It’s nearly July in a leap year, which means that my favorite bi-annual event is just around the corner. Formerly known as Ravelympics, now changed to Ravellenic Games,* this event will always be known to me by its original title, dreamed up by the Yarn Harlot:
The Knitting Olympics.
What? What is this insanity, ask you? Have you finally spun yourself a few yards short of a usable skein?
The Knitting Olympics is a parallel event to the actual Olympics, this year to be staged in London, or as most characters in most TV shows I watch call it, “town.”
It started as just a thing to do while knitters around the world are plopped on our collective bums, watching world-class athletes skate and ski and punt things. But it evolved into a bit of a phenomenon, and now these knitters are connected through Ravelry, sharing their olympic projects, joining teams, and spurring one another on.
The Basic Idea: Choose a project that would be challenging for you to complete in 17 days. Cast on (or whatever) during the opening ceremonies, and in order to get a “gold medal,” you have to finish by the end of the closing ceremonies. If you want to get all fancy about it, you can join the Ravelry group, join a team, and sign your project up through ravelry to “compete” in specific “events.”
I’ve been pondering my project for a long time. But when I alighted on this traditional shawl, I knew I’d found the right one.
This shawl is a traditional sontag, devised by Kay Meadors into a free pattern. It’s incredibly simple to knit, but I admire how its size and shape make it deliciously practical and angrily germanic-looking. I plan to incorporate it into my costume for those rare but delightful occasions that I volunteer at Old Economy Village.
But you may guess, and you would be correct, that knitting a super-simple garter stitch shawl is not exactly in the category of “challenging.” At least at work, I seem to have acquired an embarrassing reputation for choosing punishing projects. I say, why not? What’s the point of a hobby if you don’t push yourself, and what’s the point of an international “competitive” event if you can’t get as close to your personal edge as possible?
What makes this project a push for me is that I will also, during the space of these 17 days, be spinning the yarn for the project. To that end, I’ve been furiously washing the silver fleece that I was generously given by a priest/sheep farmer who visits my school on occasion. I want to have it entirely washed by July 27th, and I think I only have a couple batches left.
The Ravellenic Games has separated their previous spin-and-knit category into two, so this project will be competing in the handspun hepthathalon andshawl sailing events.
Because I am, at least in spirit, always a member of Team Hopelessly Overcommitted, and because towards the beginning of the games I’ll be doing some traveling on which I cannot bring my wheel, I’m adding this project to the olympic queue to compete in colourwork cross-country and the hat dash.
The pattern is sheep heid by Kate Davies, and the project is a commission I was given back in early spring. I told my lovely customer that I wouldn’t be getting to it ’till summer, but it’s… well… summer, so it’s time to get my bum in gear. Nothing like the Knitting Olympics to make that happen!
To train for this intense event, and to make sure I don’t get myself in real (as opposed to self-imposed) deadline-related trouble, I’ve determined to finish three of the final four Liturgical Year projects before the Olympics start. The Father Joseph gloves lack only half a thumb, and the Ordinary Time sweater just needs a zipper, some sewing up, and some tweaking on the hood, but I’ve got a fair haul ahead of me to finish my Tongues of Fire shawl. All are deep in test knitting. Hence, although I’ve been knitting furiously, I still don’t have much to blog for it; I can’t quite bring myself to post picture of half-finished objects when they’re going to be for sale later. I’ll get over that someday; not this series.
I think we’re going to have a party at Yarns Unlimited for the opening ceremonies. Details forthwith. Who’s coming?!
*If you’ve still got your panties all in a twist about the name change, I recommend you go read the Yarn Harlot’s highly reasonable article on the subject (click here and scroll down to “Now that you Ask”). She explained the situation very clearly and rationally, and helped prevent me having a tantrum. Ravelry’s handled the whole thing admirably, and hopefully the myriad of knitters involved will do the same.