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Off to the beach with Fibra Natura Flax Lace

by Cindy O'Malley

Welcome to this week’s posts on KNITmuch, where I’ll be exploring Fibra Natura Flax Lace, which is a strong, light and airy, long lasting fiber that’s perfect for summertime wear.

If you’re experiencing déjà vu, that’s because Cynthia MacDougall recently posted a fabulous article about using Flax Lace to create heirloom wedding projects such as, a beautiful stole, hankie, and ring bearer pillow. This week, we’re going casual with great summertime projects that are easy to care for, and comfortable to wear.

Flax Lace comes in 19 colors of which I’ll be using 4 different colors this week; Silver, Lily Pond, Regatta (blue), and Poppy, all with a lovely sheen. When I laid out these colors, they reminded me of webbed lawn chairs and awnings – all bright and happy colors that one would find on the beach. So off to the beach we go for some fun in the sun.

These colors remind me of lawn chairs, cabana tents, and awnings, all reminiscent of summer.

Did you know that linen is one of the oldest textiles known to mankind? Its use dates back thousands of years and was used for mummification and burial shrouds in Ancient Egypt. It was expensive and often used as a currency and symbol for wealth. Of course, the elite would have lower class plebes do their laundry by beating the textiles against a rock to soften up the fabric. Today, we can throw it in the washing machine on a warm wash and tumble dry on medium heat – much easier than beating it on a rock.

If you haven’t knit with linen before, it may be due to the fact that when you felt the skein in your LYS, you thought, that’s too crisp or crunchy, like I did. But then, I felt the knitted and laundered swatch hanging beside it, and changed my tune. I had to try it for myself.

A free-standing wound cake of Flax Lace – very crisp indeed

If you ask other knitters how they work with linen, you’re likely to get differing stories. Most say that it’s hard on the hands as linen does not have any elasticity, which is true of most plant based fibers. I also found it hard on the hands the first time I knit with it. Now I don’t. Why, you ask?

That’s because the first time, I used a pattern that called for an alpaca / silk sport weight yarn, and I was using a linen sport weight yarn. Guess what, they don’t knit the same … trying to achieve gauge while knitting was hard on the hands. The next time, I used a pattern that was designed for linen and found that it was much easier on the hands as the gauge was written accordingly.

I know someone who claims that you need to wind the skein and wash it before you start to knit. That sounds like too much work for me, however, I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong answer. The important thing is to find a method that works for you.

Named Lace, it’s actually classified as a fingering weight yarn with a recommended gauge of 28 sts and 36 rows over 4” [10cm] using a US 2 [2.75 mm] needle. I’ll actually be using the yarn doubled for two of my projects this week, and one using a single strand. I won’t be trying to achieve the recommended gauge, but I’ll show you what happens when you tightly knit in an attempt to achieve gauge; in other words, making it hard on your hands.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my story of how I work with linen and show you that you can relax your knitting and still achieve the desired result.

The projects I have selected for this week are a little outside of the box; experimental so to speak. I’ll be making a beach cover-up, a summery t-shirt, and a bandana, all with Fibra Natura Flax Lace.

Join me tomorrow, I’ll knit some swatches, launder and measure them, and then proceed with the projects for the remainder of the week.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Knitting with linen yarn, my story, my way


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