Summer Solstice: What Did the Druids Knit?
Many years ago, I briefly lived in a pagan-ish commune. Our spiritualty was vague at best, but we raised chickens and organic vegetables, favored slubby natural fibers, and celebrated the summer solstice with epic amounts of “mead” (more likely a blend of cheap gin and cream soda and just as vile as it sounds). We also had a few goats and sheep and I recall the first time I saw people actually SHEAR THE SHEEP and SPIN THE WOOL and KNIT STUFF from it. It was crazy, fantastic, and inspiring and made up for the stupid maypole dances.
My quasi-druidic days are long gone and I don’t really do the maypole thing anymore, but my fascination with sheep, fiber, and yarn continues. And while I don’t celebrate the solstice per se, the increased daylight of the summer months is a boon for us knitters, as the long days and summer vacations give us more time to knit. To make the most of extra daylight hours, here are 5 tips for summertime knitting, whether you’re a druid or not.
1) Keep it simple. Car trips are perfect for knitting, so long as you are not the driver. Make sure the knitting is something that doesn’t require too much concentration, however. It’s remarkably easy to get carsick if you don’t look up now and then, as I discovered in a rather unseemly manner on the NY thruway. And if you are doing something that requires concentration, let people know. “I’m on the lace section. No one speak for the next 20 miles” may seem draconian, but we do what we have to do.
2) Keep it local. How many of us have “souvenir skeins” we’ve picked up when traveling? If you go on vacation, take the time to suss out local yarn stores, and ask them if they carry any local yarns. Not only are you supporting the local economy and indie dyers, but single-skein projects = perfect traveling projects.
3) Keep it light. Lighter fibers like linen, cotton, and bamboo readily lend themselves to summer projects as they are more comfortable to handle than the heavier wools of autumn and winter. Bristol Ivy’s Linum Tee is about to go onto my needles, while one of my favorite resources for the lighter side of knitting is Corrina Ferguson’s Warm Days, Cool Knits. Tanks, tees, and shawls are relatively quick to knit and lend themselves to moving between summer’s heat and over-air-conditioned buildings.
4) Keep it local, part 2. Speaking of air conditioning, your local yarn store can be your best friend during the hottest months. I lived for years in an attic apartment where even the toothpaste got appallingly hot every summer. Hanging out at my LYS not only kept me cool, but also let me make friends, help others, and help support a local business.
5) Keep it real. We all fall victim to delusions of grandeur in our knitting and there is such a thing as planning too far ahead. “I can totally get this queen-size alpaca afghan done in time for Christmas” can quickly become “I am dying of heatstroke and have developed a weird rash from 15 pounds of alpaca in my lap.” This is a prime example of one who knits not wisely but too well.
Whatever your plans are this summer, I hope you can make ample time for knitting!