Tag Archives: advice

The Mystery about Mystery KAL’s or CAL’s

I love mysteries….mystery books, mystery movies, even mystery food! I just enjoy watching or reading (or tasting) to see how it ends.

That’s why I love Mystery KAL’s. A Mystery KAL (or knit-a-long) is one in which a part of a pattern (clue) is released on a regular basis. It could be released weekly, every-other-day, or even monthly, depending upon the designer’s whim. You really do not know how the final product looks until you finish the last stitch.

There are all kinds of Mystery KALs as well as Mystery Crochet-alongs. You can usually find them in the afghans, bags, shawls, socks, and dishcloth threads on Ravelry. You can even join Mystery swaps.

If you would like to join a Mystery KAL or CAL, there are a few tips that I have learned:

  1. Plan to use more yarn than the design calls for. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Some Mystery KAL or CAL patterns are free; others are for a small fee. Most designers, if they charge, often charge a bit less if you purchase the pattern before the KAL or CAL ends.
  3. Find a local buddy to follow the KAL with you. You and she/he can serve as inspiration and nearby help.
  4. Always knit/crochet a swatch before beginning the first clue to make sure that you have gauge.
  5. As each clue is revealed, wait a day or so until you begin knitting that part. While designers work very hard to to have error-free patterns, it does sometimes happen. You’ll save yourself a lot of frog-pond time if you wait.
  6. Check your KAL’s Ravelry thread often for pattern errors.
  7. If you get in trouble, go to the Ravelry thread and ask. You can email the designer, but most often someone else has had the same  problem and can help. Likewise, be willing to answer if someone else asks and you can help.
  8. Keep in mind there is a chance that you will not fit/like/need/want the final product once you have knitted it. It IS a MYSTERY knit-along after all. If that’s the case, either give it away or frog it and use the yarn for something else.
  9. Most Mystery KAL’s have two threads in their Ravelry group. One is for pictures to be posted by those who have completed the clues (a spoiler thread) and one is for no pictures (no spoilers) but just questions, comments, etc. You can choose to either peek or not to see how the product is coming along.

Have I helped you clarify the mystery in Mystery KALs?


Cindy Does Not Medal in the Sweater Triathlon………Film at 11

Yes, dear friends, I am going to stop knitting my sweater for the Ravellenic Games Sweater Triathlon. My wrists are aching and I have a headache that will not quit. I will have to quit knitting on this project before I develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

It’s okay, though. I learned a long time ago that I am a PROCESS knitter not necessarily a PRODUCT knitter. It does not bother me to tear out two weeks worth of knitting. I think that I have learned quite a bit during those two weeks.

What have I learned? Well, that both patterns that I chose to help me overcome my lack-of-sweater-knitting skills were very good. Each of them gave me new skills that I will be able to use in my knitting.

I also tried two different types of yarn. Unfortunately, I did not swatch yarn #2 very much to realize how tightly it would knit on size 6 needles (which was gauge for that sweater). And yarn #1 just did not feel right for the pattern I originally chose. Maybe I will make a sweater with yarn #1 and pattern #2; but just not this week.

And that’s okay with me. I am going to finish watching those marvelous Olympians reaching their personal goals while finishing up a shawl and winding yarn for an upcoming Mystery Shawl knit-a-long. If you want to join me, check it out on Ravelry: Fantasia Mystery Shawl Group and find your yarn at Fiddle Knits Design.


Where Seldom Is Heard A Discouraging Word

I was reading One Skein Wonderwoman’s blog  the other day and she noted how a clerk at a Michael’s store discouraged her from trying more challenging knitting for a while. It got me to thinking about all of those nay-sayers who belittle other crafters.

I had a similar experience as Cindy the One Skein Wonderwoman. Mine was with the owner of a now-defunct yarn shop. As a young bride with not much money, I stopped in her shop to purchase yarn but it all seemed so expensive and I said so. Her response was: “If you can’t afford my yarns, you probably shouldn’t knit.” I was flabbergasted and a little embarrassed so I left.

