Striped Summer Shirt

There was a great big, old, white clapboard house near where I spent my summers as a kid. The shutters were white. The doors were white. The fence that wrapped around the vast corner lot was even white. And under each and every window was a white flowerbox overflowing with brilliant red geraniums. A house that nearly disappeared during the snowy winters was enlivened every summer by those rows of exuberant red.

While a lot of red is pretty powerful stuff, a well-balanced dash of it adds vibrancy and spice, elegance and timelessness.

To design a shirt evocative of that beautiful home from my memories I turned to Habu Textiles. The white “clapboard” backdrop is a narrow ribbon-like yarn called Silk Gima. The silk stitches create a subtle texture perfect for planting my “flowers”:  garter ridges of red and salmon in Habu’s Linen Wrapped Silk. This multi-fibered yarn creates depth within the stripes and a glow, not unlike those sun-lit geraniums, where the colors transition from one to the next.

This Striped Summer Shirt is my flowerboxes. Summer is nearing, and I am ready and raring to sport these charming stripes! –Laura

PS: In a sailor boy mood? Click below to see an alternate blue color palette!


  • Main Color (MC): 7 (8, 9, 10, 11) skeins of Habu's Silk Gima, 100% silk. I used the color 00 White.
  • Contrast Color 1 (CC1): 2 cones of Habu's Linen Wrapped Silk, 99% silk, 1 % linen. I used the color 5 Red.
  • Contrast Color 2 (CC2): 1 cone of Habu's Linen Wrapped Silk, 99% silk, 1 % linen. I used the color 8 Salmon.
  • A US #2, 32-inch circular needle (A circular needle is required because the stitch pattern, when worked flat, requires you to slide the stitches from one end of the needle to the other. I highly recommend using Skacel's Addi Turbo Rocket circular needles. They have the tips of Skacel’s lace needles and the body of their original nickel-plated Addi Turbos!)
  • A US #2, 12 or 16-inch circular needle (optional; for picking up and working upper sleeves)
  • A set of US #2 double pointed needles
  • 1 removable stitch marker

For a blue colorway…

  • MC: 7 (8, 9, 10, 11) skeins of Habu's Silk Gima, 100% silk. In the color 00 White.
  • CC1: 3 (3, 4, 4, 4) cones of Habu's Wool Crepe, 100% wool. This is the color 3 Blue.
  • CC2: 2 cones of Habu's Wool Crepe, 100% wool. This is the color 5 Light Blue.


26 stitches and 35 ½ rows = 4 inches in striped stitch pattern, blocked (See BEGIN STRIPING section below for swatching in the round and/or see CONTINUE BACK EVENLY for swatching flat.)

NOTE: Blocking this fabric drastically changes the gauge, so it is essential you block your gauge swatch. I suggest submerging your swatch in water rather than simply spritzing or steaming it. After submerging, gently squeeze out any excess water, then lay the swatch flat on a towel and pin in place to dry. Allow the swatch to dry completely before you measure the gauge.


XSmall (Small, Medium, Large, XLarge)

  • Finished Chest Circumference: 34 ½ (38 ¾, 42 ½, 46 ¾, 50 ½) inches
  • Finished Length from Shoulder to Bottom Edge: 21 3/4 (22 ¼, 22 ¾, 23 1/2, 24) inches
  • Finished Length from Underarm to Bottom Edge: 14 inches, with directions to modify
  • Length from Center of Neck to Cuff: 26 ½ (27 ½, 28 ½, 29 ½, 30 ½) inches
  • Ease: This piece is designed with a 2 to 3-inch ease.




sskp (slip slip knit pass): slip two stitches together knitwise, knit 1, pass slipped stitches together over knit stitch and off needle. [2 stitches decreased]



Begin at Bottom Edge

With MC, cast 224 (252, 276, 304, 328) stitches onto the longer circular needle. Place marker and join for working in the round being careful to not twist the stitches.

Work in stockinette stitch, knitting each round, until piece measures 1 1/2 inches from the unrolled cast on edge.

Begin Striping

NOTE: For our Working Stripes in the Round Tutorial, please click here.

Round 1: With CC1, knit.

Round 2: With CC1, purl.

