Sea Green and Sapphire

A blog about a love of colour, addiction to fabrics and joy of crafting…

More Zen Knitting


knitted t-shirt, neck and sleeve detail (1024x683)Just as the summer drew to a close, my summer knitting project was finally finished. It’s a heavily modified version of the Clearwing pattern that I have used before, this time with linen yarn, short-sleeved and without the pattern at the neckline. It was a bit of an epic knit; knitted on small needles (2.25mm) it took two summers (although I was knitting it on and off in between other projects, and it was hibernating for many months at a time).

I am fully aware it is exactly the kind of knitting a lot of knitters find incredibly tedious. A large-ish project of endless rounds of stockinette stitch, no challenging patterning to provide mental challenge, no colour changes to look forward to, and, perhaps worst of all, in a yarn colour that could be described, in the absence of a better word, as beige. It is the natural linen colour, undyed and unbleached, and being as I always am fond of the natural muted colours that nature provides, I quite like it. It is fascinating to me how the colour changes with different light, mostly it looks more pale grey than beige, although in some lights the beige-ness of it definitely comes out.

So the beigeness of the yarn did not bore me to tears, and neither did the monotony of knitting endless rounds of stockinette stitch. In fact I find this kind of knitting very meditative and soothing, it’s Zen knitting that suits me just perfectly. I always need at least one knitting project on the go that is just simple knitting, no thinking required, just going round and round, giving my mind a chance to either rest, wander off to wherever it wants to go or else give you a chance to chat to someone or watch some telly.

Knitted Linen T-shirt

The yarn is organic linen, beautifully and somehow very appropriately named Sparrow by Quince & Co.  When I bought it, it didn’t come in any others colours, although these days there are several beautiful colours to choose from. It’s a beautiful yarn, not harsh like some linen yarns can be initially (although they do all soften with use). Being a plant-based cellulose yarn, it is of course not stretchy at all, and in the beginning I found it quite hard work to knit – compared to soft wool with its natural stretch knitting linen feels like it takes more effort, especially to keep the tension even and not too loose. After a while, I did get used to it though, but you can see the gauge changing – in the beginning, at the top, it was much looser and more uneven, and towards the end it was much neater and smaller.

I like the finish the i-cord bind-off gives to the sleeves

I like the finish the i-cord bind-off gives to the sleeves

Cotton, although hard to avoid in clothing these days, is not always a very sustainable choice as it requires a lot of water and pesticides to grow. For this reason I quite like the idea of using linen for my summer knitting. And from a quality point of view, I would be very happy to use this yarn again, it just feels smooth and crisp, already you can feel the softness that is going to come out with wear and washing.

But from a sustainability point of view, there’s one big but: Quince & Co Co, based in the US, use Belgian linen so  by the time they have spun the yarn and shipped it to me here in the UK, the yarn has crossed the Atlantic twice, which makes quite a few yarn miles. I think for future linen projects I’d like to try to find a European supplier, if I can just find a yarn that matches the quality of this one. I sometimes think I’d love to grow my own linen, and then spin it, but having done a bit of research on it, it just sounds like a lot of very hard work (as well as some extra equipment to break the plant stems) so it is definitely a project that needs to wait for a year when my energy stores are fully stocked up.

Meanwhile, it is now time for big woolly jumpers so I am on the lookout for new chunky jumper patterns and yarns and this little T-shirt will sadly have to be tucked away in the cupboard to wait for next summer.

Author: Heidi

I love colour wherever I find it, in art, photography, gardens, nature. I also love all kinds of fiber arts; spinning, dyeing, knitting, felting, sewing.

26 thoughts on “More Zen Knitting

  1. Absolutely gorgeous. And although you’re right about the mind-numbing endless stockinette, it is well worth it. It makes me want to wear it just looking at it! Very well done!

  2. I really like this, better than the red version in fact. All my knitting at the moment requires counting, so I can understand the need for zen, I haven’t knit in months because I can’t get the house quiet long enough. (or when it is, I’m doing other stuff)

    • my counted knitting always gets stuck for weeks/months too, although in recent weeks I have started getting a curious urge to knit a lace scarf from some Shetland wool that I have been spinning and plying recently. Knowing my brain it might be a very bad idea, but I may need to give it a go anyway, one can always hope that this time, it will be different….

      The red version of Clearwing did not end up suiting me at all, the sizing is all wrong so it’s going to get frogged and hopefully, one day, it’ll come back in some new reincarnation.

