A newish knitter, bless their heart, wants to try the knit-along and asked what skills were involved, so here you go:
- knitting in the round with two colors, stranded
- purling - there will be two-color purling, but not until the very end of the sweater and you'll be invincible by then (the shoulder straps are worked back and forth on less than 20 stitches)
- steeking - doesn't take skill, just nerve
- provisional cast-on - you can do just about any cast-on and pick it back out again
- grafted hems
- picking up stitches
- button holes (mine are pretty lameass, so don't feel intimidated)
- two color knitting on double-points (or two circulars, or magic loop) for the cuffs; IMHO this is the most difficult part, and it's not that hard
One of the reasons we're doing this knit-along is because people wanted the pattern for the brown-and-red jacket and I couldn't figure out how to do it in less than ten thousand words and sixty photos. There are some interesting techniques involved and I'll lead you by the hand through them - that's why I suggested this in the first place. Personally, I think if you can learn to do stranded color by January, you should go for it. You'll learn a lot and probably never be afraid of a new pattern or new technique again.
If cost is an issue (nobody wants to trash $500 of cashmere on an experiment, I understand completely), scoot on over to Elann.com and buy the Highland wool. I'm knitting a swatch with it right now (for the husbeast's Christmas sweater) and it's yummy. And really low priced. (And with this loooong lead-in, you can order it in three weeks and have it shipped and still have it in time!)
And now I must go murder my child, who has figured out the fastest way to get attention is to mess up Mumum's stuff. Grrrrr.