The Channel Cardigan was my first ever group knitting project. My friend Maja, who was in search of an excellent cardigan, suggested we choose a pattern and do it together as a knit-a-long (or KAL). I told my friend, Sarah, about it, and she suggested the pattern. We three then connected over group text where we created the perfectly supportive-yet-competitive virtual knitting environment. Imagine the Great British Baking Show, but with yarn, no Brits, and spanning a few months in different locations. We had one American and one Australian in San Francisco, and one American in South Carolina, each of us with varying demands on our time and facing different construction challenges. We shared our progress photos, asked and responded to questions about the pattern, teased each other for getting too far ahead, fell behind, caught-up, took the lead, sought the others' counsel on whether a particular error really mattered enough to go back and correct it, and occasionally, we veered delightfully into non-knitting related life stuff. We even had a modern knitting circle by FaceTime one afternoon in February. This project was truly everything good.
Truthfully, there's no way I would have finished my cardigan by now without this KAL. In classic me fashion, I decided to substitute yarn. I wanted to use Cestari merino yarn instead of Brooklyn Tweed. And because I am impatient with shipping and starting projects, I bought the entire sweater's worth of yarn at once instead of just buying one skein to see how it would work. Maja, on the other hand, smartly went with the recommended yarn. Sarah already had her yarn (which also ended up being a great choice). My substitution decision cost me dearly in hand strain. To even get close to the size stitches I needed, I had to knit thick-ish puffy yarn on teeny tiny needles (or, for those of you who speak yarn, I was knitting woolen-spun, worsted weight yarn on size 1 and 2 needles) and even then, I had to make adjustments to the pattern as I went (my gauge was still a little too big). Live and learn? I doubt it.
I mean, the cardigan fits perfectly, so I haven't really learned my lesson. The fact that it fits so well kind of feels like a miracle. And when I look at the stitch pattern, I think, "Someone who is a yarn magician must have made this!" Then a vague, achy twinge in my right hand and elbow reminds me that I AM THAT YARN MAGICIAN. But the best part of this project, by far, was working on it with Maja and Sarah. I love how we used technology to bring us together and turn the slow crafting of our individual cardigans into a shared experience of successes (and the occasional screw-up).
Also! We have been cooking pretty much everything out of the cookbook My Darling Lemon Thyme (Maja's pick, and I finally bought my own copy). It's a vegetarian, gluten-free cookbook, and it's spectacular. Here are photos of some of the things we have made: