Step back to a May (nearly June) day one year ago, or two, or three, or four years and you would find me studying pattern release notes and making yarn and color choices for Marie Greene’s annual 4-day sweater knit-along (KAL) but not this summer. Instead, with July’s arrival, I will observe rather than participate in this summer’s KAL since I have a full task list as the co-lead of the church building team.
After spending several years in discernment, in what now feels like it was a leisurely drive on a blue-line road, it is like we are in the F1 pit lane prepping for 78 fast laps on the streets of Monaco. As May began, we purchased 40 wooded acres of urban wilderness, engaged the architects, performed soil borings and tested for Decorah Edge. In just weeks, we will begin listening sessions when we will dream of all this building might represent and then move into conceptual and schematic designs before breaking ground in September 2024 and dedicating a new building in September 2025.
With weekly planning meetings, frequent discussions with the architects, and writing regular eNews updates intended to keep member congregants and friends informed and engaged, the 4-day sweater KAL, just doesn’t gel with my mindset. But my needles will not be still as yarn for a summer silk shawl and two scarves are tucked in the rattan basket by my TV room chair.
Who doesn’t love a mystery? Whether on paper or film? Puzzle or yarn? As a reader, channeling one’s own powers of detection against the author’s controlled revelation of details which may or may not be clues leading to the discovery of whodunit. As a knitter, reveling in a new stitch and then trying to deduce where the design will go next.
Despite our Minnesota days feeling nothing like spring, it is nearly time for Marie Greene’s spring mystery knit-along (MKAL). Her new pattern will be revealed in four clues, over 10 days, April 3-13. The advance teaser alerted MKAL participants that this will be a triangular shawl in two contrasting colors, knit from top-center down, incorporate texture and special design elements, and the accompanying story will feature the adventures of one rambunctious sheep – hence the title of the MKAL and the shawl – A Sheep Story.
The March surprises in my Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club subscription could combine nicely for a lovely A Sheep Story mystery shawl. But, my April box arrives on Friday, so I will make my final decision with two new skeins in hand.
Since my knitted contributions to this year’s church auction (the Mallory Shawl and the French Oak Scarf) were successful in raising funds and as Brezel, Marie Greene’s new design for her 2023 January Sweater Workshop, is waiting in the wings, I just completed several smaller projects. Using worsted weight tweed yarn in vibrant magenta, the matching beanie and scarf combo with reversible cables was a quick project. Plus, this set gives me a head start on next year’s auction donations.
And for a sneak peak at Brezel details — With a release date of December 30 for Knit Campers like me, Bretzel incorporates Bavarian twisted stitches and German short rows to create an overall design resembling a platter of carefully crafted pretzels. And, yes, the name of the sweater is the German translation of this symmetrically twisted, salty snack. In the weeks ahead, in addition to the knitting lessons shared during this sweater workshop, there is a promise of pretzel baking lessons. Yumm!
The color combos and at-gauge swatches knit in beautiful yarns as shared by my fellow Knit Campers proved too tempting. With today’s cast-on (after wavering earlier this month) I joined Marie Greene’s sixth annual 4-Day knit-along (KAL). Free patterns (always well designed and precisely written) and advance access prior to the actual pattern drop are among the many Knit Camp membership benefits. So while this KAL officially begins tomorrow, I already have Comfy worsted cotton in a lovely mix of silver sage and planetarium blue on my needles.
Sailaway is a top-down cardigan which takes its inspiration from the current popular Coastal Grandmother Aesthetic fashion style – classic, loose fitting designs, often in natural fibers, and perfect for a summer in the Hamptons. (Imagine Diane Keaton or other older women living in luxurious oceanfront properties.) Having just celebrated 70, with a swatch of purple contrasting against my more salty coiffure, I definitely fall into that demographic group sans the beach house.
I am vacillating as to whether or not to join Marie Greene’s six annual 4-Day sweater knit-a-long (KAL). While I do not aspire to knit a sweater in just four days, I can satisfactorily attest to the success of my previous 4-Day KAL participation. Each of my three projects, Foxtrot in 2019, Soundtrack during the summer months of our 2020 Covid quarantine and last summer’s Fireworks, resulted in sweaters that are worn regularly and (quite pleasantly) receive lots of compliments. All points in the pro column. Add to the positive list that this summer’s 4-Day pattern, Sailaway, was designed to accommodate different yarn weights and even different fibers. So while I don’t really need another wool sweater (lovely as they are), it is quite tempting to consider knitting one using a plant-based blended yarn. My previous cotton projects have been dishcloth gifts so definitely a more challenging endeavor.
While Marie’s summer designs always integrate a new stitch to hold KAL participants’ interest, the 4-Day pattern strives for simple lines should anyone actually feel the need for speed. This summer’s top-down, seamless cardigan fits that prerequisite. The knitter (that might be me) can opt for two contrasting colors on a slip-stitched yoke or a pattern with a little less fuss where the featured mini sails are revealed in just one complementary color. This version also sports a slightly taller collar and pinstripes.
Decisions, decisions – just like Hamlet, to KAL or not to KAL that is the question and then to decide, with or without buttons.
