Summer Yarns | Part 1 - Light and Airy

Too hot to knit? Its never too hot to knit, you’ve just got to pick the right project …

January in sunny Brisbane is a very sunny and slightly sticky experience, by early morning the temperatures are already soaring and the humidity levels steadily climb as the day wears on. Lets be honest hand knits aren’t a hot topic around these parts in the height of summer, even for me ….

But – truth be told – I simply can’t get by day to day without some knitting. It’s the balm for my soul and I won’t let a little bit of sunshine come between me and my needles.

So I set out in search of some glorious yarns that would be perfectly suited to knitting in sunny climes. I have had an absolute ball swatching with a fantastic selection of yarns and will be sharing my thoughts about knitting with plant based fibres here over the next few months.

This blog post is the first in a series of six exploring knitting for warmer climes. 

Disclaimer: Some of these yarns featured in this series were generously supplied by Skein Sisters in Sydney for review purposes. Other yarns have come from my personal stash. This is not a sponsored blog post series.


Part 1 | Light and Airy

Summer Yarns_Part 1_Light and Airy_Clare Devine20.jpg

My quest begins with a love affair … you see, I have always had a soft spot for linen. It has a cool and crisp handle, wears beautifully in warmer weather and is a delight to knit with on even the steamiest days.

This post will be divided into 2 parts:

  • Review (a quick round up of my thoughts on each of the chosen yarn)
  • Inspiration – oodles and oddles of inspiration, because who doesn’t love looking at gorgeous knitwear and dreaming of knitting “all the things”

For this review I decided to pick 3 of my favourite linen yarns.


 Image copyright Skein Sisters

Image copyright Skein Sisters


Shibui Reed

Made in Japan (source of linen unknown)

Fingering weight yarn

Chainette construction

246 yd [225 meters] per 50g skein

Recommended gauge: 26 – 28 sts = 10cm / 4in on 3.75mm (US 5) needles

 


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Having knitted with the previous version of this yarn Shibui Linen I was keen to try the new version. From what I can tell Shibui Reed is essentially the same as the now discontinued Shibui Linen. 

The grey swatch is Shibui Reed and the yellow swatch is Shibui Linen (now discountinued)

I worked my swatch on 3.75mm needles (Hiya Hiya stainless) and got 26 sts and 34 rows in stocking stitch worked flat, and wet blocked.


This yarn is a delight to knit with. You do need to be mindful of the construction so that you do not split the chain but this really isn’t a major issue. The fabric is light and airy, with a  beautiful drape.  

I do find that this yarn is rather unforgiving of tension variations. Meaning my finished fabric does not have that lovely smooth uniform stitch definition I would normally get with a good wool. That said, this isn’t wool and I do not think it detracts from the fabric – it adds character and with the right pattern choice this yarn will be a summer knitting dream.

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What would I knit with it?

This yarn would make a magnificent summer top or cardigan. I also think it lends itself beautifully to shawls and wraps. I worked a lace swatch and was completely bowled over by how beautifully this yarn blocked. It holds it shape and the drape a something quite spectacular.

I have some inspirational recommendations at the end of this blog post. 

Summer Yarns_Part 1_Light and Airy_Clare Devine1.jpg

 Image copyright Skein Sisters

Image copyright Skein Sisters


Quince and Co. Sparrow

Spun in Italy from organic linen grown in Belgium.

Fingering weight yarn

Smooth yarn

168yd [155m] per 50g skein

Recommended gauge: 24 sts = 10cm / 4in on 3.25mm (US 3) needles

 


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This yarn is dreamy with a capital D … it is smooth and plump, meaning the stitch definition is top notch.

I know that linen often gets a bad rep for being hard on the hands and some of the linen yarns I have knitted with in the past can be a little tough going.

This is certainly not my experience with Sparrow. It has a lovely handle and really is dreamy to knit with.

I worked my swatch on 3.25mm needles (Hiya Hiya stainless) and got 24 sts and 34 rows in stocking stitch worked flat, and wet blocked.

I find that the structure of this yarn means that the finished fabric is smoother than the Reed. It still has the unforgiving nature of a plant based fibre but the overall finish is smooth and the stitch definition is lovely and crisp. The stitch definition would definitely lend itself to beautifully blocked lace, simple textures or miles of glorious stocking stitch. The drape of Sparrow is marvellous, I love the way the swatch moves – it is almost fluid like.

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What would I knit with it?

What wouldn’t I knit with this given half the chance. This is a great all rounder I think, it would lend itself perfectly to lightweight garments but would be equally at home in shawls and other accessories that would benefit from the light, airy drape in the fabric.

I have some inspirational recommendations at the end of this blog post. 

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Quince and Co. Kestrel.

Spun in Italy from organic linen grown in Belgium.

