Knit Focus, Knitting inspiration, Summer Knitting

Summer Knitting: light linens and cool cottons

Woman sitting on ochre sofa in front of green plants, wearing grey, knitted lace tank top with v-neck and ochre trousers.
Pattern: Ogee by Sari Nordlund. Photo © Laura Morsman. See Ravelry  or Pompom .

Knitwear is not something you immediately associate with the long, hot days of summer. Putting on a woolly jumper or sitting with a heavy, aran weight knitting project on your lap is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to keep cool.

However, to forego knitwear or knitting in the summer is to miss out on a whole array of wonderful possibilities.

Summer is the perfect time to explore cool, plant fibre based yarns such as linen, cotton and bamboo.

Cool to the touch, these fibres have quite different properties to the wool yarns that most of us tend to knit with, giving drapey fabrics that more easily stretch out of shape, but also skim beautifully over the body.

To learn more about knitting with plant fibres, see my posts, Here Comes the Sun: lightweight linen or Here Comes the Sun: knitting with cool cotton and bamboo.



Helpful hints when picking plant fibre yarns for summer garments

Plant-based fibres are generally more dense than wools and so their garments will feel comparably heavier than a wool or acrylic based item, especially if they have cable or other texture details.

This is particularly noticeable with heavier worsted, aran or bulky yarns. While many patterns use such yarns for summer patterns, I personally prefer to opt for lighter weight yarns (such as lace weight, 4-ply/fingering weight or 5-ply/sport weight) as I find them more comfortable to wear in the summer, and also easier to layer with other pieces in the spring and autumn.

Alternatively, you could consider reducing the weight of a worsted/aran yarn by choosing a plant fibre blended with a lighter fibre, such as wool or acrylic. Or try out a different construction of yarn, such as a chain construction which produces a less dense yarn.

(It is also worth noting that fabrics knitted from heavier weight yarns are more likely to stretch out of shape because of the weight of their fabric- see suggestions about how to alleviate this below.)

A cover of a collection of knitting patterns for Quince & Co. featuring a woman in a v-neck, cream, linen sweater who is holding a ball of cream linen yarn in her hands
Quince & Co. Sparrow Yarn 2019 pattern collection (fingering weight, 100% organic linen). (Here).

Helpful hints when wearing plant-based yarns

Remember that fabrics made out of these fibres tend to stretch as they are worn. This is particularly important to consider when wearing little tank tops or v-neck garments that may reveal far more by the end of the day than you anticipated. You can compensate for this by knitting a slightly higher neckline than your desired depth, or by reinforcing the neckline to help reduce the stretch, e.g. by working a line of slip stitch crochet, or by adding a double (UK) or single (US) crochet border to neckline.

To learn more about the crochet slip stitch technique, see Roxanne Richardson’s video ‘Fix sweater shoulders/neck that are too stretchy//Technique Tuesday’ below. Or for a written explanation and photo tutorials, see Olive Knits’ ‘Fix a sweater that slides off’ here, or the more chatty article by the Yarn Harlot  here.


Pattern Suggestions

To purchase or find out more about a pattern, see links in each photo description below.

Summer Tees

Woman wearing white, v-neck knitted cotton/rayon tee with v-neck and repeated triangle mesh lace motif around hem.
Knitting pattern: Mesh crop top by Irene Lin. See Ravelry.
Woman wearing sage green, knitted top made out of wool/cotton blend; the top has a v-neck, and eyelet lace detail at the top section and hem, plus cut-out sleeve detail.
Knitting pattern: Dianer by Xiaowei Design. See  Ravelry or Xiaowei Design
Woman wearing knitted, linen tee with short sleeves, scoop neck and eyelet border at hem.
Knitting pattern: Flower Street by Sweater Freak. See Ravelry  or .
Woman wearing dusky pink, rayon/linen, knitted top with short sleeves and all over lace motif across back.
Knitting pattern: Allium by Alexis Di Gregorio. Photo © Crissy Jarvis. See Ravelry

