You and I are not much for trends. We like the things that we like. We like them a lot. The things we like do change, but in their own time.
One of the tastes we have shared for a long time is a fervent love of linen yarn, spun from the fibrous stalks of the flax plant. I can’t remember when I first discovered Euroflax linen yarn, but I remember that the linen love hit me right between the eyes. There are several patterns using Euroflax in our first book, published in 2006. I remember knitting up all of those samples in 2004 and 2005; so fun. Both of us continue to knit with linen today. It takes color like no other fiber. Linen garments and accessories last and last, getting softer with age, wear and laundering, but never ever wever pilling or stretching out of shape, or misbehaving in any way.
About the only thing I can say against linen is that when you’re winding it, it doesn’t want to stay in a ball. It wants to hang loose and limp, and get itself knotted up real tight if you’re not careful and orderly in your winding. It’s madness to wind linen yarn into a center-pull ball; linen needs to be in an old-fashioned hand-wound ball, like a child would make. Once you’ve got your balls of linen yarn wound up neatly, don’t throw them all into a bag and let them start unwinding and tangling. Keep them nice and quiet, and put one ball in your bag at a time.
All of a Sudden, It’s a Thing
Given our long, steadfast devotion to linen yarn, it was amusing and delightful to see linen all over the TNNA trade show in Columbus last weekend. Linen! Linen! Linen! It was like the world had just discovered linen, a fiber that goes back at least as far as the ancient Egyptians.
On the show floor, we saw several beautiful versions of pure linen yarns, including our beloved Euroflax, which still has the biggest and best palette. We also saw too many linen blends to count. Linen blended with merino, with silk, with alpaca, and even with cashmere. Each one more toothsome than the next. The animal fibers add warmth and softness to linen, and linen contributes its amazing strength and swing. In some yarns, constructed with the linen and the wool as separate plies, the two fibers take up the dye differently, yielding beautiful shading. It’s mesmerizing to look at.
After looking at all that linen at TNNA, I was dying to get home to my own little stash of linen goodness.
Three sets of Euroflax Mini Skeins, fresh out of the shop.
[Sigh of contentment.]
My miniskein colorways are:
We’ve carried Earth in the shop since since Day One, but St. Lucia and Santa Fe are brand-new colorways, freshly picked out by for this summer by Melanie Falick.
First, We Wind the Slippery Little Devils
Job one: wind the Euroflax minis. SUCH FUN.
A true color party. (Yes, I did spend the afternoon winding skeins and playing with the stop-motion app. It’s called working, Ann. Gosh.)
I love the balance of brights and neutrals in these three sets.
The Perennial Question: What to Knit?
I’m hesitating about what to make with these 990 yards of linen goodness. I’m deeply drawn to make a super-generous version of the Dangling Conversation shawl I made last winter. I gave that one away because I knew in my heart that although it was the perfect colorway for me (Earth), and as close as I had ever gotten to the perfect summer scarf, I wanted it bigger and more dangly, so that it could hang down if necessary, and give my neck more breathing room. With just one set of miniskeins, the Dangling Conversation is a good-sized kerchief; with as many as 15, it will be the true summer schmattah of my dreams, long enough to blow in the breeze or double-wrap when the A/C gets blasty.
Other ideas are also beckoning. I happen to know that our friend Nell Ziroli has a stripey summer top pattern for Euroflax mini skeins on the stove; it will be coming soon. Am I a stripey summer top sort of person? Will it look as nice on me as it does on Nell?
Or: should I get three more sets of miniskeins, turn my collection of 15 minis into the full Super Mega Bundle (30 skeins), and make a Super Mega Linen version of Joji Locatelli’s new Starting Point wrap? (The Ravelry listing doesn’t yet have photos, as Starting Point is Joji’s Mystery Knitalong project, but the Instagram hashtag #startingpointmkal offers up scores of beautiful images of this stripey rectangular stole.) It’s an intriguing thought, but it wouldn’t exactly be mindless knitting, to have to figure out how to sort my miniskeins into five “colors,” and then split them to make the two matching sections of the shawl. But it’s fun to think about.