Your Summer Knitting Survival Guide
When the weather starts to get warm, many knitters pack away their needles and wool for a few months. I used to be a seasonal knitter, and when it got too hot to knit comfortably, I knew it was time to dig out my sewing projects. But when I went off to college in Washington state, knitting took over my life, and after I came back to California for my summer break, the idea of not knitting all summer was unthinkable. Sticky needles and hot, itchy, heavy projects had made summer knitting a misery, but my overly optimistic self was convinced that there was a secret to comfortable summer knitting. I just hadn’t found it yet.
I began to experiment, starting with the problem that frustrated me the most: sticky needles. I knew my sweaty hands were to blame, and at first I began to wash my hands every hour. I felt a little ridiculous doing this, and it only helped my knitting ever so slightly. My needles still got sticky, so during a round of hand washing I decided to try washing the needles themselves. I was working with fixed circulars, so it was an awkward process to try to keep my knitting dry.
Desperation makes you do funny things. Washing my needles made a huge difference, and I finally had a moment of clarity when I realized that the cooling effect of washing my hands and needles was really what was improving my knitting experience. My metal needles were heating up in my hands and making them sweat. Once I understood, I immediately switched to bamboo needles and never had to go through the ridiculous needle-washing process again.
Without giving it much thought, I still sat curled up on the couch with my knitting in my lap as I would when it was cold out. Needless to say, that was hot! Even a pile of cotton knitting in your lap is certain to warm you up, but I didn’t want to give up on the couch. I remembered seeing a beautiful photo in a pattern book of a woman leaning over the arm of a couch with her knitting draping down the side. It looked like it might be a great way to get my project off of me, and I had to try it.
My fantasies were crushed when I discovered that, as much as I fancied myself an elegant lady who could gracefully knit in that contorted position, it wasn’t even close to comfortable. I temporarily gave up on knitting sweaters in the summer and focused on knitting smaller accessories. Less yarn in the project meant less yarn to heat me up as I worked. But my desire to knit sweaters beat my desire to sit on the couch, and I admitted defeat and started knitting at my desk where my project couldn’t warm me up.
I egotistically thought I had mastered summer knitting. When the next summer rolled around, I felt like I was ready for it, but I was not to be so lucky. Shortly after I came back to California from college, the air conditioner decided a week with temperatures in the triple digits was a good time to die. I was undeterred; I had dealt with the heat before, and I was convinced that I’d be able overcome any weather.
Having gone through all of the logical solutions that I could think of the summer before, I began to get a little wacky with my attempts to improve my summer knitting experience. On one sweltering day, I decided to implement ice-cream breaks. Despite being delicious and cooling, ice-cream breaks ate up too much knitting time and were not the most diet-friendly, and I ran into brain-freeze troubles more often than expected. Icy drinks proved themselves to be a better alternative.
This whole time I had been avoiding the obvious solution for the heat. I was paranoid that a desk fan might suck up my yarn. Eventually it got hot enough that I was willing to risk ruining a project. I switched it on and angled it at my hands, and oh, the difference it made! It was the missing piece of the puzzle. I felt like I was living dangerously with the fan, and a few bits of yarn did get destroyed, but it was worth it. I could finally knit comfortably for hours on end in the summer and truly enjoy it.
Knitting when it’s hot out isn’t always the most fun, but going all summer without knitting is even worse. I was willing to sacrifice a little dignity (and a little yarn) in order to figure out how to make summer knitting as enjoyable as possible, and now I can’t imagine ever going back to being a seasonal knitter. ❤
Andi Satterlund lives and knits in Seattle, where the weather is more conducive to knitting. Visit her online at www.untangling-knots.com.
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