Geogradient MKAL Clue 1 Update

Spoilers for the MKAL ahead, but Stephen has asked that everyone look at the clue so hopefully not too much…

What’s that pile of yarn I hear you ask? Well dear reader, that’s the gradient for my Geogradient MKAL. But wait, you say, I thought you had some blues and teals that you posted last week? Well I did, and I’m not knitting with those anymore.

So, let’s back up. Because if you’re not knitting this or don’t follow a bunch of people knitting it on Instagram, you may be unaware of the …. struggling to find the right adjective here… bumpy? dramatic? hectic? frustrating? start this MKAL had. I’ll try to lay it all out with my thoughts and at the end I’ll show you some clue 1 progress. The pattern was released on Thursday, 5 am my time. As test knitters started to post their finished clues, several people noted they saw a sw*st*ka in the geometric pattern. By 1pm my time, an updated clue had been sent out, with an “alternate” version of clue 1, which was originally noted as an “extra beginner friendly option so you can create a clue you LOVE.” At that point, a lot of discussion was happening in the forum, and lots of folks were creating versions of the original clue that used the same construction, but ordered the colors differently as to emphasize the pinwheel or Celtic knot visuals in the pattern, or reordering stripes to create different shapes. There was even a colorblock/pinwheel version suggested by Stephen himself.

At 3pm on Friday, Stephen released another update stating that the original “alternate” clue 1 was now the official clue 1, and removed the original instructions. At that point he encouraged us to knit the new version, but the original video remained up and there wasn’t anything in that update about how “participating” in the MKAL (posting in forms, being eligible to be featured, winning any giveaways) might be affected by what you knit. Yesterday at 11am, he sent a new update, further clarifying the new direction, removing the original clue 1 video, and letting people know that not only original Clue 1 patterns, but mods that clearly used that construction, would not be able to be posted in the spoiler thread and would be deleted by the moderators. He also posted this video, which I recommend you watch even if you’re not knitting this pattern because I truly think it’s a master class in how to handle something like this and just gave me even more respect for Stephen. As you can imagine, there is much handwringing in the spoiler thread but also a lots of support for Stephen and the new direction of the KAL.

So, what was I doing during all of this? Well I had gotten about 1 and a half sections done Thursday evening (about 10%) when I checked the spoiler thread because I wanted to post the link to my tracker, and realized why the alternate was posted. I actually checked with my irl friend who is knitting this whose wife is Jewish and the wife and wife’s mother both clearly saw the symbol without prompting. So, that night I cast on the “colorblocked” version suggested by Stephen. I was able to get a lot done Friday during the day as I was just watching a bunch of training videos at work. So when the Friday update came out, I continued knitting on that version. I was probably about 30% done, and it felt like I had done what I needed to do to remove the symbol.

However as the weekend progressed, I felt less good about it. I can’t really explain it, and maybe I was just anxious about other things in my life, but even though I kept working on the shawl and felt like i should find it relaxing, it was just stressing me out. It was to the point where I even looked at my stash Sunday night and probably would have cast on the new version if I found something totally perfect. Then the update and video came out Monday and I knew I had to restart. It wasn’t that I was worried about not being able to fully participate in the forums, I don’t think I’d posted in the group at all the past three years. And I barely even posted on instagram so it’s not like I wanted Stephen to notice me or anything. It just felt like I was doing something so antithetical to what the designer wanted. Yes, people often modify patterns but I don’t know, it felt like the right thing to do. It also probably helped that I was not fully digging the colors, and the past two year’s shawls were sitting in my room and I realized that they both had navy and so did this one. So I happily used this as an opportunity to just start new and chose some colors outside my normal comfort zone. And it made me happy that I ended up with all Farmer’s Daughter’s Fiber yarns, who is an indigenous dyer, and I cast on my new version on Indigenous People’s Day. I’m already almost 25% done with the new clue, and I don’t think I’ll finish by Thursday (though I do have a full day of meetings tomorrow that I probably can knit a bit during) but that’s ok.

I’m so glad I restarted this. While my new colors aren’t really a true gradient, I really love the vintage autumn vibes and it seems to be perfect for Stephen’s inspiration. I did go back and forth a bunch on how I wanted to order the middle two. The orange (third from left in the first picture) is closer in color tone to the red, but it’s lighter in contrast, which is why I went with the above order. Even now when I’m looking at the picture of the hanks, I’m like hmm do I like the brown next to the green because of the green tones? But no Kathryn, look at the black and while below and you made the right decision with the contrast to switch the middle two colors.

I ended up finishing the original clue one just because I was so close, and I plan to make it into either a pillow, or perhaps a shawl because I have so much matching yarn. Once Stephen works his magic to make a square shape a shawl shape, I will use similar techniques but different stitch patterns to come up with a shawl inspired by the Geogradient but not actually that pattern since it won’t have been designed by Stephen. Or you know I’ll just frog it and knit something else. Problem for future Kathryn lol.

I had a lot of other thoughts I wanted to post sort of responding to people’s main complaints, and why I get that it’s frustrating but it’s also silly. Like yes, the reason I got so far in the modified clue was because I didn’t want to cast on again. And yes, it’s less interesting construction than the original. But you know what, I think I’ve said enough. Not that I think people would come here and argue but I don’t want to continue to contribute to the arguments. I felt like it was the right thing to do to cast on a new shawl. If you’re knitting this and you feel differently, that’s really fine by me. I don’t think you’re a horrible person. If you love what you’ve created that’s great! At the end of the day this is a knitting pattern. And I don’t say this to dismiss people who were hurt by the symbol but to remind us that this is supposed to be fun and we all should do whatever we feel is right to enjoy this.

Phew, that was a long one! I’m excited about this shawl and the direction I’m headed in now. If you’re knitting this, what are your thoughts?


  1. Not too surprising considering my love of autumn colors but I adore the colors you picked. I think the Stephen West MKAL shawl will be especially amazing in those colors!! Sorry to hear the shawl had an unusual bumpy start this year.

  2. Sometimes in the bathroom I can see the outline of a puppy’s face on one of the linolium tiles on the floor other times it looks like a lion’s face. But it’s not really a puppy or a lion, just appears like it. Sometimes a tile is just a tile. Looking forward to your new project.

  3. Poor Stephen! I seriously think that swastigate got way out of hand… I can’t see it myself, but once the possibility was brought up there was no stopping the cascade of unexpected consequences. I’m not doing the MKAL but I’m thinking that I should go buy it anyway as a sign of support for the tremendously talented Stephen.

  4. I love your new colors. I didn’t know Farmer’s Daughter Fibers is an indigenous dyer. That’s good to know! I think you made the right choice, starting over. I’ve recently made some changes in what I am choosing to support — making sure I feel good about those choices and they are in line with my values. It’s a matter of integrity within yourself. It isn’t about what other people think or feel. I’m not a huge Stephen West fan (I’ve only knit one pattern) but I have respect for how this situation was handled. Looking forward to watching your MKAL grow!

    1. Yes this is exactly it! I think I could have worn even the first version 1 and a normal person on the street would not have said a thing, especially when it’s being worn. But at the end of the day, it felt like the right thing to do. I buy this pattern primarily to “buy into” the creative vision Stephen has, so if the first version isn’t something he wants to be associated with, then neither do I.

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