Wait, how do you have a party for a remote team?
We thought we’d start by doing a little bit of research on how other remote teams tackle parties. To be honest, they were all pretty basic and seemed to be set up for awkwardness. Most involved a few games, popping a party cracker by yourself, reading out the bad jokes with a roll of ‘ha..ha, ha’s. We needed to come up with our own idea. After all, we’re a unique company with a unique team, we deserve a unique party to celebrate the end of the year!
The Making Things full-time team is made up of 9 people, living in 4 different cities, and 3 different countries around the world. Half of the team are in the Northern Hemisphere and half are in the Southern Hemisphere. There's an ongoing debate in the team about who is in fact upside down.
We decided that two of us - Claire and Laura, would organize the party. We liked having the surprise element as an extra treat for the rest of the team. We sent the team a compulsory meeting request titled 'END OF YEAR PARTY!" and informed everyone that they would receive a parcel in the mail that was to remain unopened until the meeting. How mysterious! We were certain that Megan was a little nervous about two of her team going rogue and planning such a strange sounding party. This is what we planned:
The first thing we decided on was that we wanted to make something special for the whole team. We’re always caught in awe of the incredible designs on Making Things and wanted to pick a beautiful pattern to spoil our team. The Ogee & Gosh pattern by Needle Leef Knits really caught our eye. Matching beanies in inverted colors & patterns were something we knew everyone would absolutely adore, and the idea of everyone having their own matching team beanie melted our hearts - so we went for it!
We only had two weeks to prepare (oh no - we didn't think about how long colorwork takes to knit), so we got busy knitting! We first selected the yarn De Rerum Natura Gillat, for its beautiful wooly texture and stunning colors. The colors were chosen for each person, to reflect their palette. You don’t often think about the connection between color and personality, and it was a treat to come up with some deserving beautiful colorways for each person on the team. The beanies are each unique but connected by the pattern and the colors - at least 2 beanies share the same ball of yarn as either the main or contrast color.
We had 9 beanies to make so we hit the sticks pretty quick - trying to knit at any spare chance we had in between our work. There were several team meetings where we were knitting secretly under the desk (a benefit of remote meetings) and Laura even knitted one at a family Christmas party! That made for some interesting explanations.
Every beanie is unique in that we made some purposeful (and some non-purposeful) mods. The pattern called for DK weight yarn and for some reason Claire decided to buy Worsted weight yarn. Oh yes, that's right - it's because she was allured by the beautiful De Rerum Natura Gilliat and like a moth to a flame, all reasoning went out the door. Because of the bulkier yarn, gauge modifications needed to be made. We knit some of the hats with a loose gauge, intending to make them a little larger for a relaxed fits (and larger heads), and then we really liked that gauge so did some mods to the pattern for smaller hats, by taking out repeats, knitting smaller brims and changing the decreases.
We wanted to incorporate some games - after all, it’s a party. I don’t think we really break out of the nostalgia of playing games at parties. Also, we weren't sure if casual conversation and regular party antics would work in a remote setting (We've since learned that it works just fine! We had a great time chatting and being silly). Our aim was to create something relevant to us, that we would all enjoy and could be done remotely. Most of the team are obsessive knitters and crocheters, but some of us are just at the start of our making journey! We wanted to bring everyone in and share micro experiences of making.
We thought pom-poms would be a perfect challenge because no advanced making skills are required and they are just so much fun! We made 2 cardboard rings & picked out some of our colorful scrap yarn and wound them into a few small balls per person.
It was hilarious to watch everyone get into pom-pom making, frantically wrapping yarn around their cardboard - when the time was up there were a few team members that couldn’t/wouldn’t stop wrapping! If we were using a points system for the winner I would have 100% taken off points for that (not looking at anyone in particular.. ROBBIE)
Instead of paper party hats we had our new knitted beanies to wear! Instead of standard bad jokes, we thought we'd include some knitting related (still mostly bad) jokes. This was the most time consuming game we made - replicating your stock standard bon bon jokes to elicit a balanced cringe/funny response was a tough task. We invented a few from scratch, and edited some to make them funnier/more terrible. If anyone is short on a knitting/crochet joke hit us up, we have quite a catalog now. Here was one of our favorites -
Q. Why didn't the sheep want to go into the shearing shed?
A. Because he'd rather go to the Baaa Baaaa
We made a length of yarn - and tangled it up. Our team had to untangle it.
We figured a few of our team members wouldn’t be familiar with untangling yarn - so we thought we’d get them up to scratch. Probably the funniest task. There was serious concentration, giving up and also scissors involved (Earle, was going to cut up his piece and tie it back together). Ani untangled her yarn in 2 minutes flat and took out the yarn untangling championship! She got a 30 second time advantage for our final challenge
The best gets knitted up & made into a design! This wasn’t supposed to be a sneaky way of forcing our team to become knitwear designers for MT. Or maybe it was? Time will tell. Watch this space. We supplied the MT colored markers and graph paper (We had to go to three office supply stores to find the right colors).
We were inspired by the beanies we made for the team - Ogee & Gosh pattern by Needle Leef Knits seamless colorwork design, to make our own colorwork concept. The timer was set for 10 minutes, and there were some pretty special designs that came out from it! We all voted on our favorite design. It was head to head between Meg & Tovah’s designs. Meg ended up being our fair isle knit designer - we won’t show you the winning design just yet, it’s going to be a surprise for us to knit up!
That was our end of year party, full of laughs, creativity, craft, treats and light hearted competition across the world on video chat! We'll leave you with some snaps of the team wearing their hats!