Tuesday, August 1, 2017


My friend Al and I were talking about linen the other day.  I want to make shirts, pants, dresses--okay, everything--out of linen right now.  Curtains.  Sheets.  Lacy petticoats.  What else is there?  Linen is so great.  Soft, always getting softer, and covered in wrinkles, but the very best kind of wrinkles, the kind that make you look like you've spent the day yachting with the Kennedys.  After the Esme dress I made last summer clung like crazy to everything and I finally ditched it in sad desperation, you all advised me about linen, and you were right.  Anyway, Al had this piece of nubbly, natural, untreated and homespun-looking linen in his stash, leftover from some kind of breadmaking endeavor, and he gave it to me.  I made a Kiomi top (from Lotta Jansdotter's book "Everyday Style") and I'm hoping there is enough summer left to wear it.  
As many of you will already know, the master pattern sheets in that (gorgeous and inspiring) book are a special hell to decipher, but once you have identified and located, traced and cut the pattern pieces out, whew, you are through the worst of it and the sewing is easy peasy.  I think this simple little shirt is going to be a really useful wardrobe piece for me, especially in a regular, real summer year, where it is hot for many days.  You know, summer, instead of whatever this is.  
I was about to fall asleep last night when suddenly, the specter of my sorta-finished Folded drifted malevolently into my mind, making me feel guilty and unsettled, and I realized that if I expect to wear this anytime at all, and certainly before approximately a year from now, I'd better get in there and fix it.  This thing was done, blocked, and sitting on the shelf in the closet, awaiting a public outing, and it sat there for a long time, unworn, before I finally admitted to myself that it was too short, and also a little too narrow at the bottom hem for my personal taste.  Which was a little bit of a pain, because Folded is worked from the bottom up, which means that too-narrow hem was the cast on edge, and one of the only non-magical things about knitting is that you can't just unravel from where you started--you can only unravel from where you ended.  Well, I didn't want to rip out the whole sweater and start over, making the cast on edge bigger (for a wider hem) and I didn't want to just abandon the sweater altogether (this is Madelinetosh Merino Light!  Yummy!) so the only thing left was to cut off the hem and knit it down from there, which after lying awake in anticipation of the endless tedium of doing that, I finally did this morning, and it was an hour of work.  Note to self:  See?  Get in there and get it done, you'll feel better.  To remove the hem, I snipped one stitch right above the ribbing, unpicked each stitch one at a time, and put each loop back on the needle, one at a time, until I had all the stitches live again, and ready to knit--top down, this time--where I will work an extra set or two of increases and add more length to the whole thing, finally ending with the ribbing.  It's a little bit painful to do this, cutting into a completely finished object with scissors and then picking at it for an hour, but honestly, it is waaaayy less painful than knitting an entire sweater in fingering weight yarn and then never wearing it because I'm too lazy to spend half a day fixing a small problem.  That's not how I want to roll.  So, tonight I will knit a few inches of stockinette and then the ribbing, and then I will want to wear this. Luckily, the weather is perfect for it.


  1. Wow. I didn't even know you could do that. Well, now that you mention it, I've done it with a pair of alpaca socks. They were too short after washing them, (they felted slightly,) so I did the same thing, and added some length. It worked beautifully. Your linen top is lovely. It looks so classy. I'm glad you fixed the sweater.

  2. You are so brave! But it was worth it...the color on that thing is dreamy!

  3. That is such a useful tip. Scary but good to know!

    Lovely top which I do hope you get to wear. Linen is my favourite for summer. However, I tried linen sheets and could not live with the rumpled "these sheets have been on the bed for too long" look after one night's sleep!

    Here in SW France we seem to have had the opposite extreme to you. So, so hot this year. Too much for me I confess. It is pretty desperate when you end up doing the housework and ironing (pretty dangerous eh) naked. My poor little dog is traumatised but luckily we aren't overlooked and I get good warning of any visitors, ha ha.

  4. Your linen top is about absolutely perfect! I'm not a big fan of linen for myself, but so many lovely things are made from it.

    I bet that top would work all year long as a layer under sweaters and cardigans =)

  5. OH THE BLUE of that sweater!!!! Thrilled you salvaged it!!! It truly would have been a crime not to have been able to wear it...
    Now a technical question... is it not possible or practical perhaps to have knitted the ribbing first, added the length you wanted and then grafted the pieces together? Or was your Solution the better option? I love learning more about knitting from you and your brave and adventurous nature!!! You never fail to inspire me!!! Enjoy the sweater ~ it will look amazing on you!!!

    1. Thanks very much! To answer your very good question: If I'd needed only extra length, I could, theoretically, have simply (well, ha! Not simple!) snipped the single stitch, unpicked that whole row, separating the ribbing from the body, put the stitches back on, knit more length, and then grafted the ribbing back on, using Kitchener stitch. (There's a very nice tutorial on this exact topic in the most recent Fruity Knitting podcast, if you're interested) but, in this case, since I wanted to increase the width of the hem (that is, to make it bigger around) I did not salvage it. Also, the ribbing is only an inch of knitting, which is much faster for me to accomplish than grafting all those stitches together. :)

  6. That top is Soooooo useful. Every cardigan you have ever knit will go over this. I am totally inspired to delve into my basket and get out a sweater made in cascade that I have to admit is too short (I know me too!) luckily it was top down so that makes me even lazier because I just need to knit a bit more! That is going next on my queue ready for Autumn wear. Jo x

  7. You are doing what I am just thinking about -- making a linen top and salvage items that are done but "not really wearable" done.
    I always say to myself, do a provisional cast on next time, but don't.
    Thanks for the new technique and references.

  8. You make the most wonderful things! Perfect shapes, gorgeous colors. I'm not a knitter at all, but I love reading about your process and admire your technical ability no end. Wish I could send you some of our heat to wear with your top!

  9. Your linen top is about absolutely perfect! I'm not a big fan of linen for myself, but so many lovely things are made from it.