What’s on my Needles: Follow Your Arrow MKAL

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If you’re not familiar with MKALs (Mystery Knit-alongs), then you’ll be forgiven for not understanding the excitement and buzz it brings around the knitting groups on Ravelry. All I can say is, have a go and see for yourself!

Let me explain…A mystery knit along is exactly what it is, a mystery. In short, you enter into a project without knowing what the end result will be. You do, however, know WHAT you are knitting, you just won’t know the outcome. It is more fun than it sounds, really!

The designer, in this case, Ysolda issues the first clue with tools and material requirements to set you up, then week by week a new clue is issued giving you instructions to follow. In the Follow Your Arrow MKAL, there were 5 clues in all and each of them gave options to choose direction A or B. This gave up to 32 design possibilities for the shawl.

IMG_9933_medium2The MKAL journey from start to finish

13 Jan – CLUE 1B: 1B sounded more challenging than 1A (and I must be a sucker for ‘suffering for one’s art’!). C1: Blue – “Rittersporn”, C2: Yellow -“Daisy”.

16 Jan: Bah! It turned out shit! The Yellow “Daisy” yarn was just so wrong for this project. I’d been advised to find better matched yarns, so I did some more stash-diving. I must admit, I wasn’t too happy about having to start again. By this time, I’d lost the enthusiasm for it. 😦

17 Jan: OK, I didn’t fancy doing everything all over again with the old version, so I decided to cast on for Option 1A. This option was SO much more enjoyable to knit! I lassoed in the “Lounge Lizard” and kicked out the “Daisy” and what an improvement! Much happier with this one! 🙂

New arrangement: C1= Green – The Plucky Knitter Feet in “Lounge Lizard”, C2= Blue – Wollmeise Pure 4ply in “Rittersporn”.

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21 Jan – Clue 2B: It took a bit of head scratching to understand the instructions. Looked like others had the same issue too. Anyway I completed it, but realised my small mistake in that I should have done Stst on the top section using C2, but instead did garter st. Too late to rip – not sure that I was all that bothered about it. We’ll see how it affects clue 3.

giraffe_shawlSo far the shawl has taken on a shape that is quite….alien!

…and the giraffe? Hmm, yes, I’ve got a funny story about him! Well, on the group forum, it was discussed that we should try to photograph our progress shawls accompanied by cute pets (there were lots of cats, dogs, bunnies, chickens etc. posted at this point). Since I don’t have any pets, I thought “well, this guy owes me a favour, why not?” I hope to win the pet competition! 😉

29 Jan – Clue 3A: For what appeared to be a simple and short lace pattern, it was devilishly hard to line up with my existing stitches! Done it, but not without bodging it up along the way. Well, it gives it character, doesn’t it?

03 Feb – Clue 4A: In the words of Penelope Pitstop: “Hayulp!” I just couldn’t seem to line up the pattern correctly. Checked the spoilers to see an example beforehand, in order to proceed. Found one. Ripped back. Fixed it! Uh, oh!…but then again….oh dear! My stitches have grown legs and walked out on me!! But How??? 😦

10 Feb – Clue 5B: Yep! I’ve created work for myself. For this clue, it’s an edging that’s knitted sideways along the live sts, so it is essential that the stitch counts are accurate…which they’re not! Fun, fun fun!!

16 Feb: …and fun it was! Luckily, I had about 85g of C2 left, so I modified the 5B edging by slowing down the rate of decrease. In the pattern, each repeat is decreased by 1 st. So instead of decreasing at the given rate, I would ignore those decreases for 3 repeats. My version begins with 30 sts for the first repeat, then I stayed with pattern until I had 26 sts – from then on, each rep went down as follows: 26, 26, 26, 25, 25, 25, 24, 24, 24 etc. until it ended with 20 sts at the final few repeats. And I still had yarn left over.

IMG_031117 Feb: It had an overnight blocking that took over the entire room! The shape is tricky to block, so I based it on the Nike ‘tick’ logo and followed the contours in that direction. Blocked measurements: 185cm x 75cm It’s a biggie!

To summarize:

A truly fabulous journey! It was fun, intriguing, baffling and a learning experience. This MKAL introduced some of the most technical knitting I had ever encountered. Ysolda’s video support really helped to visualize certain aspects and techniques, which enabled me to successfully put them into practice.

So yes, the end result is a shawl that looks confusing, charming, or maybe a little odd perhaps, but you CAN see arrows! Plus, it will not in any way look like anyone else’s shawl! A unique piece that will be a talking point amongst my friends! 🙂

I love the colours and I’m so glad I settled for these two instead of my first choice.

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