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« Molly's Sketchbook: Friendship Bracelets | Main | Mini Quilt of the Month, July: Flying Geese »

Whit's Knits: Silken Straw Summer Sweater

I've always been surprised by knitters who put their needles down for the summer. How do they occupy their hands for those three months? I've wondered. Do they take up smoking? Even if I'd ever been able to break my knitting habit, I've never really seen a reason to. After all, some of nature's most beautiful fiber creations are best experienced on a hot day under the shade of a great big tree!

One of my all-time favorite summer yarns is Alchemy's Silken Straw. While I appreciate the gorgeous hand dyed color, what really makes Silken Straw so special is its one-of-a-kind texture. Rustic and elegant at the same time, Silken Straw is the perfect blend of country and city mouse. Plus its cool, crisp touch is just what I want when the thermometer is rising, never clingy or sticky!

The Silken Straw Summer Sweater is designed to cover you in just a whisper of silk. A slip of a sweater, its beauty is its understated grace and quiet confidence. Team it up with a camisole for dinner and a movie, or throw it over your bathing suit for a sea glass hunt. So simple to knit and so easy to wear, it's just like summer itself!

The Materials

The Pattern


Unblocked: 6 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette

Blocked: 6 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette

Finished Sizes After Blocking

Small/Medium (Medium/Large)

Hip Circumference: 38 (42) inches

Chest Circumference: 36 1/2 (40 1/2 ) inches

Length from Underarm to Bottom Edge: 18 inches

NOTE: To adjust the sizing, the easiest thing to do is to alter the gauge. Silken Straw is very amenable to gauge variations! Just divide the cast on number by your stitch-per-inch number and you'll know the hip measurement. For example, if you're knitting at 5 1/2  blocked stitches to the inch and you follow the Medium/Large pattern, you'll end up with 45 3/4 inch hips (252 divided by 5.5 = 45.8).

The Body

With the 24 inch circular needle, cast on 228 (252) stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Knit every round until the piece measures 5 1/2 inches from the bottom edge (unroll the edge to measure).

Next round: K 114 (126), place marker, knit to end of round.

*Decrease Round 1: Knit to last 3 stitches, ssk, k1. (1 stitch decreased)

Decrease Round 2: K1, k2tog, knit to 3 stitches before first marker, ssk, k1, slip marker, k1, k2tog, knit to end of round. (3 stitches decreased)

Knit 7 rounds.**

Repeat from * to ** four more times. 208 (232) stitches

Knit 14 rounds.

*Increase Round 1: Knit to last stitch, make 1 right (m1r), k1. (1 stitch increased)

Increase Round 2: K1, make 1 left (m1l), knit to 1 stitch before first marker, m1r, k1, slip marker, k1, m1l, knit to end of round. (3 stitches increased)

Knit 7 rounds. **

Repeat from * to ** two more times, ending last round 6 stitches before the end marker. 220 (244) stitches

Create Underarms

Bind off 12 stitches (removing marker), knit to 7 stitches before next marker, bind off 12 stitches (removing marker), knit 98 (110) stitches to first bind off. 196 (220) stitches

Cast On for Sleeves

Place a new beginning-of-round marker; turn so the wrong side of the work is facing you and use a cable cast on to cast on 60 (65) stitches; turn so the right side of the work is facing you, and, making sure the cast on isn't twisted, knit the next 98 (110) stitches (to the next set of bound off underarm stitches); with the wrong side facing you, use a cable cast on to cast on 60 (65) stitches; with the right side facing you, and, again making sure the cast on isn't twisted, for the Medium/Large size knit to the end; OR for the Small/Medium Size, knit to the last 2 stitches, k2tog. 315 (350) stitches


Knit until the sleeve measures 2 inches from the cable cast on edge.

Decrease Round: *K3, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 252 (280) stitches.

Knit until the sleeve measures 4 inches from the cable cast on edge.

Decrease Round: *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 189 (210) stitches.

Knit until the sleeve measures 5 inches from the cable cast on edge.

Shaping Neckline

Round 1: K56 (63), bind off 18 stitches, knit to marker, remove marker, knit to beginning of neck bind off. 171 (192) stitches

Note: From now on you will be working back and forth in rows, with each row ending at the neckline.