Rounds 3, 4 and 5: With MC, knit.

Repeat Rounds 1-5 twenty one more times (or until pieces measures approximately 10 ½ inches from unrolled cast on edge, unblocked). Don’t be alarmed at how short the Body may look at this point; it is designed to block to 14 inches. To alter the bottom-hem-to-underarm length multiply your desired length by ¾ and work to that unblocked measurement.

Divide Front and Back

Round 1: With CC1, knit 112 (126, 138, 152, 164) stitches, place these stitches on hold for FRONT, knit to end of round. [112 (126, 138, 152, 164) stitches remain for BACK]


NOTE: You will now be working back and forth in rows rather than in the round. Each row in this pattern ends with the instructions to either "turn" or "slide" the work:

"Turn" means to do what you would normally do when knitting rows with a circular needle. That is to say, put the needle in your left hand into your right and the needle in your right hand into your left, and flip the work around so the opposite side is facing you.

"Slide" means to keep the same side of the work facing you and to push all the stitches to the right end of the circular needle. Without turning the work, start the new row as you normally would.

Shape Back Sleeves

Row 1 (wrong side): With CC1, knit to end of Back stitches, slide.

Cut CC1.

Row 2 (wrong side): With MC, purl to end, turn.

Row 3 (right side): With MC, cable cast on 6 stitches, knit across these cast on stitches and then knit to end, turn. [118 (132, 144, 158, 170) Back stitches]

Row 4 (wrong side) With MC, cable cast on 6 stitches, purl across these cast on stitches and then purl to end, turn. [124 (138, 150, 164, 176) Back stitches]

Row 5 (right side): Join CC1, knit to end, turn.

Row 6 (wrong side): With CC1, knit to end, turn.

Cut CC1.

Row 7 (right side): With MC, knit to end, turn.

Row 8 (wrong side): With MC, cable cast on 6 stitches, purl across these cast on stitches and then purl to end, turn. [130 (144, 156, 170, 182) Back stitches]

Row 9 (right side): With MC, cable cast on 6 stitches, knit across these cast on stitches and then knit to end, slide. [136 (150, 162, 176, 188) Back stitches]

Row 10 (right side): Join CC1, knit to end, turn.

Cut CC1.

Continue Back Evenly

NOTE: For this section do not cut CC2 between stripes. Loosely carry CC2 up the edge to minimize the number of ends you’ll have to weave in.

Join CC2 on wrong side...

Row 1 (wrong side): With CC2, knit to end, slide.

Row 2 (wrong side): With MC, purl to end, turn.

Row 3 (right side): With MC, knit to end, turn.

Row 4 (wrong side): With MC, purl to end, turn.

Row 5 (right side): With CC2, knit to end, turn.

Row 6 (wrong side): With CC2, knit to end, turn.

Row 7 (right side): With MC, knit to end, turn.

Row 8 (wrong side): With MC, purl to end, turn.

Row 9 (right side): With MC, knit to end, slide.

Row 10 (right side): With CC2, knit, turn.

Repeat Rows 1-10 five (five, six, six, seven) more times.

FOR SIZES -- (Small, --, Large, --) ONLY

Repeat Rows 1-5 one more time.


Next Row (wrong side): With CC2, knit 36 (43, 47, 53, 59) stitches, place these stitches on hold for BACK LEFT SHOULDER, loosely bind off following 64 (64, 68, 70, 70) stitches for NECK, knit to end, place previous 36 (43, 47, 53, 59) stitches on hold for BACK RIGHT SHOULDER.

Cut CC2 and MC.


Shape Front Sleeves

Slip FRONT on-hold stitches onto longer circular needle. Join CC1 to wrong side and...

Work Rows 1-10 of the SHAPE BACK SLEEVES section, above.

Continue Front Evenly

Work Rows 1-10 of the CONTINUE BACK EVENLY section, above, six (six, seven, seven, eight) times.

For Sizes -- (Small, --, Large, --) Only

Work Rows 1-5 in the CONTINUE BACK EVENLY section, above, one more time.

