At EWE we are obsessed with summer knitting, which inevitably means linen. High on our list are the amazing patterns Quince and Co has developed for their Aran weight linen yarn, Kestrel. For the next 6 weeks we will be displaying a variety of Kestrel knitted samples in the shop showing what this wonderful yarn can do. Kestrel is a tape yarn, a knitted tube that has been flattened to form a sort of ribbon. Working with this type of yarn may be new to a lot of knitters, so I thought I'd share a few things I've discovered about working with Kestrel.
I have found that winding Kestrel by hand is the better way to go. The skeins are 50 grams and the heavy weight of the yarn makes it easy to wind into a ball. You can wind the yarn on a ball winder but I have found that the balls do not hold their shape well and end up collapsing.
WHY DOES KESTREL FEEL SO STIFF?
Off the skein, Kestrel feels a bit crunchy as you knit it. This makes it easy to work with, but not the feel you want in a knitted garment. One of the nice features of Kestrel is that it is machine washable, the more you wash it the softer the texture becomes. Kestrel only gets better the more you wash and wear it.
Linen fiber is inherently heavier than wool, so to keep garments light and airy, linen yarns are often worked at a fairly open gauge. This means that joins and woven-in ends are more likely to be visible in the finished fabric than they would be in a more densely knit fabric. On top of that, linen doesn't felt to itself the way wool does, so to keep ends from coming to the surface, it is often recommended that they be left a bit longer than they otherwise would be—not always the most attractive thing.
If you search online you will find a bunch of tips for joining linen yarn. My preferred method is the Russian Join. The nice thing about about this join is that you will not have a lot of ends to weave in at the end.
ONE MORE KESTREL TRICK
Because of their flat cross-section, tape yarns tend to get a bit twisted as you work with them—so every once in a while, you'll need to get the twists out. Thankfully, there's a really easy way to do this. For Kestrel projects, I keep a locking stitch marker handy. When things get a little too twisty, I clip the strand of working yarn to the ball, then hold my work in the air, letting the ball dangle and spin freely for a few seconds until all the twirls are out.
Kestrel is a lovely yarn that knits up quickly into supple, garments with fluid drape—perfect for warm weather. I hope these tips will entice you to give it a try!
Here are just a few of the patterns we can't wait to knit:
So many patterns to chose from. Which is your favorite?
If you have any good tips for knitting with linen, leave them in the comment section.