I can't even begin to imagine the years of work, training, failure, accomplishment and sheer athleticism the Olympic athletes endure for a chance to represent America at the Olympic Games. I have always been a huge fan of the Games, both winter and summer. No matter where you stand on politics, religion or any other controversial issue, we all feel a sense of pride when our athletes make the journey and compete under our flag. How can you not feel patriotic and proud? We smile and clap in delight when they win a medal, we cry and yearn for them when they fail. We love the story of the underdog who wins a medal for a tiny country you've never heard of, of people who have been told their entire lives that they'll "never make it" have a medal hung around their necks with tears running down their cheeks as their anthem begins to play, of the sheer will and determination these representatives of the world's elite athletes have.
While most of us will never compete in an Olympic event (or even get to attend the games at all) we have something that hits a little closer to home for us, the knitters in the Winter Knitting Games (formerly known as the "Ravelympics"). Never participated? The premise is simple… Pick a project that you determine to be above your skill level - something challenging that perhaps you've admired and thought "I could never knit that." Gather your yarn, pattern and any other materials you will need and the second the Olympic torch is lit at the end of the Opening Ceremonies, you cast on and begin. The goal is the finish the project by the time the torch is extinguished at the end of the Closing Ceremonies. Make sense? Start on February 7th after the torch is lit, finish by the 23d when the torch goes out.
Now the thing about the Winter Knitting Games, is you can participate on your own, or you can join one of the many groups on Ravelry. Some are themed (knit something Fair Isle, complex lace shawls, Harry Potter-themed, etc) and some are a complete free-for-all where it's you making all the decisions. It's based on the honor system, so no one will be there to disqualify you if you start 5 minutes early. Some knitters track their progress in Ravelry groups, their personal blogs or Facebook pages.
This particular Olympics hits close to home for me. I've been lucky enough to work with Imperial Yarn over the past few years and by now you've probably heard that Ralph Lauren has used their 100% American-made Erin yarn for all of the American athlete's Opening Ceremony uniforms (see above with the moose and watch the incredible journey documented here). If you have my first book, Knit Local, you know how important American-made yarn is to me (Imperial is featured in there), so this is especially sweet on multiple levels. Imperial asked me to design their official hand-knit Olympic sweater for all of the hand knitters out there and I'll be running a KAL (knit-a-long) during the Games with step-by-step photo tutorials, tips and tricks and be there to offer support during the KAL. To join the official KAL group, join our official Imperial Yarn Ravelry Group here.
This pullover is designed to be a challenging knit and is a unisex design, looking great on both men and women. A bottom-up raglan, the v-neck pullover has an intricate cable pattern running up the front panel, mirror-imaged cables running up the sleeves and a stockinette back. The pattern is a free download on Imperial Yarn's website here, so grab 4-7 hanks of Erin yarn (check the sizing to see how many hanks you need) and gather your materials for February 7th!
Go Team Imperial!