For All Sizes

Next Row (wrong side): With CC2, knit 36 (43, 47, 53, 59) stitches, place these stitches on hold for FRONT RIGHT SHOULDER, loosely bind off following 64 (64, 68, 70, 70) stitches for NECK, knit to end. [36 (43, 47, 53, 59) stitches remain on needle for FRONT LEFT SHOULDER]

Cut MC.


Left Shoulder

With the FRONT LEFT SHOULDER stitches already on the longer circular needle, working from neck-side to shoulder-side, slip the BACK LEFT SHOULDER stitches onto the other end of the needle. The tips of the needle should point away from the center of the sweater.

Holding the needles parallel in your left hand, use either the shorter circular needle or a double pointed needle to work a 3-needle bind off to graft the shoulder stitches together. For our 3-Needle Bind Off Tutorial, click here.

Cut CC2.

Right Shoulder

Orient the FRONT RIGHT SHOULDER stitches and BACK RIGHT SHOULDER stitches onto the longer circular needle as you did for the left shoulder stitches. Join CC2, and once again use a 3-needle bind off to graft the shoulder stitches together.

Cut CC2.


Seam Underarm

NOTE: Before you seam together the cable cast on edges at the underarm, it’ll make your job easier if you first weave in the Contrast Color tails, just around this area.

To seam the first underarm, hold the FRONT and BACK cable cast on edges parallel. Use a tapestry needle threaded with the MC yarn and seam together these edges, starting at the armpit and working outward. Sew under the knit stitch at the cast on edge of one side and then under the knit stitch directly opposite. Continue back and forth until you reach the end.

Pick Up for the Sleeve and Start Striping

With right side facing and starting to the left of the underarm seam, use the shorter circular or double pointed needles and CC2 to pick up a total of 77 (83, 89, 95, 101) stitches around the armhole. To do this, first pick up 2 stitches from MC stitches to the left of the seam; then continue up the armhole, picking up 1 stitch for each MC row and 1 stitch at the 3-needle bind off ridge; then continue down the other side, picking up 1 stitch for each MC row; and lastly, pick up 2 stitches from MC stitches just before the underarm seam. Place removable stitch marker and join for working in the round [77 (89, 89, 89, 101) stitches]

Round 1: With CC2, purl.

Rounds 2, 3 and 4: With MC, knit.

Round 5: With CC2, knit.

Cut CC2.

Transition Colors and Continue Evenly

Round 1: With CC1, purl.

Rounds 2, 3 and 4: With MC, knit.

Round 4: With CC1, knit.

Repeat Rounds 1-5 six (five, three, two, zero) more times.

Shape Sleeve

NOTE: If using a 12- or 16-inch circular needle, remember to switch to double pointed needles when necessary.

Round 1: With CC1, purl.

Round 2: With MC knit.

Round 3: Remove beginning-of-round marker, with MC, k1, mark previous stitch with removable stitch marker, knit to one stitch before marked stitch, remove removable stitch marker and place on right needle.

Round 4: With MC, slip slip knit pass (sskp; see NOTES above), knit to end. [2 stitches decreased]

Round 5: With CC1, knit.

Repeat Rounds 1-5 thirteen (15, 17, 19, 22) more times [49 (51, 53, 55, 55) stitches

Continue Evenly

Round 1: With CC1, purl.

Rounds 2, 3 and 4: With MC, knit.

Round 4: With CC1, knit.

Repeat Rounds 1- 5 three (2, 2, 1, 0) more time(s) or until 1 ½ inches shy of finished length.

Cut CC1.

With MC, knit evenly for 1 1/2 inches.

Bind off loosely.

Repeat the entire SLEEVES section for second sleeve.


Block sweater and allow to dry completely before you weave in the ends.

Click here to add a comment

34 Responses to Striped Summer Shirt

  1. Laura B says:

    Beautiful project and story! Love it!

  2. Allison says:

    Love this summer sweater! I can't knit fast enough to keep up with all your wonderful patterns!

  3. Angie S. says:

    I love it! The yarn combination is really fantastic and seems like it would make a nice summery fabric.

  4. Jennie says:

    LOVE THIS! Can't wait to cast on!

    Thanks for another brilliant pattern.

  5. Vintage Geek says:

    I wish this was a crochet pattern! I am in love with this sweater!