Row 1 (wrong side): Bind off 3 stitches, purl to end of row. 168 (189) stitches

Row 2 (right side): Bind off 3 stitches, knit to end of row. 165 (186) stitches

Row 3: Bind off 2 stitches, purl to end of row. 163 (184) stitches

Row 4: Bind off 2 stitches, knit to end of row. 161 (182) stitches

Row 5: P1, p2tog, purl to the last 3 stitches, p2tog through the back loop (p2togtbl), p1. 159 (180) stitches

Row 6: K1, ssk, knit to the last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. 157 (178) stitches

Row 7: *P1, p2tog, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, p2togtbl, p1. 105 (119) stitches

Row 8: Repeat Row 6. 103 (117) stitches

Row 9: Purl.

Repeat Rows 8 and 9 two more times. 99 (113) stitches.

Bind off loosely.


Cast 3 stitches onto a double pointed needle (for the neatest possible finishing, use a Provisional Cast On).

Knit an Attached I-cord around the bottom hem of the sweater, picking up 1 stitch for each cast on stitch. (When you are finished: If you used a provisional cast on, join the beginning and end of the I-cord with the Kitchener Stitch. If you just cast on normally, bind off the I-cord and sew the beginning and end together.)

In the same way, knit Attached I-cords to the sleeve edges and around the neckline. Pick up 1 stitch for each cast on or cast off stitch; and, along the neckline, for each edge stitch.

Block your finished sweater by first soaking it in room temperature water and a mild detergent (I love Soak because you don't have to rinse it!). Squeeze out the excess water first with your hands, then by rolling the sweater in a dry towel. Finally, lay your sweater flat on another dry towel. You'll notice that the sweater grows a bit when you block it and also that the silk really softens. Your sweater won't continue to grow each time you wash it, but it will continue to get softer and softer! Enjoy!

Reader Comments (68)

That is GORGEOUS!! The perfect Florida sweater! Thank you!!!
July 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose
This is perfect for NYC steamy summers... will have to make one right away!
July 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy H
Beautiful! What a wonderful project for the beach. Thanks for the all the fantastic designs; your website is one I continue to look to for great ideas and inpiration.
July 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary soon as i get my hands on some of that beautiful silk in exactly that same color i am knitting this gorgeous sweater
July 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercarolina p
Beautiful project! Congratulations for the site, the blog and the fervent creativity. From Italy with admiration
July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcella.c
This is so pretty! I'd love to see it on a model, so I could get a sense of the way it drapes and what body type it looks best on.
July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZoe
So simple, beautiful and elegant - want, want, want - now! And doesn't this yarn come in a myriad of so beautiful colours. I will be the envy of toute London! Tks for sharing.
July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDizzy Izzy
Such a beautiful summer project ! I simply love it ! Just have to find the right yarn in France ;-)
Thank you for your ceativity and sharing.
July 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlabistrake
Love this silk sweater and I want to be on your e mail list. Thanks
July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Marcotte
HI Nancy-

We have added you to our email newsletter list. If anyone else out there would like to get our weekly email newsletter you can do so here:

July 13, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBambi
A lovely project! I have one question though. I like the way the circular knitting simply gets the garment done so effortlessly, but with it, for me, comes the problem of how to continue the yarn neatly. With seams I always change the yarn at the seam ends and then it is easy to thread the yarn endings to the seams and the garment comes and nice and neat with no knots in the middle. But here, I simply dont know how to do it.
July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSari
Hi Sari,

Perfect timing! Laura just posted a very thorough tutorial on weaving in your ends! You can find it right here: . In the case of this sweater, I used the diagonal method, which hid the tails very nicely. For extra measure, when I'm knitting in the round I try not to change yarns smack in the front of the sweater, but rather, I keep the tails at the sides or back.

Thank you so much for your question and good luck!

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpurlbee
I love the sweater, but it looks like there are very few colors of silken straw with enough skeins in stock. Can you recommend another yarn, or do you know when you will be getting more in stock?

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjessica
Hi Jessica-

We have re-ordered the Silken Straw but are not sure exactly when it will be back in stock. If you'd like us to email you when it comes back please drop us a line at This sweater would also work with 2 skeins of the 2 ply cashmere by jade sapphire:

or 2 skeins of their cashmere silk (which is on sale!)

