Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sweaters From Camp Knitalong - all the information you'll need (mostly)

This knitalong is for anybody who wants to knit a pattern from the book Sweaters From Camp. If you don't already know, Sweaters From Camp is a book published by Schoolhouse Press, and the designs within are the result of a design contest held for knitting camp participants. The book contains the contest guidelines, which give a lot of guidance for designing fair isle sweaters. It's a great resource, as well as a pattern book.

I've decided to set the official start date as Wednesday, February 15. That should give enough time for everybody to get the book, choose a pattern, and buy yarn. We won't all be knitting the same designs, anyway, so don't consider this date set in stone. If you can't resist, cast on earlier. And there's no pressure to start by February 15, or to even join the knitalong by then. But that's when I'll start doing official updates, and around when I hope most people will start knitting.

The format of the knitalong is one that I hope encourages personal blogging about the projects. Starting February 15, I will do weekly (Wednesday) updates on this blog, with links to your blogs.

I have also created a Yahoo group for the knitalong. Although it's hard to anticipate or control how things will evolve, my intention is not for that group to be the main venue for the knitalong. I'd think it will work better if people keep their actual knitting progress reports and pictures to their own blogs. The Yahoo group is meant to be a side group, for asking questions about technical aspects of the patterns, or about fair isle knitting in general. Hopefully it will be a good resource for people who are not as experienced with these types of projects. Joining the Yahoo group is not necessary, if you're not interested in that sort of thing. And of course, those of you who don't want to participate in the knitalong, but who may be interested in the discussions there, are free to join. Just think of it as a side forum to the actual knitalong.

So how do you join the knitalong? Send me an email! Simple as that. Tell me your name (or pseudonym, if you prefer), your blog address, and which project you'll be knitting, if you know that. If you haven't chosen a project, you can just send me your name and blog info now, and update me with the project later. I've already created a spot in the sidebar for a participants list, and will also have links to the knitalong posts I make. If you aren't sure yet about joining, that's okay. Email me if/when you decide. If you decide to join after the knitalong has officially started, that's fine. (I won't keep doing updates forever, but will certainly keep them up for many months, as long as there are a good number of participants still working on projects.) All emails can be sent to Bowerbirdknits AT Gmail DOT com (replacing the AT and DOT with the appropriate symbols, of course).

I've seen some discussions in various places on the internet about why people create and join knitalongs. My goal for this knitalong is pretty simple - I want to encourage people to knit patterns from the book, and to knit fair isle, in general. I've organized the knitalong so that it encourages personal blogging because I want to spread the wealth. I want people to be able to google these projects, and actually come up with hits!

Some technical stuff:
* You'll obviously have to acquire the book before you can start knitting any of the patterns. The book is not inexpensive ($39), but I personally think the cost is worth it, especially for people who may be fairly new to fair isle knitting. The technical section is excellent, and there are a wide variety of patterns inside. If you're balking at the cost, see if you can borrow the book from your local library. (Don't forget to explore interlibrary loan options, if your library doesn't own a copy.) I know the book can be purchased directly through Schoolhouse Press, the publisher. I've heard it's currently available from Elann.com, and I'm sure you can find plenty of other sources if you Google it. And of course, however you acquire it, please respect copyright laws.

* All of the patterns in the book are designed for Jamieson & Smith jumper weight shetland wool yarn. This is a fingering weight yarn that comes in gobs and gobs of colors, and is extremely well suited to this style of knitting. It can be purchased from several sources. I've bought a kit before from Schoolhouse Press (For this sweater), who will make a kit for any of the patterns in the book. It's simple, convenient, and it feels nice to buy from the small company that is responsible for the existence of the book. They're good folks. Another option is to buy straight from the source. While international shipping is a bit pricey, the prices directly from J&S are so cheap that it's still a bargain to buy from them, if you're planning on buying enough yarn for an entire sweater. I emailed them a few months ago to ask some questions about shipping, and they were very quick to respond to my email. If you're thinking of buying from them, I'm sure they'll be just as helpful in answering any questions you may have about shipping to wherever you may live.

* If you decide you don't want to use J&S yarns for your project, there are other options. Really, any fingering weight yarn would theoretically work in terms of gauge. (Gauge for most of the sweaters seems to be about 7-8 stitches per inch, which is pretty typical.) The biggest problem you'll run into is that of color. J&S really comes in an insanely large amount of colors, meaning there may be subtleties in the colorways used in the sweaters in the book that you just can't replicate with other yarns. Also, if you choose a yarn that isn't made from Shetland wool, it probably won't be as "sticky". This isn't a huge concern, but may affect how you choose to deal with steeks. I have actually decided to use a different yarn for my project. Partially for money concerns, and partially out of curiosity. I have put together a colorway for one of the sweaters using Palette yarn from Knitpicks. This has allowed me to buy enough yarn for an adult's sweater and a huge swatch for under $30. Be warned that the Palette palette is extremely limited, compared to the color choices for J&S yarns. This means that if you want to use this yarn, you should chose a sweater that already has a fairly simple colorway, or be prepared to create a new and simpler colorway for sweaters that have more complicated and subtle colorways in the book. I also advise ordering a color card, as the photos on their website may not be representative of the actual hues of the yarn. Color cards are cheap, and mine arrived within a week, at the peak of the holiday mailing season. It's worth the small expense and wait.

So that's the basic information. If there's anything important that you feel I've forgotten to address here, please send me an email or leave me a comment. And if you have specific questions about the projects or fair isle knitting, please comment here or join the Yahoo group and post there. I'll keep this info. post linked in the sidebar, so you can find it again. Other posts about the knitalong will either be linked there or in this post, so participants won't have to scroll through my whole blog for information. I'll surely post more about the knitalong between now and February 15, to answer questions, provide more info I may think of later, and perhaps to clarify issues that may come up in the Yahoo group. So check back in every once in a while, if you're craving more information.