      • I make deals with myself, so for instance the scarf I’m making for my mum, is a 4 row repeat (+ purled ws rows), so I say that if I just make one set, I’ll be further than before, and not get bored and hopefully not talked at. But doing it like that also makes me forget that I even have it. I started it in Dec. last year, then SO could not stop blabbing over xmas and I just never got started after that. Began again early summer, then he had 3 weeks summer holidays and well….

      • Well if you pick it up again now, you have a few months before the Christmas talking season starts again… 😉

      • Yep, and not so many plants to look after/pick!

      • Indeed ! As much as I love gardening, I’m quite relieved that the season is now over and I can spend time indoors doing all those things I just did not have the time for during the summer, like spinning and carding and all those textile pictures I keep thinking I want to make but never quite get as far as starting them.


  3. Very, very pretty. I also love the natural colours and the rows of stockinette (only to be surpassed by rows of garter stitch). Thanks for the review on this linen yarn—it’s hard to find one that is so nice to work with.

    • I agree simple stitch patterns often work best, they let the yarn shine.

      I mostly rely on the internet for my yarn purchases and judging the quality of a yarn is not really possible that way, except by trial and error, so that’s why I am always interested in what other knitters have to say about a particular yarn. Many reviews get written straight after knitting, but I always wish people wrote another one a year after, just to say how well it has lasted, has it washed well, has it pilled, etc. Perhaps I need to start following my own advice and start writing 12-month yarn reviews…

  4. How lovely that looks, and what a classic design. I love the idea of knitting with linen–and watching my yarn miles.

    I’d like to nominate you for the WordPress Family Blog Award… I love reading your blog and find your sense of colour and style glorious.

    • Thank you so much for such a lovely comment and for the award nomination, it never ceases to be a source of joy and amazement to me that people enjoy reading about my crafty experiments 🙂

  5. It is plain and beautiful!

  6. This is lovely, I would knit (and wear) it, too! You might want to have a look at BC Garn’s lino yarn. Some of the colours are lovely and natural and I love knitting with it. Am still working on a rather large shawl although winter’s knitting is beckoning already. The Lino is a bit less smooth than the Sparrow but when you wash it and throw it for a spin in the dryer (with a pair of jeans, my favourite knitting shop recommended), oh my…

    • Thank you Iris for such a great tip – I’ve just googled it and you are right, there are some great colours there so it is definitely worth trying! I’m also thinking that as it comes in an undyed colour, this might be a suitable base yarn for some natural dyeing experiments… So thank you very much for recommending it! 🙂

      • You’re welcome :-). Another nice advantage is that the BC Garn costs much less than Quince here in Holland, although I don’t know what it costs in the US. You could try their own site in Denmark. I’ve recently been trying eco dyeing (starting with India Flint’s techniques and now trying dye baths on a very simplistic scale) and threw in a bit of BC Garn’s SoftSilk. It worked fantastically well so I’m sure the Lino should be really pretty, too. You’ve given me an idea there…

  7. You wouldn’t happen to have a “cheat sheet” that you made for this pattern, would you? I love the super simpleness of it and much prefer it to the original pattern!

    • I’m glad you like it, I agree the simpleness of it just works, it’s my favourite summer top at the moment. But I’m afraid I don’t have a cheat sheet, as I didn’t take any notes while I knitted 😦

      The sizing of the original pattern didn’t suit me at all, so I got the size right for this one purely by trial and error, in other words I didn’t do any maths or planning in advance, I just knitted (and unravelled and reknitted) until the size of the top half was right and the chest area fitted well, that’s the beauty of top-down knitting. The main differences to the main pattern were that I left out the neckline lace pattern, adjusted the size to fit me better and made the body more A-lined as that suits my body-shape better (in other words there was no shaping for the waist, I just made a few decreases just below the chest, then gradually increased the stitches towards the bottom). And I didn’t knit the sleeves at all, but just finished them with the i-cord bindoff straight after separating the sleeve stitches from the body. So it was all very spontaneous, making adjustments as I went along and, as I said, I didn’t write any of it down. So sorry to disappoint!

  8. Absolutely stunning! I will try! I hope my finish could be at least half nice than yours!

  9. Pingback: Samstagskaffee & Netzgeflüster No. 32 | Maschenfein Berlin :: Strickblog

  10. Pingback: Samstagskaffee & Netzgeflüster No. 32 | Maschenfein :: Strickblog

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