I found the pattern for the Aila Tank on Ravelry late last spring, and while I started knitting it in early summer it took me nearly a year to complete it. Why, you ask? See below…
The pattern, written by Isabell Kraemer, calls for the Quince and Co yarn Sparrow, which is 100% organic linen in a fingering weight. If you’ve visited Quince and Co’s website then you know that picking a color is no small task. (There are literally dozens of colors from which to choose for nearly all of their yarns.) However, for the Aila tank I was drawn to this scrumptious 24-karat gold, called Maize, like a moth to a flame. And that was that.
I can’t recall having knit with linen before, and I learned a few things. Linen yarn is stiff and ropy, much like bamboo, and was not easy for me to knit with. It felt like it retained some memory, and the wiriness kept curling away from me and slowing down my knitting. Furthermore it was nowhere near as comfortable on the fingers as wool, which is my favorite fiber and pretty much everyone else’s. Nevertheless this rigidity makes for exceptional stitch definition (hence, Kraemer’s wise inclusion of lace for the bottom of the tank). The downside is that great stitch definition renders the knitting less forgiving, so mistakes stick out like a sore thumb (I was fortunate to catch and correct mine early), and it became clear that I needed to keep my joins at the seams like my life depended on it and weave in the ends very neatly on the inside to avoid unwanted bumpy regions.
Not only was I a bit surprised by the linen’s stiffness but I was actually a little shocked at its weight. For a fingering yarn it felt quite heavy. One 4-ply 50-gram skein of Sparrow measures 168 yards; by comparison, one 4-ply 50-gram skein of Finch (a 100% wool Quince and Co fingering weight yarn) measures 221 yards. Wearing the tank leaves no doubt as to its heaviness. It almost tugs on rather than hangs from the shoulders, like there’s a kid down there pulling on the hem. This sensation is not something I am accustomed to in a summer tank.
All this is not to say I don’t adore my Aila tank, because I do! After washing and blocking the tank is comfortably airy and drapes quite nicely. They say you can even throw handknit linen garments into the dryer, but I wanted to spread out the lace and air dry my Aila for best effect. I knit mine a little big for that flowy, oversized look that I’m in love with right now. It might not be cozy, but sometimes cozy is overrated–especially in summer, right? The simple lace design is quite stunning upon completion, but without the linen it would have been far less visible. The linen is what makes this pattern top-notch.
I find that the yarn and pattern are a perfect match, and I plan to wear this tank all summer long!