All About Our Cheerleaders

Jen mentioned in the launch post that Ann and Kay of Mason-Dixon Knitting will be writing the forward to A Year of Techniques. Having talked them through the concept and given them a look through the fuzzy snapshots we have of the samples, I think they're as excited as we are. As our Stateside cheerleaders, we asked them to take a break from high kicks and put their pom poms (knitted, obviously) down for long enough to answer a few questions.

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FO: Stopover Sweater

Whoosh! And it was done!

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In a shade over 2 weeks I have officially banged out this sweater. And now I'm not taking it off. No, really, I'm not! It is light and snuggly and warm, and it is giving me that warm glow of satisfaction in the creation of something beautiful and useful. I'm trying hard not to immediately cast on another one...

Just in case you've missed any of my excitement over the last fortnight, this is a Stopover, designed by the delightful Mary Jane Mucklestone. Jim and I edited up some extra sizes for the pattern, to help with the excitement that Kay and Ann have generated with their Bang Out A Sweater KAL. They are world class enablers. Resistance truly is FUTILE! You can browse the beautiful finished sweaters on Instagram with the bangfinisher hashtag.

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There's been a bit of chatter over on Ravelry about adding short rows to the back neck, in order to raise the back/drop the front neck. So I thought I'd share my blocking photo here... This is how I shaped my neckline while it was damp, and then left it to dry. I've not added any short rows. It's entirely shaped as per the original instructions in the pattern. I followed Mary Jane's excellent advice to block it firmly to the shape I wanted, and then I marked the back neck by weaving in some of the orange contrast, to remind myself which side was which. I'm not sure that adding short rows would have improved on this particularly! So trust in Mary Jane, and just shape it while damp. :)

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I will do almost anything to avoid knitting with 3 colours in a round, so the contrast pops of orange and teal at the neck were added by duplicate stitch (Swiss darning) at the very end. I then went round and patted and prodded the stitches in the colourwork and darning while it was damp, to ensure that everything was looking its absolute best. I'm constantly amazed by the power of a bit of poking at this stage in a garment. It's transformative!

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If you're inspired to make your own Stopover, I'm de-stashing my leftovers... You can find all the details on my Ravelry trade or sell pages: Leftover Lopi

There is still plenty of time to knock one out before the weather warms up!

Pounding out a sweater

I can't put it down. Since I cast on last week, I've knitted the body and 1.5 sleeves. This jersey is everything Kay and Ann promised. Satisfying and most of all QUICK! My plan is this: Continue to knit monogamously on my Stopover, and then enjoy being snuggly warm wearing it, while I knit the remainder of my Alfrick socks for the BomBella Colourwork KAL.

I thought I'd be able to balance work on each of these projects, but in reality, I am overtaken by the fact that I just want to be wearing the sweater! And I want to be wearing it right now. I am hoping to finish the second sleeve tonight, and it should then be a sprint through the yoke. Once I join the pieces in a design like this I feel like it gets faster and faster until the final stitches are cast off and it's done. No doubt it's the decreasing number of stitches in the rounds, but I'm sure I just knit more quickly too. At times in my past knitting life I've knitted on many projects at once, but more and more I'm finding that monogamous attention to one project is what works best for me. It feels like I finish things more quickly if I focus on them. It doesn't stop me daydreaming about the next project though, and I have a few ideas up my sleeve...

A Tale of Two Knitalongs

I am so easily enabled. It's ridiculous! I have a number of great projects in my queue on Ravelry, all waiting patiently with yarn and pattern in a bag and ready to grab at a moments notice. But all it takes is the feeling of excitement emanating from scores of knitters online, and I'm diverted - printing off a new pattern, and searching for the right yarn. Exactly this has happened to me, not once but twice in the last fortnight!

First up was Bombella's Colourwork KAL. I've been talking about making colourwork socks for some time. And up until now, I've not taken that leap. I wouldn't say that I was exactly scared of them, but something deep in my psyche has definitely pressed my pause button. I love colourwork, and have made a good number of colourwork accessories and garments, but never socks. So Ella's KAL with the promise of support, and plenty of fun chatter around techniques and tips, was the perfect opportunity to jump in the deep end! I'm casting on a pair of Alfrick socks. It's a beautiful design by Rachel Coopey - and I've had the yarn waiting in my stash since I first edited the pattern last year. I'm using Lang Jawoll which has the added bonus of coming in 50g balls, so I only needed to purchase 100g of yarn (rather than 200g for sock yarns with the more common 100g put-up). I also plan to use the little bobbins of reinforcing thread for the heels and toes, since that's where I wear through my socks most frequently.

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Image © Rachel Coopey

Then as if one KAL wasn't enough... I've been following the Mason-Dixon blog for a good while now. It's been a joy to see Kay and Ann return to regular blogging. They really make me laugh and I love the feeling of community that their blog has created. They started to post about wanting to Bang Out A Sweater in a few weeks... A sweater you could wear before the weather improves... Tempting. Their chosen pattern was Stopover by Mary Jane Mucklestone.

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Image © Kathy Cadigan; Design © Mary Jane Mucklestone

It's a design in létt lopi, knitted at a loose gauge to give a light airy fabric. Sounds lovely! But I got tipped over the edge when Mary Jane emailed to ask if Jim and I could add some extra sizes to the pattern, ready for the KAL. I'm a sucker for being made to sit and look at pretty sweater pictures all day! I just couldn't resist! So I made a swift yarn order, and I'm ready to go. If you want to see a heap of pretty lopi sweater pictures, I recommend checking out the #BangOutASweater hashtag on Ravelry and on Instagram in the following weeks. There are some lovely colourways in progress. Who knows? One sweater may not be enough...

Given how easily lead I am, can anyone else be tempted into joining me? Gwaaan, you know you want to!