how to knit the linen stitch

I love the look and feel of knitted linen stitch, but it can sometimes be the bane of my existence.  The nature of the stitch pattern means the row gauge is compressed, so it often takes twice as many rows to get the same amount of length.  Another problem I've noticed is that many online sources just list the pattern for linen stitch like so:

Linen stitch worked over an even number of stitches:

  • Row 1 (RS): Knit 1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front; repeat to end.
  • Row 2 (WS): Purl 1, slip one purlwise with yarn in back; repeat to end.

In my mind, there's an issue with this - what in the world are you supposed to do when you get to the end of the row?  You've just slipped a stitch, so now the yarn is in the wrong place when you turn your work and try to start the next row.  Sure, you can mess around with your yarn placement for the last stitch and finagle a way to be able to start the next row, but you can't create a nice looking edge that way.  This is a problem whether the edge is exposed or not; either it's exposed and it looks bad (such as along a scarf edge), or you have to eventually seam or pick up along a crappy looking vertical column of stitches (such as on a garment button band edge).

I re-learned this the hard way the other night, when I cast on and undid 146 stitches four. different. times.

And I even did a swatch!  I just didn't think through this one little logistical linen stitch problem before I began.  You don't have to go through that though, because here's the trick for creating a nice edge while working linen stitch:

Worked over an even number of stitches:

  • Row 1 (RS): Slip first stitch with yarn in back, work (K1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front) across to last stitch, K1.
  • Row 2 (WS): Slip first stitch with yarn in front, work (P1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in back) across to last stitch, P1.

And that's it!  NBD.  And once I finally got started with the right number of stitches, on the correct needle size, and remembered this little trick, here is what happened:

A perfect slipped stitch edge!  YAY

A perfect slipped stitch edge!  YAY