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Free Knitting Pattern: Taylor Swift TTPD Inspired Cardigan

Cozy up and knit with the chairman of the Tortured Poets Department. This cardigan is a labor of love and I wanted to share my charts and notes with you! This blog post covers all of the instructions for this cardigan including my charts - it is not graded to any other size. You can get this pattern in a PDF for free on Ravelry if you prefer .  Size:   This sweater is 44” in body circumference. For me it fits with 6” of ease on a 38” bust. Yarn: Worsted weight - Knitting For Olive Heavy Merino in Pearl Grey - 12 balls for my size. Needles:  US #7 needles (4.5mm) for the body and sleeves.  US #5 needles (3.75mm) for the ribbing on the sleeves and neckline. Gauge:  Average cable gauge 22 sts = 4 inches. In stockinette gauge is 18 sts = 4 inches. Row gauge is 24 sts = 4 inches.  Notions: Three 1" buttons, three removable stitch markers (or more to separate cables), tapestry needle, scissors. Note on this cardigan:   This cardigan is challenging - I highly recommend reading through

Absolutely Everything You Need To Know About Summer Knitting Yarn

As someone who started their knitting journey in the hot hot state of Louisiana, finding the right yarn for a summer knitting project has been a high priority from the beginning. I'm a year-round knitter, and I'm not just going to take a break because it's 100 degrees with 95% humidity. But, as all new knitters do, I've picked the wrong yarn for summer knitting more than once. Having learned a lot more about fiber and choosing the right yarn for your project I decided to dig in and figure out once and for all what are the best yarns for summer knitting projects.

Everyone's summer looks different - this post is mostly geared to the hot and humid summer weather. Living in Southern Louisiana and now back up in the Midwest I know a thing or two about 100-degree days and oppressive humidity. And while I probably wouldn't wear a precious knit that is delicate and difficult to wash on a 100-degree day, there are a few tops and tanks featured in this post that I would wear! Let's get into it. See examples in this youtube video!

First things first: yarn weight

When it's summer, the thinner the yarn the better. Just think, the thin tee shirts you wear in the summer may be made of the same cotton as your winter layers, but your winter long-sleeve shirts are thicker, right?

Thick, chunky yarn is a no-go in hot weather. Not only will it be far too warm to wear but the heat + sweat + motion = felting.

For my personal preferences, I typically knit with fingering weight up to a dk weight yarn in summer. Depending on the project and the yarn, I may still hold off on a dk weight project until the weather starts to cool in late August.

For me, this means knitting tee shirts, tank tops, thin shawls, and lots of socks! Even though I'm not a big wool-sock wearer in the summer months it's a great small and lightweight project to bring with and work on in the summers.

Summer Knitting Fibers:

I'm going to break down the rest of this post by types of fibers and get into the details of why it works well for summer.

Yarns I Avoid For Summer Knitting:

Okay, I'm going to say it. I avoid wool and most other animal fibers during the summer months. I know that people say that wool is great at pulling moisture away from the skin but they also tend to be a great heat conductor. For example, I really like my Outline Tee knit in Purl Soho Linen Quill (50% fine highland wool, 35% alpaca, and 15% linen) but find it too hot to wear once it gets above 75 degrees or so. Let's give wool the other three quarters of the year and keep it to more cellulose fibers in the summer months.

The other yarn I avoid in the summer months? 100% acrylic yarn. Acrylic yarn elicits big feelings in the fiber world but I'm never going to tell you not to knit with it. Except for summer projects. Acrylic yarn can be great - but it's still made of a poly compound that is, essentially, plastic. This makes Acrylic yarn not breathable during truly hot weather and can make you feel very hot. Plus, acrylic yarn doesn't tend to be moisture-wicking or quick to dry so you'll just be stuck feeling sweaty. It's a no from me.

Silk Yarn

Sure, silk is technically a protein yarn (a yarn produced by animals) but I know that silk works surprisingly well during summer months. Typically we associate protein yarns as holding warmth close to the body. But unlike wooly fibers, silk fiber is smooth with no scales which is what creates a shiny appearance, and in my opinion makes it easier to wear in hot weather. Silk produces a fabric that doesn't have as much bounce back as most animal fibers, which means a 100% silk project can stretch out a bit over time. Silk yarn can be shiny or matte and makes a very drapey piece that will last for years due to it's natural strength.

There are two main types of silks:
  • Mulberry silk - The caterpillars that create mulberry silk only eat mulberry leaves this makes a bright white silk that is typically more expensive than other types of silk.
  • Tussah silk - The caterpillars that make Tussah silk eat a wider variety of plant leaves. These silks can range in color due to the tannins in the various leaves they eat. Colors can range from ivory to light brown.
Both of these silks can be turned into yarn, thread, and fabrics. Typically for yarn, there are two processes that result in different types of yarn. 
  • Spun silk - these yarns will be the most expensive, they are made of silk fibers that have been carded and spun together to create a smooth and shiny yarn.
  • Silk Noil - When spun silk is being processed, shorter fibers and noils (essentially knots) are removed. These can then be spun into much more textured (and less expensive) silk noil yarn.

