Get ready! Hands Occupied’s popular making-meets-reading program, the Read Along Knit Along, is headed your way soon! This fall, we are going to be knitting Intarsia Mountain and reading the book that helped inspire the pattern, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Intarsia Mountain is a throw-sized afghan primarily knit in garter stitch with colorwork using the intarsia method. Throughout the Read Along Knit Along, there will be video tutorials, group discussion, in person events, & giveaways, and it’s so much fun! Grab your needles and shine up your library card – it’s almost RALKAL time!
First of all, this book was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Second of all, and more importantly for your average reader, here’s a taste of what this beautiful story is all about:
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
Hold on, what exactly is the Read Along?
Each fall and each spring on Hands Occupied, we all work on the same knitting or crochet project inspired by a book, and as we read (or listen to) the book, we make the same pattern. We read along together as well knit along together. The first Read Along was held in the fall of 2016, immediately following my decision to pursue knit and crochet design full time. Before this, I was a Librarian. (More on that here and here if you’re curious.) The Read Along is a great way to connect with fellow knitters or crocheters and bond over not only making something together, but the shared experience of reading the same story. This program is a favorite of mine as a Knit & Crochet Designer and Blogger because it helps me feel closer to everyone in this community, but also keeps me in touch with my bookish roots.
If you’re familiar with the yarn world, the Read Along is like a knit or crochet along (a.k.a. KAL or CAL) had a baby with a book group. The Read Along is special because on top of all the reading and knitting, we have online tutorials, a virtual discussion group on Ravelry, and an in-person discussion each week throughout the KAL. If you get stuck, your fellow knitters and I are here to help, and if you’re dying to discuss something from the book we’re reading, the rest of us are very here for it. Plus, there’s an online giveaway and in person giveaways for folks who participate! In the fall, we knit and read, and in the spring, it’s crochet’s turn. The Read Along Knit Along & Read Along Crochet Along are always a lot of fun, and every time we do it, the program continues to grow!
In Real Life (#readalongIRL)
Speaking of fun, there’s in-person stuff to do during this KAL too! Every Friday night from 4-8 p.m. during the RALKAL, Chicago area participants are welcome to attend the Read Along IRL at Firefly Fiber Arts, one of my very own local yarn shops. The schedule is easy to remember: every Friday from 4-8 p.m. starting Friday, September 7 and wrapping up on Friday, October 26. We’ll have a raffle that you can enter each time you attend one of our meet ups. On the final Friday, a winner will be drawn at random, and you must be present to win.
New for this RALKAL, we’re ALSO having our regular monthly meet ups. As usual, we’ll meet from 6-9 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month in the lounge at The Logan Theatre in Chicago. That means we’ll be meeting Wednesday, September 26 & October 24 in addition to the Friday yarn shop events. We’ll all be knitting anyway, so why not have our usual hang out? Oh, there’s also a giveaway at each of those Wednesday meet ups too! ;)
P.S. Since I know there are TONS of you not in Chicago, we are also going to experiment with live broadcasts on social media during our #readalongIRL events! I’ve been wanting to incorporate Lives for about a year during the RALKAL, and now’s the time. If you’ve got suggestions for what you’d like to see from an Instagram or Facebook Live, DM me or comment on this post. :)
What can I say? I like prizes. Especially when they involve yarn. So like I said, there’s a giveaway for the Friday night Read Along IRL at the end of the knit along, and there’s a giveaway at each of the Wednesday meet ups too. But there’s more! For the overall RALKAL prize pack, we’ve got a gift certificate from LoveKnitting, fiber wash from Eucalan and a set of rainbow knitting blockers from Knitter’s Pride. Entries won’t open until the RALKAL starts on September 1, but keep your eyes on Hands Occupied and our social media pages for more details.
Intarsia Workshop & Other Resources
A pattern called Intarsia Mountain may sound intimidating if you’re new to the technique. But as usual with the RALKAL, there will be support on hand in the form of yours truly in the Ravelry Group, here in the comments section, and also here on this blog in the form of blog posts, video tutorials, and helpful tips and tricks.
If you’re in my neck of the woods, our Friday night host for the IRL events is hosting me for a special intarsia workshop just for the RALKAL! I’ll be teaching you my top tips for Intarsia Mountain success at Firefly Fiber Arts on Sunday, September 2 from 2-4 p.m. Sign up details will be posted as soon as they’re available. This is a great workshop for folks who would like to learn hands on.
Since we are knitting a whole afghan for this bad boy, you’re probably wondering exactly what you’ll need (ahem, specifically how much yarn you’ll need) to knit Intarsia Mountain. I got you:
A copy of The Snow Child: Get it at your local library – now is a great time to place your holds! If you’d like to read and knit at the same time, you can give the audiobook a try! The Snow Child has a great audiobook version narrated by Debra Monk that you can often find at your local library or via their download service.
Pattern: Intarsia Mountain (read on for pattern presale information)
Finished size: 36” (92 cm) wide by 51” (130 cm)
Gauge: 14 sts and 24 rows = 4 inches [10 cm] after wet blocking, in garter stitch on US size 8 needles. Gauge is not crucial for success for this project as it’s not a fitted garment.
Needles: US 8 (5 mm) circular needles with cords measuring at least 36 inches.
Yarn: 10 skeins Paintbox Wool Mix Aran yarn (50% wool / 50% acrylic; 100g / 196 yds per skein; Worsted Weight). You’ll need 2 skeins of one color (Color A) & 1 skein each of 8 other colors (Colors B-I), for a total of 10 skeins. (read on for additional yarn & presale information)
As of today, you can officially preorder the Intarsia Mountain pattern right here. Just like previous years, the pattern is available at a steep discount starting now using coupon codes, with a new code each week leading up to the release of clue 1 on September 1.
