Many elements should be taken into account when assessing the quality of a yarn and the most important of all is of course its fibre composition. Each fibre carries specific structural elements that impact the softness, strength and drape of the yarn. Knowing about those different characteristic is a good way to understand what to look for when buying yarn for a new project. Depending on the effect you want to achieve you might favour certain blends over some others. Plant based yarns are usually less elastic than woollen ones and they also drape very differently which makes it more difficult to substitute them for each other – the whole look of a garment may completely vary depending on what type of fibre you use. However there are also a great number of advantages to knit with cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp or soy. Today we’re going to look at linen, and the gorgeous Kalinka yarn by Karin Oberg.
Linen is spun out of the cellulose fibre growing inside the stalks of the flax plant. The cultivation of flax began between 5000 and 4000 BCE in North Africa and the Fertile Crescent, making of linen one of the oldest textiles in the world. Flax requires a cool and damp environment to grow, and is today cultivated in many countries across the planet. One of the reasons why linen has been so popular throughout history is partly because it is extremely strong and durable. If provided with good care, any garment made from linen will last you for years! Due to its unusual strength, it also has the advantage of being extremely resilient to handling and washing. So although it often feels a little stiff when it’s first woven, linen will eventually soften after a few washes, resulting in a supple fabric with a beautiful drape.
Kalinka is a stunning 100% linen yarn produced in Sweden by Karin Oberg. If you haven’t knitted with a linen yarn before, Kalinka might possibly feel a little rough under your fingers. However as we just explained, it will eventually soften and become very pleasant to wear next to the skin. In an article dedicated to this topic, Andi Satterlund even suggests to machine wash your knitted linen several time before you start wearing it – yes linen is that strong! Let’s not forget that it is also incredibly breathable and so perfect to keep cool during the summer months. Thus a fingering yarn like Kalinka would be great to knit light weight t-shirts, tops and cardigans that you’ll keep wearing for many years to come!
Tops like Lina by Elizabeth Doherty, or Cullum by Isabell Kraemer would work really nicely with Kalinka. They both require a fairly low yardage and wouldn’t take too long to knit so you could potentially finish them right on time for the summer. Beginners might prefer getting started with Lina, as it’s simply knitted flat with a combination of garter and stockinette stitch. Cullum on the other hand is knitted in the round, bottom down and features gorgeous lace panels that will certainly entertained knitters slightly more experienced. We also love the simplicity of the Petunia cardigan by Pam Allen for which Kalinka’s striking colour palette would offers plenty of options to create a nice contrasted trim.
Maybe you too have some tips on how to knit with linen? If so do no hesitate to share them with us by leaving a comment!
Until Next Time… Happy Knitting!