What makes a great summer sweater?

It's unseasonably warm here in Ellensburg at the moment, which has led me to jump start my thinking about what we're looking for in a summer sweater. Because it has to be pretty hot before sweaters cycle out of the wardrobe altogether. Mornings and evenings can be quite cool, and my standard summertime response when the cashier at the grocery store asks me if I found everything on my list is, "Yes, and I also froze to death." So what makes a great summer sweater?

  • It's lightweight.
  • The style is either pretty casual, or reflects a very simple elegance. (Sometimes both!)
  • It's made from mostly natural fibers--maybe plant-based, or finer-gauge wool.
  • It's easy to layer.
  • The sleeve length runs from non-existent to three-quarter length.


One of my favorite summer items is the Mock Lace Up Tee from Hélène Rush. I used Knit One Crochet Too's Batiste, which is a wool, silk, and linen blend. Pleasant to knit with, and the fabric has great drape, but holds its shape well.  Hélène has designed a number of hand knit tees--take a look here.

Another more delicate, but versatile, sweater is Hitofude. The one I made is from a laceweight merino and silk blend, but knit to the gauge the pattern specifies for fingering weight yarn. (Because the stitch pattern is lacy, this results in a slightly lighter weight garment that is the same size.) The pattern is clearly written, and the design is pretty brilliant--it is knit continuously from start to finish. Yesterday, I was wearing a light long sleeved tee, and because the shop stays quite cool until late afternoon, I was chilly. Hitofude to the rescue--it was the perfect amount of additional warmth.

My first CustomFit sweater was also a summer sweater, a v-neck tee made from CoBaSi held double. I like to advocate for CoBaSi because it is one of those yarns that really has the potential to exceed your expectations. The fiber content--cotton, bamboo, silk, and elastic--is more than the sum of its parts. It gets breathability from the cotton and bamboo, drape from the bamboo and silk, and a nice bit of "boing" (that's the technical term) from the elastic. I'm seriously considering a CustomFit Featherweight in CoBaSi (even knowing that the 1x1 ribbing might kill me).

Cinnie is another very wearable warm weather sweater. The pattern is written for any DK weight--mine is Plymouth Cleo mercerized cotton--and can be made full-length or cropped.  The construction is unique, in that it builds outward, and then down, from a center back panel.

And Low Tide! I'm seriously considering making another adult size to update my shop sample, even though the more prudent thing to do with the class (meeting June 1, 8, & 15th) would be to knit one of the small sizes. This is a pattern that shows serviceable a light wool can be in warm weather. It's breathable, handles moisture well, and makes a nicely flowing fabric.


In addition to the CoBaSi Featherweight, I'm contemplating a Mama Vertebrae in a basic, neutral, sport weight wool. Probably with elbow length sleeves, though, since it is knit top-down, I can make a final decision when the time comes.

I started a bundle of favorite Summer sweaters on Ravelry--check it out, and I will be adding to it as more catch my eye!