other have the direction of the knitting at right angles. So, I indicate the grain of the knitting with a straight line that goes through the center of the square(ish) parallel to the direction of knitting. Like this:

Next, I need to figure out the order of knitting the squares and the direction of knitting each square. Over the years and with much practice, I can sort of visualize what direction to knit the squares. I start in the center of the diagram and knit one "ring" of squares at a time, and change direction between rings. In this case the inner ring is 5 squares knit in the counterclockwise direction, surrounded by a ring of squares knit clockwise, then counterclockwise again, like so:

Next, I figure out what order to knit the squares in, and indicate the order with numbers on the squares. I place a number in the corner of the square where the yarn enters the square and I place a dot right inside the corner where the yarn leaves the square.

Knitting squares 1-5 is pretty straightforward. Where to place square 6 is the first decision point. It could have gone between squares 1 and 5 rather than as shown, between 5 and 4. The reason I chose it the way I did is related to the way I'm joining the squares (a topic for another post.)

Note that each square except the last in each ring has an odd number of rows, starting on a right-side row and ending on a wrong-side row (for the counter clockwise rings), or the reverse (for the counter-clockwise rings). The last square in a round has an extra row, to double back and start the next ring of squares going in the opposite direction.

Here's the first ring of squares knitted out, and next the first two rings:

Next time: how I converted this pattern so that each square is replaced by four smaller squares.

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