It is February the first, and in the 28 days of this short, wintry month, we are banging out a Norah Gaughan cabled sweater.
This is MDK’s fourth annual February whirl, a knitalong we call Bang Out a Sweater. If you’re just tuning in, all the details are here.
For some, it’s your first cabled sweater. You’re so lucky that your first cables are designed by Norah Gaughan. You are about to discover the ingenuity and grace that make cable knitting such a thrill, and turn knitters into lifelong fans of Norah’s work.
For others, it’s your first sweater, period. Will there be a learning curve? Yes. Could you have a better guide than a set of instructions by Norah Gaughan? No. You could not. You can do it, and dozens of your fellow bangers-out, of all skill levels, are here to help you through any sticky wickets along the way.
Some have been plotting, planning, and swatching for Bang Out a Sweater since we announced it back in November.
Others just woke up this morning and said to themselves, What the hell—LET’S DO THIS THING. You’ve got to make some quick decisions: which cable, which sweater silhouette, sleeves yes or no, and of course: what yarn? But you can catch up. Just drop everything else and knit, whenever you can. That’s the fun of banging out a sweater. Life falls away, and your spare moments are filled with knitting and friends old and new.
Where can you share your pictures and ask your questions?
- Instagram, where we will use the hashtag #bangoutasweater. (Optional secondary hashtag: #bangoutarevolution.)
- The MDK Lounge, under the thread Bang Out a Revolution. Norah herself will be popping in throughout the month!
- Ravelry, where you can share your photos in your notebook. Be sure to link to the pattern that you’re following so that others in the knitalong can see them.
Bangers of Valor
Will there be prizes?
Throughout the month, we’ll be looking at everything posted in all three of the ways just listed above. We will be sharing reader photos, mostly on Instagram but also here on MDK.
At the end of the month, we’ll award Stupendous Prizes (MDK Shop gift certificates, so winners can choose what they like) to some lucky Bangers of Valor. Winners will be announced in early March.
Experience has shown that it is wise not to set up prize categories in advance, because knitters always surprise and delight us in new ways.
But one thing is clear: we are highly susceptible to a lovely photo. An image that, in the words of a museum audioguide narrator talking about a painting by Hans Holbein, the Younger, “makes your knees go weak.”
Or makes us laugh.
Or makes us say, I wish I’d thought of that!
All Are Welcome
MDK is an ever-expanding tent of knitting love that is open to all knitters, every day of the year.
An MDK knitalong is a great place to jump in and have a great time, yakking away and making new friends.
If you want to knit one of these sweaters, in good company, but don’t think you have a hope in heck of finishing in 28 days…
If you can’t start for another week so you think it’s impossible…
If you want to use a different yarn from the ones used for the pattern samples…
If you know the basics of knitting, but you are not sure you can really knit a sweater, or cables, or navigate a chart…
If you’re not on Instagram…
If you just want to knit quietly on your own and read along…
…we welcome you.
This will be our fourth Bang Out a Sweater Knitalong. The fun is in the trying, and the glory is in finishing whenever you finish. It’s a delight to see sweaters started three years ago pop up on the #bangoutasweater hashtag, or in real life.
We talk a good game about banging it out, but knitting is never really about speed. It’s about fun.
What About Me?
I’m attempting to bang out the Calligraphy Cardigan, pretty much as written, but keeping open the option of adding 3/4 sleeves at the end if I have enough time/inclination/strength of character.
My little innovation is that I’m banging out my revolution in Rowan Denim, a yarn that is meant to shrink and fade, because it’s meant to be machine-washed in hot water, and then machine-dried to a parched and faded state. (Loosen the grip on your pearls! It’s a great yarn.)
Here’s my swatch, pre-washing:
Just shy of 9 inches long.
10 1/4 inches across the bow.
And here it is, after a run through the “sanitize” cycle on my washing machine, and a tumble at the dryer’s “very dry” setting, which I generally avoid for all fibers except Rowan Denim.
The length has shrunk from 9 inches to 7 1/2 inches. That’s about 15 percent.
10 1/4 inches across: no change.
To recap: the swatch did shrink, but only in length. That’s the way it works. So if you get the right stitch gauge on your pre-washed swatch, you’re all set. The only adjustment you’ll need to make to your sweater will be to increase its length from what the pattern says. Stay tuned for how I’ll do that. (It’s pretty straightforward.)
On the swatch, I made a mistake near the end of the chart, on the cable. I forgot that there is a single stitch of stockinette added to the whole cast-on, not to each repeat of the chart.
So you’ll see that in the tendril on the left, my tapering is not as elegant as Norah designed it to be. I’m glad I swatched, so that I got that straight in my head. My tendrils will taper! I’ll make you proud!
I swatched in the lighter blue shade of Denim, because I had the leftovers in three dyelots. For the real sweater, I’m using the darkest indigo shade, called Nashville. It will fade more dramatically on the first wash and dry than my swatch did. It will also be harder to photograph as I knit, being so inky.
And now I bid you all godspeed, because I need to cast on.
Knit like the wind!