Lots of people only knit in the winter. I get it - wool is definitely nicer to use than almost any plant-based fibers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give summer yarns a chance. There are lots of great reasons to knit summer garments and even more beautiful summer fibers to enjoy.
Linen- when it comes to warm weather fibers, linen is king. LInen fibers are hollow which makes them lighter and more breathable than even cotton. Linen is also moisture-wicking which means it absorbs moisture from your body and transfers it to the outside air so you feel cool and dry instead of sweaty and clammy.
Additionally, linen’s smooth, slightly stiff texture means that the fabric itself is more open You’ll actually catch a breeze through a linen knit. That texture also means the fabric doesn’t clink to you as other fibers might but rather hangs away from the body, which is exactly what you want when it’s hot and humid.
My favorite linen and linen blend yarns? Rowan Creative Linen, Noro Asaginu, Kelbourne Mojave, and my new darling, Queen City Coleman.
Cotton- Cotton tends to be our go-to fiber for summer, but not all cotton yarns are cool and comfortable when it’s hot. It all depends on the weight and texture. Remember that flannel, one of winter’s coziest fabrics, is made of cotton. Also, cotton is absorbent, but not moisture-wicking, which means that when it gets wet, it stays wet. So, while a nice cotton tee shirt will absorb moisture from your body, it doesn’t release that moisture into the air, but holds onto it, drying slowly. But there are cottons that feel nice and cool all summer - I’m a fan of mercerized cottons - yarns that have been treated to make them smoother and less absorbent. Like linen, mercerized cotton yarns create a fabric that’s a little more open, stands away from the body a bit, and lets air through the fabric.
My favorite mercerized cotton is Rowan’s Cotton Glace which has a lovely sheen and a nice tight twist.
Wool- yes, you heard me correctly. People all over the world have been wearing wool garments, both summer and winter, for centuries. In the Sahara Desert, Bedouins wear thin wool clothing to keep themselves cool in the blistering heat. In hot temperatures, wool absorbs moisture from skin and helps to dissipate heat more rapidly. This keeps the wearer nice and cool. Now, I’m not suggesting that you’d be comfortable in a thick winter woolen when it’s hot and humid, but a loose top knit in a fingering or sport weight worsted spun wool would be very comfortable.
It’s really more about the texture and weight, really. In the summer, I generally prefer smooth, light weight yarns (dk, sport, and fingering), and always in breathable natural fibers and garments that hang away from the body for maximum cool.
On the podcast this week I’ll be sharing these yarns with you and showcasing some of my favorite designs for them.