Tank tops

Woman standing in front of tree wearing strappy, knitted, cotton rayon tank top in warm orange colour and with chevron lace border at hem.
Knitting pattern: Rain Wilds Top by Nomad Stitches. See Ravelry  or .
Woman wearing ochre yellow, linen/cotton knitted top with lace motif side panels.
Knitting pattern: Tegan Tee by Sue Gleave. Photo © Knit Picks. See Ravelry  or .
Woman wearing pale yellow, knitted tank top made out of cotton/linen blend, and with deep v-neck and rib detail at hem.
Knitting pattern: Sorvete by Filipa Carneiro. See Ravelry or Rosários4 .
Woman wearing knitted v-neck tank top with rib bodice and button detail, made in wool/cotton.
Knitting pattern: S’tival Top by Christine Rouvillé. See Ravelry or Designer’s website .

Ogee by Sari Nordlund – see image at top of post.

Cardigans and Jumpers

Woman wearing red/white striped top with a white skirt and a long, sheer, knitted cardigan made from white linen.
Knitting pattern: RUBIA by Shellie Anderson. Photo © Gale Zucker. See Ravelry  or Shibui Knits .
Woman wearing slate grey knitted cardigan made out of linen and with all-over lace diamond and eyelet motifs.
Knitting pattern: Sundowner by Sarah Hatton. See Ravelry 
Woman wearing oversized, cream, cotton sweater with dolman sleeves and eyelet lace detail at shoulders.
Knitting pattern: Elemental Dolman by Yumiko Alexander. See Ravelry  or Dan Doh .
Woman wearing shorts and a lavender grey knitted sweater made from cotton/linen blend and with repeated lace motif stripe, and contrasting turquoise green edging at neck and sleeve cuffs.
Knitting pattern: East Beach Tee by Meghan Kelly. See Ravelry or Interweave.

Shawls and Wraps

Woman standing on a beach. She is dressed in a white dress and wearing a knitted, grey shawl worked in brioche stitch and with a wide lace border.
Knitting pattern: Somes by Bristol Ivy. Photo © Whitney Hayward. See Ravelry or Quince & Co.
Woman wearing grey, linen, knitted shawl with all-over lace motifs.
Knitting pattern: Cattedrale by Valentina Cosciani. See Ravelry or at Making Stories magazine.
Woman wearing blue check summer dress and a hand knitted, triangular, cotton shawl with stripes of garter stitch and openwork lace.
Knitting pattern: Soulbound by Melanie Berg. Photo © Pam Allen. See Ravelry or Quince & Co.
Woman wearing knitted, cotton/linen shawl in orange, blue and cream stripes of garter and lace.
Knitting pattern: Beachcomber by Chelsea Berkompas. See Ravelry or Knit Picks .

Further summer knitting inspiration

See my posts about summer knitwear trends, which include many pattern suggestions: Knitwear Trends for Summer 2019: Contrast Colour & Vintage Revival,  Knitwear Trends for Summer 2019: Shabby Chic, Knitwear Trends for Summer 2019: Intarsia Colour-work, Knitwear Trends for Summer 2019: lots of lace, and Knitwear Trends for Summer 2019: Embellishments.


Over to you

I’d love to hear any of your suggestions for summer patterns using cotton, linen or bamboo. Do you enjoy working with plant based fibres? Have you got any summer garments on the needles?



4 thoughts on “Summer Knitting: light linens and cool cottons”

  1. I loved this post, Jules. I don’t know what I would do without knitting in the summer months! There are so many really sweet warm weather tees and such. I have a few bamboo/silk shawls that are so lightweight and compact that they fit in my purse. They are perfect for when the a/c or night air is a little chilly,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!
    I think summer knitting options are often rather overlooked, so it’s nice to hear I’m not alone in enjoying all the plant fibre/lightweight options.
    Your bamboo/silk shawls are such a good idea for air conditioning and chilly evenings- and I can imagine must feel lovely to wear with those fibres, and there’s something rather effortlessly stylish about having a light shawl draped over your shoulders! Jules


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