Last week we talked about the benefits of wearing wool in the summer—now let’s discuss knitting with wool in warm weather. Many knitters take a bit of a break from the craft in the summer months, complaining that it’s far too hot to work on a large woolly jumper that pools in their lap as it grows. I agree to some extent; you won’t catch me working on a rustic Icelandic lopapeysa during a heatwave, but I do actually enjoy knitting and wearing wool tank tops through the summer. The trick is to use soft, merino wool at a finer gauge if you want to stay cool and stylish in your knits this summer!
When choosing yarns for warm-weather garments, I still reach for wool over cotton or linen for several reasons. Cotton and linen yarns are less forgiving fibers, so they can be difficult to work with. And For a garment with negative ease, like a lot of fitted tank tops, their lack of elasticity make it hard to get the right fit and maintain the intended shape. Wool has fantastic memory, so it’s perfect for stretchy ribbed tanks and bralettes. I always go for soft, fine wools like merino for summer garments and avoid rougher, rustic fibers that can cause some irritation when worn directly next to the skin. Those rustic wools also tend to be warmer, so I prefer them for cold weather wear.
Many knitters like to use superwash merino for summer garments; superwash wool has the benefit of a smooth feel next to the skin, and it’s easier to launder, but it doesn’t have the same elasticity as non-superwash wool, so that is something to watch out for when knitting anything with negative ease. You’ll want to choose a stitch that has a lot of give, like ribbing, to accommodate that missing elasticity.
If you’re still wary of using 100% wool in summer, yarn shops are now full of beautiful, soft blends of merino and other fibers. I love the cotton and merino blend of Brooklyn Tweed’s Dapple for warm-weather knits, as shown above (left) in a self-drafted (unpublished as of yet) bralette pattern. I also love the merino/modal blend of Feliz from Manos del Uruguay. Modal is a fiber made from beech tree pulp, in a process similar to how rayon is made from bamboo, and is an increasingly common semi-synthetic fiber. While still not the most sustainable fiber option, it’s more eco-friendly than oil-based synthetics like acrylic, nylon, and polyester. The silky sheen from the modal really makes the cables pop in my Newton Corner Top (Ravelry link) by Sophie Veksler, shown above (right).
If you’re looking for some summer knitting projects, if you live in a warmer climate, or if you just love layering, try out my Magpie Crop Top pattern (above, left); this little ribbed tank is easy to knit and works well on its own as bralette or tank top, but it can also be layered over a long-sleeve tee or under a cardigan in cooler weather. If you want a garment that has more flexibility in the autumn and winter months, my Simply the Vest pattern (above, middle) fits beautifully over a collared shirt or dress. And if you want a quick, fun project to try out wearing wool knits in summer, check out my latest pattern release, the Versailles Scarf (above, right). Knit in a merino/silk blend, this lacy accessory is the perfect addition to a simple summer dress. Or if it gets really hot out and you can’t stand anything touching your neck, you can use it to tie your hair back!
Do you knit summer garments with wool? Or do you prefer plant fibers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!