The Humble Beet’s Guide to Summer Knitting

Knitting

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I am here to abolish the false and misguided notion that knitting is exclusively a wintertime activity. This is a horribly erroneous belief that has been propagated through the ages, and likely stems from the idea that knitwear can’t be worn in the summer. This could not be more untrue! Summertime is excellent for knitted lace and sleeveless tops, and there are tons of lightweight fibre options that are amazingly breathable. Plant fibres like cotton, flax, bamboo, and hemp are ideal for summer knits, and nothing beats a nice linen blend on a sweltry summer’s day (take that, Old Testament!)

Here’s my guide to summer knitting so you can happily knit and purl your way through the solstice.

Tulip Tank Top

greytopfront

Pattern: Tulip Tank Top from Purl SoHo

Yarn: Cotton/linen fingering

I knew I had to make this tank as soon as I saw it. Look how weird it is! The way it’s constructed is even weirder. Check out the back:

greytopback

The whole thing is knitted in one piece using short rows (the cast-on row follows bottom edge of the garment from shoulder to shoulder). The cotton/linen yarn I used is super light and breezy and has awesome drape. I do recommend going up a size, though, and using a stretchy cast-off, which I did not do.

Cap Sleeve Lattice Top

Pattern: Cap Sleeve Lattice Top from Purl SoHo

Yarn: Galileo yarn from Knit Picks in lunar and white

lattice

Another favourite from Purl SoHo. This top is made from a merino/bamboo blend and has a three-stitch-repeat lattice pattern on the yolk that offers significant ventilation. I made this a little different than the pattern suggests: I knit it in the round instead of making separate front and back sections and seaming them up the sides, which was a way easier approach. Who wants to knit/purl when you can just knit? Who? (A particularly purl-heavy project gave me tendonitis around Christmas 2013 and I’ve been slightly purl-adverse ever since).

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Pretty!

Amithiste Shawl

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Pattern: Amethiste pattern

Yarn: Lindy Chain yarn from Knit Picks in harbor

My Amethiste shawl! I made one of these for my mother last Christmas in merino wool, but I like this cotton/linen version so much more (sorry momma). My favourite part is its scalloped edge, which is super hard to achieve with silky yarns, even with rigorous blocking. Cotton and linen are more drapey and less stiff and take to blocking extremely well.

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Much like knitting, scarves and scarf-like apparel are totally ideal year-round. Summer nights be chilly!

Knitted Sleepwear

shorts

Pattern: Bra Top; Shorts

Yarn: Cascade 220

Knitted booty shorts, people! I spied these in More Modern Top-Down Knitting by Kristina McGowan, which my library conveniently has a copy of. I hadn’t even considered making below-the-belt knitwear until I met this book, and now my wardrobe includes both these booty shorts and a knitted pencil skirt. Heck yeah.

I hope these projects have inspired you to knit your way though the summer heat!

Fingerless Mitts (Pattern Included)

Knitting

Fingerless Mitts

Yarn: 50g Cascade 220 Solids from The Purple Purl

Yarn weight: DK / 8 ply

Needle size: 4mm (US 6) straight needles

Mail carriers and dermatillomaniacs rejoice! Finally a winter hand sheath that offers the warmth and comfort of a traditional mitten without the stifling finger confinement.

The morning following the completion of these Fingerless Mitts was a frigid one, so I slipped on my newly knitted mittens in an effort to keep the bottom two thirds of my hands toasty while I brushed ice and snow off my car.

Things went swimmingly until I scraped off a considerable portion of my precious hand flesh on some jagged ice that had formed on the roof of my car. (Unfortunately I didn’t notice how severe the lacerations were until I had started driving to work, vital fluids leaking from my hand wounds onto my beautiful mittens.)

The lesson to be learned here is that fingerless mitts, while rife with aesthetic appeal, are not ideal for all activities, for example those involving sharp things.

Regardless, I was so pleased with this Fingerless Mitts pattern I knitted a second, almost identical pair (but with gold contrast!), cause a girl’s gotta have mitt options.

