Knitspiration: Summer Knits

Is anyone else as ready for tank-top and sundress season as I am? Don’t get me wrong, I love winter (at least I love West Coast winter). I love the coolness in the air, the ability to wear snuggly sweaters every day, the sound of rain on my rooftop, the way hot coffee tastes on an exceptionally cold day. All of this I love! But I also love the feeling of sun on my face, how it feels to put on a dress and be ready to go, the ability to bear my arms without them freezing and falling off. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been dreaming of summer.

However, being a knitter in the summer months can have its draw backs. After all, what’s a knitter to do when it becomes too hot to knit on wool? If you’re anything like me, you keep going as long as you can, but even I have my breaking point. At a certain temperature, it just becomes too hot to keep a big pile of animal fiber in your lap. These past couple of years, instead of being resentful that the weather was keeping me from knitting, I’ve learned to embrace the summer months as a time to knit on linens and cottons, and have even started to plan ahead what my summer knitting projects will be. The patterns I’m sharing today have been dancing around in my head the past couple of weeks, and the more ready I get for summer, the more I dream of knitting these beauties.

Moon Tee (top left): Ain’t she a beaut’? Can’t you just picture throwing this on over a pair of jeans and heading to a farmers market or an outdoor concert? Looking at this top has me dreaming of days that require sunhats and iced coffee. This piece would also transition well. It could easily be layered under a pullover or cardigan and carry well into fall (winter too, if you live in a more mild climate). This is definitely one I’ll be wanting to get on my needles this summer.

Vaara (top right): I don’t know if I can accurately convey how much I love this pattern in only a few sentences, but I’ll take a stab. I actually knit this up last summer, and I can’t wait for it to warm up so that I can wear it again. It’s a fun, fantastic knit, and the curved hem is so flattering! This is one I will definitely be knitting again, and as summer draws closer, I’m more enamored with it than ever.

I won’t lie, it seems a little strange to be publishing a piece on summer knitting while its cold and rainy outside, but sometimes daydreaming is all we have. What about you? Is anyone else ready for summer or are you all happy to have winter stick around a while longer?

Some KAL Love…

I love knit-a-longs. I love the challenges they offer, the opportunity they provide for engaging with the broader knitting community, and the oh-so-helpful deadlines that mean I actually get things finished in a timely manner. This year, I decided to actually get myself in gear to participate in two annual KALs who’s hashtags I’ve been admiring for some time, Andi Satterlund’s Outfit-a-Long, and Karen Templer’s Fringe and Friends KAL.

This year’s OAL just concluded, and I am very excited to say that I finished on time. This was a big deal for me, because it was the first time I had sewn a garment. I’ve been wanting to branch out, and start learning to sew for some time, but due to time constraints, lack of space, and my own fixation with having someone around to actually teach me, I hadn’t been able to get going. By deciding to participate in this year’s OAL, I was making a promise to myself to stop putting it off, and actually get sewing. I chose the Zinnia Skirt by Colette Patterns, since I had already purchased the pattern in the spring. I was also lucky enough to have a friend who is a talented seamstress offer to help me put it together. We took two days, and about twelve total hours, to put my skirt together, and it was such an amazing feeling to slip into that skirt, pull of the zipper, and have it fit like a dream!

And of course, the knitting was fun too! Zinone, the knit pattern Andi had designed for this year’s OAL, was one that I had been wanting to knit since seeing her teaser pics for it earlier this year, and it certainly did not disappoint. I’m not much of a lace knitter, so doing the lace back, and shoulder details was a bit of a challenge for me. It isn’t often I find myself having to go back several full rows to fix a mistake, but when I was getting started on the lace section of this piece, I felt like all I was doing was frogging and re-knitting. However, it was all worth it for the finished garment! Seriously, if you like to knit summer tops, this one has to go on your list. Not is it immensely adorable (seriously, how cute is a cropped, lace back top?), but knit out of Quince and Co. Sparrow, it is practically weightless, making it ideal for oppressively hot summer days.

I had a blast participating in this year’s OAL, and am so glad that I rose to the challenge of learning to sew. I had let that keep me from participating in last year’s, and know that when the 2017 OAL rolls around, I will be eager and able to join right in.

 

With the OAL behind me, I’ve now got my eyes on this year’s Fringe and Friends KAL. Karen Templer always manages to come up with such exciting subjects for her annual KALs, and this year is no different. The challenge this year is so knit a top-down sweater without a pattern, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what people come up with, and to get started on my own.

To be perfectly honest with you all, when I first saw that a free form top-down sweater was the subject of this year’s F&FKAL, I almost thought about sitting it out. After all, I have already knit several top-downs, using either my own design or heavily modifying someone else’s, so I couldn’t really see what knitting another one would do for me. Then, in a moment of clarity, I had a vision of the sweater I wanted to knit. Snuggly, grey, long, with deep pockets, and a vertical brioche band, the exact sweater that I have been wanting in my wardrobe, but haven’t been able to find a pattern for, and I realized the genius of a top-down KAL. The best part about creating a handmade wardrobe is the freedom it gives you in creating clothing that perfectly suits you. What better way to knit a sweater that fits perfectly into your wardrobe than to design one yourself? This KAL gives us all a chance to flex our muscles as designers, and to really think about the sort of sweaters we want to add to our closets.

Does anyone else have a favorite KAL, one that you did in the past or an annual that you try to do every year? Is there a KAL that you’ve been wanting to try, but haven’t been able to yet? Share in the comments below! I’d love to hear your KAL stories.

Also, as a small side note, I have recently moved to Portland, OR. So if anyone has any recommendations-food, drink, activities, stores, ect., let me know!

Knitspiration: Gansey Madness!

Gansey knitting seems to be having a bit of a moment right now. What with the Fancy Tiger Crafts KAL for the Seascale sweater, and Brooklyn Tweed’s new collection, it seems like everyone has gansey’s on the brain.

So what exactly is a gansey? A gansey (also known as a guernsey) sweater is a particular type of sweater that originated in the Channel Island for the express purpose of keeping fishermen warm. These sweaters were traditionally knit at the tight gauge, to be waterproof, and without seams. Fishermen wore them against their skin when out at sea, with a silk scarf around their necks to keep the wet wool from chafing their skin. Overtime, specific villages, and even specific families adopted their own unique patterns to help identify the wearer. The motifs featured in gansey sweaters also represent elements common to life as a fisherman. For instance, decorative ribbing was taken to represent the rigging on a sailor’s boat, while raised seams represented rope, and garter stitch panels were meant to depict waves crashing against the shore. Women were the primary knitters of gansey sweaters, and they would pass the patterns down from mother to daughter to keep the tradition alive.

Today, gansey sweaters are worn more as fashion statements than work clothes, and it is easy to see why! The textural motifs of gansey sweaters are absolutely irresistible, both for wearing, and for knitting. If you’re looking to knit a gansey of your own, the new BT collection is a great place to start, and I’ve included links to my favorite patterns in this post. I’ve also included a link to the Seascale pattern that was used in the recent Fancy Tiger Crafts KAL (just in case you haven’t already seen it), and a pattern that has been floating around in my Ravelry faves for a while, which is gansey-inspired with a slightly more modern fit.

Ever knit a gansey or have any plans to knit one in the future? Share your thoughts/experience in the comments below!