Here are some of my preliminary choices:
I am going to try something I haven't done on a cardigan before, though I did use this technique on the grey pullover with the viking design cable up the front. I can knit the sweater pieces but leave the stitches for the panel on a holder, then go back and knit the panel up by hand. This is a fun technique because all the boring stockinette is done by the machine and all that is left is the fun and interesting part for hand knitting.
And, of course, it wouldn't hurt to knit up a few more hats for the mission.