My First Knit-a-Long

It’s been awhile since I posted. What have I been up to? Knitting! Well that and lots of travel. Too much in fact!

Two books from Quince & Co. Home and Away and Madder 2
Two books from Quince & Co. Home and Away and Madder 2

I’ve just finished my very first knit-a-long (KAL). I’ve always been tempted, but nothing has ever bit. I’m particularly uneasy about “Mystery KALs” because I worry I won’t like the end product. Money, time and opportunity costs are problematic when they are in limited supply.

So what’s different this time? Plenty!

The Woolful KAL for July had no time limit and no pattern choice—just a book choice. And what a lovely book it is: Home and Away: Knits for Everyday Adventures by Hannah Fettig. I love the clean lines and simplicity of the patterns—it matches my aesthetic to a tee. And I knew just from glancing through the patterns on Ravelry, I’d be learning new skills along the way.

Collar is 72 rows of garter stitch
Collar is 72 rows of garter stitch

Being me, I couldn’t choose one pattern—I had to put my stamp on it, so I merged the Georgetown which had the shaping and sizing I loved with the Hancock which had the fabric I loved. The garter edging just stood out and it also reminded me of another of one of Carrie Bostick Hoge’s patterns in my queue, Maeve.

Kathryn Taylor Chocolates--made here in Orcas Island
Yummy Kathryn Taylor Chocolates–made here in Orcas Island. One of the things that helped me finish!

At first I made very rapid progress, so much faster than on Nick’s sweater, which seemed to take a huge amount of time. Of course bigger needles and DK instead of sport weight also had something to do with it, but the complexity of the pattern (the KAL is much easier) also had an impact. But there was trouble in paradise.

It turned out well shaped for my body
Shaped to fit me

In a knit.fm podcast (the 8th?) Pam Allen said something like “It’s much harder to create a simple pattern.” I agree. To add to that, knitting classic, simple looking patterns can be challenging to get right. This is because they show everything. So while the knitting went quickly, I felt like I was constantly tearing it out and starting over. This is not the pattern’s fault—these were errors you’d think I would have grown out of my now!

Obvious color change when I changed skeins
Obvious color change when I changed skeins discovered on a flight to Atlanta

The Challenges:

Even though I’d remembered to alternate balls on Nick’s hand-dyed sweater which used hand dyed yarn, I failed to do so on the WoolfulKAL. And as a regular reader of The Fringe Association blog, I’d also seen Karen Templar have a similar experience. Yet there I was starting over 2/3 of the way up the back.

The cap shaping fit with the body like a glove
The cap shaping fit with the body like a glove–only after I counted every row!

Then there was the back and front panels being off by two inches. I was doing this sweater mostly on airplanes and I’m a “carry-on” fanatic. So I didn’t have the back piece with me when I knit the fronts (the advantage of knitting in pieces). In the end, I was counting every row front, back and sleeves to make sure they all matched identically. Yet another reason for me to try out top down, seamless knitting and Hannah suggests.

The last issue is another one we all know—that your gauge changes if you knit at different times. And though you can often block these things out, sometimes you just can’t. On my longest flight to and from Seattle-Frankfurt. I got loads of knitting done on the seemingly endless collar only to find that jetlagged knitting isn’t good knitting—dropped stitches, split stitches—things I haven’t done in years. So the entire collar had to removed and redone.

It’s all finished now and the first thing I did was curl up in it and fall asleep. I guess you can teach an old knitter new tricks!

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