Thanks for your question!
July 21, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Could you show a picture of someone wearing this sweater? Would love to see shape/drape etc, before i start knitting!
thanks! lisa
July 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Thanks for the great pattern! I made it and added a cap sleeve and cowl neck. Read all about it here:

and in it's previous form here:
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCandace
This is so lovely!!! So tempted to knit this, but am new at knitting, and the only thing which i can knit is a simple scarf...
January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMin
Gorgeous sweater!!! I've been dying to find a light airy summer sweater pattern and this is perfect! One thing/question though- I don't feel comfortable bearing my arms. Is there a way to continue the arm down to make it a long sleeve (or at least a 3/4 sleeve) version?
Thank you so much!
January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanette
Hi Danette,

Yes, instead of "casting on for the sleeves", you can knit whatever sleeves you like, and then before the "yoke" section, you would knit the sleeves right onto the body of the sweater. Our Deep V-Neck Sweater is constructed this way and shows photos of how to do it:

A couple of tips: The length of the sleeve before you attach it is measured to the underarm (not to the top of the shoulder). Also, I would suggest that the finished stitch count of each sleeve be 72 or 77 depending on the size. Then make sure to cast off or put on hold 12 stitches for each underarm.

Please let me know if you encounter any questions along the way; I'd be happy to help!

January 24, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Has anyone made this in euroflax linen? I suspect it would be beautiful and cool for a north carolina summer.
February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Stovall
Hi! I'm currently knitting this pattern and have come across a problem. I don't quite understand how to "Cast on for Sleeves." Is it easier to CCO 60 sts with double pointed needles or the circular needles i'm already working with? Also, how would I attach the new sts to the set of sts after the bind off? Thank you!
February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
Hi Jessica,

You use the circular needle that you're already working with to cable cast on the sleeve stitches. Once you've cast them on you attach them to the body simply by knitting into the first stitch on your left needle, which is the next available body stitch.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you're still stuck and we'll work at unsticking you!

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpurlbee
Am currently on working on this - I'm really excited :-) It will be perfect for warm spring/summer weather in NC.

I like tops to hit right below my hips (at the widest part) ... where would the shirt hit if i followed this instruction: "knit until the piece measures 5 1/2" from the rolled out bottom)" ...? should i knit a little more if i want it a little bit longer?

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Hi Sarah-

It totally depends on your size. The finished measurements are given under "Finished Sizes After Blocking" and should be able to tell you where the sweater will hit on your body.

If you do want to make it longer you are correct that you should add the extra length before you begin the shaping.

Please let us know if you have any more questions!

Thank you!

March 8, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I'm also curious about Julia's question from February 17. Would this sweater work with the Louet Euroflax linen yarn?
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbecky
Hi Becky-

We think it would be beautiful in the Euroflax, since it is a similar gauge to the Silken Straw. If you give it a try please let us know how it goes.

Thanks for writing in!

April 12, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I am also wondering about the Euroflax linen. I have been looking for a linen sweater just like this. I want to make sure the weave will be as open, and the drape will be as nice. Does anyone have any experience with this pattern in the linen?
April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTonya
Hi Tonya-

It is a very similar gauge so we think it would work beautifully for this pattern, but no one here at The Purl Bee has made it in the linen.

Thank you!

April 16, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Lovely pattern! I'm getting ready to jump in. One question: I am scared of I-cord! Do you think I could do a single crochet trim instead? Thank you!
April 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternantiya
I'm thinking of doing it in linen, too. I just acquired the yarn and it is beautiful and very different from the soft merinos and silks I'm used to. And the gauge requires really tiny needles. It's a new territory. Also, what is a cable cast on?

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Morgan
Hi Barbara-

Here is a link to a cable cast on tutorial:

Thank you!

April 18, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I am a newbie who is determined to make my teen this lovely sweater.We're wondering whether we could omit the sleeves. Would that be all I had to do or would I have to emend the pattern in some other way?
Lovely website.

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterceecee
Hi Ceecee,

Without the sleeves the stitches will no longer be in the round. Instead, you'd have a set of stitches for the front and another set of stitches for the back, which changes the pattern considerably.

Our Cowl Vest is actually constructed exactly like what you're talking about and would be a great reference! It's right here:

Please let me know if I can help you figure it all out!

Thanks for your question and good luck!

