Studio Linen evolved because I wanted to design a yarn for the Erika Knight collection, that would work in both knit and crochet for more lightweight summer-style garments. All too often summer yarns are an afterthought in a range and are either ‘fancy’ with added beading, shimmer and sparkle, or cotton-based which can be heavy and a little ‘lumpy’ when crocheted into garments (although fab for homeware and accessories). So when designing Studio Linen a good stitch definition and an elegant drape were my main objectives.
Linen is a very versatile and sustainable fibre. Found inside the stem of the flax plant, linen fibre has been used to create durable textiles for thousands of years. Flax itself is naturally resistant to pests and therefore practically no pesticides nor herbicides are necessary to grow it, and flax produces large amounts of usable fibre per acre without additional irrigation, making it an environmentally friendly crop. Although linen will naturally soften with wear and washing, 100% linen yarns can be harsh to work with and have a coarse hand feel. This can certainly create some beautiful rustic and hard-wearing projects, which are particularly suited to homeware. However, to achieve an elegant drape for clothing with a feeling of already worn and washed linen, the composition of Studio Linen blends 15% premium new linen grown in Belgium with 85% recycled linen fibres. These recycled fibres are sorted from selected wastage from the textile industry and then regenerated using an eco-friendly hydrolysis method to create a new fibre. Blended with 15% premium linen, the fibres are twisted and dyed by a specialist Italian spinner in Italy to produce a unique yarn with a dry hand feel and subtle sheen.
Studio Linen has become a favourite yarn in my collection and one that I enjoy working with all year round. I have designed loose fitting shapes perfect for layering up with jersey t-shirts and lightweight garments. The elegant drape of Studio Linen lends itself to simple shapes, the simplest of which, ‘Siena’, has become a best seller with knitters often visiting us at store events and shows sporting the easy-to-wear t-shirt shape in a variety of colours. I love seeing my designs being knitted and returned to again and again. I hope that just like a much-loved recipe some of my designs will become staples to be adapted, repeated and reinvented.
Plant fibres are very different to work with than animal fibres such as wool, as they do not have any natural elasticity. This means that if you are used to working quickly with wool you may find that your rows are slower with linen or cotton. It is always a good idea to knit a large swatch before you begin, not only to check that you are achieving the tension required of the pattern, but also to practice working with the yarn, to learn how it feels and behaves on the needles, and if you need to make some adjustments to the way that you work in order to achieve neat stitches.
Take time to unwind the hank. I do not recommend using a wool winder for this yarn, as due to the nature of the fibre it can twist and knot when spun too quickly, which will effect the appearance of the knitted stitch in your textile. Unwinding the hank to make a ball to work from is all part of the process of crafting something by hand. This is an opportunity to slow things down, to get to know the fibre that you will be working with and to pause before you begin a new project.
Making something by hand is not about a race to the finish line, it is a mindful journey.