I want to knit a top I can wear in Florida’s jungle climate. It doesn’t have to be “summer” here where I live to need cool clothing. I wear capris and sleeveless tops nearly year round. I’m afraid that what normal summer people think is “cool” is not cool enough for me.
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Although most yarn I’ve used in the past is wool, or part wool, wool doesn’t work for a Florida lifestyle. I am branching out and looking into the plant-based yarns – haha….!
Because currently it is Spring, knitters are thinking about summer knitting, so this is the time of year for me to find the best summer knitting projects which I can wear year round. Designers are offering summer knits and shops are advertising summer yarns.
Popular Plant Fiber Yarns and Their Properties
After two years of continuous knitting, I have acquired a list of my favorite yarns. None of them are meant to use for summer tops because they consist mostly of wool! Warm weather tops need airy, light yarn such as linen, cotton, or other plant material.
Since I know next to nothing about knitting with summer type yarns, I searched for articles with good information. Those are hard to find too!
I was excited and thankful to find this Summer Yarns article at Interweave, which covers the Pros and Cons of knitting with cotton, linen and hemp.
Linen was my first choice, and when I found some (Berroco Indio / Stonewash Linen) on sale for $7.00 a skein at Wool and Company, I bought it. Reviews on Ravelry for this yarn were generally good.
I’m still researching, and planning to try, various plant-based yarns in hopes of coming up with some favorites to use for life in Florida and hot places.
A List of Yarns For Summer Knitting
- Purl Soho‘s “Sweetgrass” is a mix of 65% cotton and 35% alpaca and comes in large, undyed, skeins (I love the gray) of 437 yards – fingering weight. Will the alpaca make this too warm? Also, I’m not crazy about knitting something to wear in cotton yarn.
- Purl Soho‘s “Lantern” is a worsted / aran weight yarn of 61% cotton and 39% linen – 164 yards. Cotton and linen would be cool together, so might be worth a try. Comes in many pretty colors, **BUT some knitters mentioned it was rough – good for dishcloths but not clothing…FYI
- Purl Soho also has “Linen Quill” yarn, but it is 50% wool, 35% alpaca, and 15% flax / linen.
- *Quince & Co. offers us “Sparrow” – fingering, and “Kestrel” – worsted, which are both 100% organic Belgium linen. Both come in lots of nice colors, including a marl, and they get good reviews.
- Shibui Twig is a combo of 46% linen, 42% silk, and 12% wool. Skeins are 190 yards, in Sport weight. I don’t like that there is wool in this one, but it is a small amount.
- Hempathy is a cotton, hemp and rayon yarn. This one gets some good reviews at Ravelry.
- Bamboo – Found the Dye Diana Dye (see page of bases) website which offers hand-dyed silk, linen, and bamboo yarns – very pretty and unqiue.
- Burnish, by Purl Soho is Rayon from Bamboo.
A New Knitting Project / Pattern For Linen Knitting
After some searching, I decided on a pattern called “Over the Top Tee” designed by Heidi Kirrmaier. I had successfully knit her Fine Sand sweater last year using Miss Babs “Tarte” yarn (which I loved by the way).
I bought 8 skeins of the Berroco Linen for my “Over the Top Tee” project. Then, I went back and bought the remaining three skeins just in case I need to add length to my top. Because the yarn is discontinued, I was afraid I would need more and it would be gone!
For this tee, the designer used silk yarn (Ito Kino) holding two strands together. I’ve always thought of silk as too hot to wear in hot weather, but many “summer” yarns include some silk, so I am still questioning that. The Ito Kino silk was a bit expensive too, so I found some cheaper linen yarn.
More Summer Top Patterns I Like
Florida does not have a normal summer. It is very hot with the heat index usually near or over 100 degrees because of the extreme humidity. When I went back to live in New Hampshire, people would complain about a humid day and I would laugh at them!
Here is a partial list of some favorite hand-knit top patterns by various designers. After I knit Heidi’s pattern I may try another, or knit hers again with different yarn. It is not as easy to find something to knit when it won’t cover my body as nicely as a big old sweater! Here are a few of my favorites.
- Cullum, by Isabell Kraemer is a cap sleeve pullover with some lace at the top. The sample was knit with Sparrow, 100% linen – see link below.
- Lakeland, by Heidi Kirrmaier is a short sleeve, two color blocks top, with opportunities to modify sleeve length and colors.
- A Hint of Summer, by Isabell Kraemer offers lots of options. Make it with short or long sleeves, in stripes or solid. Looks very interesting.
- View my ever-growing Collection of Summer Tops to knit on Pinterest.
I understand why knitters generally do not choose plant-based yarns for knitting. When we think “knitting” we picture hats, mittens and sweaters to keep warm. Where I live, no one wears scarves, shawls or any type of winter items – except very rarely. If I could knit some wearable clothing for myself, it would be wonderful.
(Yarn bowl graphic credit to AnnaliseArt @ Pixabay.com)