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I know a lot of people say it’s too hot to knit in the summer, or they don’t want to work on anything too big because of all that wool. I get it. I get why knitting socks in the summer is so appealing. (Maybe I should join the Wandering Socks Knitalong?)

But I’m really a sweater knitter. My heart wants to knit sweaters, so again, I’ll say: what about knitting with cotton yarns in the summer? The joy of sweater knitting doesn’t have to end just because of the higher temps.

So far, I’ve given you cute tops and tanks. But what about if you want to do a little colorwork or stripes? What if you want a piece you can wear all year? This month’s edit is for those who want to knit a sweater or top but don’t want to deal with wool in the hotter temps, or maybe ever. I think these are all perfect to make with cotton, to wear in summer or year-round.

Matsukasa by Keiko Kikuno

At first you might not see this as a summer knit, but take a second look. What if you knit this without the contrasting sleeves? It would be a perfect sleeveless summer top with its loose shape and v-neck, and you could make the collar slimmer for summer. Added bonus: wear it as a vest layer in the cooler months and your long sleeve will look just like the finished sweater with sleeves.

Camaro by Tanis Lavallee

I’ve had this sweater on my list for a long time, but what about a summer version? I’ve got lots of fun bits of cotton left in my stash that would make such a fun mash up of this sweater. Imagine it with short sleeves and all cotton—the perfect summer-weight piece and another great layering piece in the fall.

Marquita by Amy Christoffers

Colorwork not your thing? How about easing into things with some fun stripes? This sweater was created with cotton yarn to begin with, so most people think of it as a light beach-weight sweater. It would also be perfect for a San Francisco morning or a chilly fall day on the east coast. Don’t think cotton is just for the summer, folks.

Soldotna Crop by Caitlin Hunter

If you want to dive right on in to a lot of colorwork, the Soldtona Crop is the perfect project for a fun summer top. I just finished one for myself (and a matching version for Jellybean, using my custom dog sweater formula). I used all cotton yarns and omitted the colorwork in the main body section, so that it wouldn’t be too heavy and I could still feel a breeze through the fabric.  I also extended the length a bit for a less-cropped crop. Isn’t that the beauty of knitting? We get to make each piece our own.

Edit Update!

Remember the Peplum Top I mentioned in my last Edit? I whipped up a bright magenta version, and I absolutely love it. I think I need another in a different yarn just to mix things up a bit.

My summer knitting has been going full speed. I hope these tops that are perfect in cotton will inspire your summer knitting plans, too.

About The Author

Dana Williams-Johnson knits every day. Knitting is what brings Dana joy, and she shows that through her use of color (hello, rainbows) and modifications of favorite patterns into replica sweaters for her dogs.

You can read about it all on Dana’s blog, Yards of Happiness, and watch her video podcasts on YouTube.


  • Your Soldtona Crop is fabulous. I of course had to see Jellybean’s matching sweater so headed over to your blog. OMG! That is too adorable for words! And I am so with you on knitting what makes you happy and brings smiles to people’s faces. You certainly brought a smile to my face this morning and I thank you for it!

  • Dana, Thank you. I love cotton yarn and always have some on needles in summer. I haven’t knitted too many sweaters for myself. However, I adore the Peplum and I am curvy so the style would be flattering. I do live on the East coast and the Marquerita looks perfect for a cool stroll near the beach. I would wear it for a casual lunch also.
    Thanks again for showing me more patterns for soft summery yarns. I once knitted my granddaughter a striped cotton blanket that she still loves at age 10. It is hot pink, orange, petal pink and off white. Cotton yarn is one of the many aspects I love about summer!

  • I love your columns! Thanks so much for bringing joy to this morning!

  • Yep, would love the Matsukasa in cotton. Another for the queue…..

  • Thank you for illustrating, once again, that there is so much more to knitting than just wool. Love your rework of Sodotna; gives the pattern a whole new look & a much lighter feel.

  • OMG That Peplum Top looks dynamite on you!!

    I’m not generally a sweater knitter, but I’ve made Shellseeker by Heidi Kirrmaier several times – top down, dk weight cotton, loose fit, stripes. I’ve made it with the long sleeves, but it’s easy to adjust for a short sleeve version.

  • Thanks for bringing a smile to my face while giving me food for thought! I love how you talk about adjusting a pattern to suit the outcome that you want. You show how it’s doable, where I would have just felt intimidated.

    I, too, went over to your blog. Those sweaters for Jellybean are just adorable!

