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I was going back and forth on whether to share these patterns. Why? Because they’re tanks and sleeveless tops, and let’s be honest—most people hate their arms. Then as I was mulling over whether or not to write an entire post on arm-baring tops, Kay wrote a rant about her arms and I knew it was a sign.

I may not love my arms, but you know what I really don’t love? Being hot and wearing sleeves when I could’ve gone sleeveless.

Once I was so self-conscious about my arms that I actually considered putting a shrug over a beautiful sleeveless dress when I was going to be sitting through an outdoor wedding in Orlando, in June. I thought, why am I torturing myself because my arms jiggle a little? If someone has a problem with my arms, that’s their problem because I’m not about to sweat to death because of my arms. Our arms support us and do so much, so why not wear things that make us happy and keep us comfortable?

Here are a few of my favorite sleeveless tops and tanks that I think are perfect for summer knitting.

Parachutey by Stephen West

If you want to play with color and make a piece that would also be a wonderful year-round layer,  Stephen West’s playful Parachutey tank might be the one. His designs are free flowing and easy going, and when I saw this tank in person I fell in love with it. My only problem is I don’t really have a lot of fingering weight yarn in my stash to make this one, but if you’re a sock knitter and have tons of scraps, this might be your project.

Togue Pond by Pam Allen

Togue Pond is a pattern that I’ve knit repeatedly and modified over the years. I’ve made four: three for myself and one for my friend Jessica. The first three I made using Berroco Modern Cotton yarn, and my last version I made using Paton’s Metallic yarn for a slightly dressier version. You can make it with a high/low hem or modify the hemline and length. It’s a go-to for me, and I always want to make one every summer.

Peplum Top by Morgan Woltersdorf

Peplum Top is going on my needles next. It’s a tank top with one of my favorite things, a peplum! It’s feminine and I can see making it with two colors, one for the top and one for the peplum. Added bonus: you don’t have to suck in your stomach whenever you’re wearing a peplum. Bring on the crab feast!

Keane Wonder by Meghan Kelly

Texture, texture, texture. I love the garter stitch detailing on this summer tank. Keane Wonder takes a simple shape and elevates it with just garter stitch. It’s knit with a DK weight linen yarn, but there are tons of cotton options out there in that weight that will let you knit the rainbow of colors of this one. It’s a perfect summer tank.

Andaman Top by Linda Marveng

If you want something with a bit more interest and fun, add this high/low sleeveless lace top to your wardrobe. Wear Andaman Top with capri pants or over a tank dress. Don’t want the back to be as long? Knit it shorter! But it’s definitely going to add a fun layer to your summer wardrobe.

Ditch your inhibitions and let your arms be free this summer in the cutest knits you can cast on.


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.


  • Inspired to liberate my arms this Summer by this great lady. Thank you Dana

  • The only thing that makes me smile more than an MDK email in my inbox, is when it has Dana’s name in the header. Dana you are an inspiration to all of us not-so-skinny women out there – you look FABULOUS in everything you wear, and bring such joy to it all 🙂

    • Well said! Thanks Diana I needed this post today.

      • Dana, darn auto correct

  • I was drop dead gorgeous when I was young and now that I’m 66, I don’t care what sags, how grey my hair is because I earned it so I refuse to wear anything uncomfortable

    • Preach, girl!! I threw my hands in the air when I read this!

  • My queue gets a page longer every time there’s a Dana posts here, and I love it! So many great options, and such a joyful way to start my day.

  • Love love love! These are all such inspiration as I progress from knitting scarves and shawls to sweaters. And that I could knit ‘Parachutey’ as a dress???? Who says I can’t knit everything in my stash?

  • outstanding possibilities here. thank you

  • Humans jiggle. Might as well be comfortable while we do it! As always, you’ve inspired.

    • Dana, love this idea. I’m going to try to embrace it.

  • I LOVE posts from Dana! Just the dose of “happy” I need. And now I have to add several of these patterns to my queue…. and I’m going to celebrate my 56 year old arms!! Thanks, Dana, and MDK!

