Argil: A tale of two heatwaves

I thought I would show you this Argil top I knitted during a summer that happened 12 months ago (yes this project subscribes to the slow blogging lifestyle!) . I posted about it on social media around that time, and meant to show it here then, but I finished it at the tail end of summer and with the weather turning and me being distracted by lots of other stuff- including about projects for the colder weather- it just didn’t happen. So it lived in the back of my wardrobe for 8 months until the weather got warmer and I remembered it again. Since I’ve actually worn it now, I thought it was time for its post on the blog!

I cast on for Argil at the end of July last year during a record heatwave in which we broke through multiple all time records and hit over 40 degrees for a couple of days (this is -or rather, was- unheard off in my area). I finished her up during another record breaking heatwave in late August, we didn’t hit as high temperatures as before although we went over 30 for a full week, which is again unprecedented this late in the summer in my neck of the woods. You probably didn’t need to hear all this to add to your no-doubt considerable climate anxiety, but this is the context which made me crack and go get some linen yarn and cast on a summer top. For some more context: as I’m typing this, a year after the aforementioned heatwaves, we just went through the longest uninterrupted period of over 30 degrees Celsius since temperature recordings started including a handful of record heat days outright. (Does that make this post a tale of three heatwaves, rather than two?).

The last time I cast on a summer project was… well, never. The type of knitting I enjoy, colourwork and cables, isn’t really suited for summer projects and when the temperatures don’t reach the “we are sweating out of our apartment”-stages just continuing to knit that stuff in summer is generally not a problem for me. Not last summer though! With the weather hitting these high temperatures (and not going below 20 even at night) the last thing I wanted was to touch wool or alpaca. Not wanting to not knit for the remainder of the summer I decided to give a summer project a shot.

Other than the cotton I learned to knit with over 10 years ago, I haven’t really knit with a lot of summer yarns. Summer knits were never really on my radar. I guess because I never wear them in retail wear either? Summer being my least favourite season to dress for and the season I’m the least creative and inspired to dress and create for will definitely have something to do with it too. While I can change very little about me not liking high summer a lot, ignoring both summer yarns and patterns for so long in my knitting life will probably/possibly turn out to be a stupid strategy as I enjoyed knitting this one! So let’s talk a bit more about the project.

I picked the Argil tank top from the 2019 summer issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It was one of the few overly summer projects that both aesthetically appealed to me, and that I could see myself wearing out and about. I even had some ideas about pieces in my wardrobe that I wanted to pair it with, which is a good sign as well.

I had to order yarn for this one, because the non existent summer knitting output in my life so far meant the summer content in my stash was woefully lacking. I went with Katia Lino 100%, a linen yarn which I thought ought to be comparable enough to the Quince and Co yarn used for the original version, though more affordable. I have no doubts that the original yarn, organic linen produced in Belgium, is priced fair for what it is but those are not always a knitters only concerns. They weren’t my only concerns that time, so I went with the Katia.

I stuck relatively close to the original colour choices. The red I went with is more of a brick/rust coloured red than Bordeaux and I went with a golden brown instead of the purple/brownish contrast colour of the original. All in all not a wild deviation from the original but for good reason because the colours were partly responsible for making me fall for the pattern in the first place.

I knitted everything mostly as per pattern, but had to make some adjustments for my row gauge which was off enough for it to matter. Since my stitch gauge was ok, my adjustments were pretty straightforward (I just knit on a bit longer). The construction differs a bit from the usual construction methods, to allow for the different stripe directions. A con from this method is that you can’t try it on for fit anywhere in the process until you are done. Less important, but I’ll mention it here anyway, it also doesn’t look like anything until you get to the last part and everything is stitched together. Knitting on it gets a bit finicky when you get to the final stage, I knit most of this while being outside over the summer and it got a bit fussy in the final stages with all those pieces just hanging loose off the needles and on stitch holders. You’ll want to make sure that before you start putting together all the parts you got all the other parts turned out in the right direction.

There is quite a bit of finishing involved in this top, and as a heads up it involves a lot of picking up stitches, particularly when finishing the armholes and neckline. I would not recommend skipping this part though, even if you hate doing it. It looks much neater, but more importantly it reinforces the armholes and neckline too, so the linen won’t stretch all out after a couple of wears. I put it on before I finished the armholes and neckline to check for fit, and the fit in general really did improve after doing all the finishing bits.

After all that I’m a bit in two minds about the tank itself. When I put it on initially I found it a bit underwhelming, not bad or anything, but also not great or spectacular. My feelings about it on first wear can be classified in the “it’s okay I guess” range. To make things more complicated I do reach for it on warm days and like wearing it. Part of the problem here is that summer and hot weather clothes just don’t excite me that much, period. I have the same problem with sewing and just getting exciting with expressing myself through clothes when the weather gets around 30 degrees. I talked about that when I joined in with the summer of basics challenge last year.

I will also say that I don’t think this among my best work in terms of knitting. That’s ok, not everything has to be, and I’m fine with things being ok. Knitting a breezy summer tank in linen is a whole different ball game than knitting a colourwork allover. Most valuable lesson is learning how to knit with linen (no joke, balls of linen start to disintegrate on eye contact!). The neckline is a bit wonky and not as neat as some of the others I have seen. I have a large bust and as such the fit on me is very different than on the model in Pom Pom, and also most knitters I’ve seen posting their projects. Does that mean it fits me badly? No, I don’t think so, but it is noticeable.

I also think in general that knitting, wearing and styling summer knits takes a bit of getting used to and perhaps also has a bit of learning curve. I knew that when I decided to knit this, and picking this project was a bit of  a deviation of my “usual style” as was the Love Note I knitted and finished before starting this. Argil too was a bit of a gamble and a wild cart project. The former turned out great, the latter “okay” and I enjoyed knitting both of them, so all in all I’d say that the gamble with knitting choices has paid off. That said, after doing projects outside of my comfort I have returned to my usual knitting habitat of stranded knitwear, colours and cables. And that’s OK too! I mean, I like what I like but I also like these occasional exciting adventures away from my normal. I guess it’s all about balance? Alternatively that is just a nice way of me finding a strategic make ethics behind what is essentially knitting whatever the knitting heart wants.

And with that deep ending I am out. Have a good weekend, everyone!

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