Let’s Cast On Together!

Thank you all so much for your wonderful, thoughtful comments on my last post; I really loved reading your comments and hearing your thoughts on what you like about Knit-A-Longs…

…Themes of friendship, community and shared endeavour cropped up several times, as did the motivational aspects of a deadline…

Many of you seem to enjoy knowing there are folk right there to ask, should help be required… and almost all of you share my feeling that seeing what other people are making is always really inspiring.

From being good for mental health, to overcoming a sense of isolation, the joy of the KAL really is just all about doing something together and helping each other out. I’m really excited about our POLKAMANIA! cowl and glad to be preparing to knit dots together through the festive season. I struggle with the darker months of the year and a colourful, playful, yet not-too-tasking project is perfect to bring on journeys to visit relatives or for working on while watching holiday TV. I know this can be a stressful and busy part of the year, but I find that a soothing, portable project is just the thing to have on hand at such times. We can check into the Ravelry group KAL thread whenever suits and turn it into a joyful little corner of encouragement, colour-play, and dots.

KAL Rules
Cast on date: Monday 17th December, 2018
Completion deadline: Thursday 28th February, 2019
3 PRIZES (details to be announced): Monday 11th March, 2019 THE PRIZES WILL BE DOTTY

KAL Stats
Days of knitting time: 74
Segments in cowl: 24
Number of dots to knit in each cowl: 2592 (unless my maths is badly wrong!)

Between now and the cast-on date, there are a few fun things to do including making your project page on Ravelry; choosing your colours; and – very importantly! – knitting your gauge swatch. Feel free to use the KAL image above for your Ravelry project page, for your social media, or anywhere else where it will cheer you to remember that we are knitting dots together this winter.

Choosing colours
You can either plan out the whole cowl using the tutorial given in the pattern or go for an improvisational segment-by-segment approach, making up your colour combinations as you go; I’ve tried to design the pattern to allow for a completely freestyle approach, recreating the sample exactly, or something in the middle; do whatever feels good. There are 24 sections to the cowl which offer many opportunities to try out different colour combinations on the fly, if that’s your kind of thing, but if you prefer planning colours ahead, I have some suggestions: if you have a copy of the KNITSONIK Playbook Colouring Companion, you’ll see that the same motif as appears in the cowl is also there on pages 16 and 19 as part of the Polka Dots & Dolls pattern; you could colour this in to get your ideas going. If you don’t want to work directly into the colouring book for this project, you can redeem the digital download code on the inside cover of the book and get a PDF copy, from which to print out the relevant pages.

It’s also fairly easy to plot the polka-dot motif from the chart in the pattern onto squared or gridded notepaper, so that would be another way to plan your cowl before casting on if that’s what you would like to do. Equally, finding all the random balls of fingering weight yarn you have and putting them into a basket with the idea to pick combinations at random is also completely fine.

Knitting a gauge swatch
I am an extremely loose colourwork knitter and I hold my yarns in a very relaxed way in order to avoid exacerbating the arthritis in my fingers and wrists. I produce an open, soft fabric when knitting fingering weight yarn on 2.75mm needles, and many knitters I know require a needle size several sizes larger than mine in order to attain the same gauge. Additionally, if you are knitting POLKAMANIA! using 4-ply mini-skeins from John Arbon, I had just a metre or two of most of my mini-skeins left over after finishing my cowl and I actually ran out of one shade 2 rounds before the end of a segment (I sneaked in a couple of rounds of the next colour in the sequence and it’s impossible to see unless you’re really looking hard). All of which is to say that if you don’t get close to the gauge specified in the pattern – and especially if you end up making a much looser fabric that uses slightly more yarn per stitch – you may run out of yarn at a more critical point. My friend Kate has written a magnificent post about the importance of swatching to get gauge, and I heartily recommend that you read it and, also, that you either knit a swatch for your POLKAMANIA! cowl or relax into the idea that you may require different quantities of yarn to those specified in the pattern, and that – if you don’t feel like swatching – you may end up with a differently-sized cowl at the end of the process.

Finally, I’m thrilled to reveal who won the giveaway! I wrote out the names of everyone who commented on my last post on pieces of paper, folded each one twice, then asked my enthusiastic comrade, Mark*, to pick one out at random.

He chose Mary Jo, who says “This sounds like a lot of fun! My wonderful local yarn shop closed and I miss the group that used to meet there, though some of us continue to get together. There were often group projects going on at the shop and a KAL sort of reproduces that feeling of knitting together with a group and helping each other with problems that come up.”

Congratulations, Mary Jo! I’ll email you directly for your postal address and post out your goodies tomorrow.
Thank you – and thanks to everyone else, too – for affirming how much fun it can be to Knit-A-Long together.
See you in the Ravelry group?


*who specifically instructed me to use the silliest photo of him picking out a winner for this post.

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