Knitting the linen knit tee

Many, many years ago, when I first got into knitting, I had my eye on lots of designs that I wanted to make. I know, even then, I always had one eye on the next project. I bought a pattern book for Wendy Pampas Linen Look yarn. It contains several patterns for summer weight knits in cotton yarn.

I still love the looks in this pattern book

I never got around to using any of those patterns for one reason or another. Anyway, in the first eternal summer of Covid (that’s 2020 if you’re reading this in the far future), it came into my head that this was the right time to resurrect my knitting. While I was making another attempt to sort out my craft area, this pattern book resurfaced.

Rewind to about 2014, I joined Ravelry but hadn’t completed any knitting. Now I decided to put all of my stash and patterns onto the website to encourage me to do something about it. I added all of my patterns to the library and decided to make something from at least one of them.

I picked something simple to start with – this basic T-shirt in linen-cotton yarn. I chose the plain one worn by the Bonnie Langford lookie-likey on the left. I hadn’t gotten as far as purchasing the yarn all those years ago and was annoyed to find out that 30 years later Wendy Pampas has been discontinued! How dare they!

I fished around on the internet and in all the bricks and mortar yarn stores that I could get to when allowed. I even found a lovely Canadian lady on Ravelry, who had some of the yarn in her stash and was willing to sell it. I was tempted to buy from her but in the end, I thought that the postage would probably end up more costly than the yarn.

I then discovered YarnSub, which is a site that recommends substitute yarns for knitting and crocheting. They look at the gauge, weight and fibre content of yarns and find compatible replacements. Substituting yarn is something you may want to do if, like me, your yarn has been discontinued or you are looking for a more economical yarn or a different fibre mix. The website is extremely helpful in recommending alternatives.

With the help of YarnSub, I came across DMC Natura linen yarn. It looked like it gave the same slubby texture and so would be a good substitute. I chose this orange colourway.

I knit the yarn on 3.5mm needles with a tension of approximately 22 stitches by 28 rows for a 10×10 cm swatch. I have to confess that I am terrible at maintaining tension. If I relax into my knitting and go with the flow, I’m a naturally loose knitter. l forced myself to swatch, but my gauge can be inconsistent. Also, I was not entirely faithful to the pattern. I realised that this 1990s pattern only went up to a 97 cm bust. I think that’s a size UK14, so I needed to grade up this knitting pattern – a skill that I know absolutely nothing about. So using a bit of improvisation, I looked at the intervals in the number of stitches for each size. Each size was an additional 6 stitches so for size UK18, I added 12 stitches to each figure given for the body and 6 stitches on the arms plus an extra 4 anticipating my big biceps.

When it came to shaping, still in the spirit of winging it, it looked to be a straight boxy top so I knitted the sleeves as rectangles to give a drop shouldered boxy effect.

I started this project in July 2020, probably influenced by the weather during that summer of plague. Knitting is slower than sewing obviously and with its teeny tiny stitches, this was a slower knit than others. I ended up putting it aside to work on other projects – surprise, surprise.

I finished the top in the spring of 2021 and it’s become a summer staple. My resulting linen tee may look a bit rustic, but it’s meant to be casual and it is great on a hot day. It fits comfortably and looks good. I’ve earmarked another pattern in this book that I fancy trying at a later date.

  • linentee

I really enjoy wearing my linen tee, but it tells “A Tale of Techniques” yet to be learned. The tension, shaping, picking up stitches and finishing all need to be finessed, but I have time and yarn to work on these.

Tell me if lockdown inspired you to reach for an old hobby?

Thanks for dropping by,

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

5 Responses

  1. elizabethannh

    A linen knit shirt is great for summer and yours is very nice. Kudos to you for figuring out the yarn and sizing. I picked up embroidery again and have big plans but not much in the way of results yet.
    I enjoy your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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