By the way, if any of you artsy types (artsy with things other than yarn, that is) feel like creating a button for the knitalong, I wouldn't object at all. I don't know how to make those things, but it might be nice to have one. I'm not usually one for the flashy when it comes to blog stuff, but a KAL button would be kind of spiffy. But no pressure. I think we'd live without one, too. I'd also take advice on what I could make with the software on my Mac, or with software I could download for free, if such creatures exist.

Links to other SFCKAL information posts

  1. January 6 (1)
  2. January 6 (2) - links to some pictures
  3. January 9
  4. January 16 - purl when you can technique, advice for casting on, yardage, dye lots


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow--a Sweaters from Camp knit-a-long! I'm sorely tempted--I've been in love with the Mermaid Vest (not its real name, but I'm too lazy to get up right now) for ages. I was lucky enough to get to see pretty much all of the sweaters in person and would be happy to answer questions about them if wanted. The difficulties of photographing the subtle colors makes the photos sort of "cartoonish". For example, Ann Feitlelson's sweater is much more intricately colored than you can see in the book--Meg said she could either capture the blues OR the reds, but not both at the same time. Knit on!

1/04/2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Landstown Poultry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/04/2006 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think I will be joining you to knit the Northwest Sunset vest. I bought Palette yarn for it 2-3 months ago and have been trying to finish Geese before I start. With any luck and some determination, I ought to be ready by Feb.
Thanks for thinking of the KAL

1/04/2006 11:37 AM  
Blogger Landstown Poultry said...

I ordered the kit for the Celtic Circles Vest, so I'm hoping to have it and be done with my other projects in time for the knit-along.

Thanks for doing this!

1/04/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger Tipper said...

Darn, now I have to join, because you got me all excited. I have yet to see the book (I think I looked through it years ago), but I trust that it's full of beautiful stuff. I need a complicated project, anyway. I'll update you later!

1/04/2006 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great idea. now I can go to Amazon and move Sweaters from Camp from my wishlist to buy now. You might also want to check out AS' Virtual Yarns, her colors, as always, are phenomenal, the prices reasonable, the shipping free.

1/04/2006 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rebekkah - thanks for starting the knit along. I have 2 kits from way back when the book first came out - this will inspire me to get going on at least one of them! Although I can and will read the blogs, I don't have one so will join the yahoo group. If there are other blogless knitters out there we can hook up that way.
Thanks again - looking forward to it.

1/04/2006 4:36 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

I hope to be joining you too... I have the Sweaters From Camp book but need to study it again for a project. Since I have not done fair isle before I will most likely choose a vest. Thanks for hosting this KAL.

1/04/2006 5:14 PM  
Blogger Becki said...

Excellent, thank you so much for doing this!

I am fairly new to fair isle (haha), and have never done steeking. I really prefer to use merino wool, do you think that will be appropriate for this?

1/04/2006 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, count me in! I don't know how long I've had that book, but this will be an encouragement to get it out and look through it and pick out a project. I've got some J & S that my daughter bought for me to make Russian River, maybe I can use it on one of the projects in the book. Thanks for all the information you include in your blog. I don't have a Blog either so will join the Yahoo KAL.

1/05/2006 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about joining in . . . the pattern I'm thinking about is Flyaway Vest. I think I've got the yarn for it somewhere. I have some questions about it, especially the gauge - 27 sts/27 rows using size 3mm needles. Somehow that seems awfully loose to me - what do y'all think?

1/06/2006 7:47 AM  
Blogger AnneB said...

I'm in. Been to Halcyon yarns and got the SFC book and a tempting range of colors in JagerSpun wool to try out. Will start with the beret since I've not done a large Fair Isle before and want to learn two hand color knitting and a better way to catch floats. While preparing I decided to inventory the knitting needles and found that I don't have smaller size needles in 16". Oh my! Another trip to the LYS? No decision yet on what sweater to knit as I want to check my gauge first and see how close I am. The top down ragland Celtic circles is tempting but it is only two color and I don't know if I'm experienced enough to add more color.

I put up a chart of needle size conversions and lengths at http://geocachingknitter.blogspot.com/. Hopefully the .jpg will download and print out in the size you might want to inventory your own.


1/06/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add me to the list! I just ordered my yarn today from SchoolHouse Press to make Northwest Sunset Fair Isle Vest. I can't wait to get started.

1/06/2006 3:47 PM  
Blogger Tipper said...

I've decided what I'll make! I'm going for the Crichton Cardigan. Maybe it'll be the first one on the internet.

Matthew and I went to Borealis Yarns in St. Paul today, and they had the book. He ended up buying it for me! (Awww!)

1/08/2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

I've decided to do Northwest Sunset Fair Isle Vest (pg. 62). The same vest as Rebekkah. It's so beautiful and I keep coming back to it so I guess it's meant to be. I think I will contact Schoolhouse Press to see if they will put a kit together for me.

1/10/2006 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All: It will be interesting to see how the Palette yarn colors stack up to the 'real' shetland yarn.

So far, the Palette is give me a decent garment for the money. I feel that as limited as the colorway is, that the proof will come when we all give this yarn some wear. I wonder if it will pill up, retain memory etc.

Looking forward to seeing all the work.

Your Vest is goregous BTW. Thanks for hosting us.

2/11/2006 11:43 PM  
Blogger MR.LAW said...

I realy like the nordic vikings sweaters, they are made modern and original, realy nice. I often buy them her: http://hmbs.dk/default.asp?lang=uk

2/16/2008 9:46 AM  
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