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How to Do a Linen Stitch in Knitting

Learn how to do a linen stitch in this knitting tutorial from Howcast.


I'm going to teach you how to make the linen stitch, which is a really beautiful fabric that ends up looking like it's a little bit more woven than it is knitted. It's essentially stockinet. You're always going to be working the stitches knit-wise on the front and purl-wise on the back, but there's something special that you do.

You're going to start by knitting one, and then you're going to move your yarn to the front as if to purl, but you're not going to purl that stitch, you're just going to slip it, and then move the yearn to the back. The yarn actually crosses in front of your knit stitch. You always want the yarn to cross the stitch on the front of your work. This is the front of our piece, no matter if we're knitting this side, or that side. We're going to do it again, we're going to knit one, move the yarn to the front, slip a stitch, move the yarn to the back. Knit, move the yarn, slip, move the yarn. Knit, move the yarn, slip, move the yarn.

You're making a work-the-stitch, and then make-a-dash; the dash is the yarn going across the front. Work-a-stitch and make-a-dash. Just don't forget to move that yarn. It feels a lot like knit one purl one, because you're knitting one, and moving the yarn; doing something and moving the yarn. On the back, remember that it's like stockinet, so that on the back we have to do purls. You can tell that this one is a little bit farther down, which means this is the one that needs to be worked. I'm going to slip this to make a nice slip stitch edge. I'm going to purl this stitch, and then I'm going to move the yarn to the back as if to knit, but instead, I'm going to slip it. Move the yarn and purl, move the yarn and slip. Move the yarn and purl, move the yarn and slip. What I'm doing I'm ending up slipping the yarn in front of the stitches that got knit on the last row so that the slip stitches are alternating like a checkerboard.

On the front, we knitted a stitch, and then we moved the yard to the front and slipped one over. Then we moved the yarn back so that that yarn is in front of the slip stitch. On the back, we purled one, and then we moved the yarn to the front of the work, and slipped one over so that the yarn is always in front.

For a 2-color linen stitch which actually looks really, really nice, you're going to be alternating rows of color, so that I just finished going back-and-forth with the tan yarn. Now I'm going to be going back and forth with the color yarn, and I'll just show you a little bit of that just so that you can see what it looks like. I'm going to move the yarn to the front and slip the stitch. Move the yarn to the back and knit the stitch so that every other stitch is turning into color Number 2, because I'm only working every other stitch. You can see that I've got my slip stitch; it doesn't count yet because we're working on the back; tan, brown, tan, brown, tan, brown. We would continue that all the way across.

Here we are nearing the end of our first row. It's time to work the back. It's really easy to see which stitches need to be purled, because they're still tan. I'm going to slip this one from my slip stitch edge, purl this stitch, move the yarn to the back, because in linen stitch we always want this yarn wrap to be showing on the front. Slip it, move the yarn to the front, and purl it. Move the yarn and slip, move the yarn and purl; which is now turning every stitch brown on my needle, whereas the first row turned every other stitch brown.

Linen stitch really looks great alternating every other row with a different color. That is how to work linen stitch. A little complicated, but it has a great rhythm once you practice for a little while.

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