Page 197, or 10 Reasons To Knit a Sweater in Hawai'i

Posted on by MK Carroll

Last night I know I ordered decaf, but I don't think I got decaf, which is why I was up late again last night. Has nothing to do with realizing 3/4 of the way through the Aloha Knitters meeting that I'd fouled up the provisional cast-on for the short row toe on the second sock and had to frog it and start over (Trekking, wool, not going to my mother because Trekking makes a thin fabric and she wants, basically, a smallish sheep wrapped around each foot). I love short rows and I love making a perfectly cupped toe on two needles, but I could have held off until my work commute later today. At any rate, I read through the sweater section of Knitting Rules! and, on page 197, "I Could Never Knit a Sweater": Ten Reasons Knitters Give and What I Wish I Could Say to Them, I got to number 9. "I live in Hawaii. Well, okay, fine, but don't you have an aunt in Wisconsin?"

I know. She's just sayin' (and she's right, having friends and relatives who live in colder climates is a contributing factor to wool stash). However, if Ms Pearl-McPhee happens to find herself, on her book tour, in a warm climate like Hawai'i or California, Louisiana, Texas, etc., it's not likely that she will have to give us a reason to knit a sweater.

10 Reasons to Knit a Sweater in Hawai'i

(in addition to Ms Pearl-McPhee's reason)

(...which would give us a list that goes all the way to eleven!*)

1. Microclimates. I've mentioned these before. If you've been to Manoa, up on Tantalus, to Kula, Volcano, etc., you know it can get quite cool, especially at night and in the upper elevations. When I lived in Manoa Valley, my walk to the UH campus would take me from misty and cool to dry and hot in 20 minutes. I learned to layer. Up on Haleakala, you can tell which visitors are staying at the same hotel you are, because they have the same style blanket wrapped around them.

2. A 20-degree drop in temperature is a 20-degree drop in temperature. When it goes from 80F to 60F, you will notice. It can get cold here, really. Houses often lack a certain amount of weatherproofing. My parents house, for example, has glass louver windows that have frozen into position, mostly open or partly open. This is usually not a problem, but at some times of the year, it can drop down into the 50's and 60's at night. In this weather, the concern for children and the elderly is wanting to keep them warm but also making sure they can still move under all those blankets.

3. Aggressive air-conditioning. The Aloha Knitters Honolulu meetings take place in an enclosed shopping center where management believes that what customers want is proof of civilization in the form of powerful air cooling. We aren't wearing sweaters (and shrugs and shawls) to the meetings just to show off. I've worked in a hermetically sealed, centrally controlled office building where my typing speed would begin to slow as my fingers grew numb from the cold. I looked calm and professional above the desk. Below the desk, I was wrapped in an afghan. A nice cardigan suitable for business would have been perfect, but I knew that by the time I finished knitting one, the job would be over (I was temping). Movie theaters and grocery stores are also known for keeping the AC on full blast, as well as May's boyfriend, who enjoys creating his own microclimate in his car.

4. Lace. How about an exquisite, dainty, fine-gauge lace sweater, tossed over a camisole? Knitty's Spring Fling, perhaps, or Arisaig. Look at that photo of Arisaig - the model is running around on a beach in it! [I know the water temperature is probably a little different there. shh.] Teva Durham's vintage-inspired Cashmere Lace Blouse is another example - I can't find a photo online, so if you haven't seen it, trust me. I have a fantasy involving knitting it up in something non-cashmere and just tossing it on with a pair of jeans and looking fabulous.

5. Plant fibers. Bamboo, linen, hemp, cotton, and soy, for example. Bamboo and soy are especially nice in warm climates, feeling very comfortable against the skin in warm weather.

6. Silk. I know you are thinking about the cost. Think about how silk is appropriate for so many temperatures and seasons, how you could wear it all year-round, and then think cost per use (it helps if you plan to wear it every day). It can be casual, it can be elegant, it can be purchased in a blend that is a bit easier on the finances. Some of those blends are even machine-washable. If I ever manage to find a good source for Regia Silk, I may just have to save up my pennies and then knit that Cashmere Lace Blouse, adding on small and dainty vintage buttons and crocheted button loops so that the front does not keep gaping open while I am leaning over the dairy case at the grocery store, looking for the organic 1% milk.

7: Ice Palace. (Keohinani)

Hey, nobody thought we'd have snow in Hawaii either, but we do have snow on the Big Island occasionally. Since the mountain ranges don't quite reach that high on Oahu, we have to settle for an ice skating rink, i.e. Ice Palace. If ever one wanted to simulate cold weather in the dead heat of summer or any other time of year in Hawaii, that'd be the place to go. I have an aunt whose sons play hockey there. I'm sure she would love for me to teach her how to knit a sweater so she can both entertain herself and keep warm at hockey practice.

8: Because You'd Make More Use of A Sweater than a Knitted Bikini. (Keohinani)

Let's face it: there are only so many people who can wear a knitted bikini. And of those people, most of them would rather not worry about droopy sagginess that was their knitting that would result from a romp in the water. If you don't go into the water at all, a knitted bikini is fine and dandy. But for those who would rather avoid the harmful UVA/UVB rays and self-consciousness altogether, a sweater would be more practical anyway.

9. The Joy of Knitting. (Barb, who just finished knitting the BPT sweater from Knitty)

What other reason do you need?

10. Travel. Going to visit family and friends in, say, Toronto, early April? How about that trip to New York in November? Sure, you can go shopping when you get there, but what are you going to go shopping in? A blanket from the hotel? Plus that plane ride can get chilly.

Why stop at 10? Add 'em if you've got 'em!

*I watched This Is Spinal Tap a few times when I was a kid. Just humor me on this, okay?