Fall knitting for warm climates

Knitting a new design on a balcony in Hawaii.

Knitting a new design on a balcony in Hawaii.

I had a birthday! But, more importantly, my birthday means that IT’S FALL! I was born on the autumnal equinox, so this is always a fun time of year. The weather is getting cooler and knitters are eager to put more of their handiwork into the wardrobe rotation. But here’s the kicker for me and my SoCal sisters and brothers. It’s. Still. Hot. Like, sleeveless tanks and shorts and flip flops hot. 

I’m generally ok with that. I mean, I spent most of my life in climates that included super cold, snowy days, but I have grown SOFT, ladies and gentlemen. Changed! I am not the pink-nosed, cloud-breathing, snow kicker I once was since moving to a climate with dangling palm fronds and water-efficient landscaping. BUT that means fewer squishy sweaters….fewer hats….fewer scarves…no mittens or gloves! So what’s a warm weather knitter to do? 

Well, I was fortunate to come across another community that wrestles with the same limitations. My husband and I had the incredible, lucky opportunity to take a trip to Hawaii during my birthday week (without kids! Whaaaa???) and I made sure to walk to Yarn Story, one of the LYS’s on the island of Oahu. I met the owner, Paula (follow her hilarious, gorgeous instagram account at @yarnstoryhawaii), who I would probably insist become my friend if I lived there. She was welcoming and funny and knowledgable about the knitting community there and shared their own project preferences. I had a few “me, too!” moments, for sure.

So, in the spirit of sun-filled camaraderie, I decided to ask my local San Diego yarn shop owners for their favorite patterns for warm climate knitting and share them here with you! For this post, I will feature…

…the cardigan. The AC Avenger. All that stands between our skin and the tyranny of indoor climate control. It may be warm outside, but it’s COLD in here! Paula indicated that air conditioning was, at times, an issue in island life. Specifically, the university classrooms and the buses are often freezing or, as my son says, “chilly wizzies.” Knitters in Oahu like to pull out their cardigans to stay toasty while in transport or listening to a lecture. The warm weather cardigan is also good for the cruel shifts in pleasantness that result while sitting in a little bit of San Diego shade. So, here are a few options for our fellow sweaty stitchers in Oahu and San Diego county! 

Yarn shop: Needlecraft Cottage (website / facebook), owner Liz Walters (photos at left copyright Liz Walters)

Pattern: All Year Cardigan by Taiga Hilliard: "This is a great, top-down, easy cardigan pattern. The pattern includes a lot of sizes and the design works on all shapes. Done in wool, it's great for spring and fall, and milder winter days and indoors; in cotton or bamboo, the cardigan is perfect for warm spring days and all hours in the summer. It's a great cardigan to keep in the office for times when the AC is too cool or for trips into the server room. 

Top down sweaters usually don't have seams and you aren't fixed to a final number of stitches until you divide for the sleeves.  So, if your gauge is a bit off, no worries.  You can try on the sweater as you knit to see how it fits.  Finally, you can't run out of yarn at a critical place like sleeves or shoulders, because you do those first.  If you do run out of yarn (and can't get more) the worst that happens, is your sweater is a bit shorter.  And if your yarn is going further than hoped, you can make a longer sweater... keep going until you are out of yarn.  Less stress, more fun."

Suggested yarns by Needlecraft Cottage: 

For all-around use: Baah! Yarns Sonoma (store link / ravelry link / dyer link)

For summer Santa Anas: Universal Yarn Bamboo Pop (store link / ravelry link / dyer link)

For Spring and Autumn: Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme DK (store link / ravelry link / dyer link) and Cotton Supreme DK Seaspray (ravelry link / dyer link)

For something special:

1) Baah! Yarns Aspen - merino, cashmere, silk (store link / ravelry link / dyer link)

2) Baah! Yarns Platinum - merino, cashmere, silk, sparkle (store link / ravelry link / dyer link)

3) Baah! Yarns Savannah - merino, cashmere, nylon (store link / ravelry link / dyer link

4) Baah! Yarns Manhattan - merino, cashmere (store link / ravelry link ) 

Yarn Shop: Apricot Yarn (website / facebook / instagram), owner Sara Heckman (photos at left copyright Sara Heckman)

Pattern: Garter Stitch Cardigan by Erika Knight: "As a mom to three girls, I have enjoyed knitting for them all as babies. I think knitting for a baby is a really special experience. I have items knit by my great grandmothers. I would love to give those heirloom pieces I have knit to my girls, if they have children. 

"This sweet pattern is simple and classic. It can be for a boy or girl and you can use a cotton or wool yarn, depending on the season or climate. Here in San Diego, a cotton cardigan can be worn most of the year with only a short amount of time when a warmer sweater is needed. Erika Knight's approach to baby knits is classic and simple."

