Just because it’s summertime doesn’t mean you can’t knit & crochet your own clothes! This guide will help you choose the perfect yarn for making breezy, comfy summer garments.
So, now it’s summer. The time to knit and crochet warm hats, chunky scarves, and snuggly sweaters is over. But guess what? You can still make and wear knitted and crocheted clothing, even when it feels like an oven outside.
The secret is, you have to choose just the right yarn.
Why? Many yarns that work great for cold-weather projects are terrible for warm-weather projects. A cozy, insulating fabric is great for when it’s cold, but if it’s hot out, that fabric will trap your body heat and not allow your skin to breathe. What fun is wearing your own creations if you’re not comfortable?
So, here are my top 7 tips for choosing the perfect summer yarn:
Tip #1: Cotton is your Friend
Yarns made from cotton are great for summer, as cotton is naturally lightweight and breathable. This also goes for just about any other plant fiber as well. Think bamboo, linen, hemp, rayon, modal, and ramie. (By the way, pima or supima cotton is extra luxurious!)
Tip #2: Thinner is Better
While there are some thicker yarns that work well for summer garments, thinner yarns produce a very lightweight fabric. This fabric is often very drapey and comfortable. A thinner fabric usually breathes better, too. That being said, just because a yarn is very thin doesn’t mean it is a good choice for summer (see the other tips below).
Tip #3: Be Careful with Acrylics
Many acrylic yarns are rather fluffy and fuzzy, which limits the amount of air that can flow through the fabric. Acrylic yarns are often a little scratchy as well, which is rather uncomfortable in the heat. Only some types of acrylic yarns are suitable for summer, so choose cautiously! If the acrylic is blended with a plant fiber, that is generally better, but there are still some pure acrylics that can work well.
Tip #4: Open, Lacy Stitch Patterns are Ideal
When the stitches are open, that allows more airflow to pass through the fabric, keeping you cool and comfortable. Every garment does not have to be lace, though! You can use a more solid stitch pattern and just work it at a slightly larger gauge than normal. The slightly looser stitches can also allow air to pass through. A dense fabric will be more likely to trap your body heat instead of being breathable.
Tip #5: No Fuzz
It’s important to make sure that your yarn is not fuzzy. The fuzziness of the yarn can block some of the spaces between strands that allows the fabric to breathe. The smoother your yarn is, the better it will work for a summer garment.
Tip #6: No Non-Superwash Animal Fibers
If you are familiar with animal fiber yarns, you know that untreated animal fibers can felt when moisture and agitation are applied. Superwash animal fibers are treated with a soft coating to keep them from felting. If you are wearing a garment made from non-superwash animal fibers, and it’s hot outside, any perspiration on the skin combined with the friction of the fabric as you move can cause your beautiful handmade garment to felt while you are wearing it! Worse yet, felting is something you cannot undo. Once it is felted, it’s impossible to un-felt it. So, it is very important that any animal fiber yarn you use for the summer is labeled as “superwash”.
Tip #7: It Doesn’t Have to be Crochet Thread
While crochet thread does fit all of the qualifications mentioned above, it is not the only good choice for summer garments. Not everyone has the time to spend on a project made with tiny stitches and tiny thread. There are some thicker yarns that work up quickly, yet can still produce a lightweight, breathable fabric. In other words, just because a yarn is worsted weight does not mean it is unsuitable for summer. A worsted weight yarn can work well, as long as it fits most of the qualifications above.
Now that we understand how to choose a good summer yarn, let’s look at some of my favorite yarns and patterns!
Favorite Summer Yarns
Red Heart It’s A Wrap
This yarn is a cotton and acrylic blend, and is a #1 Superfine or Fingering weight. It has a smooth, fuzz-free texture, and is great for anything summery. (Shown in the “Western” colorway.)
Lion Brand Ombré Life
At first glance, this yarn may look like a very thin thread, but it’s actually made up of several threads twisted together. It’s another cotton and acrylic blend, #2 Fine weight, and makes a very light, breezy fabric. It also gradually changes color as you progress through the skein, which I love! (Shown in the “Sunrise” colorway.)
