The 2nd Annual 4 Day Sweater KAL

It’s been a bit of a tornado here at Olive Knits headquarters (and by “headquarters” I mean my house), and much of it can be attributed to two things:

  1. I’m writing a book with a very aggressive deadline.
  2. I had the bright idea to host another 4 day sweater knitalong.

Frankly, the book project should have been more than enough to keep me busy (and it was), but as the clock ticked toward summer I had this funny itch for a little instant gratification. (Writing a book is anything BUT instant gratification, as you can imagine.) It dawned on me that it was nearly the first anniversary of the first 4 day sweater (Stillwater) and maybe it would be fun to try that again.

I can always find four days (this is what I tell myself).

So, on a whim – which is not necessarily the best way to approach a massive new project – I reached out to my friend Lorajean from Knitted Wit and she agreed to join me with yarn support and special colorways for any knitters who might want to participate. Then I reached out to my friend Erika from INK Bags and asked if she’d like to test knit with me for a four day knitting spree. She was in.

It was settled. We were doing another 4 day sweater. What I didn’t expect was the response from the knitting community. Holy hotcakes, Batman. Knitters want to get their sweaters on. Right. Now. 

So let’s talk about what the 4 day sweater really means and how to have the best experience, and we’ll start with the timeline.

  • Sizes 32-36 (4 days)
  • Sizes 38 – 40 (5 days)
  • Size 44 (6 days)
  • Size 48 (7 days)
  • Size 52 (8 days)

The knitalong itself runs for two weeks (July 1 – 15th, 2018), which means you can spread the days out as much as you like – and I do recommend spreading out the days if you can. Last year I did it both ways: I knit one in four consecutive days and one in four days spaced out over a week. Four consecutive days is a LONG haul. Four days spaced out felt like a cake walk in comparison. This year I did the four consecutive days again, and I confess that I didn’t get a single thing done anywhere else in my life (also, I should note, that I traveled with a sick husband that weekend, and it was his birthday, so the cards were a bit stacked). If I did it again, I’d give myself at least one extra day for my size (which I did in the timeline above – the size 38 now has 5 days instead of 4), and I might space it out with a day or so of regular life in the middle somewhere.

That said, the goal here isn’t the timeline. Not really. The goal is just to challenge yourself to a fun knitting project and test your mettle with a crazy timeline. If it suits you better to knit a little bit each day for two straight weeks – go for it. If you want to take your time and knit at a leisurely pace, that works too. The Beekeeper Cardigan is a lovely sweater and it’s worth taking your time if a wacky deadline doesn’t suit you.

Why 4 days?

It was a fluke. I had a four day weekend ahead of me last year and a sweater sample that needed to be knit, and I thought, “I wonder if I could whip this out in four days?” I tried it, and the idea resonated with my friends on social media, enough so that they started asking for a KAL. Really? You want to try this, too? So we did it, and it was a blast, and here we are teetering on the 2nd Annual 4 Day KAL and there are thousands of knitters joining us so far. We don’t even cast on for a month – this is bananas!

What if the timeline doesn’t work for you or you don’t want to rush?

That’s okay! Like I said, it’s not really about the timeline. The “4 Day” concept was about my own personal challenge, but it can be whatever works best for you. I’m a fast knitter so a sweater in four days was an opportunity for me to  push myself to stay focused on only one project for a short window of time to see how far I could get. Frankly, I was surprised I finished in four days. Until that point I had no way to know if it was possible. For others, knitting a sweater in a week, two weeks or a month is a huge accomplishment and worthy of a celebration. If you want to follow my timeline, great. If you want to create your own timeline, that’s great too. The most important take-away is that it’s possible to knit a sweater more quickly than you think – but “quick” is subjective, and it should be whatever feels achievable for you. Choose a timeline makes you feel excited, motivated and eager – but not overwhelmed – and go with that. But remember this: You might surprise yourself with what you can do. Maybe it won’t be four days, but it might be much more quickly than you thought.

The timeline is provided as an outline for what is humanly possible, but not necessarily the timeline that will work best for you. Do what is right for you, have fun, and take care of yourself. If your hands hurt at the end or you find yourself frustrated, take a step back and adjust. This is meant to be a fun challenge, not a frustrating one.

Choose a timeline that makes you feel excited, motivated and eager – but not overwhelmed – and go with that.

What happens if you don’t finish by July 15th? 

That’s okay, too! Last year we had a host of knitters who continued to work on their sweaters throughout the month (and even the year!). The beauty of the Knitalong with Olive Knits Facebook pop-up group is that you’ll discover oodles of other knitters who are plugging along, too, and everyone is kind, helpful and cheerful about supporting each other. The best part about the KAL is the friendships you make along the way (oh, and the sweater!). If you are knitting with your yarn shop – great! If you are knitting with a virtual knitting group, that’s great too! Whatever you do, find a support team to help keep you going. If you don’t have one already, join us over in the Lounge and we’ll cheer you on.

If you really want to knit it in the timeline, here’s what you need to know:

  1. I recommend reading through the suggested blog posts on the Beekeeper Cardigan Tutorial page (especially the ones related to the 4 Day KAL and how to gauge your knitting speed).
  2. If you’re planning to knit your days consecutively, you’ll need someone else to take over your usual tasks. You’ll want easy, quick meal options and no other demands on your schedule.
  3. Get up and stretch frequently, and maybe go for a short walk every hour or so. Keep the blood flowing.
  4. Focus. I found that I knit significantly faster when listening to an audio book versus chatting or watching a movie, but – that said – the point is to have fun, so if you’re knitting with friends, just enjoy yourself and don’t panic about the minutes ticking away. They’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy them.
  5. If you run into a road block, don’t worry about it. Life happens. If something comes up that throws you off track, lace up your comfy shoes and jump back in when you can. In the end, I want you to have a sweater you’ll enjoy wearing and be proud of – the timeline is just for fun. If you veer off course, just steer back around when you can. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
  6. SWATCH! The stitch pattern is simple and relatively quick to work, but make absolutely sure you’ve learned it before you try knitting it on a deadline. Swatching in pattern will ensure you will know what to expect.
  7. Read through the pattern ahead of time. It helps to get a little idea of the landscape of the pattern and how it’s set up.
  8. Highlight or circle your size instructions/numbers throughout the pattern. It helps to do this ahead of time.
  9. If you are a little uncertain or have never knit a sweater (or a top-down sweater) before, it might help to get a head start and work through row 26 to complete the neckline shaping before the KAL begins. This is the part that requires the most focus and concentration, and it seemed to take the longest (because it requires frequent counting and checking). I’m not saying it’s necessary to do it ahead of time, but after working through the pattern again recently, I think it would be a smart way to go if you’re a newer sweater knitter or just need a little extra time to wrap your head around things. It will only take you a few hours (at most) to get through it, but it will help you avoid frustration on day one. (It’ll be our little secret.)

How to make sure you are “in” the KAL:

Set up a project page on Ravelry, be sure it’s linked to the Beekeeper Cardigan and use the tags: 4daykal, 4daykal2018 and beekeepercardigan. That’s it! Pick your yarn and post a photo of it (or your swatch) to your project page, and when the time comes, cast on with us on July 1st. No matter when you finish, as long as you’ve participated by creating a project page with the appropriate tags and have made a good effort, you’re eligible for a prize!

Let’s talk about prizes

We have a list of amazing prize donations from the following generous contributors:

Stay tuned for more.

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