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Knitting with Linen Yarn and Knitscene Summer

Mar 27, 2014

One of the perks of being the editor of the magazine is that you kind of get to have other people try out new things for you. In this issue of Knitscene, I asked designers to design with linen and linen-blend yarns. Before this, I had never knit with linen myself—or at least, never with a yarn with a substantial amount of linen. But when I thought of "summer knitting," all I could think about were plant-based fibers (which is a huge departure for this dedicated wool enthusiast).

Linen has a long and storied past. It comes from the flax plant, which has been used by humans for centuries and can be grown in a variety of environments—it's native to the eastern Mediterranean, but can be grown in many other locations, including Vancouver, Canada, where Caitlin ffrench grew her own flax and is spinning the linen fiber hersel (her article in this issue, Grow Your Own Yarn, is a must-read for fiber fiends). It's a plant fiber, so it shares certain properties with cotton, but it can be incredibly crisp, almost like paper, or soft and fluid.

I absolutely love the projects in our Fading Light story, which features linen and linen-blend yarns used by incredible designers in totally wearable pieces. Alison Green's Lea Pullover is so stunning in person that I cast on my own version in Classic Elite Firefly and am nearly finished knitting it (blog post on that to come). Amy Christoffers held Shibui Knits Linen and Shibui Knits Silk Cloud together, giving her Bokeh Tank a soft hand and slightly unfocused lace panel along the hem and sides.

Lea Pullover Bokeh Tank

Moon Eldridge's Gambeson Tunic uses short-row shaping to generate bold lines and structure, something linen can lack. The magazine sample was knit with the beautiful Hand Maiden Lino yarn in a slightly variegated color, but check out Moon's personal project knit with a color changing yarn. Emma Welford combines crisp linen and intarsia in her Sunspot Tank, knit in Plymouth Yarn Company's Linen Concerto—I just love how the different fibers in that yarn make a heathered effect when knit up!

Gambeson Tunic Sunspot Tank

If you have never worked with linen before and want a smaller project to practice with, Kristine Byrnes' Datura Kerchief is just right for you. This quick and easy knitting project is knit with Fibrantura's Flax yarn, a 100% linen yarn that's both crisp and incredibly pliant. Bristol Ivy's Linum Tee features an asymmetrical front neckline, worked in Fisherman's Rib for just a hint of texture around the shoulders. This easy knit tee is also worked in a 100% linen yarn—Quince and Company's Sparrow.

Datura Kerchief Linum Tee

Finally, Sachiko Burgin's Dowlas Tee features a bright pop of color in the small pocket and shoulder seams of this knitted pullover. Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Linen is another 100% linen yarn (and it's also been renamed as "Drama," if you have trouble finding "Linen").

Dowlas Tee

Like I said earlier, I'd never really knit with linen before, but I'm having a wonderful experience knitting up my own Lea Pullover, and I can't wait to share that project with you. Have you knit with linen before? Tell me about your favorite yarn for summer knitting!

Until next time, happy knitting,


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