Making Together

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There’s something about knitting with other people that gives me joy in my heart. This has got to be because, in a world full of non-makers who give you the side eye when you tell them how much it costs to knit a pair of socks, knitters just get it. They understand that, even though you can pick up a really cute cardigan from Joe Fresh for as low as $15 and a 10-pack of socks costs a mere handful of dollars at Walmart, the act of knitting is far greater than the sum of its parts. Where a non-maker sees a plain sock, I see a stress relieving lunch time trip to the LYS in search of the perfect yarn. I see hours of patient work, simultaneously calming and exciting as my vision is realized one stitch at a time. I see a loved one who would be stuck shivering in the cold wearing horrible acrylic if I hadn’t swooped in and draped them in warm wool. Wearing a garment that I’ve lovingly and painstakingly crafted gives me a feeling of pride that lasts for years longer than any satisfaction gained from owning a ready-to-wear garment that, no matter how nice, will invariably come apart at the seams long before my handmade ones will. And when I hang around with knitters, this all goes unsaid. We know why we’re here together, and that is enough.

It took me a long while to muster up the courage to hang out with flesh-and-blood knitters, and before I managed to come out of my introverted shell, I conferred with the knitters of the internet. Like many online communities, the virtual knitting community is a vibrant one. The camaraderie I’ve shared with strangers who share a common lust for a favorite yarn company or designer(s) has done much to spur me on to trying new, different, better things. Despite being a highly self-motivated person in general, there’s something about the encouragement of people who understand exactly why that stranded colourwork sweater you’re slowly talking yourself into making is awesome that helps me to push myself to do more.

Where online knitters leave flesh-and-blood knitters in the dust is in the organization of knitalongs, and right now there are many to choose from. The one that I’m very interested in participating in is the Outfit Along hosted by Lauren of Lladybird and Andi of Untangling Knots. This is the second year that these two awesome ladies have hosted their makealong and, now that I’m somewhat proficient with the ol’ sewing machine, I want to get in on the action.

Though Andi and Lauren have taken the trouble of choosing official dress and cardigan patterns for participants, the point of the OAL is to make an outfit that you love, and not using these patterns won’t disqualify anyone from entry. And so, being mindful of my pledge to make more from my stash this year, I’ve decided to do something a little different. For the sweater, I’ve chosen to combine two patterns: Justyna Lorkowska’s Florrick, for the beautiful cable panel in the back that made me swoon the first time I saw it, and Gudrun Johnston’s Audrey in Unst, a pattern whose construction I am already very familiar with. Whereas the official OAL sweater pattern calls for DK weight yarn, my sweater will be made using a long-stashed fingering weight Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the luscious Gypsy colourway. Not only does using a lighter weight yarn allow me to be prudent and use my stash, it will also help me to fill a long standing lightweight cardigan gap in my wardrobe. Plus, I’ll be able to wear it without melting on breezy summer evenings.

As for the dress, I’m very excited to be making a Collette Peony, a stashed pattern, out of the wicked awesome breton stripe rayon pictured above. This dress pattern, if the internet is to be believed, is supposed to be easy-peasy to make, so I’ll be challenging myself in other ways. This will be my first foray into pattern matching, which could prove to be a bit more challenge than I bargained for due to the slightly irregular nature of the stripes. This will also be my first time sewing a garment with sleeves, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that, if the sleeves look like they’re going to be a huge hassle or like they won’t turn out, I am more than happy to jettison them if I need to. That I’ll be focusing on perfecting the fit hardly needs to be said.

Okay, okay, I know I have a less than stellar record of meeting KAL deadlines. But with a whole two months within which to finish both projects, I know that I can at least give it a good try. The worst that can happen, after all, is that I won’t meet the deadline. I will eventually, however, be the proud owner of what is basically the outfit of my dreams, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Fellow makers: Show me your OAL plans!

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