  • I’m with everyone else – a spark of happiness from Dana is just the moment one needs everyday.
    I’m cautious about the sleeveless part, not because of my jiggly arms but because of the too cool air-conditioning in stores, and restaurants, and houses, and so on. But then a nicely knit summer sweater or shawl is just the ticket.

    • Thanks for all of the great pattern ideas, and if I may add another, Vestival, by Jimi Knits. I knitted one of these and have worn it more than just about anything else in my knitted wardrobe. It can go over a tank in summer and a long sleeve in winter. She has many beautiful and interesting knits in her designs. Let’s keep on staying cool and not caring what people think about our arms!

  • Lisa K. Ross (Paper Daisy Creations) just released her Cityscape Tank: It’s got a classic style with some lovely shaping & I expect I’ll make several iterations of it. No affiliation; just a big fan of her designs.

    • i just checked it out. what a lovely fit! i can see wearing that with a cardi handy for a/c. that armhole depth was perfect.

  • This post was very empowering – as others have said, I’ve earned all my sags and lines and refuse to be hot because I don’t meet someone’s definition of beauty. I’ll be casting on a few of these this summer!

  • Perfect timing Dana! I’ve been looking at tank tops on Ravelry since last weekend. Got my eye on Togue Pond tank since you wrote about it on your blog. Want to knit a tank in a cotton or linen blend, I just worry about those fabrics “growing”, sagging.

  • Thank you so very much for these sleeveless patterns.
    I am a person who is continually hot or at least over warm. I dress sleeveless and take along a sweater or jacket if needed.
    It has never occurred to me to cover my arms, I care not if they jiggle and are overly large, people will overlook that before they will being smelly.

  • Excelent post Dana/MDK!!! Since we have winter in Brazil now, these ideas could turn out as beautiful vests! We don’t have a very harsh winter in São Paulo anyway.

  • Very pretty selection of tops. I too hide my arms!!

  • ♥️Thank you! More Love for endless knitting!

  • This collection of tops is amazing! Many thanks for creating new projects for me!!!

  • Brava!

  • A few years ago I fell and broke my right arm in two very awkward places. After a surgery that put two steel plates in the arm and a whole lot of staples to close the incisions, I have new criteria for what qualifies as a beautiful arm. It’s one that works! My scars are evidence that a former military trauma surgeon was able to save my knitting-weeding-bread-kneading-applauding arm so I could go on being my obstinate, active self. Knit those tanks and jiggle proudly, friends!

    • So much this! Congratulations on your recovery!

  • Fun

  • Love this stand to bare our arms and love the tanks you picked!!

    • Fighting for our right to BARE arms!

  • Thank you, Dana, for showing Kay what a truly sleeveless top looks like!

  • Thank you- I love this! The infamous “bingo arms” should be a call to Play, not Hide!

  • As I recall (not from personal experience), women who had untoned pale arms were those who did not work with plows. Guilty! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Love your post today. Love the tank – and you in it. Love love love what you have to say about our right to bare our arms! Go for it , be comfortable and cool. Enjoy,

  • My new mantra is ‘They’re arms; get used to it!’ – or fill in the blank for anything you’re feeling badly about!

  • Thanks so much for including pics of models and garments in various sizes! These are some great patterns, and I can’t wait to cast on.

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with your smooth firm youthful arms, Dana. And back in the fifties (which I am old enough to remember), grandmotherly (before the days of Jane Fonda grandmothers) arms were displayed matter-of-factly with no sneers or judgment made. I wonder, is this current body fitness obsession really progress? Absolutely love your tank top choices. Something interesting for every body.

  • I like the lavendar gray one

    • lavender

  • Dana, you are an inspiration! Great post and you look beautiful as always!

  • Thanks Dana and yes, a little bit of jiggle under the arms is perfectly natural! You look gorgeous in Togue Pond and I’ve ordered yarn to knit one for myself.

  • You are such an inspiration! You enthusiasm is contagious… your sweaters and your smile are beautiful, sleeves or no sleeves. Love your tank!

  • Dana, You Are Amazing! I have never loved the way my arms look, but I love the way they work (and mostly don’t hurt me-lol!). I have finally reached a stage of life where I let my “I don’t care” flag fly. Let me be comfortable…and stylish where possible. Thank you for your inspiration. One of these will be going on my needles!

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