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Ancient :: Modern
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Ancient :: Modern

ancient fiber :: modern style

My creation

The flax plant has been cultivated and used for food and fiber for thousands of years. The flax plant is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia, explaining the fiber history of linen, spun from the fibers of the flax plant. Some of the oldest known textiles are linens that have been preserved by the arid climate of the region – of particular note are the handspun linen strips that were used in ancient Egypt to wrap the mummified remains of pharaohs and the elite.

Knowing the detailed past of this fiber, I looked forward to working with it. The modern linen industry seems to be centered in Europe now, and many of the well-known commercial fibers come from mills there.

I am using the linen to make a summer pullover – the Mottled Summer Sweater from Rebecca #36. Linen is the quintessential summer fabric, known for its coolness and its wickability. With the hot summer ahead, this is definitely something I need to consider. I chose to modify the pattern by taking out the cables. I loved them as a design feature, but with the mottled yarn, the cables looked strange and lumpy with no definition. I chose stockinette, and it is simple and beautiful. The wide v-neck was what attracted me to the pattern, and that will definitely stay in tact.

I bought this linen, Louet’s Euroflax Chunky, at this year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. The Parsley colorway and the haze of the fiber (as well as its easy care instructions) drew me to it. Enough to splurge a little, as linen is not exactly a cheap fiber. I don’t regret my decision. This yarn in knitting up beautifully, and quite quickly too, as I am using size 11 needles to knit. I can see this one becoming a three-season staple for years to come.

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21 Responses

  1. whitney

    I have yet to knit with linen (mostly because of the cost), though I do hope to do so someday. My primary interest in the flax plant comes in the form of its seeds…delicious!

  2. Josiane

    This looks like it will be a gorgeous sweater, and one that will certainly prove useful in a wide variety of occasions. It’s a good thing it’ll improve with wear, as I’m sure you’ll get a lot of use out of it!

  3. margaux

    ooh you know how i love rebecca!! so excited to see how this is going to come out! :-)

  4. jillian

    I had my eye on that design too :) I’m looking forward to seeing yours! Because of the $, I have hesitated to use a linen blend for a garment, but considering the climate I live in (SoCal) I really should think again!

  5. Nicole

    I’m so jealous. I’ve combed every LYS in town for some linen with no luck. Yours is delish. And I love the pattern you chose.

    Go Pens!

  6. magnusmog

    I got some flax to spin from my LYS but it turned out more like garden twine than lovely yarn – yours looks a lot more promising :)

  7. Heather

    Oh yes, wickablilty is so key, isn’t it? I just love that pattern, can’t wait to see what it looks like:)

  8. Kirsten

    Beautiful! I can see this becoming a sweater you will reach to again and again. I think I might need to got queue the pattern on Ravelry.

  9. Stacey

    Ooh, that pullover looks like something I could be into! I may have to check it out on Ravelry.

    And that Pens game today?! Oh man! That was awesome!

  10. PrincessPea

    Both the yarn and the pattern look beautiful. I was lucky enough recently to be given a tablecloth made – woven, sewn and embroidered – by my German grandmother from flax grown on her farm. It’s a reminder of just how much of our foremothers’ time was spent crafting and making.

  11. sophanne

    Was this flax in a basket on the floor towards the back of a booth on the right hand side of a barn? I think you may have solved my “mystery yarn” problem- also possibly solved what I should do with it! Thanks!

  12. Jewel

    I love the linen! I have been thinking of trying to spin some flax but I’m a pretty new spinner. Don’t you love when you find a great deal on yarn!

  13. Kristin

    The yarn is gorgeous!I just had a look on their website, but it’s definately non in my student budget right now :(

    The colours are excellent.

  14. sophanne

    The baskets were well-marked but I don’t have any tags on the skeins. It looks very much like what I got and I vaguely remember thinking “flax, that will be interesting!”

    Thanks,
    becky

  15. megan

    What a pretty yarn and pattern! I love that neckline, too.

    I had a big “duh!” moment the other day while browsing linen fabric online as I ate my oatmeal with flaxseeds in it – it’s the same plant! I have no idea why I hadn’t thought about that before. So ancient, so useful, and with pretty blue flowers to boot. Amazing.

  16. elizabeth

    Oooh! I want a flax Rebecca sweater too!!

  17. Lin

    I have never knit with Linen, it certainly appeals for the summer.

  18. traci

    linen is a favorite of mine, though i haven’t knit with it yet. i agree that it’s one of the best fibers for summer. i like the color you chose for this sweater and i can see how the stockinette would look better. can’t wait to see your progress!

    (side note–i’m laughing at myself for not thinking of flax beyond the seed! duh! not sure why it hadn’t occured to me but i feel a bit smarter now. at least for the moment. thanks for the historical info!)

  19. Jenna

    Now that you’ve got me thinking about it, flax is a pretty amazing plant to provide us with a nutritious food and a tremendous fiber that has superior qualities.

    I think it’s totally worth the cost to work with such a fine, unique fiber. I’m anxious to try it out myself sometime. The design of your pullover is lovely and the color is amazing. I hope to see you wearing it soon!

  20. Penny Peberdy

    I love the look of this sweater, but the postage would have been almost as much as the magazine!

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