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Openwork with crochet stitches

Fiber artists know that you don’t necessarily have to stop stitching just because you’ve reached the hot summer months. There are lots of creative ways to get around the challenges presented by hot, humid weather.

We’ve talked about some of those ideas here before, including using lighter weight materials, shifting to natural plant fibers, choosing smaller projects, and more. What we haven’t talked about is the benefits of a particular craft: crochet.

It turns out there are a couple features specific to crochet that make it a craft particularly suited to hot weather. Let’s take a look at some of those features below.

About the yarn used in this blog post

Crochet is great for modular projects

The swatches you’ll see in this blog post are all worked up in Yarnalia’s Marvel yarn, which is a lightweight blend of wool, nylon, and acrylic. For these photos, I’ve crocheted at a slightly looser gauge than what is suggested on the ball band. The ball band suggested using a 4 mm crochet hook, but I’ve used a 5 mm crochet hook instead.

The result is an even looser, drapier fabric with more airflow. This is entirely a stylistic decision, and you should feel free to work at whatever gauge feels comfortable for you. However, I often find that when working during the summer time, I really like projects at a loose gauge.

A lot of people think wool is a bad fiber for summertime stitching, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, wool has moisture-wicking properties and doesn’t retain odor like synthetics do. While you probably don’t want to work with a super-bulky, unspun yarn during the summer months, a light-weight wool yarn at a fine gauge is great for this season.

Now let’s talk about a few of the reasons why crochet is great for summer.

Crochet is great for modular projects

One of the things I love most about crochet is how many patterns there are using granny squares. When you hear the words “granny square,” you might think of just the most traditional varieties, but there are some crochet designers out there doing some really incredible squares. Some are very open and delicate, while others are intensely textured. 

When you work in separate squares like this, you don’t have to worry about your project overheating you. You can work one square at a time and save the assembly of the squares until later when the weather is cooler. This way, you don’t have a large blanket or sweater sitting in your lap and causing you to overheat.

These modular granny square projects are also great because you can get as complicated or as simple as you’d like. You can make lots of tiny granny squares like in the Battenberg Blanket, or you can make a few enormous, intricately complicated granny squares like some of Shelley Husband’s work

But okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. For some reason, granny squares have a bad rap for being simplistic and unsophisticated. While some very basic projects might fit that bill, that public perception really misses how interesting granny squares can be if you just stop to look for some of the more detailed versions. These more intricate granny squares involve complex stitches, color theory, and construction. You’ll find one for every skill level.

Crochet is especially suited to beautiful openwork

Crochet is especially suited to beautiful openwork

While knitting is somewhat limited by the combination of needle size and yarn thickness, crochet has more flexibility. That’s because, by adding extra chain stitches between stitch motifs, you can really open up the stitches in ways you can’t do in knitting. This means you can make entire garments with really large, open spaces in them, and you can do that without sacrificing the structural integrity of the garment.

As a result, crochet is particularly suited for making light, open garments like beach coverups. If you’ve ever seen somebody walking down the beach wearing a really cute, net-like garment over their bathing suit, odds are it was crocheted.

If you’re headed for somewhere beachy this summer, or even just want something to pop over your suit after getting out of the pool, crochet is more likely to be your best bet here. You can whip up some great beach covers with large, openwork motifs very quickly. I love this tunic from ChiWei Ranck, which can be lengthened like some of the versions shared on Ravelry. If you’re looking for something you can tie around your waist or throw over your shoulders, I love the Griselda Wrap by Knot Bad Britt.

Crochet is particularly well-suited to tiny lace motifs

Crochet is particularly well-suited to tiny lace motifs

If you’ve ever wanted to learn historic crochet techniques, summertime is a great time for that. That’s because Irish crochet lace, made entirely from crocheted cotton using tiny hooks and tiny strands of thread, is a completely modular process.

To make Irish crochet lace, you need to first crochet the major motifs, like the flowers and leaves. Then you lay them out on a flat surface and join them together using one of various net stitches that create the background between each of the motifs.

As a result, these sorts of projects can be highly portable, don’t overheat you, and don’t take up much space. The completed project can also be assembled in such a way as to provide lots of airflow. You can make yourself beautiful, airy garments using these techniques, and you can do it without a lot of bulk on your lap as you work.

Crochet is great for stuffies and small household items

Crochet is great for stuffies and small household items

Because crochet usually has only 1-5 stitches at a time on one hook, it’s much more maneuverable than knitting is. As a result, crochet is really popular for making little stuffed animals and figurines, also known as amigurumi. If you have kids and pets in your life who love stuffies, or you just like making cute little critters, you will love the wide range of crochet stuffie patterns. Here are some favorites designed by my friend Sarah Zimmerman.

One neat bonus is that, because crochet stitches are worked by wrapping the yarn around itself more than in knitting, crochet stitches tend to be thicker and more durable. If you crochet a stuffy rather than knit it, odds are higher that the stuffy will stand the test of time.

For that same reason, crochet is really popular for housewares. If you want to make a sturdy basket for yourself or a grocery bag, crochet is a great option for that. All of these items are small and portable, so you won’t get too hot working on them and can take them anywhere with you. That’s a win for summertime stitching.

If you want to keep stitching in the summer months, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t do so. It just requires a little inventiveness and creativity. While you probably don’t want to be crocheting large afghans in a single piece, you can do other cool projects with crochet that will be well adapted to your summertime lifestyle.

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