Silken Straw Summer Sweater

I've always been surprised by knitters who put their needles down for the summer. How do they occupy their hands for those three months? I've wondered. Do they take up smoking? Even if I'd ever been able to break my knitting habit, I've never really seen a reason to. After all, some of nature's most beautiful fiber creations are best experienced on a hot day under the shade of a great big tree!

One of my all-time favorite summer yarns is Alchemy's Silken Straw. While I appreciate the gorgeous hand dyed color, what really makes Silken Straw so special is its one-of-a-kind texture. Rustic and elegant at the same time, Silken Straw is the perfect blend of country and city mouse. Plus its cool, crisp touch is just what I want when the thermometer is rising, never clingy or sticky!

The Silken Straw Summer Sweater is designed to cover you in just a whisper of silk. A slip of a sweater, its beauty is its understated grace and quiet confidence. Team it up with a camisole for dinner and a movie, or throw it over your bathing suit for a sea glass hunt. So simple to knit and so easy to wear, it's just like summer itself!

The Materials

The Pattern


Unblocked: 6 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette

Blocked: 6 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette

Finished Sizes After Blocking

Small/Medium (Medium/Large)

Hip Circumference: 38 (42) inches

Chest Circumference: 36 1/2 (40 1/2 ) inches

Length from Underarm to Bottom Edge: 18 inches

NOTE: To adjust the sizing, the easiest thing to do is to alter the gauge. Silken Straw is very amenable to gauge variations! Just divide the cast on number by your stitch-per-inch number and you'll know the hip measurement. For example, if you're knitting at 5 1/2  blocked stitches to the inch and you follow the Medium/Large pattern, you'll end up with 45 3/4 inch hips (252 divided by 5.5 = 45.8).

The Body

With the 24 inch circular needle, cast on 228 (252) stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Knit every round until the piece measures 5 1/2 inches from the bottom edge (unroll the edge to measure).

Next round: K 114 (126), place marker, knit to end of round.

*Decrease Round 1: Knit to last 3 stitches, ssk, k1. (1 stitch decreased)

Decrease Round 2: K1, k2tog, knit to 3 stitches before first marker, ssk, k1, slip marker, k1, k2tog, knit to end of round. (3 stitches decreased)

Knit 7 rounds.**

Repeat from * to ** four more times. 208 (232) stitches

Knit 14 rounds.

*Increase Round 1: Knit to last stitch, make 1 right (m1r), k1. (1 stitch increased)

Increase Round 2: K1, make 1 left (m1l), knit to 1 stitch before first marker, m1r, k1, slip marker, k1, m1l, knit to end of round. (3 stitches increased)

Knit 7 rounds. **

Repeat from * to ** two more times, ending last round 6 stitches before the end marker. 220 (244) stitches

Create Underarms

Bind off 12 stitches (removing marker), knit to 7 stitches before next marker, bind off 12 stitches (removing marker), knit 98 (110) stitches to first bind off. 196 (220) stitches

Cast On for Sleeves

Place a new beginning-of-round marker; turn so the wrong side of the work is facing you and use a cable cast on to cast on 60 (65) stitches; turn so the right side of the work is facing you, and, making sure the cast on isn't twisted, knit the next 98 (110) stitches (to the next set of bound off underarm stitches); with the wrong side facing you, use a cable cast on to cast on 60 (65) stitches; with the right side facing you, and, again making sure the cast on isn't twisted, for the Medium/Large size knit to the end; OR for the Small/Medium Size, knit to the last 2 stitches, k2tog. 315 (350) stitches


Knit until the sleeve measures 2 inches from the cable cast on edge.

Decrease Round: *K3, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 252 (280) stitches.

Knit until the sleeve measures 4 inches from the cable cast on edge.

Decrease Round: *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 189 (210) stitches.

Knit until the sleeve measures 5 inches from the cable cast on edge.

Shaping Neckline

Round 1: K56 (63), bind off 18 stitches, knit to marker, remove marker, knit to beginning of neck bind off. 171 (192) stitches

Note: From now on you will be working back and forth in rows, with each row ending at the neckline.