Suggested Yarns by Apricot Yarn:

Gossypium Cotton by Erika Knight - 100% cotton (ravelry link)

Zara by Filatura Di Crosa - a super wash merino option that is so soft for baby (ravelry link)

Yarn Shops: Yarn and Thread Expressions (website / facebook), owner Carol Fuller, and Yarn Story Hawaii (website / facebook / instagram), owner Paula

Pattern: Hitofude Cardigan by Hiroko Fukatsu (photos at left copyright Hiroko Fukatsu):

Carol says it is "flattering on many body shapes, just enough warmth on the shoulders, back and arms to keep comfortable in San Diego, innovative construction and beautiful lace stitching"

Paula adds, "I love color work cardigans, but when dealing with Hawaii's almost permanent beach weather a girls got to be practical. So, the cardigan I end up wearing the most is Hiroko Fukusatsu's Hitofude cardi, which is great for three reasons: 1) it's lace so there's airflow, 2) it's fingering weight which is about as thick as you can go in Hawaii, and 3) the pattern is surprising simple once correctly sized and the stitch pattern is easily memorized. I don't even need to bring it with me when I work on it."

Suggested yarns by Yarn and Thread Expressions: Baah La Jolla, Ella Rae Lace Merino Dk, Mirasol Sulka Legato 

Suggested yarns by Yarn Story Hawaii: Any superwash sock is ideal. I love using Manos del Uruguay's "Alegria," but a friend of mine who lives on the leeward side (the hottest and driest part!) knit hers in Shibui Linen which looked gorgeous. Right now I'm working on a new one in Shibui Staccato.





Make Knit Work: Episode 7

This week's challenge was menswear-inspired, which was a relief for (most of) the designers. No actual menswear today! Margarita Alvarez took on the shirt-dress with a little asymmetry and got the win. I'd wear it! For designing knitwear, though, I was thinking less about the dress shirt and more about the neckties. I love color and patterns. Ties weren't technically part of her dress, but I went with it. I'm glad I did. Here are the designs I sketched out!

Design #1 is a pullover sweater with a seamless yoke. The yoke is an array of necktie-inspired designs, which can really be taken in a multitude of directions. I went with stripes for the concept drawings because it got the point across, but you can get creative with it, for sure! 

Design #2 is a cowl which I'm tempted to take on for my next pattern once my super badass, awesome, killin' it cropped motorcycle jacket is complete. Basically, it's a bunch of thin cowl-length pieces with buttons down one edge and buttonholes down another. Several of these can button together to make a wider cowl. You can switch up colors and designs by swapping out strips. Seems fun and versatile, once you get all those buttons sewn on (ugh).

Design #3 is a vest, since that seems pretty menswear-y. The necktie idea comes into play as a horizontal design feature, where the points of the "ties" make this interesting geometric design. Alternating ties that feature color work with those that are monochromatic but textured makes it extra interesting. I want to make this one, too!  

Remember, if you want to participate, please share your sketches using the hashtag #MakeKnitWork on Instagram and Facebook!

Make Knit Work: Episodes 5 and 6

What's up, family? Are you runway ready? By ready, I mean, have you created a runway in your imagination? Good. Here are the two latest Make Knit Work installments! I posted Episode 5 on social media but totally forgot to put it up here. Oops! Or, as my newly minted 2-year-old says, "Ooooooooot." 

Episode 5 was a challenge about tone and feel, with the inspirations being "Good vs. Evil." Since your clothes speak before you do, it's important for the designers to grasp how their looks communicated these basic concepts. Brandon Kee's "good" look had a sweetness to it, but also steered away from tropes of innocence. She was still dressed like an adult, but straight-forward and well-intentioned. Brandon seems to be exceptionally sweet, himself, so I think it was a good fit (no pun intended).  

For my first sketch, I wanted to take the wrist bows in larger direction with the color blocking resembling an upside down bow across the shoulders of the sweater. For the tunic sketch, I took the straight, horizontal cut at the upper chest to inform the square neckline; and I gave it a high-low hem to resemble the "mullet dress" feature of Brandon's design. For the mitered square shell, I wanted to bring his pink striping into the piece. It's intended to be more of a pink than a red, as pictured, but I was unable to get a good approximation with the small colored pencil set I was using. All of the mitered squares are monochromatic, except for one panel in the front that incorporates the other subtle colors in his stripe pattern. 

Episode 6 was a lot of fun! It was the models' chance to be the clients and to influence the design they were wearing on the runway. Designer Kentaro took a modern (homeless, apparently?) samurai inspiration to create some really beautiful pieces for his model, Meisha. I love the oversized quality of the top with the tucked hem in the back. And the shorts (skort? culotte?) were suuuuuuuper cool and I want them now! I mean, it was a pair of loose-fitting shorts, with some skirt-like panels in the front, but open with a tie at the waist...AND a belt (double belt...what does it mean??). And somehow looked super cool. I was a big fan!

So, to Make Knit Work this week, I focused on the skirt-like panels, tucked back fabric, belts, and general Japanese-inspired style. For the first sketch, I used the tucked idea on the cuffs and added eyelets around the upper chest to thread a ribbon "belt".  The tuck would be constructed as a kind of box pleat in reverse..kinda. I'd have to work it out. The sweater itself is also a cropped style, like in Kentaro's top. My second design is a beanie with an over-layer like the skirt effect, "belted" around the crown to pull it all in. For my third sketch, I took a Japanese kimono style sweater, added cabling around all the edges, and some dropped-stitch "stripes" down the body. I've never worked a dropped stitch design before but it always looks interesting!

I hope you've enjoyed this exercise and would like to participate with me! If you're interested in sharing your design ideas, use the hashtag #MakeKnitWork on Instagram and Facebook. After all, one day you're in, the next day....you're still in because art is fun and I'm not here to judge you. :) Tata!