Reader Advisory: we didn’t put Wendy Johnson up to this. We’ve been following her blog, Wendy Knits, for donkey’s years, and we know that Wendy is a knitter who knows her own mind. Of course we were intrigued when she ordered up 30 mini-skeins of Euroflax Sport Weight Linen, but we didn’t hold our breath. Maybe she was just looking at it—we’ve certainly been known to do that when we’ve got some pretty skeins to pet. We were delighted, then, and surprised, to learn that Wendy had an immediate plan for her minis. We asked her to tell the tale. It’s a two-parter. Enjoy.
—Ann and Kay
I love linen. I love linen clothing, linen towels, and linen bedding. I estimate that at least 50 percent of my work wardrobe is linen. I have 100-year-old antique hand-embroidered French linen sheets and pillowcases on my bed. Yet I had never knit with linen yarn.
Until this past summer.
A few months ago, I discovered here on Mason-Dixon Knitting the Euroflax Super Mega Bundle: a set of 30 mini-skeins of sport weight linen yarn. I am a sucker for mini-skeins and I am a sucker for linen, so of course I had to have it. I ordered the set, my mini-skeins arrived, and I spent some time blissfully arranging and rearranging them, all the while thinking “What shall I knit?”
I am a yarn collector. I have a number of sets of mini-skeins that I cannot bring myself to knit up because they look so darn pretty in the skein. But given my love for linen, I really wanted to finally knit with linen yarn. Louet Euroflax Sport Weight has been around forever, and I actually have over 2,000 yards of the “Olive” shade in deep stash. I have no recollection of how long it has been marinating there, but it had not yet floated to the top of my “must knit” list. I think I must have purchased it on sale and squirreled it away for future reference.
I did not want my shiny new set of linen mini-skeins to end up the same way, so I set to winding each skein into a ball. (All by hand, because these little suckers are slippery!)
Because I had so many glorious colors, I wanted to use them all, in something stripy. I ordered four full-sized skeins of Euroflax in black to use as my background color, still with no firm idea of what I was going to knit. But I started with a wee swatch.
With Ravelry as my guide, a U.S. size 4 needle seemed like a good starting point. Soon I had a stockinette swatch with 2-row stripes of color.
I am a process knitter, always drawn to yarn with a delightful hand feel, so the stiff, twine-like feel of linen was a bit of a shock. Quite a departure from the soft merino and sproingy Cormo that I love.
I tossed my swatch in the washer and dryer with a load of laundry and was very pleasantly surprised at the transformation the little square went through. So soft! So drapey!
My first thought for a pattern was a shawl or wrap, but I tend only to want to wear shawls and wraps in the winter and then of course I want them to be wooly and warm. A sweater or jacket seemed far more practical.
As is often the case, when I visualize the project I want my yarn to become, a pattern that matches my visualization does not exist. I decided I wanted a loose-fitting kimono-style jacket done in alternating stripes of color and black, with front bands and edgings done in black. That’s easy enough: a rectangle for the back, two rectangles for the two side fronts, with a bit of shaping at the top of each to shape the neckline, and a rectangle for each sleeve. I’d join the fronts to the back via a three-needle bind-off, then pick up stitches along each outer edge and knit the sleeves down from the top. Then pick up and knit front bands and a neckband.
So . . . a striping pattern. I wanted something a little more interesting than just two-row stripes, alternating with black. Then it hit me: a mitered square! Make the back a mitered square, the front half squares that mirror each other. I’d keep the sleeves just plain back-and-forth stripes.
Now I just have to knit the thing. The mini-skeins are calling to me!