Row 1 (wrong side): Bind off 3 stitches, purl to end of row. 168 (189) stitches

Row 2 (right side): Bind off 3 stitches, knit to end of row. 165 (186) stitches

Row 3: Bind off 2 stitches, purl to end of row. 163 (184) stitches

Row 4: Bind off 2 stitches, knit to end of row. 161 (182) stitches

Row 5: P1, p2tog, purl to the last 3 stitches, p2tog through the back loop (p2togtbl), p1. 159 (180) stitches

Row 6: K1, ssk, knit to the last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. 157 (178) stitches

Row 7: *P1, p2tog, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, p2togtbl, p1. 105 (119) stitches

Row 8: Repeat Row 6. 103 (117) stitches

Row 9: Purl.

Repeat Rows 8 and 9 two more times. 99 (113) stitches.

Bind off loosely.


Cast 3 stitches onto a double pointed needle (for the neatest possible finishing, use a Provisional Cast On).

Knit an Attached I-cord around the bottom hem of the sweater, picking up 1 stitch for each cast on stitch. (When you are finished: If you used a provisional cast on, join the beginning and end of the I-cord with the Kitchener Stitch. If you just cast on normally, bind off the I-cord and sew the beginning and end together.)

In the same way, knit Attached I-cords to the sleeve edges and around the neckline. Pick up 1 stitch for each cast on or cast off stitch; and, along the neckline, for each edge stitch.

Block your finished sweater by first soaking it in room temperature water and a mild detergent (I love Soak because you don't have to rinse it!). Squeeze out the excess water first with your hands, then by rolling the sweater in a dry towel. Finally, lay your sweater flat on another dry towel. You'll notice that the sweater grows a bit when you block it and also that the silk really softens. Your sweater won't continue to grow each time you wash it, but it will continue to get softer and softer! Enjoy!

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72 Responses to Silken Straw Summer Sweater

  1. Emily says:

    Do you think this pattern is doable on straight needles? I'm pretty good at adapting from in the round to–back and forth? Is that what we call it? Anyways, I'm good at adapting, and could probably do so with this, but I don't know if seams would destroy the way the garment hangs. Your opinion?

  2. Sue says:

    Could I use a single crochet on the edge rather than the attached I-cord? Would this achieve a comparable edge? Thanks! Loved knitting the sweater.

  3. purl bee says:

    Hi Emily,

    I think side seams would be fine! They'd add a little structure to the sweater, but this yarn is so drapey and soft, that I don't think you'd loose much in the way of fluidity!

    Thanks for asking and good luck!


  4. Megan Morton says:

    Lovely…..I just ordered yarn to make this one and the Cable Back Shell. Cannot wait! Would the Cascade Yarn "Ultra Pima" work for this as well? Thank you!

  5. purl bee says:

    Hi Sue,

    I'm not totally sure that a single crochet edge will keep at bay stockinette's desire to curl as well as the attached I-cord does, but I certainly think it's worth a try!

    Let us know the outcome and thanks for your question!

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Megan,

    The Ultra Pima Fine would work, although, because it is a bit thicker, it wouldn't have the same loose, open knit as the Silken Straw.

    Let me know if you have any more questions and thanks for this one!


  7. Rachel N says:

    Was hoping for some suggestions on slight alterations to the shape. I have 37" hips but a 39" bust, so would really need more like the S/M for the hips but the the L for the bust size. Any suggestions on how to combine?

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Our correspondence got accidentally deleted during some recent site construction, but luckily I have on file your latest question! For curious readers, Sharon was asking about neatly picking up stitches around the neckline. Her follow-up question was…

    thank you that was helpful. So, when I come to the part where the cast off makes a "corner" I should dip down and eliminate the corner and create a curve?

    And my answer is, yes, try that! I think you'll find you get a smoother shape.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions and thank you so much for these!


