How to Knit the Linen Stitch

The linen stitch is a simple and straightforward way to add texture and stability to your knitting projects. Unlike stockinette stitch, linen stitch does not curl in on itself and does not stretch much. This makes it ideal for projects that should be somewhat stiff, like certain bags, washcloths, cowls, and more. It’s also one of my favorite stitches for adding a little bit of visual interest to a project.


The linen stitch is knit very similarly to stockinette stitch. The key difference is it uses alternating slipped stitches to create a visual texture. Regardless of whether you’re knitting flat or in the round, this stitch pattern will use a two-row repeat or two-round repeat. That makes it easy to memorize. On the front side of your knitting, these alternating slipped stitches create a woven effect. It looks similar to a piece of linen fabric (hence the name).

How to Knit the Linen Stitch Flat

To knit the linen stitch flat, you’ll start by casting on an even number of stitches. Row 1: *K1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front; repeat from * until 2 stitches remain, k2. Row 2: *P1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in back; repeat from * until 2 stitches remain, p2. In this scenario, odd-numbered rows are the right-side rows, and even numbered rows are the wrong-side rows.

How to Knit the Linen Stitch in the Round

Knitting the linen stitch in the round is even easier than knitting it flat. To start, cast on an even number of stitches and join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. Round 1: *K1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front; repeat from * to end of round. Round 2: *Slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front, k1; repeat from * to end of round.​

Tips and Tricks for Using Linen Stitch

The linen stitch is a relatively straightforward knitting stitch pattern, but it does have some quirks.  Because of all the slipped stitches, the linen stitch creates a knit fabric that is very sturdy and wears well under heavy use. This also contribute to a lack of stretch. As a result, the linen stitch is not well suited to things like socks or close-fitting garments.

When working the linen stitch, you should always slip stitches purl-wise. Because of the slipped stitches used, it’s easy for the woven-like texture to end up looking gappy and uneven. That’s because each slipped stitch occupies the vertical space that would normally be taken up by two stitches. To counteract this issue, I like to go down a needle size or two from what is commonly recommended for the yarn weight I’m using.

Why You'll Love It

Linen stitch is a relaxing and meditative stitch pattern that doesn’t require a lot of thought. That makes it great for tv knitting and vacation knitting. It also doesn’t roll in on itself. Projects knit using the linen stitch will sit flat without you having to tug them into shape. Finally, this is a great stitch pattern for beginner knitters. If you’ve mastered garter and stockinette stitch, and want to branch out, the linen stitch is a great place to do that.

Curious to learn more about knitting or to dig deeper into linen stitch? Click on through for tutorials, free patterns, technique tips, and more.

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