WARNING! Mystery KAL Spoilers
If you’re a regular in the social knitting community online, you’ve probably heard about and (more importantly) seen a lot of Doodler WIPs floating around your feeds. Stephen West’s Mystery Knitalongs (or mystery KALs) are kind of a big deal now. They’ve been going on for more than a couple years and the surprise end results never fail to amaze us. Whether you’re a fan of West’s curiously unique designs or not, you have to admit that the whimsical garments and color combos are a great source of endless inspiration.
I have to say that I’ve never been all that enthusiastic about West’s mystery patterns. They were just a little too different for my tastes and I had a hard time wrapping my head around knitting something that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to keep (or gift!). But this year, with the onslaught of WIP photos across social media and the seemingly endless possibilities of color customization, I bit the bullet and hopped on board the Stephen West bandwagon. And I have to say, I AM SO GLAD THAT I DID!
This is the FIRST Mystery KAL in which I’ve ever participated. And honestly, it’s my first KAL too. In past KALs, I’ve always either had the intention of joining, but never started, or I just got distracted wandered off partway through. But The Doodler is different. And I think I know why.
Knitting for the Easily Distracted
A mystery KAL is so much more than meets the eye. At the core, it’s really just a genius way to structure a knitting project so that it can be realistically completed within a set timeframe. I personally struggle with focus, distractions, and finishing projects (it may be ADD, but since I’ve never been diagnosed with it, I don’t like to call it that) and I very often have a hard time structuring projects for myself. If I have a hard deadline for a project, I always get it finished, but it almost always ends up being a rush to meet the deadline. And if there is no deadline, well, sorry, little project, you’ll be living in that WIP basket for a long while. That’s just how it goes.
#thedoodler mystery KAL has given me a new tool: a method to better structure a knitting pattern... Click To Tweet
But this mystery KAL has given me a new tool: a method to better structure a knitting pattern to focus on the process rather than the final product. By simply physically (or digitally) breaking a pattern into bit sized chunks that can be easily completed one week at a time, it narrows my focus so much that I can actually make consistent progress and avoid the terrible downward spiral distraction of “what’s next?”.
Seeing Is Believing
As a highly visual person, getting a glimpse of everyone else’s knitting progress across social media really helped to motivate and inspire me. My Instagram, Twitter, and even a few Ravelry groups were full of Doodler spoiler photos. That’s when I fell in love with the whole process of unfolding a mystery and knew that I had to jump on board. Plus, in order to start I had to play around with yarn and color combos. MY FAVORITE!
The Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering [from left to right] in Transatlantic, Silver Lining, and Lollipop Guild
I made sure to choose yarn bases that were very similar in weight as well as density. This limited my options, but helped me to make a solid decision that didn’t involve knitting up 3 different Doodler projects. I opted to not use a speckled or multi-colored yarn as my base, even though I so desperately wanted to. And instead, I ended up creating a color palette with a light, a bright, and a dark for optimal contrast. I also decided to use two neutrals and one color, for optimal wearability and versatility. When I knit garments and accessories, I like to make sure that the end product will be something I’ll be able to wear with my existing wardrobe.
Once I had all of my decisions made and casted on (for the second time), I made quite a bit of progress in a short amount of time. Clue 1 was easy to follow and eventually easy to memorize. But that quick progress eventually slowed down, which is usually how knitting shawls works, and my distraction level started to rise.
But this is when the magic happened.
Communities Are Everything
I started getting antsy for more. The next step. To be done and to be able to move on. I put my knitting down and turned to my Instagram feed. I searched for #thedoodler to see what others were up to. What was their progress like? Was everyone getting bored like me? And what I saw turned into pure motivation. A few knitters were already finished with their first clue and the results were beautiful. Most knitters were a lot farther along than I was, but they were still gleefully knitting away. And then there were those who started late or didn’t have much time to work on it and weren’t very far along.
But EVERYONE had such creative and inspiring color choices. Everyone was making something completely unique, but equally gorgeous. And I was so eager to get a peek at everyone’s progress that I wanted people to knit faster so I could see what magic they would create!
And then I realized, people may be expecting the same from me. I was suddenly a part of a community, all working towards the same goal, but in our way. And I couldn’t let that community down!
So I picked that knitting back up and plugged away, knitting wedge by wedge, to keep the progress going so that I could contribute my part to this newfound village of doodlers.
At the moment, I’m still a bit behind most other knitters. Currently, I’m at the very last wedge of clue 1, but quite eager to finish and start clue 2, which looks to be interesting, new, and relatively quick.
Three of my favorite things. 🙂
I’m really enjoying this whole new-to-me process of knitting. For most people, a mystery KAL is a fun journey and a chance to do something out of the ordinary. But for me, it’s kind of life changing.
Are you part of this village of doodlers? Show us what you’ve knit so far and share your excitement or struggles in the comments below!