Reminiscent of a walk along the beach collecting shell treasures, Marie Greene describes her latest design as “watercolor-inspired waves opening into shells and scallops”. Using a lovely merino wool and silk blend, TheAquarelle Shawl is my most recent mystery knit along (KAL) project.
Trusting the designer, I cast on in real time with other Knit Campers on April 1 (no fooling) and watched my project evolve without benefit of knowing a final design other than its crescent shape. The pattern was released over two weeks in four mystery clues and revealed shells constructed with yarn drawn over rows of stitches and then mirrored in lace. The long rows of garter stitch, which anchor the decorative design elements, remind me of tides lines lightly scored in water packed sand.
In addition to the fluidity afforded by the silk, the contrasting colors of the two skeins ripple through the fabric alternating between a solid rich teal and a complimentary fingering with ivory, blue and green tones. The colors flow quite like John Lurie’s watercolors on HBO’s Painting with John proving that The Aquarelle Shawl is true to its painting namesake, aquarelle – a “technique of painting in transparent, rather than opaque, watercolours” as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica.
Just in time to tackle a spring mystery knit-along (MKAL) with Marie Greene and to learn brioche with members of the Zumbro River Fiber Artists Guild’s Knitting Group, my WIP (Work-in-Progress) count has been reduced by three on this Finished Object Friday (FOF). The deep heather blue scarf and muted lavender shawelette have yet to find homes but the vibrant yellow sweater will be gifted to a great niece or nephew arriving in May. (Shhhh! It is still a secret for the mom and dad-to-be.)
The small Gansey sweater, designed by Marie Greene, incorporates a cabled yoke for bit of decoration on the practical pullover knit using an easy to care for cotton, nylon, rayon, and silk blend. Knit in a size 2-4, my new great-great niece or nephew will have something to grow into and, hopefully, will have many days of warm wear.
The blue wool scarf is another of Marie’s designs. Reminiscent of barrel staves and trellised grape plants, the French Oak pattern reveals off-center cables traveling the length of the scarf like grape vines. And, I am starting out a new year with another Hitchhiker, perfect for a special person knit in 100% rustic silk with Czech glass beads decorating each tip. This is Hitchhiker #23 in my collection of hand-knit gifts.
In keeping with the theme of #FOFriday – finished object Friday – I am showing off my finished Vivifrom the January/February sweater knit-along (KAL) with Marie Greene. Based on progress postings and Zoom meeting reports, hundreds of other knitters enjoyed this project as much as I did.
This January Workshop KAL is the fourth of Marie’s annual offerings – something new for the New Year. Through her integrated curriculum, this community-based project allows knitters to explore the fiber arts from a faraway place; a virtual vacation each year. During the two month KAL, Marie offered technical lessons on topics such as shoulder construction, provided historical background on Danish “night” sweaters, and even shared scrumptious traditional pastry recipes – Yumm!
The KAL officially launched January 1 although Knit Campers (that’s me) were awarded an early pattern release by a few days. On December 30, I casted on 292 stitches of worsted Berroco Ultra Wool in Chili Red to start this bottom-up construction and I worked my last bind off cuff stitch on February 26. Squishy soft after blocking and plenty warm for chilly spring days.
I tend to be a monogamous knitter, that is one big project on the needles at a time, but this winter was different. As our world contended with yet another Covid variant and surging infection rates, I stayed home knitting and reading. (Are there any better cold weather tasks?) I alternated between my red Knit Camp knit-along (KAL) sweater, Vivi, and a gray gansey afghan.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines gansey as “a thick, knitted sweater made of yarn, of a type originally worn by fishermen; synonym – guernsey.”
Originating over 400 years ago on the Channel Islands, traditional ganseys were tightly knit for warmth and as a resistant barrier against cold sea winds and salty sprays. Stitch patterns were inspired by everyday objects aboard ship – lines (ropes), ladders, and nets. My afghan incorporates repeats of garter ribbing, double moss, and diamond brocade stitches on either side of a diagonal chevron zigzag pattern; when put together with Berroco Vintage Chunky (for ease of washing) the result is snuggly warm.
PS – If you are looking for a romantic, period piece with a good story which also depicts the isolation of island life, check out The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
After a wardrobe review, I admit I do not need another sweater. Having knit two in 2021 that I wear infrequently due to our continued Covid stay at home-ness, I initially decided to pass on Marie Greene’s 4th annual January Workshop KAL (knit-along). But then I was swept up in the enthusiasm of my fellow Knit Campers’ yarn selections and color choices, plus Marie’s newest design features (my favorite) cables!
Ironically, while my September trip to Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands was cancelled, I will enjoy Danish artistry virtually with Vivi. Pattern pictures reveal a lattice of cabled diamonds gracing the sweater’s front and Danish stars decorating the sides. Unlike the intricate colorwork of Scandinavian cousins, these Danish designs rely on subtle stitch definition against a monochromatic backdrop. And, as always, during the eight weeks of this annual workshop KAL, Marie will share historical background, new techniques via video tutorials, and ethnic recipes for culinary exploration, as well as a large dose of “hygge” – perfect for this lingering pandemic.