I spent much of this past weekend working on new designs for our 12-Weeks of Christmas series, in which we release original patterns throughout the 12 weeks preceding Christmas. Believe it or not, the 12 Weeks of Christmas is coming right up. You’ll be hearing more about it, no doubt. I used the linen stitch this weekend, and was reminded of how very, very much I adore it. It’s gorgeous. It’s so easy. It’s yet another of those things with a high knit-to-glory ratio.
Linen Stitch is a simple combination of knits and purls, scarcely any more difficult than your basic stockinette stitch. If you can knit, purl, and simply slip a stitch from the left needle to the right needle without working it, then you know everything you need to know. Linen stitch and other slip stitch patterns hinge on that last item – slipping the stitch.
Slip Stitch Textures:
When you slip a stitch, that means one stitch will occupy the height of two or more rows (you typically don’t want to slip stitches for more than a row or maybe two, because knit stitches are stretchy, but not that stretchy). When slipped stitches are worked throughout the fabric, the resulting textures are often ingenious and even deceptive – for instance, mosaic knitting looks much like stranded color work, yet it never requires you to carry two yarns at a time. Many slip stitch patterns including the linen stitch utilize the strand created by the yarn that’s carried across the slipped stitches. Think about it – when you knit a stitch, then slip the next one, then knit the next one, your yarn will automatically strand across the slipped stitch in order to go from the one before it to the one after it. You can decide whether to move your yarn to the front (as if you’re about to purl) or move it to the back (as if you’re about to knit) in order to place the strand on the side of the fabric where you want it. I’ll show you what I mean.
Linen Stitch is basically the simplest kind of slip stitch pattern. You slip every other stitch, and always keep the strands on the Right Side of your work. Always work the stitches that were slipped in the row below and vise versa. Or, to get a little more technical, here’s a pattern for linen stitch:
CO any even number
Row 1: (k1, slip 1 with yarn in front) rep to end of row
Row 2: (p1, slip 1 with yarn in back) rep to end of row
repeat Rows 1 & 2 until you’re done.
Note: You can switch to a new yarn at any point, switch every row, or switch every other row, if you like!
Here’s why I love linen stitch so much:
It breaks up hand-painted yarns into a gorgeous overall blended-speckled look. Nothing makes hand-painted or variegated yarns look better.
It lays flat without any edge treatments.
It looks amazingly similar to woven fabric.
It’s a good way to combine several colors, or even different types/weights of yarn.
It looks beautiful on both sides.
It makes a fabric that’s dense and warm.
Here are a few pattern ideas that show off the beauty of linen stitch.