They were quick fun to knit, look kinda cute, but seldom get off the shelf. When the weather is hot, out come the t-shirts. Even in the rather cool conditions that bless the Rocky Mountain summer, hand-knit sweaters are too heavy to be comfortable. The fact that there's no air conditioning in most of the buildings complicates the problem.
There's a lot of places in town I prefer to avoid on a summer afternoon--shops of all types, for example, especially clothes shops. There's nothing like trying on clothes in the unventilated dressing room of a hot shop to discourage expenditures. If I were presented with the stack of summer sweaters I have knit over the past six years and given the opportunity to try them on in such a dressing room, I wouldn't buy any of them.
That's a pretty strong decision. The hours I've spent on them might not make sense without considering that when I started knitting, I lived in a very hot climate. Naturally, almost all the sweaters I knit during that time were short-sleeved or sleeveless. I used yarn that was designed to be cool and comfortable, composed of cotton, bamboo, and rayon. It seemed like a good use of my knitting time.
The problem was the weight of the yarn. Thicker yarn means a quicker knit. What's available for hand-knit sweaters is mostly dk-weight and heavier. A thicker version of a t-shirt seemed like a comfortable option for summer wear. This has not proved to be true.
Of course, there are other reasons that I am not wearing these sweaters. After all, we have 9 months of cool/cold weather here. There's always the spring or fall. There are other problems with these sweaters, such as fit and form. Some are sleeveless. For vanity's sake, I've given up wearing sleeveless tops, except on the hottest days. Some are too short. A couple are too big.
That's 17 summer sweater rejects, including 8 not-so-cute ones which aren't pictured in the collage. Some of these were so un-cute that they have been frogged. That points to another culprit -- poor yarn choice. Yes, my early knitting is full of bad yarn, bad yarn and patttern pairings, and bad construction.
There was certainly a learning curve. The first 4 sweaters I made in 2005 are all ripped out now. There's one sweater from 2006 that I still wear. The others, six of them, are history. The next year, 07, offers up three sweaters still in rotation. I'm not too crazy about them, but I still pull them out now and then. The rest, 8 of them, are rejects, mostly because of poor yarn choices. Coming to 08, there's a flip-flop. Of six sweaters, I wear four. The two rejects are still favorites, but require more cumbersome undergarments to look their best. Most days, I prefer comfy to cumbersome. The same for 09, two-thirds of the sweaters are good, adding six to those I wear. Obviously, both my knitting skills and project choices are improving.
Overall now, I'm wearing about half of what I knit, with most of those being more recently-knit sweaters. Most convincingly,though, I'm only wearing one, just one, of the 18 summer sweaters I have knit. A 95% failure rate. Among the spring, fall and winter sweaters altogether, my failure rate is about 25%. That's a big difference which defines the problems I have with summer sweaters.
This year I've completed 4 sweaters, all wool, three for winter wear and one for slightly warmer days only because it has short sleeves. I don't really plan to knit another sweater this year. If I do, it will be a longer-sleeved fall sweater.
I'll start 2011 with a new plan, repurposing my summer yarn by knitting cotton sweaters with long sleeves for winter wear and using the silk and laceweight wool for shawls.