It has been years since I twirled sparklers in the warm dark of a summer night at the lakeshore but I almost wish I had some handy to celebrate the completion of my new Fireworks sweater.
With needles poised at the ready, hordes of knitters cast on as soon as Marie Greene’s latest 4-Day knit-along (KAL) pattern dropped on July 1. Working simultaneously on the same project with 1000s of others, mostly in the U.S. but also scattered worldwide, is a unique experience. And the new Knit Camp app enabled regular progress reports from fellow “Campers” as near as Zumbrota and as far away as Yokosuka, Japan.
Fireworks marked Marie’s fifth annual sweater marathon which she describes as “A celebration of life, friendship, and new beginnings. The unique firework stitches in this design cascade down the yoke like streams of light in the night’s sky.” While I never intended to race to completion in 96 hours, I am proud to report that cast on to bind off took just 33 days. My beautiful Fireworks is off the blocking squares, photographed, the subject of this blog post and now neatly folded away just waiting for our Minnesota weather to cool (which it definitely will!)
Having become un-Stuck on my January sweater knit-along (KAL) Fiadh, although still not quite finished, I am already gearing up for Marie Greene’s fifth annual 4-Day KAL with Fireworks. My swatches to test gauge are complete and all that is missing is the pattern – which will be released July 1 complete with a celebratory Virtual Cast On Party (with prizes) at 8 am PDT / 10 am CDT for me.
This commitment to a sweater, or any project, sight unseen is highly unusual for me. While my first mystery KAL (where portions of the directions were revealed week by week) actually resulted in a very wearable item, I usually wait days or weeks or even years before joining other KAL knitters just to make sure that the pattern is a good fit with my knitting style and preferences. With great faith in Marie’s classic designs, her well-tested patterns (sometimes by over a 100 test knitters plus technical editing to find every bug) and the cheerleader-like support from the Olive Knit staff and my fellow Knit Campers, I made the plunge and purchased seven skeins of luxurious DK weight, merino yarn hand-dyed by Heather Jane at sew happy jane before the pattern reveal.
While dubbed a 4-Day KAL, pacing can be my own after all, I am the boss of my sweater. There will be those who will slam through but I plan a more sedate summer project spent on the screened porch with ice cold libations close at hand while listening to our new solar fountain bubble. This will be 4-Day number three for me. Foxtrot (2019) took over two months but I greatly reduced my completion time to 22 days for Soundtrack during our COVID lockdown. Who knows what Fireworks will bring?
When you begin knitting and, even after years of experience, there is a dread of dropped stitches unraveling your hard work. After a decade of projects (145 complete or in-progress currently listed on my Ravelry page) I am finally comfortable picking up dropped stockinette stitches or correcting a mistake in knit-n-purl ribbing. However, the intricate subtleties of stitch structure still elude me and, if the mistake occurs in a well-loved cable project or (heaven forbid) on lace work, I frog back. So you can imagine my trepidation when the August theme for Knit Camp was: Streeking.
Not familiar with that word? Neither was I. The primary definition of this transitive verb is to stretch or to extend, coming from 12th century Middle English, chiefly Scotland. As a modern day knitting technique, steeking is a multi-step process that involves preparing, cutting, and finishing the streeked item. And yes, I did say “cutting” as in taking a sharp scissors to a perfectly good item and cutting something knit in the round and making it flat. Right?!? And I wanted to do this why?
Having committed to a fun year of Knit Camp with Marie Greene and approximately 1,000 other intrepid knitters, I thought why pay for classes and then skip the work. So I knit the Soundtrack Cowl, a variation on my Soundtrack Sweater, crocheted two steeked columns, added extra back-stitched reinforcement since my HiKoo Sueño is superwash, cut a specifically planned purl column (yikes!), added a decorative binding on each side to seal the raw edges, picked up left and right side stitches to add a Knit 2 – Purl 2 ribbed button band and, finally, added eight remainder buttons. While I am satisfied with the finished project, I am pretty sure streeking will not become my new go-to knitting technique.
Who knew it could be done, a sweater knit in 4-days? Well, Marie Greene for one. While I did not make an actually four-day finish line, I did complete my version of Soundtrack in less time than allowed for the 2020 knit-along (KAL), July 1-31. The pattern officially dropped on July 1 for the thousands participating in this KAL but as a Knit Camp camper I had 24-hour advance availability. With yarn purchased from my local yarn store (LYS) Northfield Yarn and my swatch meeting gauge in hand, I cast-on on June 30 and completed my second sleeve on July 21. My final progress report with ends woven in and sweater off the blocking squares was posted on July 28. Soundtrack is a top-down sweater with rows of colorwork representing LP record grooves, hence the name. My progress reports incorporated some of my favorite albums in keeping with the KAL theme.