Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Linen stitch

I am currently obsessed with linen stitch.

What I love about linen stitch is that it makes handpainted yarn sing. Alas, this photo does not do justice to the lovely contrast of colors linen stitch creates. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with handpainted yarn. I frequently fall in love with a yarn in the skein, but once I knit it up, I am bitterly disappointed. Either the yarn pools, creating uneven blotches of color throughout, or, even worse, it doesn't pool, resulting in little scattered strips of colors, which all run together into a muddy mess. It's like visual static. It's like an impressionist painting, and I do not mean that as a compliment.

Linen stitch, though, creates stitch-by-stitch contrast between colors, and looks particularly good in a skein with highly diverse colors, like this one, which is hot pink, olive green, and chocolate brown. For some reason, this does not result in visual static, but rather imposes a certain order on the chaos, allowing the colors to shine. I discovered this in a sock I was knitting while pregnant (have not yet knitted the second sock), am currently knitting a sweater of my own design using linen stitch, and now, of course, am knitting Bobbie, a pair of gloves entirely in linen stitch.

That makes three WIPs in linen stitch. But the gloves will certainly be done (deadline: the dousing of the Olympic torch), and I am dying to get back to that sweater: it's the first one I am designing myself, and I am loving how it's looking so far, thanks to the power of linen stitch.


Nancy said...

Lovely color contrasts indeed! Does a linen stitch involve double stranding, asks a knitting novice? Those needles look tiny --what size, 1?

Nopinkertons said...

Yes, they are size 1 :-). It's sock yarn, 8 stitches per inch.

Nope, linen stitch is super easy:

row 1: knit one, slip one with yarn in front, repeat to end.
row 2: purl
row 3: slip one with yarn in front, knit one, repeat to end
row 4: purl

The color contrast is created entirely by the multicolor yarn. If you did linen stitch with a solid yarn, you'd get a nice texture, but not the color fun.