Stay Cool with Barely-There Knits

Fine Yarns are Summer Favorites

On a strangely Midwestern, humid-and-raining kind of day recently, I wore a merino and silk shawl all day long without breaking a sweat, and without setting the air conditioner to an Arctic temperature. Even when the mercury is up, you can enjoy your favorite fibers–and maybe give some new ones a try–while keeping your cool and looking smart. The secret is in fine yarns, which can often be knit at a looser gauge for drape and sheerness.


Show It Off…

Fitted or flowy, sleeveless and cap-sleeve tops are summer staples–and choosing the right pattern keeps your look chic. Colina by Elizabeth Doherty is a simple stunner in your favorite sport-weight yarn–Berroco Folio has a delicate halo and sheen in a contemporary range of neutrals and colors. For subtle sparkle over dresses or camisoles, the Park Avenue Side-to-Side Vest by Rosemary Drysdale can be knit to hip or tunic length in S. Charles Flora.


For classic, feminine designs, Kim Hargreaves is your guru. Shore –from her new book Echoes–is fresh and pretty in Rowan Summerlite 4ply. If you try only one cotton this summer, this is the one: soft, smooth and utterly elegant, it is so enjoyable to knit and crochet. (As a side note, I’m still working on Lisa Richardson’s Crochet-a-Long which includes some wonderfully inventive granny hexagons–if you’re interested in a class, please email me.)


I believe in the longstanding style principle that when you bare one part of your body, you cover up something else. Mia by Jennifer Wood is a graceful sleeveless tunic in Shibui Twig that skirts your hips and uses simple design details to add interest and shape.


… Or Cover It Up

A roomy pullover with simple lines is the ultimate carefree sweater. And speaking of Shibui Twig… the thoughtful blend of flax, silk and wool means you get fantastic drape and breathability when you knit a boxy top like Tails by Lori Versaci. If you’re looking for quick gratification, the Broadway Pullover by Pam Grushkin mixes S. Charles Nina and Flora into a colorfully crisp fabric–it’s worked on size 11 needles!


Hamlin Peak by Pam Allen may be the summer cardigan you’ve been waiting for. Our Wednesday staffer Clementine has knit this piece twice: once in Classic Elite Firefly (shown below) and once in Rowan Panama. You’ll wear this cardigan with just about anything, and you can easily tweak its personality just by changing the yarn. I’d love to try it in Filatura di Crosa Minitempo–the subtle gradient color shows beautifully in plain stockinette as well as in lace patterns such as the Maria Pullover by Teresa Chorzepa.




Create a Diversion

Cowls, bandits and scarves, oh my! Whatever shape you prefer around your neck, go light on yarn for a weightless splash of color. Melanie Berg is fast becoming a shop-favorite designer for her modern, graphic shawls–below is Nangou knit in Habu N-80 Silk Wrapped Merino.  (As an aside, the original pattern calls for Shibui Staccato, which arrived on our shelves this week!) A small kerchief can pack a big punch when you have self-striping linen and just enough fringe, as in Among the Wildflowers by Sasha Ball Rives in Classic Elite Bella Lino.



Churchmouse’s lovely Bias ‘Before and After’ Scarf got a facelift this season with a re-yarning in Schachenmayr Tahiti, a fingering weight cotton in irresistible gradients.  Or, mix two colors of Shibui Linen in colorblocked sections, or stripes… this pattern is the perfect canvas for so many yarns. Eager to try some of these plant-based yarns? Join Sherri’s Wool You or Won’t You? Shawl knit-along starting July 12.