NaKniSweMo and so much going on!

How goes it, NaKniSweMo knitters? Reading the discussions over on Ravelry, it looks like a LOT of people are making great progress. Yay! I almost feel caught up from my MONTH OF MADNESS, aka October. Almost. You can see a lot of pictures from my month on the road over at Instagram — when I have some extra time, I’ll pull out and post a few.

“Caught up,” and yet now the holidays are upon us — I’ve finally gotten my fondest wish, which is having all the parents to our house instead of running around to multiple houses. This also means no fake butter in the potatoes (sorry, mother in law dearest, eating an insane quantity of mashed potatoes with stuffing on top of them is the highlight of my day, and fake butter will not cut it), an unlimited supply of Cranberry Sauce As It Should Be Made and an heirloom turkey from our CSA instead of some grocery store icebomb. Gosh. I’m getting hungry already just thinking about it.

Ok! Knitterly stuff to share. I promised Jill Draper this picture, and here it finally is. I got a sweater-sized skein of her spectacular Empire yarn at Vogue Knitting Live in January, knit the fastest sweater ever and then promptly forgot to take a photo for many months.

I’m pulling it down in the picture because I haven’t put buttons on it yet and long story short, it flies open when I’m wearing it now if I don’t clip it closed (see: hair clip at the top). Design flaw on my part, but the yarn is dreeeeeamy to knit with and knits up super-fast. I love it. LOVE. This color she’s got now is super more gorgeous in person, I was petting it at VKL Chicago…and I kinda want to combine it with this one, since I’m on an Ann Weaver grellowy kick right now.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL i mean angel i love you ann SHE HAS A NEW BOOK! And The Line, from said book, is enough to convert you to all things grellow if you are not already a fan.

Other cool stuff… I wanted to point out some online classes at Craftsy by my friends that I think are great:

and for not only the knitters, but also the crafters/people who sell on Etsy/etc, our beloved Caro Sheridan’s Online Product Photography class.

Hmm, what else? I’ll be at Indie Knit and Spin in Pittsburgh this weekend selling stuff, so if you’re nearby, c’mon down!

NAKNISWEMO 2012: The NaKniSweMo-ing.

Ana (aka sugaroni) has made some FABULOUS new Ravatars for this year — grab them here.

Discuss what you’re knitting here.

Want to offer up a prize for this year’s successful finishers? Do that here.

And for those of you who haven’t played along in previous years, here’s what you need to know:

How it works with NaNoWriMo: write a 50,000-word novel in a month. As they say on that page: “This is not as scary as it sounds.”

How it works with NaKniSweMo: knit a 50,000-stitch sweater in a month. Just about any full size sweater will meet this criteria! If you divide your chosen sweater pattern’s rows or rounds by 30, you’ll have an idea of how many rows you need to knit each day to make it. Yes, the stitch count thing is crazy, but I think I can say with confidence that most sweaters out there are at least that, or more. We’ve been doing this for YEARS on Knitgrrl since I first thought it up, but our current HQ is the group over on Ravelry, so meet us there.

Nebula, Stacked, fingers falling off

I’ve been a busy bee. First, there’s Nebula, which I’m knitting as my NaKniSweMo project alongside a dozen other daringly game testers. And honestly, I’m starting to think seed stitch was a completely crazy choice, but the whole point of this sweater is that it will take on any stitch pattern you give it and transform itself into the sweater you want. I’m just knitting the painful-est version.

Some of the others are doing cables, lace…even cables and lace on their Nebulae. I’m a little swoony over the yellow Quince & Co Osprey yarn that ChooChooKnits is using for hers, but then again I am a sucker for a good yellow.

Its nickname is FOSS. The o, s and s stand for “of seed stitch.” I’ll leave it to your imagination what the f stands for.

Then, there’s Stacked, the free pattern I just sent out to my mailing list. My mother demanded one for herself when she saw the sample, and much as I know better (she inevitably asks for knitted things, then either wants them knit in horrific yarn, or doesn’t wear them), I am going to try to make one for her. Cough cough excuse to go Noro shopping cough. I’m going to mix Kureyon and Silk Garden in the loops and see how it looks with the shiny/matte textural differences.

What are you knitting right now?

NaKniSweMo already?!

This year is just flying by! It’s time once again for NaKniSweMo, my annual response to NaNoWriMo, at which I have failed many times. Last year, even the NYT got saucy about NaKniSweMo, so why not give it a go?

When I started NaKniSweMo (years ago now…wow), Ravelry was but a blink in Casey’s eye, and so we did everything here at Knitgrrl. These days, we’ve got our own HQ over at Rav, so join us there!

Why try to knit a sweater in less than a month? Well, there’s fame, glory and prizes, among other things, plus the applause of your knitterly peers. So join us, and make tomorrow’s cast on count!

Beware those with pointy sticks

The NaKniSweMo group on Ravelry brought this ridiculous editorial to my attention yesterday. After mocking NaNoWriMo, the editor — who has wisely kept his or her name hidden in the shadows, says:

This is the lovely thing about language. We all get to use it, use it reasonably well, and words are so easily recycled. Imagine, a contest called NaSweKniMo — National Sweater Knitting Month — in which first-time knitters knit their hearts out. In many cases that would be a total waste of wool. In NaNoWriMo, the talented and inexperienced, the experienced and untalented, and all of the rest, can use as many words as they want, knowing that we will never run out and not one will be wasted.

