When Rowan announced that one of the new Spring/Summer 2014 yarns was a 100% linen blend called Pure Linen, I was intrigued! I had never used a pure linen yarn, but had felt (and pulled my hand away from) many that were mighty rough on the hands. Euroflax, I'm looking at you.
I received two sample balls from Rowan and really loved the silver color Arizona in particular.
And what do you know, the accompanying booklet The Pure Linen Collection, had a great top that would be a quick but interesting to make. The book highlights that this yarn can be used at a lot of different gauges. Palm Cove by Lisa Richardson is designed for a loose gauge and only needed 4 balls for a long-sleeve top, woohoo! Also, the open-back detail is big in fashion these days.
|Can you believe how perfect the dress was for this top?!|
Well, as you can tell, the open back didn't work out! Two big issues emerged. First the bottom was sloppy and wavy, a fact that I believe is hidden by the model's arm.
|Try to pick up less stitches in the straight hem.|
Now, this could have been me. The way the top is made, you create the backs and front and then pick up along the edges and knit downwards for the ribbing. If you pick up too many stitches, it could be wavy. But if you pick up too few, it gathers the fabric (which I like less). Also, how tight you bind-off makes a huge difference. I really think I did the best I could... but still, not a high impact piece at all. Just, meh.
The other problem was the neckline. You see, you have two overlapping backs compared to a single layer lacy front. Unexpectedly, the weight of the backs pulled up on the collar in a seriously choke-y way. Uncomfortable.
|Just start the neckline earlier to avoid it being too high.|
I was disillusioned, but then I thought... what if I turned this sucker around?! Whoah, it fit perfect! The wavy hem was ok in the back, especially since it was lessened by my tush. :) And without the unequal weight in the back, the neckline was very comfortable.
Whatever way you like to wear it, I do suggest you secure the opening with a running stitch right near the bind-off. Otherwise, the parts will shift and you will find yourself adjusting the fronts instead of catwalking and showing off, naturally.
Another thing to consider if you make this top, is how you increase to make the curved backs/fronts. They are made by increasing quickly and then slower up to the neck. If you like M1 increases like I do, this presents a bit of a problem. M1s are the most invisible increases, but they also steal yarn from adjacent stitches. This is usually fine, but for an edge where you increase every row, you will notice quickly that it is getting really tight on the edge. I highly recommend that you make a yarn-over in the row before to give extra yarn available for the M1 when you get to it. You can see more specific photos on how to do this in this post.
Finally -- this is the kind of top that really needs circular sleeves, and I regret not doing it. The seams are bulky and the gauge is too see-through for that. Make the effort to do these sleeves in the round, you will be pleased.
|This is the "Lacy Bind-off" done loosely for a nice effect.|
Ok, so are you ready for my thoughts on the yarn? This is the easiest review ever, because I LOVED IT. It is my favorite yarn from the whole Rowan year, maybe the last 2 years! It may feel firm when it's in the ball in the store, but it is so soft when you knit it you will not recognize it as linen. Since making this top, I have been making a bag with Quince & Co.'s 100% linen Sparrow yarn. After a few hours, I simply must put the knitting down, because my fingers feel raw, even though the fabric is lovely. I would have to knit a lifetime before I felt that with Pure Linen, seriously. Also, I must say, the shine is impressive -- like a flaxen-haired maiden from a fairy tale.
The yarn is loosely spun and quite thick and voluminous, and so it can handle many gauges beautifully. With the softness comes some delicacy however. I don't mean this stuff will break... once I was left without scissors and my teeth could not rescue me, it is definitely strong! But, because of the softness and spin, fibers will come off easily and small hairs will wisp away. I found that blocking tamed a lot of these fibers. In fact, this was the most satisfying blocking experience I've ever had... when I lifted the pieces they were like pristine sheets of cardboard, go linen!
My fellow Rowan Ambassadors have been just as impressed with this yarn, it's really a winner. See Kristen (Knitionary) and Konrad's (KnittingKonrad) blog posts about their Pure Linen tops they made as part of their über-fun SheKnits/HeKnits KAL for Spring/Summer Rowan yarns. I fell in love with Konrad's tee, especially.
|What a great RA Konrad is, flipping through Rowan Mag 55 all the time! More here.|
|Oh, I'm sure Kristen's Rowan Mag is open at her feet! More here.|
If you'd like to try some Pure Linen yourself... /subliminal message DOOOOOO IT/... here are some other favorite designs from the Pure Linen Collection, all by Lisa Richardson.
So Rowan fans... do you know that July 15 is already the release of the Fall/Winter season and Rowan Mag 56?! Oh dear, I am in trouble. I've seen everything and I can't wait to show you my favorites. And I have REAL NEWS, I am traveling to the Rowan mothership in Holmfirth, UK at the end of of the month and will be able to see some of these pieces in person. So, double info for you all! If you'd like to stay in tune with the Rowan spoilers I'll be giving in the next month, make sure to watch the Rowan spoilers thread in the Rowan Love group on Rav, or my Facebook Page Dayana Knits.
See my Linen Cove on Ravelry