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NaKniSweMo – National Knit a Sweater Month

October 29, 2017
Flax Sweater by Tin Can Knits

Have you ever taken on a really big project?
Like knitting a sweater?
Or writing a novel?

Tenderheart from Heart on my Sleeve, a perfect sweater for NaKniSweMo!

These types of projects can seem overwhelming, especially the first time! How do you get started?! Do you find a yarn you love and a pattern to match? The other way around? One way to start is to set yourself a deadline to finish. Deadlines can be like rocket fuel for creatives!

A deadline can be that push that gets you from a sad WIP (work in progress) languishing in a dark closet, awaiting moth attack, to a stunning sweater sauntering around the city, enjoying the December sunshine on its exquisite stitches.

NaKniSweMo (na-ni-sway-mo: national knit a sweater in a month) is a month-long challenge. This challenge was inspired the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which folk write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. This year I’m going to attempt a novel (while probably knitting a sweater or two as well…). But since you’re reading the Tin Can Knits blog, you’re probably knitter so I wanted to introduce you to a similar challenge for knitters.

If you were already planning to participate in our Strange Brew / Dog Star KAL, but haven’t quite gotten around to casting on yet, perhaps you could participate in both? The challenge is to complete a sweater of at least 50,000 stitches from start to finish in the month of November! The KAL group on Ravelry is here, and their FAQ is here. And surf the tags for some very inspiring #nakniswemo projects on Instagram.

Alexa and Emily Read’s September Sweaters are a great example of a sweater with a deadline! The first set took an extra year to finish, but these ones (they are on the blocking boards as I type) are only a month behind schedule. Not bad for so many sweaters!

How many stitches are in a sweater?

By quick calculations, if you’re working the Strange Brew or Dog Star patterns, the women’s S is +/- 48,000 stitches, and +/- SM is 55,000 sts. My calculations are pretty rough, though, so women’s S may in fact break the 50,000 barrier.

55,000 / 30 days = 1833 sts / day – I’d suggest rounding up to 2000 stitches per day in order to ensure you complete the challenge, with a bit of spare time to weave in ends and block your sweater so you can wear it on December 1st!

Working on the body of an adult SM (37”), which is 204 sts around, you only need to work 10 rounds (or 1.5”) per day. Or say you’re on the sleeve, where there’s a maximum stitch count of 70 sts, you’d have to work 28 rounds (or 3.75”) rounds to achieve the same 2000 stitches in a day.

Speaking of deadlines…..I actually knit this Campfire sweater in 3 days for a photoshoot deadline. I knit pretty much around the clock and had to knit the collar twice!

This sounds entirely possible to me, how about you?

The great thing about a bottom up or top down seamless pullover (we’ve designed a few!) is that you will have VERY LITTLE finishing left to do after you bind off the collar.

What’s the point?

Well, first of all, what’s the point of knitting anyways?! When you can buy a sweater for so much less money and so much less time… Yeah, we’ve all heard that common refrain! And we all knit anyway, so surely you have your own answer to this one.

The point of the 30-day challenge, for me, is the concept of working away on a thing bit by bit, stitch by stitch, having broken it into achievable bits. Most of my life I have been a terrible procrastinator who proceeds by fits and starts, with bouts of intense creative energy and late-night catch-up sessions separated by doldrums of procrastination and relative inactivity. I hold the daily practice of consistent creative work up as a lofty goal for myself, always hopeful that it might be possible!

Personally, it’s not so much the sweater (or the novel, which I fully expect to be a steaming pile) that I’m as interested in as the PRACTICE of breaking a big project up into manageable pieces and churning through, taking daily action toward the goal.

How about you? Does the idea of a creative marathon excite and thrill the knitter (or writer) inside you? If so join right in!

get the deadline into your calendar!

Join the NaKniSweMo group and plan to cast on Wednesday, November 1st! And while you’re at it, you could join our Strange Brew KAL, and if you want to go crazy, knit it in Tanis Fiber Arts yarn and join her Fall Colourwork KAL at the same time! So much fun! So much support!

May we suggest:

Flax Light by Tin Can KnitsStrange Brew





6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2020 8:48 pm

    Just to tell you I shared your post on FB today. It’s so good explaining the NaKniSweMo. I hope it gets knitters thinking and inspired to load up on some yarn to support their LYS or Indie Dyers.
    Best, Ruth E. Hendricks in Pittsburgh PA

  2. November 4, 2019 8:43 am

    Do you have to knit that specific sweater? What happens if you’re a beginner/special needs knitter… who can’t understand a pattern?

    • November 5, 2019 12:33 pm

      The rules are incredibly loose, it’s just something we are aware of, not something we host.

  3. Gwen permalink
    November 2, 2017 10:25 am

    I’m also doing NaNoWriMo this year! First time and I’m really excited. I’ll probably knit a couple of sweaters as well. Good luck with your writing.

  4. Carol P permalink
    November 1, 2017 2:43 pm

    I’m doing NaKniSweMo, using your Gramps pattern. My teenaged step-son chose it as his Christmas Sweater pattern.

  5. October 31, 2017 10:28 am

    Doing NaNoWriMo, cannot do this years knit a sweater due to xmas crafting committments, but I love this idea!!!!

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