Westknits 2016 MKAL: Building Blocks Shawl

For the second year in a row, I found myself leaping into the wildly popular Westknits MKAL (Mystery Knit Along). If you are as yet unfamiliar with Westknits, where have you been–locked up in a basement? The host of the MKAL and face behind Westknits is the sensational Stephen West, whose patterns are almost always cutting edge and at the top of the knit fashion industry. You often see shots of him sporting mascara and modeling his flashy knits, or on Instagram alongside excited knitters in various yarn shops he visits as he goes about his travels. Stephen is adored by the global knitting community, and wherever he goes he makes a splash.

Like many knitters, I am drawn to sensational knits, and I cannot always resist the urge to participate in a MKAL–certainly not a Westknits MKAL. Accordingly, with about a week to spare, I scrambled onto Jimmy Beans Wool and picked my colors for the 2016 Westknits MKAL. (I went with Madelinetosh Tosh Sport yarn.) I am not a big fan of red, but this year I decided to work outside of my comfort zone and selected four colors that coordinated nicely, though I was not crazy about all of them. Below are my colors, in order from left to right: Optic, Heartbeat, Havana and Leopard.

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At first I was unsure how this MKAL would go–but that’s the essence of a MKAL, right? The MKAL consisted of four clues with one clue released each week, and while I tried to work each clue in its entirety before the release of the next clue I got a little behind. Here are a few Instagram pics highlighting my progress:

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Each clue instructed to increase stitches and add strips (or blocks) of yarn knit up in different ways, including striping, garter, stockinette, reverse stockinette and brioche. Eventually I finished working all the clues for the Medium size, although I did run out of yarn for the final strip of Optic. (Imagine a sad, devastated-looking emoji here.)

dsc04082In the end I fell in love with this project, especially after seeing so many fabulous results on Instagram. However, I knew the red was not me and that I would be reluctant to wear my shawl, so I decided to gift my Building Blocks to my good friend Adriana (@nanoadri on Instagram) because she loves red and loves the shawl, and most importantly, I think the world of her!

I Joined that KAL on Instagram…Again

It seems like so many–too many–of my knitting projects cut line and disrupt my neat little plans, and almost all of these interrupters arise from Instagram KAL’s. I am a visual person (hence my addiction to Instagram), so the copious numbers of beautiful knitting projects on Instragram often inspire–no, seduce–me into starting more projects than my time affords.

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My newest unplanned project is the spawn of MSKAL2016, or the Monster Socks knit-along. To ride this wave, socks must be knit with scraps or chunks of yarn but otherwise in any form or fashion, if my understanding is correct, and be completed by Oct 1st. I think. Anyway, I’m calling these my Scrappy Stripey Speckled Socks (though there are a few tonals in there).

I took way too many pics of these socks. I blame my obsession with color. I knit these two at a time and toe up, which is my favorite way to knit socks, mitts, or anything that comes in a pair.

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Shortly after starting this project, we became the proud owners of this little guy, an eastern box turtle hatchling. I just wanna squish him.

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These socks are knit with many of my favorite yarn dyers: Havirland, Spun Right Round, The Flying Kettle, Life in the Long Grass, Republic of Wool, Black Trillium Fibres, Miss Babs Yarns and Hedgehog Fibres. It’s a mouthwatering combination.

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I knit these socks to conform to my feet. I like a tight-fitting sock, and that’s just how these turned out. For the toe I used Judy’s Magic Cast-On, as instructed in the book Toe-Up Two-at-a-Time Socks. For the heel I just winged it, knitting back and forth and keeping it small since I have a small heel. (Wish I could say the same for my size 9 shoe size!) For the cuff I knit 1×1 ribbing and bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.

I’ve been wearing these socks like crazy! And now onto the next pair…because there must always be a pair of socks on the needles in my house.

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