Heavy worsted weight

76yd [70m] / 50g

Chainette construction / ribbon style

Recommended gauge: 16 sts = 10cm / 4in on 5mm (US 8) needles

Recommended gauge: 14 sts = 10cm / 4in on 6.5mm (US 10) needles

 Image Copyright Skein Sisters

Image Copyright Skein Sisters


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This yarn is heavier than the others and leads us slightly away from the light and airy start to this post.

That said, it is cool on the hands and I think it would be the perfect yarn to knit with in the heat of summer with a view to wearing your finished object with pride as the cooler autumn weather approaches.

I worked my swatch on 6mm needles (Hiya Hiya stainless) and got 14 sts and 22 rows in stocking stitch worked flat, and wet blocked. There is defintely a lot of movement in this swatch and the gauge is on the loose side. I also played around with some elongated stitches to create even more air in the fabric. 

Initially I was a little sceptical of the ribbon style of this yarn, I wasn’t convinced it would knit up into a fabric I loved. I was wrong though, it knits up beautifully and creates a fabric full of drape, with a very distinct character. I love the movement in this fabric and it certainly fits the "airy" bit of my quest worked at this gauge

The nature of the fibre and the fabric it creates lends itself to garter stitch, stocking stitch and carefully selected bold lace and textures. I wouldn’t choose this yarn for something with too much texture or a finer pattern.

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What would I knit with it? 

I definitely think this would make a great sweater for Brisbane winter – but in the spirit of Light and Airy I can’t help but think what a marvellous beach wrap this yarn would make. The kind of wrap you want to drape around you as you head home from a day filled with sun, sand and frolicking in the waves.

My other favourite light and airy knit for this yarn would be one of the marvellous tank tops that designers have created for this unique linen.

I have some inspirational recommendations at the end of this blog post. 

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Looking for a little bit of inspiration?

I love nothing more that having a good nosey around Ravelry to find some great projects for yarns I have been swatching. I have compiled some of my favourites for these three linen yarns - hope you enjoy this does of knitting inspiration.  



Shawls & Scarves

 

 

 

 

These shawls would look amazing in Shibui Reed or Quince Sparrow.

The joy about shawls is that you can play around with yarns quite easily as gauge is not as crucial as a garment. The most important thing is to adjust the needle size to get a fabric you love. Be mindful of yardage as any adjustments in gauge will affect the total yardage needed. 

 Strathcona by Jane Richmond | copyright Nicholas Kupiak

Strathcona by Jane Richmond | copyright Nicholas Kupiak

 Book People by Sylvia McFadden | copyright Sylvia McFadden

Book People by Sylvia McFadden | copyright Sylvia McFadden

 Emily by Pam Allen | copyright Quince and Co.

Emily by Pam Allen | copyright Quince and Co.

 Flicker by Libby Jonson | copyright Truly Myrtle / Libby Johnson

Flicker by Libby Jonson | copyright Truly Myrtle / Libby Johnson

 Pwani by Clare Devine | copyright Knit Share Love

Pwani by Clare Devine | copyright Knit Share Love

 Fine and Dandy by yellowcosmo | copyright Yellocosmo

Fine and Dandy by yellowcosmo | copyright Yellocosmo



Summer Tanks

 

These tanks would be the perfect project to cast on with these beautiful linen yarns. Relaxing to knit without being too big and bulky, as no-one needs a heavy pile of knitting on their lap in the heat of summer. 

 
 Tamsin by Dawn Catanzaro |  copyright Pam Allen

Tamsin by Dawn Catanzaro | 
copyright Pam Allen

 Kit Camisole by Bristol Ivy | copyright Carrie Bostick Hoge

Kit Camisole by Bristol Ivy |
copyright Carrie Bostick Hoge

 Slope by Shellie Anderson | copyright Shibui

Slope by Shellie Anderson |
copyright Shibui






Something a little different for Kestrel

These two are wild cards in a way - I wanted to think outside the box about shawls that could be knitted with Kestrel. I was inspired by thinking of the type of accessory you might want at the end of a long day at the beach. As the sun sinks below the horizon and the warmth of the daylight slowly disappears sometimes it is nice to have something to wrap around your shoulders. 

In summer wool would be far too warm but a worsted weight linen wrap - now that is something I c 

 
 Starflower Shawl by Renée Callahan | copyright Renée Callahan

Starflower Shawl by Renée Callahan | copyright Renée Callahan

 Groovy by Annie Baker | copyright Annie Baker

Groovy by Annie Baker | copyright Annie Baker

 Pebble Beaçh by Helen Stewart | copyright Helen Stewart

Pebble Beaçh by Helen Stewart | copyright Helen Stewart

 Highline by Kirsten Kapur | copyright Kirsten Kapur

Highline by Kirsten Kapur | copyright Kirsten Kapur

 

I hope you have enjoyed this article about knitting with linen in the warmer months ... Part Two will be published on Friday 2nd March 2018.

Until next time

Happy knitting

Clare

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