Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mystery Knitalongs - the good, the bad and the beautiful!

Regular readers will know that I am a sucker for a Mystery Knitalong, some are a real joy, while others test your knitting ability and others, well others are just not quite what you expected! 

Often mystery knits come with a disclaimer - that there is no refund just because you don't like the result............  I find this quite funny, as it would appear that having knitted from the pattern some people then try to claim their money back, because they aren't taken with the finished article!  Isn't that like watching a film on DVD and then asking for your money back because you didn't enjoy the film - or eating a meal and then saying you didn't like it! 

There are some mysteries, however, that exceed all your expectations and I am pleased to say that this Mysterious KAL Shawl by Romi has done just that and more.  I signed up for this one because:

1. I had never knitted one of her patterns before and
2. I had heard excellent reports/feedback.

Initially I was a little unsure, the first clue had been released in a kit several weeks early and looking at the project pages I wasn't sure that this was going to be mine kind of shawl - wrong, wrong, wrong it everything I had hoped for and it is beautiful!!! Each clue came with a verse which on the last clue revealed the name of the pattern Cactus Flower - can you see what I mean?

Here is the first shawl, yes I did say first - I was so smitten and concerned that my hand spun yarn wasn't doing justice to the pattern that I started another.............

This time using the yarn I had frogged from another KAL..............  should really have used the colours the other way round, but by the time I realised it was too late!

So then to the good KALs - and what makes a good KAL?  Well obviously a good design, well written and clear charts are crucial - error free also helps.  A realistic amount of knitting in each clue is essential - too much and the participants are always running on catch-up, too little and the fast knitters are finished too soon, so a good balance is key. 

Here I am harping back to a MKal that I knitted in 2011, Round the World in 80 Days, an absolutely super shawl, but Clue 12 was 46 rows on well over 1200 stitches, huge - took weeks and weeks (I did notice that other knitters only did the first 18 rows, while me I followed the pattern to the letter) by then of course further clues had been released and the mojo had gone.........  I did finish, but weeks after the final clue was released.

Another key, in my opinion, is method - a lot of shawls are basically two triangles with a centre spine stitch - but there are many other ways to create a shawl besides the tried and tested two triangles - square, crescent, circular, semi-circular, and heart shaped are the most common, while Shetland shawls begin with half a square and have a knit on border and so on and on.    Then there is the question where to start top or bottom - so quite a lot of choice so it helps it the KAL is a little different to the norm.

Two really good Kals  were Blooming Fuchsia

and Princess and Pea

both by Lilygo I would recommended them to anyone, in fact I am already signed up for the Fox and the Grape MKal safe in the knowledge that I won't be disappointed.

So - what makes a bad mystery - well for me anything that includes a lot of garter stitch, and or just colour changes and a definite no no is anything that doesn't flow - one stitch selection needs to change effortlessly to the next and so on!  A great example of what I consider a good design is this shawl from LindaCC - Spring Maple see how the stitch develops in perfect symmetry.

That isn't to say that such Kals are bad, nothing creative is bad, it is just that I prefer something with a bit texture that challenges my knitting knowledge, I love beads and lots of 'yarn overs and k2togs'  and I am getting to enjoy nupps now for what they can add to a design.  I do not like endless stocking or garter stitch even if there some sort of shaping I did enough of that when I was a child - dish cloths and the like..................

Finally the thing that makes a good MKal is the fact that there are many knitters all knitting the same design at the same time, sharing experiences, problems and solutions - it is a community thing, a sense of belonging, being part of a group of like minded people who will support and suggest answers - who although all knitting the same pattern produce at the end very unique and individual items, no two are ever the same...................


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