Falling in Love With Linen Stitch: A Tutorial

The linen stitch in knitting, sometimes known as fabric stitch, is one of those ingenious stitch patterns that can result in different looks just by changing up the color scheme. The slipped stitch pattern creates a beautiful woven effect and a firm fabric that does not curl. I have highlighted the effect different color patterns have on the overall look of the stitch.

Title Image: How to Knit the Linen Stitch

How to knit the linen stitch

Linen stitch pattern
Worked over an even number of stitches. Slip stitches purlwise.
Row 1: *Knit 1, slip 1 with yarn in front; Repeat from * to end. Turn.
Row 2: *Purl 1, slip 1 with yarn in back; Repeat from * to end. Turn.

Solid linen Stitch

Swatch of Solid Linen Stitch

Work every row in the same color and the result is a gorgeous solid fabric with a bit of texture. It would look great as a scarf or perhaps a place mat. The “wrong side” of the fabric looks a lot like seed stitch, so whatever you make is reversible!

Two-color linen stitch

Two-color Linen stitch

How gorgeous is the two-color pattern? Work with color A for two rows and color B for two rows. Continue to alternate colors every two rows. The two color pattern enhances the woven effect. I suggest casting on with color A and going right to Row 2, then switching to color B for the next two rows. I did a complete Row 1 and 2 in my swatch and ended up with a big chunk of gray at the bottom.

Three-color linen stitch

Three-color linen stitch

To get a cool speckled fabric, you can add in a third color. Start with color A and work Row 1, switch to color B for Row 2, then to color C when you go back to Row 1. Pick up color A to work Row 2, then switch to color B for Row 1, and finally work Row 2 with color C. And the end of the 6-row repeat, you have worked every row in each color, just not one right after the other. Cast on with color A and go right to Row 2 with color B.

Row 1: Color A
Row 2: Color B
Row 1: Color C
Row 2: Color A
Row 1: Color B
Row 2: Color C

different linen stitch

Working in the round

When working in the round, the right side of the fabric is always facing you. As a result, you will have to change the pattern up a bit.

Linen stitch in the round
Worked over an even number of stitches.
Round 1: *K 1, slip 1 with yarn in front; Repeat from * around.
Round 2: *Slip 1 with yarn in front, K 1; Repeat from * around.

I have also seen projects worked flat but instead of turning and working the wrong side row, yarn is attached at the beginning and worked across again. You can use the “in the round” pattern for this. The tail yarns at the beginning and end of the rows are used as fringe and the result is quite lovely.

The stitch pattern also looks spectacular in variegated and self-striping yarns. The pattern is simple enough to not take away from the color variances. Instead, I think it adds just the right amount of texture to make those color changes more interesting.


Christine Martinson

I see how to do the linen stitch in the round but no other instructions. Did I miss it?

Louise Corpte

Your instruction for working the linen stitch in the round is flawed. You will end up with two slipped stitches in a row. Cast on an ODD number of stitches, and work your Round 1 until the work is as long as you want it.

Leslie Alkenbrack

I agree about knitting the stitch in the round – it is best done on an odd number of stitches.


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