Tag Archives: linen




Oh my gosh, you guys, I actually finished something. It feels like it has been ages (and, according to Ravelry, it has been nearly two months!) since I finished anything, and it feels fantastic. That the finished knit is Balta, my dream summer top, makes it feel that much better.

Normally, I would wait for some proper photos before posting about an FO, but honestly, I have no idea when we’ll be able to take those. I’m working much longer days now, and that plus the unseasonable coolness and general mayhem of summer is making it hard to squeeze in photoshoots (I have a couple of sewn things to post about too, if I ever get photos). All of which is to say, I’m sorry that these are boring on-a-hanger shots, but they’re the best I could do, and at least my hair isn’t covering up any of the pretty details.


I haven’t really posted about Balta (I haven’t really posted about much, have I?), but I cast on at the end of April and, what with one thing and another, cast off at the beginning of July. I had originally thought I’d squeak this in under the TTTKAL deadline, but that was definitely a faint hope. I’m glad I didn’t rush things though, because giving up on the deadline gave me time to make a few little changes and think about what I was doing, which served me well in the long run.

Gudrun’s design is really fantastic, and the instructions are clear and concise. The front and back are knit exactly the same until the lace, so I knit each piece that far and then decided which one I thought was better and used that for the front. My gauge was a little uneven on the first piece I knit (it always takes me a while to get used to linen), so that became the back, and actually, everything blocked out nicely. For the front, I knit the lace as written, but I was worried about the depth of the neck — it looked … shallow, so I left the shoulders on waste yarn and knit up the back lace, then pinned the two sets of shoulders together and tried it on. And yes, it was too snug (for me) at the neck. I suspect my row gauge was off, so I just knit anther repeat on each side (this isn’t specifically worked into the pattern, but is easy to figure out), omitting the decreases, and perfect!


Of course, that extra repeat added depth to the armholes and when I finished the shoulders and tried everything on I was convinced I’d made a hideous error. The armholes were enormous, showing, frankly, almost my whole bra from the side (and a bit from the front), and the lace section at the front seemed too narrow and I really thought all was lost. I considered ripping all the way back and reknitting, but instead I did something sensible: I seamed the sides and followed the instructions for finishing the armholes. I just did one side, since it seemed like a lot less work to rip that out than to rip and reknit the whole top of the front, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re just fine. I always forget about the way picking up stitches changes the drape and shape of fabric, and in this case it changed a drooping hole into a nice, tailored armhole. What a relief (and thank goodness I didn’t rip everything out!).

I did add a couple of garter ridges to the armhole, just to ensure there was enough width to cover my bra straps, but other than that I didn’t change anything about them. (I had contemplated adding a couple of short rows to the bottom, to fill in some of the depth, but it wasn’t necessary.)


I found the perfect little mother of pearl button in my stash to finish the back (and it was a single, so I didn’t have to break up a set), and that’s that. I am really pleased with this top, which is loose and breezy, without being shapeless, and will add some proper modelled shots when I get them.

Pattern: Balta by Gudrun Johnston (from the Shetland Trader Book 2, but also available as a single pattern)
Yarn: Quince & Co. Sparrow in Blue Spruce
Notes: As noted above, I changed the order of construction (knitting both pieces up to the lace, rather than knitting each one to completion). I also added an extra repeat to the lace front after the neck decreases were complete, and added an extra garter ridge to the armhole. Ravelled here.

A lemon


Well, it seems I am not the only one who finds it impossible to concentrate on my current projects (however much I’m enjoying them) when there are other enticing things out there. Audry made a great point in her comment, saying she can only settle when she’s cast on. I don’t want to totally drop Grace, but I must admit that the Kit Camisole has been calling my name, and getting more insistent, since the pattern was released.


On Saturday, I thought I’d cave a little and wind the yarn (Louet Euroflax in Goldenrod) so I could swatch. L and I are going away for a few days next weekend, so my grand plan is to bring Kit as my travel knitting (we’re taking the train, which is a great place to knit) and concentrate on Grace until then. So, I wound one skein.

In the course of the winding, though, the end at the middle got lost. I like a centre-pull ball, so I was annoyed and I decided to re-wind the ball (I do this with yarn all the time and have never had a problem. Ahem. I got maybe a quarter of the way through the original ball when, to my shock and horror, the ball forming on my ball winder flew off the ball winder and landed on the floor several feet away.

Three partial balls and a giant tangle.

Three partial balls and a giant tangle.

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like that before. So, I decided to try again. Not even halfway through the smaller ball and the stupid thing launched itself off the ball winder and flew over the table and landed on the floor. Honestly. I was speechless. I just – what the heck? Clearly linen is a slippery little beast of a fiber and should come with some kind of warning. As far as I can tell (and I haven’t wound another skein yet, although I’ll need to before we leave) it winds up just fine the first time when the swift provides tension, but after that, just forget it.


The result? This rather loose and annoying hand-wound ball. Linen has no stick, so while wool will happily sit smooth and still in a ball, linen has no interest in it. This is a lemon. Nonetheless, it has certainly satiated my desire to get started on Kit, which I have swatched for and can now set aside until Saturday. Phew.