June 25, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi, I just found this pattern and it's so beautiful! I wanted to make this sweater but I'm really petite so I found that I need to knit 7.5 blocked stitches to an inch to fit me. I think this means that I'd be knitting around 8 unblocked stitches to an inch. I really want to make this but I am afraid that if I knit with this yarn and such a small gauge it would loose the "airiness." Do you have any suggestions on a different yarn or how else to change the pattern?
Thank you so much!
July 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn
Hi Ann,

I think that you would lose the airiness if you knit the Silken Straw at the gauge you're suggesting. Instead, you might want to explore some other fingering or lace weight options. Here are some beauties that would be appropriate for 8 stitches to the inch and for warm weather:

Habu's Knitted Linen Tape:

Habu's Paper Cotton:

Anzula's Sebastian:

Anzula's Mermaid:

Otherwise, to change the pattern you could multiply your blocked gauge by your desired hip circumference and cast on that number of stitches. Place your marker for the waist shaping half way through the round. And make sure that at the end of casting on for the sleeves you have a total stitch count that is a multiple of seven. You'll have to change some other stitch counts and make other adjustments along the way, but if you're an experienced knitter, none of this should be very difficult because it's really a simple pattern!

Please let me know if you have any other questions and good luck!
July 11, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi. I would like to copy the picture along with the pattern and I am having trouble with the photo. Please advise, Thanks!
August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarole Braun
Which cast on would you recommend for this sweater. I cant WAIT to get started! I was thinking a provisional cast on with waste yarn but not sure.
PS Your store is beautiful! I was visiting from Memphis this summer and bought the silk yarn in hot pink!
August 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersuzanne
Hi Suzanne,

I used a long tail cast on. When I knit the Attached I-cord at the end, I just picked up into the cast on edge. If you have some idea about attaching the I-cord to live stitches, then I say go for it! Otherwise, the long tail cast on is a nice and easy way to start!

Thanks for your question and your enthusiasm! I'd love to see that hot pink sweater when you're done! - it sounds beautiful!

August 13, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Carole. Have you tried dragging the image to your desktop and then accessing it from there? Or you could click on the image save it that way. I think I would put the cursor at the end of what you would like to highlight or select and then hold down the Shift key and then put the cursor at the beginning. This should highlight everything in between. Hope this helps. Sorry for the trouble. -Laura
August 17, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Maybe I'm just missing it, but do you have the gauge listed for rows to the inch as well as stitches to the inch? I need the info to figure out the gauge I'm knitting...
March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Hi Rachel,

We don't normally list the row gauge since it's proportionate to the stitch gauge, but we're happy to send the info along when someone asks! The row gauge for this size sweater is 7 rows to the inch, blocked.

I hope this helps sort out your gauge! Thanks for asking!

March 27, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Three months of summer? Lucky Duck, sign me up! LOL! (I'm from Canada and I'm cold but not of heart) Love this Summer Sweater.
May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConnie
Re Silken Straw Summer Sweater

Hi, I am would like to know the degree of difficulty of this project. I can knit but am not an expert. Also what other yarn could you substitute and are you getting anymore of the cornflower blue. Thanks.
May 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne
Just a quick question - is there a recommended ease? I ask because I can get the 6 stitch blocked gauge with the Silken Straw but I'm trying to figure out whether I need to adjust the stitch numbers. My bust is ~37" and my hips are ~39", so the S/M is obviously too small; but I'm not sure if the best results with this yarn blocked is 3-4" ease, or if it's more like 1-2" - I know it softens up and gets really drapey! If it's closer to 2" I can cast on 234 stitches and go from there. Advice most appreciated!
June 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermfuhrman
Hi mfuhrman,

Great question! I would go with the 2-inch easement, because as you say, the yarn is pretty drapey and an extra 3-4 inches might start to look kind of heavy.

Instead of casting on fewer of the M/L size stitches, you could knit that size at a slightly tighter gauge. Just a 1/4 inch tighter (6 1/4 stitches to the inch) would give you a hip measurement of 40 1/3 inches and a bust measurement of 39 inches.

Whatever you decide, I hope you love your finished sweater and please let us know if you have any other questions!

June 17, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Do you think this pattern is doable on straight needles? I'm pretty good at adapting from in the round to--back and forth? Is that what we call it? Anyways, I'm good at adapting, and could probably do so with this, but I don't know if seams would destroy the way the garment hangs. Your opinion?
June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
Could I use a single crochet on the edge rather than the attached I-cord? Would this achieve a comparable edge? Thanks! Loved knitting the sweater.
June 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue
Hi Emily,

I think side seams would be fine! They'd add a little structure to the sweater, but this yarn is so drapey and soft, that I don't think you'd loose much in the way of fluidity!

Thanks for asking and good luck!

July 1, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Lovely.....I just ordered yarn to make this one and the Cable Back Shell. Cannot wait! Would the Cascade Yarn "Ultra Pima" work for this as well? Thank you!
July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan Morton

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