Climate Change and Knitting: The Diminishing Need for Sweaters

I have a new wardrobe classification – fall colors but still summer. Here in Tennessee, the calendar says it’s fall, but the temperatures are still in the upper eighties and low nineties. For me, this means continuing to wear sleeveless dresses in feather light materials that are floaty and provide maximum air circulation. Otherwise, I’ll sweat like a roasting pig every time I step outside.

Yet in my in-box and everywhere else I look in the online fashion world, all I see are heavy sweaters. I love to knit, and the yarns currently on offer suggest a coming need for heavy, bulky, dark and autumnal hued hats, scarves, pullovers, and blankets. I don’t want to knit that stuff when it’s ninety degrees outside!

All my current knitting projects at the moment come from skeins of lightweight cotton. And I won’t even be able to wear my new cotton, short-sleeved sweaters for another month, at least. I knitted a lovely self-striping, short-sleeved, cotton sweater two months ago. I wore it once and stripped it off before noon. So no surprise I haven’t stocked up on any of the new winter yarns yet.

Climate change has, for much of the country, drastically cut the need for winter clothes. Several years ago, I gave almost all of my sweaters away to the charity store. I simply didn’t need them any longer. If we do have a harsh cold snap, I’ve kept two heavy turtlenecked sweaters for those several days. I use knitted hats for about a month, in January, but those have become superfluous, too.

Where does that leave the craft of knitting? It needs to change. Give us patterns we can wear year- round. Give us more cotton, bamboo or other lightweight yarns that can breathe. Give us sleeveless and short-sleeved patterns or home goods we can use for something other than wearing. In short, I really and truly wish the fashion industry (including the knitting supply industry) would acknowledge that in 2018, we just don’t need heavy sweaters any more.

Recommended Resource of the Week:

100 Knits by the Interweave Editors. This new collection of patterns includes a whopping 500 pages of contemporary garment patterns for hats, shawls, cowls, sweaters, and socks. I was delighted to find a whole section in the back for what the editors call “t-shirts” – lighter weight and either short-sleeved or sleeveless sweaters perfect for those of us in warmer climates. Just released in October 2018.

Cynthia Coe is the author of Considering Birds & Lilies: Finding Peace & Harmony With the Everyday World Around Us, two novels, and resources to introduce young people to creation care.


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