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Reflections on our very first Knit-Along!

 Molly and Maggie help each other

Sometimes you just have to try something and see what happens. Does it flop? Or does it fly?

In the case of the Goat’s very first knit along, the Ramona KAL, it was a soaring success. We had no idea! When we were brainstorming a KAL, we thought maybe 20 or so folks might sign up. 

We had over 150 knitters sign up from around the country, and even one international sign-up! Sure, not everyone finished a Ramona or even started one, but were gobsmacked by the level of interest, and the folks who picked up their needles and stuck with it.

We learned new skills, expanded our knitting community, and have some fantastic — and well-fitting — sweaters to show for it. The Ramona Cardigan, Light Cardigan, and Pullover — all by Maine designer Elizabeth Smith — proved to be appealing and accessible to so many knitters.

What criteria do we use to select Knit Along patterns?

Inclusive, accessible, and appealing are top priorities. 

True to the spirit of our shop, we select a pattern that’s inclusive and accessible — and appealing for knitters. And we love patterns with modifications built in! With Ramona, we liked that knitters would have the option to choose from three variations on a pattern.

Inclusive sizing is a must. 

We love to knit things that fit our bodies well, so we want a pattern with lots of sizes for lots of differently-shaped bodies. And when we knit for ourselves, we get the satisfaction of customizing that garment to our own shape and fit requirements. (We love helping you do this!)

Skill inclusive. 

Our take on a KAL is that if you want to participate, we’ll work with you to teach you the skills required. Period. So we wrote blog posts and emails with tips, and we curated a playlist of tutorial videos on YouTube (some that we recorded just for the KAL!), offered in-store, phone, and Zoom help, and of course we had our in-store and online meet-ups! We want to include as many knitters as we can because we believe the world is a better place with more knitters in it.

Accessible. 

If you want to participate in the community of the knit along (plus access the help!), we want to make that possible. Lots of you live far away from the shop. Some of our Ramona folks have never visited the shop! Some of you come back in the summers, others just live too darn far away in Maine. Some knitters hate to drive, have health issues, or have mobility challenges. 

And in 2023, thankfully, we’ve got the technology to connect virtually — our weekly Ramona Zooms have been a hit. “The fastest hour of the week!” is a great quote from Bev, that really sums it up!

Appealing.

It’s got to be something you want to knit, right?! Heck yeah!

Choosing a pattern that will appeal to a variety of knitting aesthetics can be tricky, but it also ties into the design and construction. If the pattern’s too basic, will experienced knitters be intrigued? If the pattern looks too hard, will less experienced knitters be daunted?

The Goat Staff gets to have the fun of sourcing a pattern that hits the sweet spot for lots of knitters.

Time to pick buttons!

 

Our favorite part? You.

Your enthusiasm was infectious for the Ramona KAL. 

We were already jazzed about our first KAL, and you made us even more excited as we helped you find just the right yarn, read your gauge swatch, and explore new tools (we have some Knitting Barber Cord converts!).

We watched you make new friends and offer tips to each other, generously share your stitch markers, help with the very tricky selection of buttons, share laughs, exchange phone numbers, offer ideas for knitting podcasts and your favorite knitting books, and so many more fantastic moments.

un-knitting the button band on a Ramona cardigan

And it wasn’t all perfect! Many of us (me!) had to rip out and fix our mistakes. Learning to read patterns is hard, and learning a new pattern and new skills can be challenging. Sometimes there were panicked emails or DMs — and on at least one occasion I stopped my dinner prep to make a quick sketch for a knitter who was new to making sweater sleeves and just needed a visual. 

Your enthusiasm for growing your skills as a knitter was exceptionally gratifying. We all learned a lot.

If you’re continuing to work on your Ramona, we’re still — always —here to help! Come to Knit Nights on Wednesdays from 4–7p.m. You can also email Iris at iris@cashmeregoatyarn.com with your questions — we can hop on a Zoom if need be.

We — and you! —had so much fun that we’re starting our next KAL next week! Sign up here!

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