  6. petra says:

    Dear Purlbee,
    this sweater is lovely – I totally am going to knit this one. The stripes gives this feeling of summer!

    However, I have a yarn question – I have knit with the cotton gima previously and had a really hard time to keep a small a gauge. I think I was able to do 24 stitches for 4 inch on a # 1 needle while nearly strangulating the yarn, no way I could go down to the 26 the pattern is asking for. And I assume that the washing relaxes the fabric even more? Any hints? I am a pretty experienced knitter and being off by so much is unusual for me, maybe choice of needles helps?

    thanks for all the lovely patterns!

  7. It is so lovely and just makes me wish yet again that I was a knitter! xx

  8. bette says:

    Is there any thought to ever posting a size smaller than a 34"? There are some of us out there that are more petite and would love to have a pattern that does not need to be adjusted to fit.

  9. purl bee says:

    Hi Petra,
    This yarn is the Silk Gima, not the Cotton Gima. You may be able to get the right gauge with the Silk rather than the Cotton. If not, have you thought of making the size smaller, but at your gauge? I can help you trouble shoot if you'd like.
    Let me know if you have any questions!

  10. purl bee says:

    Hi Bette-

    We try to accommodate as many people as possible with our sizing but unfortunately we don't always go small enough or large enough for everyone. We certainly want our patterns to be accessible to all sizes and we're so sorry if you've felt left out!

    This particular pattern is meant to be a little oversized so the XSmall might work out for you since the 34 1/2" measurement is the finished chest circumference, not the wearers size. I have a 33-inch bust and the XSmall fit me well but if I were making it for myself I would actually want to make the Small size to make it slouchy. I think the Xsmall size would look nice on anyone with a 30-34-inch bust.

    I hope this helps and thanks so much for writing in with your concern!


    ps- We just posted a picture of me wearing this project on Instagram if you want to get a better sense of how it fits:

  11. Ana says:

    Thanks for such a beautiful pattern. I would like to do it in the blue colourway but wanted to be certain the amount of Wool Crepe you require (3 cones total) is correct as the yardage of the Wool Crepe is much less than the Linen Wrapped Silk.

    Please advise. Many thanks!

  12. teknits says:

    Could you reverse the colors and use the Linen Wrapped Silk as the MC and the Silk Gima as the CC? I love red! Would it mess up the gauge? I really like so many of your patterns, but, forgive me, the sticker shock of your yarn is so discouraging that I have yet to make a design with your materials. Changing the colors around like this, if it were feasible, could make using not only your great pattern, but at least two of the yarns possible.

  13. purl bee says:

    Thank you so very much for bringing this to my attention. I have updated the skein requirement for the blue colorway.
    Thanks again!!!

  14. Strix says:

    Can this be made without stripes? If so, is there any special instruction you'd advise?

    I like the construction of this shirt; and your instructions look doable for a knitter like me who isn't' an expert in sweaters!
    Thanks :^)

  15. HK says:

    Hi – I love this new summer sweater! I ordered the red and white yarns from Purl Soho and can't wait to cast on. I was wondering, though, if you know about how colorfast the red yarns are? I worry about the red stripes running when I wash and block the sweater. Do you have any tips/tricks to help prevent this from happening? Thanks! hk

  16. Sara says:

    I love the look of this sweater. I'm not the best sweater knitter, and I actually am really terrible at joining arms to body. I've never tried the method you use where you pick up stitches and shape the arms that way, I will probably have much better luck with it this way! Definitely on my knitting list for this summer :)

  17. debbie says:

    I really like this sweater. My budget doesn't allow for such pricey yarn. Any thoughts for something a wee bit cheaper. Thanks.

  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Strix,
    This could definitely be made without the stripes. The pattern is specifically written for the stripes, so there will be some adjustments / modifications you'll have to make once you divide the front and back and are working flat rather than in the round.

    In general though… rather than working the row rounds or rows with the CC, instead just do one round / row of reverse stockinette.

    I am here for any questions you may have along the way though. Just write in and we'll trouble shoot together.
    Thanks for writing in.