  9. purl bee says:

    Hi Shelley,

    I hate to be the one to tell you this, but one thing Silken Straw is not very good at is shrinking. Growing, yes, but getting smaller, no. I'm so sorry! I hope you eventually have the heart to try it again!


  10. Jaci Graham says:

    I just completed the sweater after several false starts. I started with the larger size and ripped that out after about five inches. I then knitted the smaller size and that turned out too big by the time it was completed. The attached I cord was not keeping the edges from rolling so after trying that I put double crochet around all the edges. I found 1/4 inch opaque chiffon ribbon on a spool from Joannes' and put it through the eyelet formed by the crochet. By pulling up the ribbon and tying it off to pull in the edges the sweater is now really cute. The single crochet edge helps keep the edges from rolling. This yarn is lovely and I love the finished appearance but It is difficult to knit on aluminum needles and I had to switch to bamboo to keep from having the stitches slide off when I wasn't paying close attention.

  11. Kristy says:


    I'm really enjoying knitting this for our upcoming Australian summer. Hoping for a clarification around the cablecast on for the sleeves. The linked tutorial directs turn the work so the WS is facing – when working in the round should i turn the work so the needle that has been in my right is now in my left, cast on the stitches (to the now left, but originally right needle) swap the needles back to the other hands then keep knitting. the new stitches won't be knitter into until the next round.

    Hopefully my question is clear!

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Kristy,

    Your question is perfectly clear and you are perfectly correct!

    Thanks for asking. Enjoy your sweater and your summer (so jealous right now!).


  13. Shelley says:

    Thank you so much for this pattern. It's EXACTLY what I've been looking for for several months.

  14. Deb says:

    I'd like to upsize this to a 44" bust, but don't really know how/where to adjust the numbers.

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Deb,

    If you're not sure how to adjust a sweater pattern to a new size, you may feel more comfortable adjusting the gauge of this pattern (check out the Note in the Finished Sizes section for more info on this subject). For a 44-inch chest circumference, you would want to knit at 5 1/2 blocked stitches to the inch. This will also give you a 45 3/4-inch hip circumference. The Silken Straw is very amenable to small changes in gauge like this!

    Please let us know if you have any more questions; we'd be happy to help!


  16. Liz Belonogoff says:

    Is it possible to do an i-cord cast on for this sweater? If so, how would it be joined?

  17. Gitte says:

    At the armhole bind-offs, why begin 6 stitches before the first marker but 7 stitches before the second one? This gives 111 and 109 stitches between the two bind offs instead of 110 x 2, which seems to be what is intended – or am I missing something?

    Very attractive pattern, by the way – thank you!

  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Gitte,

    Pattern writing can get pretty wonky when bind offs are concerned! In this case, you'll knit 7 stitches past the first marker to bind off the 12 stitches and six stitches past the second marker. It really does end up so the front and back sides are equal, but I agree that it doesn't look like it's going to work out when you read the pattern. Try doing it!

    Thanks so much for your question and please let us know if you run into any problems!


  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Marilyn,

    Yes, you do turn the work so the wrong side is facing you.

    Since turning the work is part of how to make a cable cast on, I haven't normally explained that step within the pattern, but since you (and two others) were confused, I've added clarification to the pattern (and will add it to future cable cast on instructions!). Thank you so much for letting me know and for helping other knitters of the Silken Straw Summer Sweater!

    I hope you love yours and good luck with finishing it! Please let us know if you have any more questions!


  20. I am on the neck shaping, and I noticed that between rows 6 and 7, the number of stitches goes from 178 to 119. Am I missing something? How many total stitches should I have around the neck when all of the decreases have been made? That is, how many stitches should still be on the needle? thanks.

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Gretchen,

      At the end of Row 6 you should have 178 stitches. Row 7 then says to *P1, p2tog, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, p2togtbl, p1. That means that you’re essentially purling one stitch, then purling two together over and over across the entire row, which is why you end up with 119 stitches. By the end of the Shaping Neckline section you will have 113 stitches.

      I hope this clarifies things for you. Please let us know if you still have questions and thank you for these!


  21. I love this pattern

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