What’s the worst timing for a knitalong? How about during the run-up to the year-end holidays? When everybody has family stuff and school pageants and cookie baking and house-decorating and latke-frying, and maybe even—shriek—holiday gifts to knit? Surely that’s the worst time for a knitalong.
Or is it?
We think it could be the best time for a knitalong, and we’re just crazy enough to try it.
Stay With Us on This
When we launched the new MDK a few weeks ago, we alluded to a new forum feature. We’re calling it The Lounge. Behind the scenes, we’ve been stocking up on acidic coffee and laying in stir sticks, sugar packets and Cremora. The Lounge will open officially on November 7, and we’re hoping it will be a place of refuge, respite and renewal.
There just isn’t enough room in a comments thread to kick off your shoes and talk over really important stuff, such as which Stephen West shawl to make with the leftovers from a Squad Mitts kit, and what brand of vegan bouillon is best for a chicken-free version of Carrington Fox’s crock pot sweet potato soup recipe. (It’s Better Than Bouillon.)
Earlier this year, we had a fantastic time doing our Bang Out a Sweater knitalong. This was a knitalong with a ridiculously ambitious goal: to knit a Stopover sweater in a month’s time or less. We were bowled over by the response. Hundreds of Stopovers were cast on and bound off last February, and hundreds more continued to cross the finish line since then. Great conversations got started: how to cardiganize an Icelandic pullover, what to do about those holes under the armpits, how to make a sweater all crazy-like—those are just a few of the tangents we went off on. We began to wish, fervently and futilely, that there was a 24/7 place where all this conversation could take place, where people could easily communicate with each other. At the time, we had just started the project to redesign MDK. Hey! We could add a forum feature! And so we did.
A Lounge-Warming Party
What better way to open up The Lounge than with a knitalong? A knitalong provides juicy and urgent topics of conversation; it’s a real ice-breaker. But in November, it’s hard to imagine getting a posse together to knit a large extracurricular project, because of The Holidays. (The Holidays include, but are not limited to: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year.)
At holiday time there are several types of knitters.
- Some are knitting furiously, in a grim effort to complete a list of gifts in time to get them wrapped and given by The Holidays, even if they still have the needles in them.
- Others refuse to knit gifts at all; they are resting comfortably with a glass of mulled cider while knitting something nice for themselves, or at least something that doesn’t have a deadline.
- A third group—and this is the group most in need of our compassionate heart-blessing—doesn’t yet know that when their holiday of observance is two weeks away, they suddenly will hear the call to knit gifts, at which point they will throw off their flour-coated aprons, and sit down and knit 22 hours a day.
This is a knitalong for all these people. There is no pattern specified. It’s a giftalong.
If you’re in the first group, you’re in at the beginning. You’ve got problems. You’ve got challenges. You’ve got several spread sheets going. You’ve got sweaters on your list that need to become hats, and pairs of socks that need to become a single sock down payment for Christmas, and a second sock as a balloon payment on Epiphany. You need the company of your kind.
If you’re in the second group, you need a place to go and rubberneck without mercy, hopped up on snickerdoodles and smug as hell. You’re looking forward to stirring up trouble by mentioning that you saw a scarf exactly like that at Target, when you were shopping instead of knitting.
And if you’re in the third group, we’ll see you in a few weeks.
On November 7, the doors to The Lounge will swing open. You will behold a dream-like vista: second-hand corduroy sofas as far as the eye can see, punctuated here and there by those super-comfy nursing gliders that have the distinction of being the only furniture ever designed that does not go with any other style of furniture. There, on a giant wall of hooks, hangs your favorite Colonial Williamsburg souvenir tankard. Fill it up from the caf or de-caf Poly Perk pot, stir in the flavored coffee whitener of your choice, and settle in. This is a place where we can be open and honest and not fear judgment.
Share your list—be it selfishly short or largessively long—of holiday handknit gifts. Do you hear laughter? That’s the laughter of love. It’s the guffaws of grace, the snortiveness of supportiveness. We embrace you, you big nut. We want you to win at holiday knitting.
On November 14, the knitalong officially starts. This means you have two weeks from today to get your list and your yarn and your act together. We’ll have a good time, and maybe some Loved Ones will get some presents out of the deal.
There Will Be Door Prizes
We haven’t figured out the details yet, but there will be a few prizes along the way. We need motivation more motivating than not having a handknit present for somebody. All prizes will be awarded in The Lounge, where we have one of those fold-up masonite banquet tables covered in a Party City plastic tablecloth. We’re bringing it up from the basement, just for Prize Display purposes.
It Ain’t a Party Without a Hashtag
While we will have ample space for being Proud in The Lounge once it’s open, as we march toward November 7, feel free to share your gift-knitting ingredients, planning and preparation with the #MDKgiftalong hashtag on Instagram. We’ll repost plenty of them on our @mymasondixonknitting feed.
(I’ve started the Gathering of the Yarns for my gift-knitting. I’m sticking with my plan to just knit a bunch of stuff that I want to knit anyway, pile it all up, and start sticking gift tags on it in late December.)
We hope you join us, either in actually knitting or just hanging out causing trouble. See you on November 7. And November 14.