Saturday, July 6, 2013

Knitting With: Linen

Quince and Co. Sparrow
before washing/blocking
How about another "series" of topics? I use quotation marks because, historically, my series have mostly been one-offs. But I think I like this one.

I'm very much a knit-with-wool kinda guy. I generally even stay away from superwash wools. It's not because they're not good enough; lots of superwash wools are great. I think I've convinced myself that I can feel a difference in "regular" and superwash. I'm sure it's all in my head.

Recently, I've started swatching with non-wool yarns. No, don't even think about it. Still nothing "novelty." No fun furs or glitter-tastic or pom poms hanging off the strands. (If my project has beads, I've added each one individually myself. Sadistic.)

A few days ago, I cast on with Sparrow from Quince and Company, a sport weight 100% linen yarn. I don't hate it. Actually, I've enjoyed it. Granted, the swatch I'm working is mainly stockinette with only a stripe and a little texture change. I'm using US 4/3.5mm Addi Natura needles and the only problem I've had is in the purl row when I come to a place where I knit-yarn-over-knit in one stitch. The yarn over is a bit tight.

One bonus, when the needle slips out of my stitches, nothing runs. It's almost as if the stitches have been blocked or formed around the needle and they like to stay there. I can just slide the needle back into the stitches and keep on knitting.

Quince and Co. Sparrow
after washing and drying
The colors in Sparrow -- I purchased Little Fern, Paprika and Fen -- are very clear and consistent. The Paprika is different for me, and I think it might skew a little autumnal, but it's a refreshing stripe against the Little Fern. I think the Fen would have been a safer choice for striping but not as interesting.

On the US 4/3.5mm needles, my gauge was 23 stitches in 5 inches. After washing and drying, the gauge tightened up a little bit to 26 stitches in 5 inches.

Care couldn't be easier - I tossed the swatch in the washing machine with my dress shirts (in hindsight, I shouldn't have done that in case the Paprika decided to run but it all worked out fine) and then just into the dryer. I don't dry my dress shirts completely in the machine so the swatch was slightly damp when I pulled it out. The texture change was incredible.

While knitting and prior to washing, the linen has a very crisp feel. It doesn't have a nice easy drape and even feels slightly rough. After washing and drying, the texture is smooth and soft and the stitches evened out. I think you can see the difference in the two swatches pictured. Of course, you can't feel the difference, so you'll have to take my word for it. But you'll notice that the washed fabric has nice easy folds, hinting at the drape in an over-sized garment that would be perfect for spring and summer.

Have you used linen yarns? What kind of finished project would you like to see?