  • Love your column! I have knit with cotton before with a bad ending. Because of the limited stretch in cotton, my sweater did not ‘hang’ correctly. Are there tips for knitting with cotton that you can share with your fellow knitters?

  • What these people said!!!! Thank you for the cheery inspiration!

  • Bring on the color

  • You’re a wonderful inspiration, just fabulous!

  • You have a fabulous eye for sweaters and color—I’m always inspired by your posts! A question: how do you manage washing them? I had to replace a washing machine with delicate and hand-wash cycles, both of which were gentle with handknits and made laundry a breeze. But, my new Maytag’s delicate cycle is not at all gentle, so I’m back to hand washing, and it’s a chore, especially cottons. Do you have a special method? Thanks!

    • I’m not Dana, but… I wash all my sweaters, scarves and undies, using Soak, in a bucket that sits in my shower. I rinse using the shower spray and hang the lightweight things to dry on suction cups I’ve put up on both interior and exterior walls. I do use the Spin cycle on my cheap, old and nasty washer, adding old towels and modifying to a slower speed for heavier garments, and dry by hanging or placing flat on old towels. I’ve never had a problem and it adds very little time to my morning routine.

      • Thanks, Dorothy! I like the idea of rinsing with the shower spray. You have more room than in a sink. I’ll have to try that.

  • When I first saw the Matsukasa, I thought it was a vest over a white t-shirt! It would be great as a summer top — over a short or LS shirt or — get ready — a crisp white shirt for work!

  • What a wonderful eye. Thank you so much for abundant ideas!

  • I still mourn the demise (that’s twice now!) of Lion Brand’s Cotton-Ease but love that you are giving us other cotton options. Love all these patterns you just listed! And I have a chihuahua in my circle of friends and love that you have shown some amazing designs for teeny-tiny dogs.

  • It all began with a baby blanket that will be a very large blanket. I only knit for very special people who have given me so much that I don’t know how to thank. But knitting triangles x48 has me also working on the Carbeth cardigan. Both are knit from the Spud and Chloe cotton/wool mix. Expensive but worth it. So many project

  • I look forward to your columns. I love your sweaters, your colour choices, your mods, and most of all, seeing the sweaters on a body that that isn’t typical model shape and size! You help me see how a sweater might really look in the real world, and I wish more designers would offer a range of photos to give knitters more visual info. Thank you!

    • You are a genius! Gorgeous colors and so many great patterns. Thank you!!

  • The Soldotnas are equally fabulous and look great on you and Jellybean! Love the colors. Ditto your Peplum Top. Thank you again for proving the joy of knitting what we want and like thus will wear.

  • What everyone else said – my queue always grows when Dana does a column! So many good ideas!

  • I am so in awe of your knitting speed!

  • Always inspirational and beautiful work!!


  • Great post!

  • Oh Dana, you are just the best! These colors … I just love it! I am also a big fan of cotton. Just have to go and find all these nice colors. Thank you for your inspiration!

  • now I wanna make them all

  • This is so great! I watched your Jellybean intro several times, because both of you are just so adorable! Your Soldatna sweater is beautiful: I love the colors, and the texture is great, too. It almost looks like a mosaic. Also, thanks so much for your sweater-knitting tips. I think that the “know your body” tip is the best one you offer. I have different fit issues than you, as I am tall and long-waisted. For me that means that I always need more length in the torso than any pattern or store bought tops call for/have. Though crops are cute, I know that I do much better in a tunic length, even though it means more yarn!

  • Just watched the video and ir was SO INSPIRATIONAL . Thanks for all the comment about knowing your body, and what works for you. SO TRUE . Like you mentioned, a lot of us have big bodies, and we need modification.,I myself prefer loose.
    And your yarn stuff. Blew me away. So inspiring . And In haven’t even mentioned the dog. My rascals need a sweater too . Thanks for a great video

  • I LOVE that Peplum Top on you!

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I love listening to you!

  • Your video made me happy. 🙂
    And I appreciate the advice about going down a size if a lot of ease doesn’t work for you; I agree 100%.

  • Dear Dana
    You are so talented and your knitting is beautiful.Can you,please,do a KAL class on yoke fair isle top down sweater.As a professor ,you will be perfect to teach us.I would sign up for such a class regardless of the price.Being old ,high risk for this virus,I can not attend any workshops for now.
    I ,also,love to read or listen to books while knitting.I recommend 2 I recently red.An American marriage and The street by Ann Petry.

  • Hi Dana,
    I love your work with matching doggie sweaters! Would it be too much to ask for (too easy for you to consider at this point) a few patterns for beginner knitters? Thank you!

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