Is Linen the Marmite of Knit and Crochet Fibres?
Note: This post was originally published in 2015. I've recently moved my blog to a new platform and although I was able to transfer my posts, all of the original publication dates seem to have been lost so I'll be republishing over time.
With warmer weather on the horizon, (thinking optimistically here!), this seems like a good time for this repost.
Based on conversations with other crafters, (both spoken and written), it's clear that, just like with marmite, most people fall into either the "love it" or "hate it" camp when it comes to working with linen.
I, for one, am decidedly in the "love it" group. Although I lived in southern California for over 20 years, I didn't actually work with linen until a couple of years ago after moving to England. I'm not sure if it's because I just wasn't looking for it, but it seems to be much more available in thread/yarn form on this side of the pond, as well as being more affordable.
You can find different weights of linen yard/thread, but I usually prefer a finger weight 4 ply, or even a 3 ply, and am equally happy to use linen for crocheting or knitting and for a variety of items from accessories to home decor. I think the stitch definition you get from linen is exceptional.
In my opinion there are a lot of reasons to love linen, and not just in summer. Here are a few of them:
Linen has Non-allergenic Properties
I am, alas, very sensitive to some types of wool. I can usually work with those types of wool on a limited basis, but I can't wear them next to my skin and this is a real problem for someone who loves to make accessories, especially cowls, scarves, and shawls. Linen is much easier on my skin and you will be hard pressed to find as many people who are allergic to linen as to wool, so whether you are making items for yourself or others, linen can be an almost sure bet alternative to wool.
Linen is Cool & Fresh
Linen is cool and fresh against the skin, making it ideal for warm summer weather and tropical climates year round. These same properties make it great for those of us who tend to overheat or like to wear light layers indoors. I wear some of my linen accessories year round!
Linen Gets Better with Age
Like a fine wine and a good woman, linen really does get better with age. It gets softer every time you wash it and because the fibres do not stretch, (like, say, cotton), it keeps its shape beautifully and drapes very nicely with more body than cotton or silk. The only caveat here is that repeated creasing in the same area, ie hems, collars, etc., will eventually break down the fibres, so keep that in mind if incorporating those types of things in our projects.
Linen is Sturdy, Durable , and Easy to Care For
Linen is one of those rare fibres that is actually stronger wet than dry, and it absorbs and loses moisture very quickly, making it excellent for use around water, (ie kitchens, bathrooms, at the beach or pool, etc). It has great natural exfoliating qualities and it also resists dirt and stains, as well as moths and beetles. It produces virtually no pilling or lint. Linen can be washed in the washing machine, washed by hand, dry cleaned, or steamed.
Linen is Eco-Friendly
In an era when being kind to our universe is of utmost importance, the eco-friendly properties of linen cannot be overlooked. It is biodegradable and sustainable, and its strength and durability mean that items made from linen do not need to be replaced as often as items made with other fibres.
Obviously linen is not appropriate for every project, but if you haven't tried it yet you may be surprised at its versatility and strength. If you have tried it, are you in the "love it" or "hate it" camp?