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KNIT ALONGS: A CELEBRATION OF COMMUNITY

Knit alongs (KALs) play a vital role in the knitting community. KALs are events where a group of knitters all knit the same pattern simultaneously. They can take place online or in person, and provide a shared experience that promotes unity and enthusiasm for knitting.


Though the term KAL is a modern invention, the idea is nothing new. While crafting is often seen as a solitary activity, many creators have been forming communities, such as guilds for a long time. As knitting became routine for women, knitting circles began to meet, first in homes and later at yarn shops.


With the advent of the internet, creators worldwide started gathering on platforms like forums, Ravelry, and, more recently, Instagram. Now, knitters worldwide can participate in KALs and share their progress online.



Types of KALs

Although knit alongs (KALs) are usually focused on a specific pattern, they can also be organized by a designer, such as Joji Locatelli's Fall KAL, where participants can choose to knit any of her patterns. KALs can also revolve around a technique, theme, or type of project.


In addition to traditional KALs, there are also mystery knit alongs (MKALs). In MKALs, knitters start a project without knowing the complete design or seeing any photos of the final product. The pattern is revealed in parts, typically over a few weeks.


Every year, hundreds of knitters worldwide join Stephen West's annual shawl MKAL, which takes place in October. The excitement begins well before the first clue is revealed, as everyone chooses their yarn and color palette without knowing exactly how they'll look in the final product. Participants are asked to conceal their progress to avoid spoiling the experience for others. As with all of WestKnits' designs, the patterns are far from boring. After the MKAL concludes, a variety of differently colored shawls can be seen across Ravelry and Instagram.



Benefits of participating in KALs

By participating in a KAL, you can enhance your knitting skills and join a supportive network of fellow crafters. Often, experienced knitters assist less experienced ones, offering tips and solving challenges.


Moreover, knowing that others are working on the same project helps participants stay focused and prevent their work in progress (WIP) from becoming an unfinished object (UFO). Prizes and giveaways also motivate participants to finish the project.


As a designer, KALs effectively draw attention to my new pattern releases. When quick knitters finish their projects, others can see the completed piece on social media and may become interested in creating it themselves.


I recently concluded a KAL for my latest design, the Marise Sweater, a Portuguese-only pattern. It was a wonderful experience! Seeing the finished sweaters warmed my heart and provided a sense of accomplishment that words can't express. It's even more gratifying to know that the participants enjoyed knitting their projects!



How to choose a KAL

When choosing a KAL to participate in, several factors come into play. First, consider the type of project or skill that interests you. If you're a beginner, you might prefer a more straightforward pattern. If you're more advanced and seeking a challenge, a complex design or new technique could be exciting.


Next, think about the timeline and commitment level. Some KALs adhere to a strict schedule, while others offer more flexibility. Ensure you can commit to the timeframe before joining.


Lastly, the community can significantly influence your KAL experience. A supportive and friendly group can make for a more enjoyable experience. You might want to find a group that aligns with your personality and knitting style.



Managing stress in KALs

Participating in a KAL can be both fun and rewarding, but remember not to put too much pressure on yourself. Knitting is a relaxing hobby meant for expressing creativity and connecting with others who share the same passion.


If your project isn't progressing as fast as others, or if you're finding a particular pattern or technique challenging, don't stress. Everyone knits at their own pace and has a unique skill set. It's perfectly fine to ask for help, keeping in mind that all knitters were beginners once.


If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take a step back and remember that knitting should be enjoyable. You're not competing with anyone—the main goal is to have fun, learn something new, and create a piece you're proud of.


Take breaks when needed, and avoid comparing your work excessively with others. Each piece is unique, just like their creators. Enjoy the process, and remember that the knitting community is there to support you every step of the way.



I highly recommend participating in a KAL as soon as possible. You won't regret it! If you speak Portuguese, consider joining the Rosários 4 and Filipa Carneiro's Winter Knit Along. You'll have the chance to create a beautiful vest alongside a lively community.

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