Then there are the “knitter police,” who take it upon themselves to tell others, “You’re not knitting correctly!” Don’t forget the “yarn snobs,” who wrinkle their noses in disdain for any yarn that’s not 100% natural fibers! And for crocheter’s, there are the “knitting nazis” who tell them that they are bad for crocheting and not knitting.

I don’t know why folks feel the need to be so nasty, but I try not to let them discourage me. That’s why, when I run across those who ask me, as I am busy KIPing, “What are you crocheting?” I simply tell them I am knitting and explain my project. I feel it’s my duty to educate those who may not be aware of the difference.

By the way, I never did go back to that shop. At that time, I did not have Ravelry or the internet, so I did not know anyone around me who was knitting. But I did have Mary Maxim. I made many nice garments with her yarn and my skills grew and grew.

So, don’t let those discouraging words bring you down, cowboy! Here’s to your skies not being cloudy all day!!!

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Chorus  Home, home on the range,Where the deer and the antelope play; Where seldom is heard a discouraging word And the skies are not cloudy all day.


Two “Frog Ponds” Later, I Have It!

I am participating in Wendy Knits Summer Mystery Shawlette Knit-A-Long. I’m joining my longtime best friend, Lisa B., who is also working on her mystery shawl. I started out with a totally different yarn; knit for a few rows, then took it to my Tuesday Night Knitters Group for inspection, inspiration, advice, and just plain help. The result of that was to frog the first yarn because even though it was a cotton-blend (Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton & Silk DK), I was afraid there was too much cotton it in and the shawl would not drape correctly.

I searched my stash of sock yarn, but nothing seemed to fit, so I decided to frog  my Traveling By the Sea (post about it on April 21, 2011). This is the Traveling Woman pattern on Ravelry Shawlette. I liked the pattern, but I didn’t like the way it looked with the beautiful Handmaiden Fine Yarn Swiss Mountain Sea Sock yarn.

I am now on Chart C and have just finished the first repeat of this 24-row chart. I have 2 more repeats to go. Thus, my title of “two frog ponds later!!!” I am liking the look of this shawl. What do you think?


The “Siren” Call of New Yarn!

Siren Yarn with a Lovely Card to boot!

My swap yarn from the Blog Hub at Ravelry came Thursday. I love it! Thanks to Christine (whose Ravelry name is Yarnaboutyarn and her blog is Yarn about yarn.) Check it out!

The yarn itself is a hand-dyed DK weight washable wool and the color name on the label is “Siren!” How cool is that!  My swap partner tells me that her local yarn shop owner hand dyed it herself. And it is from the Land Down Under! Now I know why it took so long to get to me!!! Not that I’m complaining…..I was waiting patiently as I had plenty of other projects in the queue to occupy my time.

Now, I need some help to decide what to make with this lovely yarn! It feels very soft and squishy, so it could be a small cowl or scarf or maybe even a hat. Any ideas?  Right now, I am leaning towards the Grace Lace Beret.

Let me know your ideas!!!



When I was in grade school and we were playing a game, we would over allow one “do over” — in other words, you were allowed to do the action again to try to “get it right.” That’s how this blog got started…I was not happy with the way my other blog was going so I am dong a “DO OVER.”

Hmmm…giving yourself permission to “DO OVER.” That’s pretty good advice to give to new knitters. You don’t like the look of your work in progress? DO OVER. Think the knitted piece is getting too big or not big enough? DO OVER. The pattern is too busy…too complicated…too whatever? DO OVER.

Frogging (you know, rip, rip, rip rip out) your knitting seems so sad until you tell yourself, “It’s a DO OVER so I can do it better.” Those simple words makes it seem like it’s just another part of the knitting process. It’s as natural as choosing your needles and yarn.

People often tell me that my knitting is so “lovely.” It’s because I DO OVER…..a LOT!

And I’m in good company, too. It took Thomas Edison over 10 thousand different experiments for him to invent the first incandescent light bulb.The Wright brothers had numerous failures and crashes before they were able to pursue their goal of powered, controlled, piloted flight. Walt Disney failed in several areas, including being fired because he “had no good ideas,” before he drew the famous mouse with theme parks all over the world!

See! DO OVERS helped make this country great! So to all you knitters  out there, don’t be afraid to DO OVER your knitting. It’s good advice.

TTFN, Cindy