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

Gauge

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

Yoke

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.

Finishing

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!