It’s sweltering on the Aegean today! If you’re travelling to the sun this summer (perhaps escaping the gloomy torrents of British rain?), you’ll want to do a little thinking and preparation before you get there, to ensure you get the most out of your knitting time. Even if you live somewhere where it regularly gets hot in summer, you might find some of these tips helpful in keeping you cool and keeping you knitting.
What to Knit
- Naturally, something light and lacy is better than a big, thick piece of knitting.
- Loosen up. Thin yarn with large needles is perfect. Knitting too tightly can be hard work at the best of times, let alone when it’s too hot to move.
- Knit something circular, so you don’t have to keep turning rows. Basic socks, hats, and other accessories are just the thing.
- Knit something that you can wear even in the heat. Summer hats, sleeveless tops, and lacy beach wraps are about all you’ll want to wear if it’s really hot.
- Avoid knitting anything complicated. I know we all get tricked into thinking that the summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on knitting, but if the weather’s hot, chances are you won’t feel like working on much at all. There are several reasons for this:
- The heat can add to your frustration if you’re knitting something too fiddly, especially if you make a mistake! Even if you’re not a tight knitter, 20 K3togs in a row are enough to make anyone’s brain boil.
- If you’re knitting outside, in bright sunlight, it will be very tiring for your eyes to be scrutinising your knitting & the pattern all the time.
- You’re meant to be relaxing!
- It’s more fun if you don’t have to keep referring to instructions, and you don’t have to carry them around and make sure they don’t blow away.
- If it’s hot, it’s too hot to think. Take it easy.
- If possible, avoid wool. It’s meant to keep animals warm, and it’s hairy and sticky. Consider knitting with plant fibers such as cotton, linen, hemp, or bamboo, (or loveliest of all, silk) which will keep you cooler and won’t stick to your fingers (as much). The latter are also better because they’re easier to launder and dry quicker.
- Knitting with light-coloured yarns is good for the same reason that wearing light-coloured clothing (or being blonde) is good in summer – light colours reflect more light and stay cooler.
- Thin yarns are preferable to bulky yarns because they take less effort and won’t lie heavy in your lap.
How to Knit
- Knit indoors, in the shade, or at night. If you have air conditioning, it’s also pretty handy!
- Put your knitting (or just your needles) in the fridge for a few hours before you begin.
- Knit on a table or tray to keep your knitting off your lap.
- Although they can be a bit slippery when knitting something light-weight, aluminium (or similar light metal) needles keep cooler, and don’t stick to the yarn even if your fingers are damp. Avoid plastic needles if you can.
- Keep a towel handy to dry your hands and arms if they get sticky.
- Keep a cool drink handy. You can also use it to keep track of rows by moving it from one side of your chair to the other.
- Knitting and tanning don’t mix. Unless you want greasy knitting, and a knitting-shaped pale patch, just listen to a knitting podcast instead.
- If you can knit while travelling, it’s a good idea to invest in a compact yarn or project bag, to ensure that your yarn stays clean, and that you don’t lose anything. If you’re flying, you’ll also want to check airline regulations concerning taking knitting needles on board.
- I find it’s usually a good idea to begin the project before I begin travelling, since getting going is usually the trickiest bit and is easier accomplished when you’re not cramped, or bouncing around.
- If you’re packing yarn, vacuum bags are convenient space-savers, and have the added benefit of keeping your yarn clean, smell-free, and safe from snags. Don’t forget, though, that you might not be able to find a vacuum cleaner at your destination.
- If you’re taking your laptop or Kindle, and you don’t mind following instructions off the screen, then digital patterns are the most convenient format for travelling. If you plan far enough ahead, you could even scan patterns from books. Knitting books tend to be bulky, so if you want to travel light, I recommend you at least take photocopies of the patterns you need. Read through the pattern first to make sure there aren’t any extra instructions or abbreviations on another page.
- Small but vital tools are most easily forgotten. I recommend you pack a toolkit in a small tin or graze box. Here are some items you might need:
- tapestry needles (easily lost, take a couple),
- scissors (or yarn cutters),
- ruler (and measuring tape if you want),
- stitch markers,
- cable needles,
- stitch holders,
- crochet hook.
- Research local yarn stores at your destination before you leave. You might find some yarns that are new to you, and you’ll save having to carry lots of superfluous yarn to and fro. Google & Ravelry are your friends for finding LYSs.
What I’m Knitting
I’m knitting an amazingly simple triangular garter stitch shawl out of a light, soft, mohair-blend I purchased at the LYS. Admittedly, I’m not following my own advice in terms of yarn choice, but it’s light and slippery, and doesn’t bother me, which is the main thing. The pattern is the KniTwit Shawl. At less than 140 characters, you can’t get much more compact than that!