Lion Brand Comfy Cotton Blend
This yarn is a #3 Light or DK weight blend of cotton and polyester. Though it is a bit thicker, it still works well for summer, especially when worked in a loose or lacy stitch. (Shown in the “Chai Latte” colorway.)
Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton
This one is a dense, tightly spun #4 worsted weight, and is made of mercerized cotton. When cotton is mercerized, it becomes very smooth, strong, and gets a bit of sheen. 24/7 Cotton is rather rope-like, and is similar to a much thicker version of crochet thread or pearl cotton. (Shown in the “Mint” colorway.)
Lion Brand Jeans Colors
While this yarn is 100% acrylic and #4 worsted weight, it does have a smooth, nearly fuzz-free texture. It can work well for summer garments, as long as the stitches are either slightly loose or lacy to allow air to pass through. (Shown in the “Khaki” colorway.)
Red Heart Super Saver Ombré
Normally, I would never use the regular Red Heart Super Saver for a summer garment. That yarn is fluffy, fuzzy, and sometimes a bit scratchy, and is definitely not very breathable. However, the ombré version is a completely different texture. The ombré version is very smooth and fuzz-free. It is #4 worsted weight, but I think it would work well in a loose or lacy stitch. (Shown in the “Spearmint” colorway.)
Lion Brand ZZ Twist
This one is definitely my favorite summer acrylic. It’s a #4 worsted weight pure acrylic yarn, but it doesn’t even feel like acrylic! This yarn is spun with a Z-twist (hence the name), rather than the typical S-twist that most yarns have. Z-twist yarns are said to be better than S-twist for crochet, as sometimes S-twist yarns can come untwisted and split when crocheting. The texture of this yarn is very smooth, silky, and soft, but it still has a slightly rope-like twist. Fabric made from this yarn is very drapey and light. I used a different color of the ZZ Twist yarn in my Easy Summer Tee pattern, and it turned out to be the perfect choice. (Shown in the “Grey” colorway.)
So if you’re unsure whether a yarn is suitable for a summer project, try following these tips. You might find that you enjoy knitting and crochet in the summer just as much as the rest of the year!
Where is the best place to find free patterns for crocheted summer clothing and purses that are super easy and quick? I want to try something, but don’t want to invest a long time making it. Thank you. Love the yarn recommendations.
Hi Jeanne! If you’re looking for quick summer projects, I do have several summer crochet patterns. Many of my summer patterns use thicker yarns, so they work up more quickly, but they use other factors to ensure the finished item is still summer-friendly. I hope this helps!
Thanks so much for your tips about using summer yarns. Some of the yarns have been discontinued and I am wondering if you happen to have an updated list??? Thanks so much. Rebecca.
Hi Rebecca. I don’t have an updated list of yarns yet, but the tips in the post can still be used to select an ideal summer yarn. Knit Picks is another one of my favorite places to get summer yarns, as they have several yarn lines that are either cotton / plant fiber yarns or lightweight, low-fuzz yarns (like their Hawthorne line). I would also recommend Knit Picks Comfy, Shine, Cotlin, Dishie, or Lindy Chain. They have several others that would likely be great for summer projects, but the ones I listed are yarns that I have personally used in summer projects before and loved them. I hope this helps!
This is good news but here in Uganda I find it hard to get non acrilic yarns I can easily get 100% acrilic yarns. Does it mean that my crocheting of summer outfits is limited?
Hi Whitney. You can still use acrylic yarns for summer projects. You’ll just need to look for yarns that have as little fuzz and fluffiness to them as possible. Thinner yarns will also be better for summer garments. I hope this helps!
I’ve been looking to get my sister a gift for her birthday and I remembered that she loves to try out different kinds of clothing lines. I was intrigued by the idea of yarn clothing and liked the tip you gave about much thinner yarn for more lightweight and comfortable clothes. She’s very fond of clothes that are easy to breathe in and easy-going to wear. Because my sister loves to take part in environmental movements as well, I might check around if there are any yarn clothes made from recovered materials that she may like. Thank you for your tips!