Question: I have struggled with biasing with linen in stocking stitch, and this seems to get worse with repeated washing. Do you have any advice on how to best use this interesting yarn!
Biasing does seem to be an issue with plant fibres so patterns designed with these fibres in mind need to take into account the possibility of biasing. As you said, it particularly shows up with stocking stitch over large areas, especially if knitting in the round. If you're knitting a garment, it's advisable to knit in pieces and sew up afterwards, rather than knit in one piece. Having said that, I have knitted several garments in 100% linen top down in one piece and many of them don't bias, usually because there is some other stitch than stocking stitch which breaks up the tendency to bias, eg lace stitch or slip stitch patterns. Sometimes you only have to have a row or two of garter stitch to stop it wanting to bias. I'm guessing some linen yarns may bias more than others, depending on how it's been spun and plied. We have our yarn plied on a low twist to try and avoid this. Another thing that may add to biasing is how the yarn is wound from a skein. I've read that it is better to wind into a ball than use a ball winder. If you do use a ball-winder, knit from the outside of the cake, rather than the middle. Knitting from a centre pull cake in linen tends to add more twist. I can't claim to have a definitive answer to the issue of biasing, but hope this helps a little. Diane.
No animal ingredients:
100% linen hand-dyed (including LinenNaturals).
100% linen plant dyed.
Flaxi 100% linen.
And of course the undyed 100% linen yarn (natural or soft white)
The Alpalini range is obviously not vegan, since it's 50% alpaca fibre, but you can safely use any of the 100% linen yarns. Some natural dyes are derived from insects (cochineal, lac) but we have never bought or used any of these. Any natural dyes and mordants we use are of plant or mineral origin. Synthetic dyes and washes are not derived from animal ingredients. I am not sure about the wax used on Fil au Chinois linen thread. I would have to contact the company that makes them to check.
Question: I love all your beautiful coloured linen yarn. I hear that linen softens the more you work it. Do you have any tips for speeding up the process of softening the linen like if I wanted to use it for a baby?
I often compare linen to a new pair of leather shoes: they need breaking in so you wear them round the house a few times until the leather becomers more supple. Similarly, linen needs 'breaking in'. As you mentioned, it becomes softer the more you handle it, or the more you wear it. Interesting that you should mention baby knits, because I've recently been knitting/designing quite a few projects for babies. I find that by the time I've finished knitting the item, I've fiddled around with it and handled it so much that the finished object is already quite soft! Having said that, before being worn, you will probably want to wash your baby knit. As well as resulting in a nice clean garment this will also even out all the stitches. You can use your favourite fabric softener. However, linen often dries crisp if you leave it to air dry, but if you give it a good shake when it's nearly dry, it will regain its softness. Even better, before it's completely dry, give it a whirl in your tumble dryer on a low heat setting for 15-20 minutes. If you think it could be a bit softer, add a damp tea towel in the dryer and give it a bit longer, but I don't recommend leaving in the dryer until it's bone dry. You can finish off the drying in a gentle breeze out of direct sun or simply laid flat.
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