Hamlin Peak + Kestrel

One of my 1+1+1 Project goals for the second quarter was to finish my Hamlin Peak sweater. I’d bought the pattern & yarn — Quince & Co’s Kestrel — for the project a while back and I was really excited to have a nice linen sweater for summer. And then life happened and it didn’t quite get done in Q2. BUT I resolved to get it finished up in Q3 because — well — better late than never, right?! Also, I’m not great at letting things hibernate on the needles for long. I’m much more of a frog-or-finish within 6months type of girl.

As these things go, the longer it sat the more this project felt insurmountable. I was only a couple rows from separating the sleeves from the main body, but the thought of all that stockinette as the fronts perpetually increased was so daunting. Alas, I said I was going to do it and therefore, I was going to have to buckle down and get it done. After I got through the Tour de Fleece and I finished up my Pebble Beach Shawl, and finished up the last of my Summer Sock Club socks, I really had no more good reason to procrastinate, so I pulled the sweater out of hibernation and got to work.

It so happened that I had a couple good evenings including one power outage in which I was able to push through that main body of stockinette. I bound off — oh so relieved — and then I cast-on for the sleeves, working them 2-at-a-time on 2 circular needles.

img_4384They move slower this way, of course, but mentally it’s a little easier for me to work them together. Piece of mind that they will match is definitely a huge benefit to this method, too. I’ll admit that opting for full-length sleeves instead of the pattern’s three-quarter option was a little painful. Looking at the photos on the pattern and knowing I could be done, but was choosing to inflict a few more inches of sleeve knitting on myself , well, it felt like minor self-inflicted torture. But I got there.

Before I get to the FO photos, I thought I’d take just a minute to talk about working with Kestrel. It’s important to remember that working with linen is inherently different than working with wool. Kestrel is a linen spun into a ribbon structure, which mean the yarn is flat and really does not have a lot of elasticity. I’ve had people ask me how to deal with the flat, ribbon shaped yarn especially if it twists as you knit it. I always say, “Just knit it. Don’t overthink it.” If the yarn twists here and there, you don’t need to go in and ‘fix’ that. I promise it’ll even out nicely in the washing. img_2232You want to watch your gauge for sweaters and items that require a good fit as all linens has less stretch and are less forgiving than wool in that department. My gauge started just a smidge loose, which was actually not a bad thing. I always need a little extra room in the shoulders and upper arms where I’m a little larger than most. Once I got to the main body, I wrapped the working yarn an extra time around my little finger going forward and that alone kept my stitches right on gauge from there on out.

I used a needle one size larger for all my bind-offs and I still bound off loosely to ensure I wouldn’t strangle the edges.

hamlin-peakYou can see the very tip naturally pulls up just a bit because the bottom edge is a bit looser than the neckline, but because of how the sweater is actually worn…

img_4642It actually looks just fine on.

You can see how much drape this yarn has — it really is phenomenal. Once all my ends were secured and woven in, I washed this sweater in the washing machine on a cold/delicate cycle and then I dried it in the dryer on low. It is absolutely 100% true that washing & drying in this manner softens this yarn. In fact, it transforms the fabric from one that is pretty stiff and almost scratchy to one that is undeniably soft. Perhaps my favorite part of knitting with linen is getting to witness this change because it is such a rewarding, happy shift. But now I’m just gushing –back to the sweater.

I really love how simple the neckline is.

hamlin-peak-detOh, and for the record, I did do the reinforcing stitches for the back the neck as recommended in the pattern.

img_4627It really does help it all lay nicely when you’re wearing it. I actually thought about adding the same type of stitching along the bottom edge, but after steam blocking it I decided against it. A good hearty steam convinced the edges to lie nice and flat along that bottom edge

img_4673Finishing a linen sweater just in time for autumn in Wisconsin is admittedly a little anticlimactic, but I certainly can use it for layering on the warmer days we have left this year. And I suppose — as with anything — it’s all about perspective. Am I 2 or 3 months late for this year, or 6 months early for next spring? Let’s go with the latter, shall we? Yes, let’s! What a fabulous sweater and with so much time to spare!

10 thoughts on “Hamlin Peak + Kestrel”

  1. Beautiful! I just bought some linen yarn and it is indeed scratchy. Nice to know about your experiences with gauge and how it washes up so softly. Also makes me want to start spinning up my flax fiber. Thanks!

    1. Yes, linen softens with every washing. Absolutely. I have a tank top that I made a couple years ago that is like butter now.

      I’ve never spun with flax — that sounds like a very fun adventure!

  2. I think it was definitely worth all the angst and effort – it looks like the perfect three season sweater. And it fits beautifully.

      1. I can see it in a lovely soft blue handspun. 🙂

        And yes, finishing things is always good, but never better than when they fit right.

    1. LOL! I’m really happy with it! And I’m 95% sure the one with my palms up was meant to be an outtake. Sometimes when it’s slim pickings, the funny poses are worth it to show drape or fit. LOL!

  3. One of these days I, too, will make a linen sweater, partly so I can witness the transformation after washing and partly so I can wear it. I also think hemp would be neat to work with for similar reasons, but perhaps not for a sweater. And I agree with your take on timing: you’ve got a head start on knitting for next spring!

    1. Do it! It’s a wonderful fiber for sweaters! Just be sure to keep your hands relaxed while you knit — the in-elasticity can be hard on your hands if you aren’t careful.

      I think I’m all out of my worsted weight linen and am down to my fingering weight sweater quantities. It’s good, they’ll make lovely projects, but it’s definitely more of a commitment.

      I haven’t worked with hemp, but I did try nettle once… it was… not what I would want a sweater made from if I could help it. Good for dishcloths though I would think!

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