What I Learned From the KAL …

Last month I joined the 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit Along (KAL).  I finished the project four weeks later but will not join another KAL.  What happened?

There were good aspects of the KAL …

  • The pattern was well written by an experienced designer and pattern writer, Michele Bernstein aka PDXKnitterati.
  • The KAL was well organized:  Each of the four weeks’ clues arrived every Friday morning; no hastily written errata was sent to participants.
  • There was support for participants who needed assistance – or simply wanted the camaraderie:   KAL participants could join its related Ravelry group.
  • The yarn I used (a Knitted Wit single ply fingering weight wool purchased at a local yarn shop) was great.

But those were outweighed by other factors …

  • It was not a pattern that, had I seen in advance, I would have chosen to knit.
  • I prefer shawls with much more give (e.g., lots of lace or garter stitch), long arms (such as the old styles that the wearer could tie around her waist), and/or shawls that rest easily on the shoulders but can be pinned in front.
  • I do not like the half-pi style shawl in what is mostly stockinette stitch.
  • I would not have selected the colors I did had I seen the pattern in advance.

I think that were I a novice knitter (with a computer, of course), I would have enjoyed the whole KAL premise more …

  • The pattern was very simple.  While I would have enjoyed it more if it were along the lines of an Orenberg lace, undoubtedly fewer knitters would or could participate.
  • KALs provide a camaraderie, albeit virtual, where knitters can share problems they are experiencing with the pattern.  But if a knitter encounters no problems and/or doesn’t have a need or interest in posting pictures of her/his progress, then I’m unsure what purpose KALs serve.

So it didn’t work for me …

  • I like to match yarns to patterns.
  • I like the option to alter patterns so the outcomes better fit my tastes.  (This means I need to see what the finished pattern is intended to look like.)
  • While I will knit simpler or repetitive patterns when I travel or knit with others around a (real) table, at home I prefer a challenging pattern or designing my own.

eraseHere is a quick snap of the shawl in all its unblocked, colorful glory.

I looked at this completed shawl and wondered what I should do with it.  Both Thor and I think the yarns individually are gorgeous but don’t work together in this pattern.

  • I sent this picture to my dear friend (and a very elegant dresser), Diana; her tepid response was my answer.
  • I sent this picture to my daughter; she thought it would make a fine Christmas tree skirt.

I unwound the shawl.  I will use the green (definitely a Diana color), yarn to make something for her birthday next year.  The blue yarn I’m keeping for myself. :)

About sweatyknitter

Fiber artist, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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34 Responses to What I Learned From the KAL …

  1. Glenda says:

    Oh, dear. That’s a lot of effort to not like your finished product.


  2. kiwiyarns says:

    I can’t believe you frogged the whole thing! You knitted it beautifully, despite the issues you had with the colours However, I see what you mean, and I totally agree with your thoughts. One of the reasons I don’t think I could do a mystery KAL either!


  3. Ruth says:

    I can see what you mean – I probably would have been frustrated too. I’ve always wondered about KALs where you don’t know what you’re knitting in advance. I think I’m much too much of a control freak to enjoy it!


  4. Margo says:

    I think you did well to get to the end of a project you didn’t like – I would have given up much sooner! But its always good to try something new I suppose even if the outcome is not what you’d have chosen.


  5. textileshed says:

    KALs and mystery quilts… not for me either, nope.


  6. Agree with you. Sometimes we learn the hard way.


  7. caityrosey says:

    I’ve never done a mystery knit along for exactly those reasons. But unlike you, I haven’t learned my lesson yet. I am constantly tempted.

    I keep telling myself that if I go with a designer I know and like that I’ll be fine. But I’m so afraid of a color disaster. I wonder if there are mystery knit alongs out there where the designer provides some examples of good color combinations for the pattern. I think that would be helpful.


  8. Curls & Q says:

    Q – I concur with the color choice. Unless the shawl specifically says lace, I don’t join. Down-here-where-we-haven’t-had-a-Winter, shawlettes are perfect! I’ve done two lovely, lacey KAL shawls by Goddess knits. The last one had beads. I’ve found the KAL problem with hats. I don’t like those hard brims, joined one with one of my favorite designers and I didn’t finish.

    All that work to tear it out, good decision. LOL!


  9. knitnkwilt says:

    I agree, although I’ve never done a mystery KAL; I have done mystery quilts with groups I “know” online for group enjoyment. However, I too have sworn off. Most mystery quilts do give color suggestions, or at least value suggestions and hints where to put large prints. Even so I have ended up with fabrics next to each other that didn’t work. I’ve been lucky to have fallen behind, so gotten to see the finished result ahead. I then repurpose what I have already sewn.


  10. That’s kind of how I feel about KALs too. What a shame to have to undo all those hours of work though!


  11. ethgran says:

    I agree with your daughter. I knew what your solution would be before I read it.


  12. jengolightly says:

    I agree with your view on KAL’s. Never been tempted. I met a bunch of really nice ladies once who were all happily doing a very complicated kal mystery blanket, and there was so much work for each month, apparently you couldn’t really do any other projects alongside. I recently knit a shawl however that I didn’t like as it was too bright and after hiding it for a year and then blocking it, now I really like the vibrant colour work now.


  13. salpal1 says:

    I don’t think I would enjoy a myatery KAl, either – in fact, the one I joined, I waited until the whole pattern was released to do it. Cheating, I know. However, I do enjoy a good KAl where there are no mysteries. they motivate me to finish things i might not otherwise. Right now I am participating in the KNitting Sarah’s sock KAl – the only rule is to knit some on socks every day, iit is makeing me get socks done. I also did a CAL blanket – I did not know the stitches, but I saw the blanket that inspired the CAl, and I chose the colors accordingly. It turned out well, and I finished a huge blanket in record time. So it just depends on how it is set up, for me. If you are looking fro a knitting community, it is a way to join one. If you aren’t, or don;t need that motivation, then they aren’t worth the trouble. Now as for your shawl – good on you frogging it completely – those colors are too beautiful to remain in that garment. :-)


  14. cleo14 says:

    Oh, I love it, zany colors and all. Albeit I agree that I probably wouldn’t have picked the pattern. It just doesn’t seem practical.


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