I have this cone of linen. Dark blue. From Flandres. It is a cobweb weight and I want a top out of it to wear this Summer. But I don’t want to knit with cobweb weight. Luckily I’m smart: I will ‘navajo’ ply it while I knit it. This will tripple the thickness.
I made a swatch on needles 2,75mm. Washed, it, wacked it, stomped on it. Linen is strong, it can take it. As a matter of fact, the more you wear linen, the softer it gets.
This swatch revealed a beautiful sheen and is now soft enough to wear against the skin. All I have to do is remember it is kind of see through and pick a pattern.
If only it didn’t skew…. which it does. This linen has bias. I washed it again, tugged at it, ironed it but still:
This is as straight as it gets.
It is caused by the way flax grows. Flax is the tall ‘grass’ that supplies the fibre for linen. Because it is so tall and thin it twists the fibers in its stem while growing it. Twist gives strength, ask any spinner. Traditionally flax fibres are spun to only one side, to honour this inherent twist and strength. That is also why linen is often a one ply. As is this cone of yarn. And that is why it slants.
Ok. Nothing a smart knitter cannot find a solution to. I’ll just think of a pattern that uses this bias to its advantage… Something like:
An asymmetrical top that starts at the left shoulder, works its way down, skewing all it wants, even increasing stitches at the left side seam and decreasing some at the right to make it even more asymmetrical. Then make it into a point at the bottom right. Just where all the bias wants to go anyway.
Then emphasize that it is asymmetrical by giving the right shoulder band a different texture: woven or braided linen. It looks in the sketch like I’ve got a viking woman’s hair braid but that’s the shoulder strap. (Hey, it was quite difficult to sketch with those hands. And missing breasts. And no pants. And a squirrel hat!)
Right, that’s the front part of my top figured out.
Now it needs a back.
The linnen will bias so I cannot knit the pattern of the front top down like I would with wool because it will slant the other way. So I could work in the opposite direction: from bottom to top? Or could I just make two identical pieces and put them right side to wrong side so I have reverse stockinette show at the back?
No wait. Reverse stockinette!
If I knit the whole back piece in reverse stockinette it will bias the other way! Right? Right! I can use the pattern as is: shoulder band, increase, make it into a point. Easypeasy! Let’s swatch!
How can it not slant the other way? I knitted reverse stockinette! If I knit like this the back will still slant the wrong way… ???
No really! Why does it slant in the same direction as the stockinette swatch at the bottom?
Yeah you, with the squirrel hat and the funny thumbs!
Remind us, what’s the difference between stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch when you’re knitting flat?
You áre dumber than linen.
How tight ís that hat of yours, anyway?