Thursday, December 07, 2006

Torture, thy name is Linen

About a week ago I blogged about how linen yarn is the bane of the process knitter. At least this process knitter, anyway.

Case in point: I started this Euroflax dishcloth several weeks ago, and am at the point where I can't stand to knit more than a row or two on it at any given time. And I'm hating life the entire time I'm knitting those two rows.

I brought it to TNK last week and knit maybe six rows on it during the entire three-hour period. And then when I came home I pulled it out of my knitting bag and threw it on the couch. And there it sat for days. Taunting me, as I blatantly ignored it. It became an enormous obstacle to any kind of holiday knitting progress, blocking all my good knitting vibes as I agonized over how it was not getting knit and how I'd never finish my other holiday knitting if I didn't finish this particularly vile project, which apparently wasn't going to disobey the laws of physics, do me an enormous favor and knit itself.

It has nothing to do with the pattern, which is just a basic seed-stitch border with a small basketweave pattern on the ends and a larger basketweave pattern in the middle. I switched to the larger basketweave in hopes of breaking up the purl stitches with longer stretches of knit stitches, but that doesn't really reduce the overall number of purls per row, unfortunately. Doh!

It might not be too terrible to knit if there were no purl stitches, but I just don't think garter stitch is right for a linen dishcloth. I might change my mind someday (soon?), however.

After about five days of no actual knitting whatsoever, all thanks to my linen-blocked mojo, I knew matters were getting drastic, as the Christmas countdown continually ticks louder and louder. So I did what I've done with a dozen other knitting projects: I have "re-purposed" the linen dishtowel and set it aside until after the holidays.

My Christmas recipient will be getting a handknit alpaca hat, instead. And maybe, by the time their birthday rolls around again in about 11¾ months, this dishcloth, and one to match it, will be finished.

I salute people like the Yarn Lounge's Melanie Snellings who recently knit about a dozen linen dishcloths for Christmas gifts. More power, Mel, to you and your hands of iron!

If one has any doubt about the durability of steel wool linen, check out Mason-Dixon Knitter Kay's recent post about her visit to the Met's Egyptian collection.

My favorite line from her post: "On the left, we have two balls of fine linen yarn, handspun from flax at least 3500 years ago. On the right, we have various flax-working instruments, including a set of KnitPicks Options needles. (Oh just kidding! Everybody knows that 3500 years ago, all they had were Addis.)"

So, now I know that if and when I finish my linen dishcloths, they will last for-freakin-ever. And unfortunately apparently there's no chance of my yarn getting eaten by moths before I'm done with the project.


Liz said...

May I ask why you find the purling of the linen so arduous? Are you not a fan of purling in general or just with linen yarn?

Krista said...

Good luck with eventually finding a use for the linen. I have never used it, and now I'm not sure I want to!

knitfriendly said...

I think that you are wise to change the gift to an alpaca hat. That is about as soft as you can get after linen! :)

Amy said...

Gah! I hate that yarn. I suffered through two dishcloths with it. I'm a tight knitter, and that stuff actually gave me paper cuts. Or is it linen cuts?

Theresa said...

I agree - that yarn ruined my hands!