Unfortunately, not being a designer nor a user of social media in 2013, I'm sad to say I was completely oblivious to the fun that went on that autumn.
The first contact I had with the GAL was in the summer of 2014. I had started designing patterns in June of that year and had joined the Designers group in July. In August a discussion thread with the header "Gift-a-long 2014?" appeared in the group message board. I opened it, read it and was intrigued. After reading more I decided I wanted to take part in this event too, even though I only had a handful of designs published at that stage.
By the time the sign-ups opened in October I had 9 patterns available and was eligible to participate. I decided to include all nine (designers could choose to submit a minimum of 5 patterns, up to a maximum of 20), and from there it was a steep learning curve to work out how to set up the different promotions required to offer the sale discount and the prize coupon codes, how to make a photo collage of the requisite size, how to create a pattern bundle, and how to set up Ravelry ads.
The GAL itself was like a six-week-long party! I sold a few of my patterns, bought as many as I sold (!) and found many new designers whose work I hadn't seen before. I also treated myself to a pattern I had had my eye on for over a year, and had even purchased the yarn for, but had been waiting for the right time to buy. With a 25% discount, it seemed the perfect time to treat myself to that pattern I had been looking at for so long.
Over the next few days I shall post in more detail about some of the designs I knitted from last year's GAL. I must confess I still haven't knitted all of them, and some are going to become projects for this year's GAL. Any pattern by a participating designer is eligible for the Gift-A-Long - it isn't a requirement for the pattern to have been purchased this year; if you have it in your library already you're good to go!
I was amazed with how many projects I did complete during the GAL last year though, ten all together (although three of those were from my own patterns so don't really count - the idea is to promote other designers!). The remaining seven were varied - colourwork, colour blocking, lace, beading as well as plain knitting - and five were gifts. The rest were for the household or for myself. After all, the GAL fully encourages selfish knitting!