My personal preference, which you will see a lot in this post, leans toward matte fabrics. I'm just not a swishy shiny gal. I've knit two tee shirts in Purl Soho's Cattail Silk yarn - it's 100% silk noil and comes in at a whopping 618 yards in 100 grams for $36 at the time of publishing. I've knit two Cozy Classic Light teeshirts with 1 skein each. I must note that gauge swatching is essential for this yarn if you plan on washing it in your washing machine. I've washed and dried both shirts to great results but I went in knowing that I would need to knit a smaller size and knit it much longer as it grows outwards and upwards in the wash.

Cotton Yarn

The summer classic. Now it's my turn to have big feelings about yarn! I love cotton yarn and think it's a great option for summer knitting but with the huge caveat that it must be a thin cotton yarn! I have cotton sweaters ranging from Aran weight to dk, to sport weight and I know I couldn't wear the Aran weight and maybe even the dk weight options in the summer.

Here's the thing, cellulose fibers (fibers produced by plants) are typically heavier in weight than animal fibers. While plant fibers tend to pull heat away from the body, when you're wearing a physically heavy sweater it's still going to feel warm.

One more thing about plant fibers: they don't "bounce back" the same way that animal fibers do. This can lead to projects stretching out, or loosening up over time. You can get around this fairly easily by incorporating side seams in garments to help hold a piece in place. You'll also want to wash your swatch how you intend to wash your finished garment in order to know how much it will shrink or loosen up in the wash.

Cotton yarn, like silk yarn, comes in both shiny and matte versions and can range from luxury to dollar-store cheap. Here's a breakdown:Most inexpensive cotton yarns you can find (like Sugar'N Cream - $1.99 for 120 yards, 70 grams) are dense, matte, and fuzzy. This is because the cotton is not typically combed prior to spinning. This makes the process quicker and less expensive and but produces a less polished fabric. I have knit a Farnham Sweater out of Stony Hill Fiber Arts Southern Exposure yarn (100% organic cotton, 320 yards /100 grams $18). I love this sweater, it's the perfect weight for spring and fall or cool summer nights. The finished piece is soft, comfortable, and has been wearing well so far.

Pima and Egyptian Cotton - both Pima and Egyptian cotton are luxury cotton yarns. Both have a longer-than-average fiber length that is stronger and less likely to become fuzzy over time. This yarn tends to be more shiny and drapey than inexpensive kinds of cotton. My Chaika Sweater was knit with Wool and The Gang Shiny Happy Cotton (100% pima cotton, Aran weight, 155 yards/100G, $13). This sweater is gorgeous and has held up great over time but I consider it too warm for summer.

Mercerized Cotton - The process of making mercerized cotton yarn is somewhat similar to the superwash process for wool. This cotton is soaked in sodium hydroxide, which causes the fiber to swell permanently, changing the shape of the individual fibers to be perfectly round. This gives the cotton a shiny and smooth appearance and helps the cotton to easily and evenly absorb dye and remain colorfast. Mercerization can also help prevent items from shrinking but you'll always want to wash your swatch how you intend to wash the item to be sure. I've knit an Autumn League Pullover out of Tahki Yarns cotton classic light (100% Mercerized Cotton, Sport weight, 146 yards / 50 grams $6.49). I find that this has a classic mercerized cotton problem: while it is shiny and beautiful, it's a bit stiff and almost crunchy feeling.

Linen and Hemp Yarn

Linen and Hemp yarns are fairly similar but are created from different plants. Linen yarn is made from the flax plant, while hemp is made from the cannabis plant. Both plants are processed so that the cellulose fibers can be spun into extremely strong yarn. Linen and hemp yarn are great options for summer months because the fabric they create is excellent at drawing heat away from the skin and evaporating moisture quickly. However, there is one big challenge in using this yarn: it's very dense and stiff. While knitting with this yarn can be a challenge and it may not feel great on the hands, the finished fabric softens up dramatically over time to become much more comfortable.

I knit a Garter Glide Tee in FibraNatura Flax Lace (100% linen, lace weight, 547 yards/100Grams $8.49) held double to make a sport weight. This tee is knit at a very loose gauge making it airy and light no matter what kind of yarn you use. I didn't find that the linen yarn was uncomfortable to knit with but it is definitely stiff until you're able to wash and wear it.

Rayon, Viscose, Bamboo, and Modal Yarn

In a not-quite plant yarn, not-quite man-made yarn we get Rayon. Originally made to be "artificial silk" rayon and viscose are used somewhat interchangeably. In this process, wood pulp is soaked in various solutions to break down the wood into cellulose that is then extruded into spinnable fiber. Through this processing, the fiber created tends to be extremely soft, shiny and creates a drapey fabric.

Bamboo and Modal yarn use this process but with specific types of wood to create yarn.

Bamboo yarn is made from (surprise!) the bamboo plant, and Modal is made from beech trees. As someone who isn't a big fan of shiny and super drapey garments, neither have been high on my to-knit list. On researching it appears that most bamboo and modal yarns are a mix of cotton and whichever viscose fiber to give the yarn more strength and density.


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