Oh, so long since I posted! But this month, I participated in a knit-along in the Eat.Sleep.Knit group on Ravelry, and I had a lot of fun! I don't think I've ever participated in a KAL before, and having the deadline really pushed me to finish my socks on time.
Of course, the fact that Eat.Sleep.Knit has a year-long yarnathon, with teams and prizes for milestones (yardage knit, etc.) doesn't hurt. When I join in the Tour de Fleece or the Ravelympics/Ravellenic Games, I'm just knitting and spinning along for the fun of it and to challenge myself - there is no one else who benefits from my participation. But with the yarnathon, in addition to individual prizes, the winning team all gets a prize, so we all benefit.
Which means that I'm planning a few more knitted and crocheted birthday and holiday gifts this year to go along with yarnathon challenges (as well as a few gifts for me! Like these socks). And, as much as I like to support local yarn shops whenever possible, I still shop online occasionally, so I don't feel too bad about it. They have some nice yarns that I can't always get locally, and they ship really fast, and there is always the shopping at midnight benefit - can't do that with a LYS!
For now, the Tour de Fleece starts in a few days, and the Olympics start in Rio in about a month, so I have some planning to do for those. And in the meantime, I have a few more KAL's to join!