Thursday, April 26, 2012

knitting in 100% humidity

amber sun yarn bowl by uturn
My knitting skill set was relatively small when we moved from Washington state to Mississippi. It's easy to not really think about the impact weather has on your knitting when the majority of your projects consist of baby blankets and felted bags ... but right before we moved, I knit that first cardigan. A little number using Moda Dea Tweedle Dee, a bulky wool-acrylic mix yarn that was really soft ... and really warm. We drove cross-country and arrived in Mississippi at the beginning of June, where I was promptly introduced to humidity. I had never experienced anything like it before, having grown up in the arid, desert climate of eastern Washington state. The best way to describe it? Living in a greenhouse. Let's just say that I haven't picked up that first cardigan again since we got here ... (or my thermal long underwear ... or my turtlenecks, for that matter!).


You'd think that with the climate we have here in the deep south, knitting would be nonexistent. (the thought of wearing a bulky alpaca sweater makes me break into a sweat just thinking about it 10 out of the 12 months of a year). And honestly, after that first summer I was a little sad when I realized that I would never really need a bulky cabled sweater or fair isle knit here. But then two things happened: 1) I went back to work and remembered what sub-zero office air conditioning felt like, and 2) I realized that eventually the extreme summer heat/humidity receded to more tolerable levels. And when December and January rolled around, I was overjoyed to discover that yes, I felt cold! I actually wanted to put on a sweater! So not all hope was lost.


I was overjoyed to discover that yes, knitters do exist in Mississippi (thanks to Ravelry!), and quickly found that our climate really doesn't stop anyone from making a wide range of the traditional knitting projects ... with a few modifications!

For example, if you visit a local yarn store in the south, you'll find a much wider selection of cotton yarns than you might anywhere else. And fibers that are known for being more "breathable" in the summer, like bamboos and linens.

The main difference is the influence of timing. I still make blankets, because I do want one during that short winter season ... but you'll never catch me knitting one between May and August. Too warm to be knitting with a blanket on your lap at that point!

For me, the biggest impact I've noticed on my knitting is that our warm climate introduced me to the benefits of finer gauge yarns. After moving here, I was surprised to realize how frequently I was wearing cardigans year-round, despite the warm weather. When I paid attention to the attributes of the cardigans I was routinely drawn to, the common denominator was light-weight, finer gauges. It was that realization that motivated me to knit with yarn in finer gauges. As long as I knit something in a DK or fingering weight, the fabric stays light-weight enough to remain tolerable in multiple seasons. So although I still knit frequently with worsted and bulky weight yarns, I knit much more frequently with DK or fingering weight yarns than I would have previously anticipated!

So yes, it is possible to knit in 100% humidity. But I highly recommend doing so in a highly air-conditioned environment!

One un-related side note: I still need one more participant in my pay-it-forward project! And if you are one of my two participants, please email me your name and address so I can send you your surprise! Contact me at snapdragoncrafts AT yahoo.com.

Check out the other posts on the fourth day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Enter 3KCBWDAY4 as your search term in a Google search to find more participants!

7 comments:

  1. Such an interesting story of how your knitting has changed over time. Shame about the humidity, that is never fun!

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  2. glad you are managing to find something to knit when it so hot. I remember being in Florida when the humidty was high - no point in doing your hair at all - just a head full of frizz and looking like I'd stepped out of the shower. Not pleasant, certainly no desire to knit

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  3. I can't imagine knitting a blanket in the summertime! :)

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  4. Great post! It was very interesting for me how knitting looks like in Mississippi. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Awww you have to find a way to knit even in humidity! Love the A/C solution! Of course! Im always freezing at work int he summer.....

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  6. I wondered if there were any knitters in the deep South - now I know :-) I always have to keep a wrap or light sweater with me through the entire summer, because even though it's 99 degrees with 80% humidity - inside any restaurant, store, or office building it will be 60 degrees :( So I may have to look into knitting a few lightweight cardigans for the summer months.

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  7. I have a penchant for fingering weight cardigans too - not terribly humid in the UK though! I think it must be me.... I'm from the north of NZ orignally and it is humid there too - not the best for hot sticky summer knitting :)

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