  19. purl bee says:

    Hi teknits,
    Switching the yarns is going to create a whole different piece. The yarns behave quite differently and reversing the MC and CC will produce a very different fabric. That said, it's definitely worth a shot. The CC yarns are much thinner so the fabric will be much more transparent. The fabric, I imagine will also have more drape. And yes, of course, the gauge will probably change as well, especially the row gauge I think.

    My apologies for the sticker shock. We try to make projects of varying costs. I understand this project is on the expensive side. These new Habu yarns were incredible inspiring and we couldn't resist working them up into a sweater!

    The Silk Gima could be replaced with something like…
    Louet's Euroflax:
    Alchemy's Silken Straw:
    Cascade's Ultra Pima:

    Thank you for writing in. If you do invert the MC and CC yarns… I'd love to hear how it goes!

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi HK.
    Great question. I'm glad you wrote in. I was worried about the same thing. I blocked my gauge swatch and had no problems with the CC yarns bleeding or running.

    With the garment, I wet blocked this piece, totally submerged it in water. Neither the red or the salmon yarns ran at all. They are extremely colorfast.
    Thanks again for asking.

    PS: July 22, 2014: A customer did experience running when she paired Habu's Linen Wrapped Silk with Alchemy's Silken Straw as the Main Color. Again, I had no issues with colors running, but I highly recommend fully blocking your swatch before beginning the project.

    • HK says:

      I did not experience any bleeding when I washed my gauge swatch.

      Alchemy’s Silken Straw bleeds A LOT — I have knit the Silken Straw Summer Sweater 5 times and experienced copious bleeding each time when washing the finished sweater. Because this is a hand-wash project, though, and uses only one color (no striping), the bleeding hasn’t been a problem for me. However, I don’t believe I’d use Silken Straw for the Striped Summer Shirt.

      • Laura from the Purl Bee says:

        Thanks for letting us know! This is incredibly helpful. Appreciate you writing in.

  21. purl bee says:

    Hey Debbie.
    I'd love to give you some suggestions for alternate yarns.I believe the Gima (MC yarn) is the more costly of the two. It could be replaced with something like…
    Louet's Euroflax:
    Alchemy's Silken Straw:
    Cascade's Ultra Pima:

    As for the CC yarn, here is a link to all of our lace weight yarns:

    If you have any questions about these yarns I've suggested or any other yarns you've found or are considering using, please feel free to ask. I'm happy to discuss the best alternatives.

  22. Šárka says:

    Now this really has SUMMER written all over it! Lovely top and thanks for the pattern!

  23. Ocean says:

    It looks like the silk gima is sold out on your site. Any chance you know when you will have the 00 colour back in stock?
    Thanks! I can't wait to get the materials to knit this beautiful sweater!

  24. beautiful project I like

  25. purl bee says:

    Hi Ocean-

    Please email customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com and they will be happy to let you know when we expect more of this yarn in.

    Thank you!


  26. Susan says:

    Can't wait to make it!

  27. Roberta says:

    I have never used these yarns and am concerned with the silk Gima. It feels very rough and rubbery to me. Does this relax and soften up after it is wet and blocked? Also in blocking do you recommend submersing it in water and then blocking and letting it air dry? I'm knitting this for my daughter-in-law and don't want to blow it.

  28. purl bee says:

    Hi Roberta,
    Great question… YES! the Gima does soften up and become soft once it's been blocked. I blocked it by submerging it and then laying it flat to air dry.
    What a lucky daughter-in-law you have!
    Thanks for writing in.

  29. tracy says:

    hi there,
    just wondering if i should adjust the gauge or something for the red colorway…it cautions that it shrinks when washed? i don’t want to end up with a smocked sweater.
    thank you!

  30. Laura from the Purl Bee says:

    Hey Tracy,
    Thanks for writing in. I haven’t experienced any shrinking with washing, but I appreciate the heads up!

    I highly encourage you (and everyone) to block your swatch in whatever way you plan on blocking or washing your final product. That way you’ll have a great idea of how the fabric is going to behave and you can troubleshoot accordingly.
    Thanks again for writing in. And let me know about your experience for sure!

  31. barbara says:

    I love your pattern for the striped summer shirt BUT the materials alone are extremely expensive. Can you site some alternate yarns that might not break the bank?

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