SNEGUROCHKA gets you the pattern for FREE on Ravelry for the first 24 hours of the pattern presales going live. MABEL = 50% off August 7-12 FAINA = 25% off August 13-19 JACK = 15% off August 20-26 REDFOX = 10% off August 27-31
In addition to being our flagship sponsor of this year’s Read Along Knit Along, LoveKnitting provided yarn support throughout the design process of Intarsia Mountain. I’m working with them to bundle all ten skeins of Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran in the colorful and neutral palettes I designed with & selected for this RALKAL. The colorful palette is pictured primarily throughout this announcement post, but since we all know a knitter (maybe yourself!) who can’t get enough of knitting with neutral colors, there’s a suggested neutral palette too. The neutral palette uses blacks and slates in the place of greens, browns instead of warm colors, greys in place of blues, and a lovely pale blue for the sky. Side by side, you can see how the two palettes compare.
Clr A – Vanilla Cream 807 (2 skeins)
Clr B – Misty Grey 803
Clr C – Midnight Blue 837
Clr D – Dolphin Blue 836
Clr E – Pillar Red 814
Clr F – Tomato Red 812
Clr G – Mustard Yellow 823
Clr H – Evergreen 830
Clr I – Racing Green 827
Clr A – Duck Egg Blue 835 (2 skeins)
Clr B – Paper white 800
Clr C – Slate Grey 805
Clr D – Stormy Grey 804
Clr E – Coffee Bean 810
Clr F – Soft Fudge 809
Clr G – Light Camel 808
Clr H – Granite Grey 806
Clr I – Pure Black 801
Right now the folks at LoveKnitting are working to finalize preorder details, but I can tell you that they will have bundles (like these) of yarn in both the colorful and neutral palettes available. This section of this post will be updated as soon as final details are available for Intarsia Mountain kit orders. If you don’t want to wait for their bundles, you can order the palettes for yourself, and you can get creative with the 60+ color range that Paintbox Wool Mix Aran yarn is available in – check it out.
Update 8/20/18: Intarsia Mountain color packs are now available!! Get them here!
And in even more exciting news, they’re only $47 for a limited time! Each individual skein of Paintbox Wool Mix Aran retails for $7.99, and for a blanket that requires 10 balls to make, you’re getting great savings if you decide to go the color pack route for this RALKAL. Since folks have asked, photos of Intarsia Mountain knit in the neutral palette will be available soon. My sample knitter is just wrapping up the neutral version, and as soon as it’s blocked and ready, I’ll get some snaps to share. If you visit the Intarsia Mountain color packs page, you can see the two color palettes side by side.
Update 8/31/18: Early bird kit pricing has ended, but you can still get your hands on either the colorful or neutral kit here. In other news, here’s what the neutral color palette looks like all knit up!
Mystery Knit Along & Schedule Break Down
For this RALKAL, we are again going to keep pace with each other by breaking the pattern into four parts. Technically, this means the RALKAL is going to be a mystery knit along, but instead of keeping the finished project a secret, I’m sharing pictures of what the finished project looks like. Why? Because a lapghan/throw blanket/toddler-sized blanket is a lot of knitting, and asking folks to jump into an 8 week mystery knit along not knowing what the finished product looks like just seemed a bit cruel. :)
Instead, you’ll know what the finished blanket looks like, well, right now. And the plot twist is that you’ll receive 25% of the pattern at a time, every other week, and we’ll also be pacing our reading in time with the release of each clue. Here’s the schedule:
- Saturday, Sept. 1 – 15: Clue 1/Weeks 1-2 & Part 1 of The Snow Child
- Sunday, Sept. 16 – Saturday, Sept. 29: Clue 2/Weeks 3-4 & Part 2 of The Snow Child
- Sunday, Sept. 30 – Saturday, Oct. 13: Clue 3/Weeks 5-6 & Part 3 of The Snow Child
- Sunday, Oct. 14 – Wednesday, Oct. 31: Clue 4/Weeks 7-8 & Epilogue of The Snow Child
When I say pacing our reading, that means that in our online and in person discussions, spoilers involving anything beyond that clue/weeks’ reading pace aren’t allowed! It’s a fun way to give folks markers to keep up with as they inevitably get behind or ahead on either knitting or reading.
Here’s the gist of what’s going on with this fall’s RALKAL.
- Today (8/6): pattern preorders open. The pattern is free for the next 24 hours using code SNEGUROCHKA, but prices go up incrementally after that, so don’t miss out!
- LoveKnitting yarn preorders will be open soon, and expedited shipping will get you your yarn in time to cast on 9/1.
- Clues will be released 9/1, 9/16, 9/30, & 10/14 with the whole thing wrapping up and online prize winner announced in the Friday, November 2 Picks of the Week post.
- The in-person Intarsia Mountain workshop will be Sunday 9/2, 2-4 p.m. at Firefly Fiber Arts in Chicago.
- RALKALIRL meetups will be at Firefly Fiber Arts on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. during the knit along: 9/7, 14, 21 & 28, 10/5, 12, 19 & 26.
- Our September and October meet ups will be held as usual on the fourth Wednesday (9/26 & 10/24) from 6-9 p.m. at The Logan Theatre in Chicago.
- We’ll be doing live broadcasts on Instagram & Facebook during the in-person events.
- Online discussion will take place in the Ravelry Group.
The Read Along Knit Along is a program with lots of moving parts, so if you’re confused or missed anything or think I might have glossed over any detail in this post, please ask! The comments section on this post, the Ravelry Group, or any of the @handsoccupied social networks are a great place to ask. I can’t wait to knit with you all this fall!