This Fingerless Mitts pattern knits up very quickly and is super easy to follow. They’re knitted on straight needles, which was a nice change from my usual circular knitting projects, AND they allow for ardent displays of spirit fingers while maintaining the thermal comfort of my lovely metacarpals.

The pattern.

Condo Sweater (Pattern Included)

Knitting

Condo Sweater

A few weeks ago I attended the Old Book and Paper Show where a lovely old man selling vintage fashion magazines slipped an old knitting pattern between the pages of my purchase:

Condo Sweater

I looked at the women on the front and saw they were a paragon of modern beauty. Their feathered hair and liberally applied rouge spoke to me, and I immediately knew their stylish accoutrement belonged in my wardrobe.

A couple of weeks later was the 16th annual Knitter’s Frolic, where I picked up some super soft baby alpaca yarn from The Purple Purl.

This is a baby alpaca:

alpaca

They are so cute! Like, violently cute. Why isn’t this more talked about? Be mine, baby alpaca. You can move into my 1-bedroom apartment and we’ll eat sweet potato burritos and watch documentaries about Belizean cocoa farmers and I’ll brush your soft fur and you’ll keep me warm and we’ll be friends always. Deal?

I started knitting the Condo Sweater pattern with my new baby alpaca yarn, but it didn’t go very well. The stitch it uses didn’t translate well to the yarn I was using and the fit wasn’t quite right, so I started over, changed to seed stitch, and only used the pattern as a guide.

Seed Stitch

And I’m exceedingly happy with the result! It’s super soft, and drapes really nicely. This pattern definitely calls for a good, high quality yarn; regular acrylic would be much too stiff.

Here’s the pattern for my version of the Condo Sweater:

Yarn: 200g Pima Nebla baby alpaca by Diamond Luxury Collection in Willow.

Yarn weight: DK / 8 ply

Needle size: 5mm (US 8) and 10mm (US 15)

Garment sizing: Small: 32-34″ bust; Medium: 36-38″ bust; Large: 40-42″ bust

Front
Using smaller needles, cast on 64 (68, 72) stitches.
Knit in K1, P1 ribbing for 2″.
Decrease 9 stitches evenly on the last row.
Change to larger needles. Knit K1, P1 (seed stitch) until garment measures 19″ from the bottom edge, or desired length. Cast off loosely.

Back
Work same as front.

Sleeves
Sew the front and back pieces together at the shoulder seams, leaving enough room to comfortably pull the garment over your head (sew about 15 stitches together on each shoulder).
With right sides facing and using the smaller needles, pick up and knit 30 (32, 34) stitches along each shoulder edge so you have a total of 60 (64, 68) stitches making up each sleeve edge.
Knit in K1, P1 ribbing for 8 rows, or desired length. Cast off loosely and repeat on other shoulder. Stitch side seams together.

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Honeycomb Socks (Pattern Included)

Knitting

Honeycomb socks

Yarn: 150g Sew’N Knit’N Serge Outlet’s store brand sock yarn

Yarn weight: DK / 8 ply

Needle size: 4.5mm (US 7)

These are my first-ever knitted socks! Correction: first knitted socks that I finished to completion. My first attempt at socks was also my first attempt at Fair Isle knitting, and I picked about the most complicated pattern I could find. It wasn’t a happy experience.

These socks, however, were a pleasure to knit! The pattern is very easy to follow, and the tiny cable knits make a really neat, wavy honeycomb pattern.

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My favourite thing about this pattern: it uses DK weight yarn. DK! Most sock patterns use fingering yarn and incredibly narrow needles, i.e., a guaranteed bout of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Overall, this pattern was really fun to knit. Socks are great because you can shove them in your purse on your way out and knit on the go, as I am often inclined to do.

I did run into a bit of trouble with the heel. In fact, I’ve always had problems with short rows. They always end up looking so sloppy and uneven. I ended up with gaping holes that ran up the sides of the heels where I did the wrap and turns, which I had to sew shut. Why? Why why?

If anyone has any heel-knitting advice you’d like to send my way, please, please do so!

The pattern.