Today another edition of *What Would Mona Do.
As you might have heard me say, I do love knitting with linen. I do like the crisp fabric – often called ‘scratchy’, however, I don’t think it is – of 100% linen. Everything that follows is valid for 100% linen, not mixes, not cotton, I am talking about LINEN. We have a variety of 100% linen at the store:
Euroflax Sport from Louet – it is wet spun and very crisp
Sparrow from Quince – spun from organic flax in Belgium
Kestrel from Quince – a ribbon yarn, also from organic flax
Linen from Shibui – a chainette, which makes it extra crisp
Don’t get me wrong, linen is not soft as cashmere or silk, but, and this is a big BUT, it gets softer and softer with wear. Every time you wash your linen it softens up more – up to a point when you cannot imagine it was ever really ‘crisp’ because all that is left is softness.
One way to get your linen softer sooner – and yes, that is the WWMD part of the post – is to wash it in the washing machine. On cold, if that makes you feel better, however, I am of the opinion linen is linen and can take warm water.
If you want to be sure that nothing untoward happens to your sweater (or whatever it is you want to soften) take your swatch and throw it into the next color wash you have to do.
This way you will figure out if the mechanical wash does impact your knitting – makes it grow or shrink lengthwise. It happens more to knits that are worked in a looser gauge, because there is just more leeway to do one or the other. When your item comes out of the washer, just pull it into form and lay flat to dry as ever.
Disclaimer: What follows is not for the faint of heart and I am not saying you should do it, all I am saying is: I did it.
I dried my Quince Sparrow sweater in the dryer on low. When I got it out it felt like it compacted a bit, but with wear it expanded again. If you do that, you do not have any control about pulling it into the shape you want it, because when it is dry it is dry and the shape cannot be changed – until the next wash, when you get another chance to pull it into form when wet.
Happy knitting, as ever!