Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Incredible Shrinking Swatch

For the last half year, I have been mulling over knitting with linen. It seems like the perfect fiber for summer knitting. The fact that linen is completely machine washable and dryable is a big lure, too. "It gets softer with washing and drying," said Wendy at Yarns 2 Ewe. So, understandably, I was very excited to start working with the Euroflax linen that I got for my birthday. This excitement quickly wore off once I started knitting with the so-called yarn.

First of all, it doesn't feel like yarn. It's more like smooth twine. Or rough string. I had been told of this fact about linen before I got the yarn, but I didn't think it was really that bad. But I was wrong, it is that bad. It hurts. After knitting with the linen for awhile, my fingers feel raw. Not a pleasant knitting experience at all.

Secondly, knitting gauge swatches is tricky because you can't know your gauge until after you wash and dry your swatches. Good thing that I had lots of laundry. I could knit a swatch, throw it in with a load, and measure it. Then, repeat the process. Look at these before and after photos (in a drop-stitch pattern):

Before: 7.5 inches wide, 4.5 inches tall.
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After: 5.75 inches wide, 4.5 inches tall.
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Amazing! Amazing that it shrunk so much width-wise but didn't shrink at all length-wise. And also an amazing transformation in texture. Burlap bag before and cottony soft after. I don't know if will ever knit with twine linen again. It's rather pricey and not pleasant with which to knit. But right now, my linen is quickly becoming a slightly modified version of Coral and I expect to get a lot of use out of it--after running through the wash a couple of times.


Lee Anne said...

Wow...I didn't realize it shrunk like that! I will say it looks rather pretty after the wash. Can't wait to hear if the end result was worth it for you. Love the pattern you are thinking of using it for!

mankee said...

What a contrast!

amylovie said...

I've mulled over the linen yarn. The only pattern that I've come across for it is a sort of netty market bag. I'll look forward to seeing how your top turns out. I'm sure it will be great. Everything you do is.


Jennifer said...

Whoa that shrunk a lot. I'm glad it's getting softer with washing. It will probably drape very nicely!