pure linen

January 22, 2014

I have been a linen convert forever.  What can be nicer than an ancient thick snowy white linen cloth on a table?  Have you ever tried linen bath towels?  We've had ours for years, they last forever, wick moisture quickly and dry in no time at all.  I love linen for the bed too.  At a jumble sale I found sturdy linen sheets for a steal.  They only fit my young son's bed, and so yes, his entire life at home that lucky kid slept under thick linen sheets.  They are now on our guest bed and still look beautiful even though they must be at least 50+ years old.  I imagine they will easily last another 50 years.  I read somewhere that Queen Victoria's linen sheets are still in rotation at Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth's bed.  And of course I love linen clothes.  So elegant, light and cool, and wrinkles are part of the charm!

As for linen knitting yarn, I've tried it.  I almost always love the final fabric but have always disliked knitting with it.  Words like kite and string come to mind, and if I don't like the feel of the "hand" while knitting I will never use a yarn again.  So when I was given a sample of Rowan's new linen yarn, Pure Linen, I was excited yet apprehensive.  I dropped everything to give it a try, hopeful that if anyone could make linen knitable it would be Rowan. 

I was thrilled to find it beautifully knitable.

My first impression in the skein:  beautiful muted colors; elegant light sheen; hairy, minimally processed appearance; dry and firm to the touch.  I cast on with the recommended size US #7 (I used Knit Pick Harmony wood needles with a sharp point) and began to put it through the paces:  I knit garter stitch and stockinette.  Next I made some lace by knitting 2 and 3 together, slipping stitches, knitting through the back loop, make 1 left, make 1 right, etc.  Next I used smaller needles, sizes 5 and 6.  I crocheted it, knit it, ripped out and re-knit, washed it and blocked it. It held up very well.  Superb yarn.

Linen yarn is extremely strong and long-wearing and while you'd never use the word bounce when describing linen, it's surprisingly easy to manipulate the stitches.  Lace is a snap, and what's more, it's very easy on the hands.  There is little memory so think drape when deciding on a pattern.  I will love to use it for light, open-weave layering pieces.  It may feel crisp in the skein, but it knits up next-to-the-skin soft.  The patterns in the companion book by Lisa Richardson are perfect for this special yarn.  I hope I have it in my knitting budget to make a few this summer.  Here are my favorites: 

St. Kilda, using 8-12 skeins.  Shown here in Kalahari.

Palm Cove using 4-6 skeins.  Shown here in Atacama.

Mermaid, using 7-10 skeins, pictured in Gobi.

Bells, pictured in Sahara using 4-8 skeins and Arabian using 2-3.

Tamarara using 3-4 skeins.  Pictured in Arctic.

Trinity using 6-8 skeins.  Pictured in Arizona.  I am planning on knitting this one first.

With my 3 sample skeins I made the Creekbed Scarf designed by Stephen West.  I changed it just a bit.  My chevron pattern was:  (k1, M1L, k12, sk2p, k12, M1R) and I think I cast on 373.  My finished scarf is 74" long.  My husband tried it on and he looks great it in, but neither one of the scarf models is my husband.
I had just enough leftover to make some sweet tiny projects I'll be sharing soon.  I didn't want to waste a scrap of this yarn!

The new spring/summer yarns and pattern books should be arriving at your local store soon if not already there.  There is also a pure mulberry silk chainette yarn and a 50/50 blend of linen/cotton called Silkystones.  I'll be reviewing those soon.  No surprise that I love them too and have budgeted one sweater project in each of them.  I'm in a fun knit-along planned with my fellow Rowan Ambassador Konrad Siebenhuter from Germany.  We'll be focusing on the new Rowan spring summer yarns and patterns with attention to how to make a pattern work for you and your body type.  More about that later, so come back soon...there will be plenty of knitting, gardening, cooking, decorating and even a crochet post coming up.  xo

Pure Linen Collection by Lisa Richardson
Pattern for Creekbed Scarf by Stephen West
My Ravely project page

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  1. Thank you for your review of this yarn. I am a linen convert too but was always afraid to try knit it! I think I will give this a try. I love the patterns you show.

  2. Oooohhhh...love the new header! Looks like they could be either buttons OR cookies! I like both, so it's all good! :-)

    As a person who doesn't knit, it's always so interesting to read how you describe the experience. I never thought of different yarn as having different feels to them. I can almost imagine it with the description you give.

    Very pretty examples! My Mom is digging the scarf on the stone bust! She just bought a similar one, but says she likes yours better! :-)

  3. The colors of your scarf are gorgeous! I've had some unpleasant experiences knitting with linen (and hemp - ugh!) in the past, so I'm intrigued by your assessment of this yarn.

  4. Glad to hear the yarn still had such a lovely hand feel after you knitted a whole project after it! That is a gorgeous scarf. :-) Perfect for summer wear in California!

  5. Mmm, looks nice. Hey, I only got two colors, waaaa!

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