The Linen Stitch is a beautiful knitting pattern that looks woven thanks to the use of slipped stitches that form little bars across the fabric of the knitting.
The Look of Linen
The linen stitch takes its name from the fact that when you look at the knit fabric the lines made by the carried yarn when you slip stitches give it a woven look, much like linen.
It is a relatively firm, reversible fabric that looks great in bold colors or in a simple solid color project. People love this stitch for scarves and cowls, but it's great for lots of other projects, too.
This stitch has a really lovely effect in finer weight yarns and looks more graphic in larger weight yarns.
The fabric is firmer than in a Stockinette stitch, so always make sure to check your gauge before you start a project using it. It's also warm because of the firmness adds an extra bit of yarn to trap heat.
It can take longer to knit than other stitch patterns because you're moving the yarn so much, but it does speed up once you get the hang of it. And you're only knitting half the stitches on each row, so that makes it seem to go faster, too.
Knitting The Linen Stitch
Linen Stitch is worked on an even number of stitches.
Row 1: *K1, slip 1 with yarn in front. Repeat from * to last stitch, k1.
Row 2: *P1, slip 1 with yarn in back. Repeat from * to last stitch, p1.
Repeat these two rows for pattern. When slipping stitches, always slip as if to purl.
Patterns Using Linen Stitch
There are a lot of patterns out there using Linen Stitch. If you've never played with the stitch before, the River Knitter's Reversible Mug Mat is a great place to start. It uses leftover sock yarn and is pretty quick to knit so you'll get practice working the stitch but also have something to show for it pretty quickly.
Linen Stitch can also be used on a simple knit belt (worked in hemp yarn, not linen) that really shows off the woven look of the fabric.
The Linen Stitch Headband recipe pattern from Michelle Lewis is another simple pattern that plays up the qualities of the stitch pattern that I love.
Sarah Core loves to pair mini skeins of bright yarn with Linen Stitch for fun accessories, as you can see in her Manic Panic Cowl and Mini Mania Scarf. It's so fun to see how different colors play together in this stitch pattern.
Another great thing about this stitch pattern is that it is simple enough to be used in accessories and projects for both men and women. The Cerus Scarf from the Yarniad and the Simpliworsted Linen Stitch Tie from Skacel are two great options for guys.