Umm. Hello?

So after some prompting, I could no longer resist, and sent this to the Times:

Dear New York Times,

I find it both distressing and laughable that your editors find it good sport to mock knitters (and aspiring writers, for that matter), as seen here:


as well as page WK7 of your 14 November edition. For one thing, there IS such a thing as NaKniSweMo. I should know, because I organize it — and have since 2006. Any combination of ‘national,’ ‘sweater,’ ‘knitting’ and ‘month’ plugged into a search engine (one presumes the Times’ writers have heard of and used such a thing?) will bring up our event in all of the top results. “Total waste of wool”? Your writer betrays his or her utter lack of knowledge, in that there is no such thing — if one makes a mistake, it is very easy to rip out one’s knitting and start again. If only it were as easy to backtrack on these sexist and ignorant assumptions!

The NaKniSweMo knitalong group on (a website for knitting and crochet enthusiasts which recently welcomed its one millionth member) numbers nearly 1000 participants, and this doesn’t count the other people knitting along on their own websites, etc.

Perhaps your editors should be more careful next time — after all, we are armed with very pointy sticks.


Shannon Okey
author of 13 books on knitting, ex-magazine editor, and magazine columnist as well as
organizer, NaKniSweMo

Quote of the day + philosophizin’

“Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it.”
— Tallulah Bankhead

When people say they don’t know how I [get all this stuff done / do what I do / etc], the smartassed reply is “well, I just do it.” Journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step, and all that. This is an integral part of my philosophy — heck, it informs NaKniSweMo, the project we’re all doing this month. That sweater isn’t going to knit itself (oh how I wish that could be!). And this book isn’t going to design its page layout, and my house isn’t self-cleaning… it all comes down to just making yourself do it.

I’m not saying it’s not difficult. Sometimes I want to do anything but what I happen to be doing at that moment. I don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t want to transcribe this handwritten scribble. I don’t WANT to put on pants and leave the house. But I do.

And that’s how I get things done.

So, how’s NaKniSweMo going for you all? My yarn finally arrived, I cast on, I knit about 1000 stitches… and then had to pull them all out because I managed to twist the cast on. (I don’t even think I twisted it before joining, it looks like I knit into a stitch on the first row at a weirdo angle…out it came). I was so disgusted with myself I couldn’t bear to cast on again until last night. 21 days to go, knitting a plus size. No pressure.

Think I can knit on the treadmill at the gym? I’m starting to wonder.

NaKniSweMo! 3 more days to get your yarn balled…

If you’ve missed this over the past several years we’ve been doing it (since I began it as an antidote to NaNoWriMo, at which I perennially failed), November first marks the beginning of NaKniSweMo — National Knit a Sweater Month!

Here’s the Ravelry group.
Use the Twitter hashtag #nakniswemo for related tweets.

The rules:

1. You can pick your yarn and your pattern — you can wind your yarn into cakes, you can even swatch — but you can’t cast on until November first.

2. NaNoWriMo attempts to do a 50,000-word novel in a month. We do 50,000+ stitches. Most sweaters easily qualify.

3. What awaits you: fame, glory, prizes. Oh yes. Prizes. I’ll pony up some books and yarn and other goodies. If you want to encourage your fellow knitters by throwing a prize into the pot, post below in comments and we’ll put it up for grabs.

4. Sweater has to be finished by the end of the month.

That’s all. Game on, friends — let’s do this. Me, I’m doing a new, sorta-Rivulet-y jacket-y sweater in Cascade Eco Wool.

Interview with Knitch; NaKni semi-fail

Knitch magazine did a lovely interview with me recently, you can check it out here.

NaKniSweMo sweater, aka Torc, came so very close to hitting the deadline yesterday. The body is finished, both sleeves are finished (and you know my sleeve-itis, yes?), all that remains is finishing the torc-style collar and steeking it open. So we’ll call this a close-but-no-cigar year.

I do have an excuse, though! I was busy running the first Bazaar Bizarre Cleveland — we’re doing two this year, one on either side of town. The smaller of the two was 27-28 November and they were looooong show days (10-8 both days not counting setup and teardown time, plus I was in the space the day before Thanksgiving AND on Thanksgiving getting things set up). Never let it be said I am not a workaholic. This weekend I head to Boston to help out at Bazaar Bizarre Boston, so if you’re inside the 495, come say hi!

Just thinking about my winter show schedule is making me tired.

No time for tired, though, there’s some other stuff in the works that needs attention. Happy December, everyone! (How did it get to be December already? Seriously).

NaKniSweMo: good thing it’s only the 16th

First: Faina Goberstein did an interview with me for The Designer’s Studio recently, you can read it here.

Second: Given the number of times I’ve torn out the top right section of my NaKniSweMo sweater, it’s a really good thing it’s only the middle of the month! I knit it bottom-up, and it’s all the way to the underarms with the back finished, yet the fronts are just killing me. I wanted to run the cables up the neckline edge where the cabled ‘torc’ would be attached later, but it just was not working. This might be the yarn’s way of telling me that would be a bit too much.


It’s when you don’t listen to it that everything falls apart. So I said ok, the heck with it, and bound off the upper right front. Upper left, sleeves and torc section to go…knit! knit! knit!