Koigu Linen Scarf Finished Sewn copy

Pros and Cons of Linen Stitch

When I first started knitting and I would find variegated yarns in Woolworths (yes, I’m that old), I wish I had known about Linen Stitch back then.

The Versatile Color-Mixing Stitch Pattern – Linen Stitch

I think the Linen Stitch is one of the most under-utilized  stitch patterns in knitting…especially when it comes to variegated yarns and issues with streaks and pooling of colors.

First of all, the pattern stitch (for those who don’t know it and don’t want to search further on the internet:

Linen Stitch:

Cast on any even number of stitches.

Row 1:  K1, Slip 1 (with yarn in front), rep to last 2 sts, K2
Row 2:  P1, Slip 1 (with yarn in back), rep to last 2 sts., P2

Simple stitch with only a two row repeat
Creates flat, woven-like fabric that doesn’t curl very much
Mixes colors well in variegated yarns, avoiding pooling
Works very well with striping different colors/colorways of yarns
Maximizes use of of yarn
Knit on needles much larger than what the yarn would normally call for

Like 1X1 ribbing, requires the yarn to go back and forth between each stitch
Grows more slowly than most knitted fabric
Has no seam that is invisible when joined at the sides

Current Knitting

As noted, I do have progress photos of what I’m currently working on.  And of course, the first is the linen stitch blanket.

Unforgettable Blanket 03-01-15

I have a few more feet of knitting on this beauty, and as noted in the description of the linen stitch, it stripes nicely and works well with variegated yarns.

I’ve also moved right along on my Kureyon socks.

Noro Silk Garden Sock 03-01-2015

They obviously don’t match, but I like that (with all the knots in Noro yarns, it’s very difficult to get two matching socks anyway…I’ve given up trying).  But the colors are stunning.

10 comments on “Pros and Cons of Linen Stitch

  1. Hi there,
    Thanks for this lovely entry about linen stitch… Any tips about mixing linen stitch with other stitches? I am knitting the Annabella pattern (A shawl with short rows) and it alternates between blocks of a main stitch and one row of lace. I chose linen stitch for the main blocks of knitting… but am now worried the linen stitch will go loose when I introduce the two rows of lace… Have thought of introducing a couple of rows of seed stitch with a smaller needle – Only thing I can think of to stabilize the fabric…

    1. I have never mixed Linen Stitch with anything else. Given how large a needle I use for Linen Stitch, I’d have to swatch a lot of different ideas to come up with some other compatible stitch that didn’t distort the shape of the fabric. I’ll be interested to know if you find something that works.

    2. I wonder how you solved this puzzle. I have been looking at linen stitch patterns far and wide. https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/linen-stitch-jacket-3 mixes stockinette stitch and linen stitch (or it may be half-linen) and accounts for the difference in gauge by going from 3.75mm over stockinette to 4.5mm needles over the linen st. (or half-linen – I didn’t buy the pattern and the bumpf on Ravelry is confusing).

  2. That blanket is beautiful!!!

    I’m looking to do a linen stitch blanket also with a variegated yarn, I’m using Malabrigo Rios. It’s a worsted weight with a needle size range from US 6-8, but I noticed in your article that you said you can use larger needles than you normally would when doing a linen stitch pattern, so I was wondering what needle size you would recommend? Thank you ☺️

  3. Such a beautiful blanket!!! Do you know how much more yarn linen stitch uses than stockinette? I want to use it for a jacket for a pattern that is written for stockinette and want to make sure I have enough yarn to do the whole thing.

    Thanks so much for your blog. I’ve loved the linen stitch for a long time, maybe because I used to weave, but have never used it for a project.

  4. Hi Joe,

    I love linen stitch! I am trying out a project that has lifted left/right increases. Do do you have any advise into adding the increases to shape the linen stitch pattern?

    1. No, but I’d be fascinated to find out what you decided. I rarely do lifted increases anymore except on garter stitch. Normally I increase by knitting into the stitch below the next stitch on my left needle and then into the stitch itself…sometimes known as an invisible increase.

      1. Bummer. I will give it a try and let you know.

        Meanwhile, do you have advice on increases with Linen Stitch?

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