Tis the season for knitting! Fall starts to bring on cooler weather, so knitters and knitwear designers pick up their needles.
Although this year has been different and I’ve been knitting nearly full time since March, I still think of fall as a time to begin new projects.
KAL stands for knit-a-long in knitter’s language. Participants in KALs all work on the same design, or a group of projects by the same designer. KALs can be very organized or just put together between friends.
Soon after the pandemic began, several designers created projects with a nod to the virus. Some created little knitted virus toys, others designed scarfs or shawls. Iris Schreier designed the Flatten the Curve Scarf. My daughter’s knitting group decided to use the pattern for a KAL. When me daughter told our family about it, we all decided to join in – a very informal KAL.
Joji Locatelli is a popular designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each fall she holds a large organized KAL covering all of her (249) published patterns. She has designed shawls, wraps, pullovers, cardigans, cowls, hats and socks. In the second half of August, sign-ups open. Knitters can sign up for as many projects as they would like. I signed up for several, although I’m sure I will not be able to complete them all. There is no penalty for not finishing.
On Ravelry, the fiber community social network, forum threads are established for different categories (shawls, cardigans, etc). Knitters can share their projects, ask questions, and chat with other KAL participants. There are wonderful prizes associated with this KAL, but I don’t expect to win anything.
I started my KAL with a design called Downtown Line, using yarn I purchased in Paris in 2018. I have a good start, but am also working on several other projects at the same time.
Mystery knit-a-longs are MKALs. This group of KALs are a little different in that the designer does not reveal the entire pattern or a picture of the finished product at the beginning. The pattern is revealed in clues – usually four to six clues released a week apart.
The designer publishes a general materials list with yarn, needles, and other supplies needed. He or she will tell what type of project will be made – a hat, shawl, or sweater – with shawls being the most common. The designer may also give more clues about the shape of the project, or other details before the MKAL begins.
Once a knitter has decided to participate and has purchased the pattern, the designer will send out an information sheet with more details about suggested yarn colors or types and other helpful hints. MKALs follow a set schedule – the dates are announced before the start. As each clue is released, the knitter learns more about the pattern and will knit per the instructions.
When the MKAL is complete, the designer will usually release the pattern in its entirety. Knitters who would rather not take a chance on the mystery can then purchase the pattern and knit it at their own pace.
Organized KALs and MKALs often have prizes that have been donated by yarn, pattern, or accessory companies. Anyone who completes the project by the designated finish date will be eligible. In the KALs I have participated in, all prizes were awarded randomly.
Festival of Stitches
I completed the Festival of Stitches MKAL earlier this spring following the design clues by Lisa Hannes. At the time, I was making a point of using only yarn in my stash – something I am still trying to do – so all three yarns in the shawl were from my stash.
Stillness Shawl is a pattern by Helen Stewart. It was a MKAL that ran through the month of July. One of my daughters wanted to participate and asked me to dye yarn for her.
My daughter was going to have a later start because she wouldn’t get her yarn until we met up for the Fourth of July. I thought about knitting along with her, but put off making my decision. I went back and forth but finally decided to participate about the time the third clue was published. I used yarn from my stash of hand dyed skeins and caught up quickly. My daughter and I both finished before the deadline.
The Garden Variety MKAL was designed by Lisa Ross. I met Lisa at a yarn gathering in 2019, and was excited to participate in the MKAL. The project will be a rectangular wrap, which is a nice shape. The first clue for this project was released on September 1st; the second one today. There are two more clues to be released over the next couple of weeks.
For this project, the yarn requirements were two full size skeins for the main color and seven mini-skeins for contrast colors. I thought about trying to use scraps for the contrast colors, but I didn’t have enough yarn of seven coordinating colors. Instead, I decided to dye yarn for this project, too. The colors came out great and I am looking forward to seeing the completed shawl.
Stephen West has been putting together MKALs for several years. One of his earlier ones, the Building Blocks Shawl, was extremely popular. I have not made that one (yet) but since it came out, I have been watching the evolution of his designs. He is an interesting designer with some elaborate (a little crazy) designs and others that are updated classics.
This fall’s MKAL was just announced. Stephen West promised to give a few more clues over the next couple of weeks before sign-ups begin. Is this the year that I take the plunge and join in? What do you think?
Tour de Fleece
As if I don’t have enough projects to work on, I am also participating in Tour de Fleece. Another group on Ravelry, Tour de Fleece is an individual challenge to improve spinning ability or complete spinning projects. It runs at the same time as the Tour de France bike race.
I am a beginning spinner. I have spun and plied less than 100 yards of fiber in my life, so my goals are to improve my ability and speed. I have some nice blue (dyed) fleece to work on next, so hopefully that will keep my interest.
All Things Fiber
I am thankful for the knowledge and ability I have in fiber and knitting related activities. I have been able to weather this Covid storm by completing projects at home.
I’m looking forward to a fall filled with more fiber projects. Maybe next year, I can even go to a fiber or knitting event again!