Summer Yarns 101

Knowledge Summer

Summer time, and the living is easy - well, it will be if you are clad in lovely, light, breathable yarns, rather than swathed in layers of heavy wool. But which yarn should you choose? And how do they behave? Read on for a quick guide to our favourite yarns for summer knits!

Summer knits, generally, are based on plant fibres. These yarn types are just the thing in the heat, as they:

 - Drape well
 - Wick moisture away from the body, keeping you feeling nice and cool
 - Are soft and smooth to wear, with minimal irritation to the skin

Summer plant based yarns are fantastic choices for:
 - T-shirts or tank tops
 - Lightweight shawls and wraps
 - Home accessories such as dishcloths, baskets, face washers and table settings

And remember, plant-based yarns, if spun by themselves or blended with another plant fibre are vegan friendly!

Now let's take a look at the most popular summer yarns we stock!

Cotton

The most common of the summer yarns, cotton has so many great qualities! It:
- Transfers heat away from the body, helping keep you cool
- Is great for crochet garments and toys
- Takes dyes easily, so comes in a entire rainbow of colours
- Gives beautiful stitch definition
- Smooth and comfortable to wear

Cotton comes in the following types:

Organic Cotton
- Grown without pesticides, organic cotton is a great choice for those concerned about toxins in our environment.

Both our Alba 4 ply and Cottonwood 8 ply are organic cottons - so many pretty colours in each!

Mercerised Cotton
- If extra strength and added lustre is what you desire in a cotton yarn, then mercerised cotton is your friend! The mercerisation of the fibres causes the cotton fibres to swell and straighten, giving it a distinct shine and durability that can be used to great effect.
- Retains the lustre after repeated washes

Sunshine is a beautiful 10 ply mercerised cotton - the lustre is amazing!

Upcycled cotton
A fantastic choice for anybody who cares about sustainability in fashion, upcycled cotton is made from recycled cotton textiles, rather than it being sent to landfill. All components of a garment, including size labels and thread are included in the yarn - nothing goes to waste! The upcycling process also uses far less water than conventional cotton production, so it's a win win for the environment!

Reborn Denim is our gorgeous 5 ply upcycled cotton - the texture is stunning for relaxed summer garments!

Linen

If a fibre has been used by humankind since 8000 BC, you know it's a winner! 

Linen is:
- Stronger than both cotton and silk
- Can feel stiff initially, but softens up after repeated washes
- Is both antifungal and antibacterial - it's a superhero fibre!
- Because it is so bad at retaining heat it's great at keeping you cool and fresh in a hot climate.
- It is also an incredibly sustainable fibre - the plant requires little water to grow, and processing the fibre requires far less water than cotton fibre production.

Studio Linen is our 5 ply linen/viscose blend - it has a dry hand feel with the loveliest drape!

Silk

This natural fibre is the ultimate in luxury! Made from the discarded cocoons of silkworms, silk has beautiful lustre, can be dyed vivid colours and is a strong yet drapey fibre. 

It works best in garments that require drape, like summer tank tops and shawls. Not suitable for homewares, this deluxe yarn is best saved for special garments you will treasure wearing!

Soft Silk is our 4 ply 100% silk yarn - with a slightly slubby texture it gives a true silk finish to your projects.

Checking that gauge!

The drape on plant based yarns is amazing, but they behave very differently to wool-based fibres! As plant fibres have no memory, or elastic bounciness they will drape and block out differently to wool, so make sure you do a gauge swatch - wash and block your swatch before measuring!

You may also find that your gauge changes as you knit - once again, due to no elasticity in the fibre you may find the garment grows more than you anticipated. This is often why summer garments contain positive ease - it's more forgiving if your tension changes as you knit!

Which needles to use?

Plant based yarns can be slippery to work with, so bamboo needles are often a good choice if you would like a bit more grip than metal or plastic needles.

What about blends?

Oftentimes you'll find plant fibres are blended with other fibres, such as wool, alpaca or mohair to provide the best of both worlds. Each fibre will bring it's unique qualities to the mix - if you are unsure about which one to use for a project, it's always a good idea to be guided by what your pattern/designer has recommended for the item. Plus you can always ask us if you have any questions about yarn suitability!

So if you have yet to tackle a summer yarn, hopefully this guide has been of some help! Drapey, breathable and cool to wear - plant fibres are your friend in the heat!


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