With temperatures projected to reach 90 degrees every day this week, some knitters face the dilemma of whether they should hang up their wool and needles for the season. The key is just knowing what fun projects can still rest in the lap while the heat weighs down on the city. Seasoned-veteran knitters have endured summer after summer of figuring out what projects to both start and complete during the hot months, and newer knitters may have just caught the creative bug and want to try anything and everything. Here are some suggestions for knitting through the dog-days of summer:
Socks: The go-to project for many summer-weather knitters, commuters, and people who often stand in line is a pair of basic-pattern socks. The great attributes of sock-knitting during the summer is that they are portable, lightweight, and they can have a simple pattern with long stretches of monotonous stitches. Plus, they are small, so you can knit them almost anywhere. Kate Atherly’s basic ribbed socks are a good start.
Beer and pop coozies: There is a little-known fact which will help you use up your leftover bits of yarn, especially during the summer. A beer can is four inches high (not including the tapered top and bottom) with 8.25-inch circumference, and a beer bottle is five inches high (not including the neck) with a 7.25-inch circumference. This means you can make a rectangle in these dimensions in almost any stitch pattern, sew up the top and bottom or left and right sides, and you have an instant beer coozie. This would make a great gift for a large part of a knitter’s social circle, and no pattern is needed.
Washcloths: If you have cotton yarn lying around, there are hundreds of washcloth patterns to be found everywhere from books to pattern sheets to the internet. You can make a stack and give them as a housewarming gift, or add a bar of soap for someone who just needs his or her day brightened. Patterns range from beginner to advanced, so any cotton square, from garter stitch to lace and cables, can be made into a washcloth. Here are 20 easy patterns on about.com to get you started.
Afghan squares: Do you prefer wool? Pick 20 of your favorite washcloth patterns, knit them from wool in the correct gauge according to your yarn, and sew them together at the end of the summer for an afghan. There are also plenty of afghan-square patterns, so you do not need to search high and low. It is just a matter of preference. XRX Publishing offers four versions of the Great American Afghan, which you can purchase at your local yarn shop.
Lightweight garments: Not all garments are the bulky sweaters stereotypically pictured in the heads of non-knitters, of course, so summer seems like the perfect time to knit lighter garments. If you finish it before the end of the summer, you may even be able to wear it before packing it up and storing in the attic for next year. Two great patterns in lighter-weight yarn are the cardigan by Patons Australia and the Over-the-Top-Top by Purl Soho.
Winter accessories: Why not make your winter accessories all summer? Yes, the yarn is warm so you may have to knit indoors due to the humidity and heat in the air, but by the end of the summer, you can have an entire family’s worth of gifts to give for your loved ones when the weather turns. Or, you can just make enough for every day of the week for yourself.
Market bags: With Chicago’s plastic bag ban going into effect on August 1, everyone in the city can use a good market bag. Many patterns are a good introduction to lace as well, so beginning and intermediate knitters can find something new to try. Make them out of a durable cotton or superwash wool and acrylic blend to give the bag some washability. Try the Lightning Lace market bag on the Cascade Yarns website.
Chemo or baby caps: Hats are the dream project for summer. Both chemo caps and baby caps should be soft and washable, and both can be donated to local hospitals and organizations throughout the Chicago area. A preemie cap can be finished on a train ride from O’Hare to downtown, since they are so tiny.
So many projects are just made for summer knitting; we just have to pick our favorites and get those needles clicking. There are still several weeks left of hot weather, so just be sure to hydrate and keep the creative juices flowing.