Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Linen Poncho.

Yep, a poncho. In linen. I'm convinced it's going to be my go-to accessory for the summer. At the shop, we've been huge fans of the Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho pattern since it came out way back in 2011. I finally knit my first one last summer and it was a great transitional piece for the fall and spring. So great that I think I need two more - one for winter (probably in the suggested Rowan Felted Tweed) and one for summer. I'd been planning the summer one in Rowan's Revive, but then I saw the new Pure Linen and it stole my heart.
work in progress...
As you might guess from its name, Pure Linen is 100% natural linen; it knits up to create a lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully. The eight colors are natural and muted ... perfect for year-round wear; I chose Sahara (a golden straw color) for my poncho.

If you're familiar with the pattern, you know it's a stockinette rectangle, knit at a slightly loose gauge. The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn, which would typically knit up at 22 stitches to 4 inches, knit at 20 stitches to 4 inches (or about 10% fewer stitches per inch). The simple shape makes this pattern super-easy to substitute yarns. All you need to do is adjust the number of stitches you cast on. If you use a heavier yarn, you'll cast on fewer stitches; conversely, you'd cast on more stitches if you use a lighter weight yarn.

The Pure Linen ball band suggests 17 stitches/28 rows to 4 inches on a size 7 needle. The finished pieces that I've seen are plenty loose and drapey so I planned to try for that gauge. I multiplied the cast-on stitches in the pattern by (17/20 - my looser gauge divided by the pattern gauge) and cast on with the size 7 needle.

You read that right. I didn't swatch! ... and after knitting about 2 inches, I realized my gauge was closer to 14 stitches to 4 inches - my poncho was going to be huge! (and ugly - the knitting was way too loose and wonky!)

So I ripped. And swatched. This time I went down to a size 6 needle. I knit a decent sized piece, soaked it, dried it and then measured. My gauge is still looser than the ball band suggests, but the fabric is nice and I think it's going to be perfect for the poncho.
note that the blocked stitches look a lot better!
For my second cast-on, I multiplied the pattern stitches by 16/20 (my 4 inch gauge divided by the pattern's 4 inch gauge). For a big stockinette rectangle, fewer stitches isn't a bad thing, is it?!

Note that determining the amount of yarn you'll need when you substitute is a bit tricky. I figured I'd need about 17/20 (my gauge divided by the pattern's gauge) of the pattern's suggested 840 yards. That worked out to 5.02 balls. I'm nearly through the third ball (I'd say I've used about 400 yards of yarn) and the piece measures about 38 inches. I bought five balls and I think that will be plenty.

I'll report back once the piece is finished; hopefully very soon - I can't wait to wear it! I'm picturing it over a chambray shirt with white jeans
Poncho Inspiration

...or a white t-shirt and dark denim? How would you wear it?

Stay tuned to this week's newsletter for more summer-weight yarn ideas to pair with this pattern.


  1. I'll have to check out that yarn, I'm really into items made with linen these days.

  2. I LOVE that you included outfit ideas!! You always look so great and I think you're poncho is gonna be lovely with the chambray and while jeans or the white T and dark denim. I vote that you keep the outfit ideas when you blog about a new piece. Love it!