Linen is my all time favorite fiber for warm weather. I love the way it feels against the skin and how I never get warm when wearing it. It takes dye uniquely so colors look interesting with a faded/sheen look to it. It's a strong fiber that lasts for decades. It's machine washable and you can put it in the dryer. It gets softer over time....... but here's the thing. It's not soft on day one.
When you open a hank of linen (or flax), it may feel stiff. When you start knitting, it can be rough on your hands. If you have sensitive skin, by the time you're finished a garment, your hands have had a workout. I'm a huge fan of knitting linen with small needles and taking on a looser than normal tension, and this helps, but the feel of the actual linen moving through your fingers isn't the best.
The good news is that you can soften your linen yarn easily before casting on. It will delay your knitting by a day, until the yarn dries, but the amount of time and energy on your part is minimal.
1. Fill a basin with tepid water.
2. Add 1 part baking soda with 2 parts white vinegar. I've used 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar.
3. Swirl the water until all is mixed. The baking soda dissolves quickly.
4. Open the hank of yarn but leave the ties in place. Lay the yarn on top of the water and let it be.
5. Once the yarn has sunk to the bottom of the sink, you know the fibers are saturated.
6. Drain the water and hang the yarn to dry overnight.
Hello! I'm Donna Estin, knitwear designer, certified master knitter and instructor. I enjoy designing artistic knitwear that is comfortable. I specialize in sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.