What No One Tells You About the Master Knitting Program

There are many key benefits to enrolling in the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program but what no one ever tells you is that it is an epic formula to overcome the dread of seaming your knitting.  I will be the first to admit that the program has massive benefits, too many to list, but for me, it has been monumental to no longer dread the finishing process of putting together a sweater.

I won’t deceive you, going through the program sometimes seems like a mammoth task, one I occasionally wish I could just quit.  I will set it aside for several months at a time and think I won’t finish but then I remind myself of how much work has gone into it thus far and tell myself I need to cross that finish line.  It is well worth the effort.

Swatch 19  I finished the last swatch last week, swatch 19 although I am quite certain I will re-knit a few of my swatches before I mail my submission.   I made an inset pocket!  I’m not sure I will ever knit an inset pocket on anything in the future but it sure was fun to knit.  I’m definitely a process knitter. Icy Pink Vest

This week I am working on a book report and I’ve started one of the three projects required in Level Two, a vest.  The book I’m writing a report on is Seven Things That Make or Break a Sweater.  It is a great little book packed with information on techniques that if not done properly will do just that – make or break your sweater.  The vest I have chosen is Arenda Holladay’s Icy Pink Vest.  The original pattern was knit in tweed which is an unaccepted fiber choice in the program so Ms. Holladay has re-written the pattern with a more appropriate fiber.  Apparently, so many knitters were using this pattern in the program that the rewrite was to avoid knitting the vest and having it rejected because you used a tweed.  The reviewers need to see all your seaming, how you pick up the neckband and check for gauge issues, tweed makes it more difficult for them to do so.

Icy Pink Vest

The program was revised this last year for procrastinators like me.  There are time limits:

  • Level 1 – 1 year
  • Level 2 – 18 months
  • Level 3 – 2 years

Now you can still take your time if you want to but you will be charged a fee every time you download a new revision after the time limit.  I’m glad they have done this because it was just enough to get my rear in gear again.

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The Pigseyes Adventure Checked Off

Would Elizabeth Zimmermann be proud of me?

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I’ve completed my buttonhole research for Level Two of the Master Hand Knitting Program and my brain is on buttonhole overload right now.  Something tells me Elizabeth would be sighing, shaking her head and telling me just to chill out about my ‘pigseyes’ but I don’t think the TKGA Committee would have the same reaction.  Instead, I suspect I will have to resubmit some of these swatches but, nonetheless, I am still thankful for this buttonhole journey.  I will feel a little more confident the next time I encounter a buttonhole.  I won’t be knitting ‘pigseyes’ anymore!

There are many different buttonhole designs and believe me, I experimented with just about all of them.  Some of them looked a whole lot better in one fabric than another so I can see that this is an essential skill to have.

Master Knitting Level Two

I have knit my horizontal, vertical and eyelet buttonholes in single rib, double rib and seed stitch.  I have figured out how to space buttonholes on a band given a certain number of stitches – not only horizontally but also with a 1″ of knitting above and below each buttonhole – whew….took forever.

Master Knitting Level Two

The final swatches are on the blocking mat as I type and tonight I will weave in the tails.  Tomorrow will be their photoshoot for we are now to keep a photo record of everything we submit to the TKGA Committee.

Brody I’m in Denver this week because I am grandma to my daughter’s golden retriever.  While I am sweltering down here in the Mile High City she is up in the cool mountains at a nurses retreat.  It is hot today and there is no air-conditioning so the pooches are pretty lethargic which makes for good research time. Kenzie

This afternoon I will be writing my second book report, four required, on Deborah Newton’s Finishing School – A Master Class for Knitters.  This book has proven to be a valuable resource for all the seaming swatches I had to do.  I’m hoping it will live up to its reputation when I research the next swatch, picking up stitches.

Master Handknitting Level Two

I’m used to picking up stitches along gusset edges on socks but Swatch 18 will be simulating a scooped neckline.  It will test my ability to select appropriate decreases for a neckline, accurately pick up stitches along bound-off selvedge edges and calculate an accurate ratio for picking up stitches along a selvedge edge.

Staying Hydrated

Hmmmm…..Maybe I want to take a nap on the couch instead.  I’m staying hydrated!

Master Knitting Monday with Frozen Pine Trees Outside

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The world is frozen outside and the roads are icy so my allergist canceled coming up Ute Pass for those of us on the other side of Pikes Peak.  I really should take down the Christmas wreaths that still hang on my windows but there has been snow accumulation since they went up and I don’t dare get on a ladder.

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The dogs watch me as I take outdoor photographs and I know they are hoping we will go for a walk through the snow.  That won’t be happening today, one misplaced step and down I would go!  Maybe tomorrow.

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Instead, I will head down to my study and finish writing the pattern for Swatch 10, a lace design.  I don’t have much to share with you on this pattern writing process other than to say I am staying on target with my New Year’s Resolution of tackling four swatches a month for the course.  I’m not rushing through this course as some do.  I want the things I am learning to sink in deep and stick.

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I inherited my father-in-law’s office furniture when he passed away last year.  I used to love visiting with him in his study so this furniture is extra special to me.  My husband has his own study and he thought it would be an excellent idea to turn one of our guest bedrooms into a special place for me.  So come on in!

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If you were to come visit me, you would sit across from my desk in a comfy leather chair.  I have two of them on either side of my old dining room hutch.  I discovered early on that they are perfect chairs for spinning so one of them is dedicated exclusively for that purpose.

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I would sit in my comfy desk chair with this cute lumbar pillow.  I spend lots of time in this chair and even prefer to watch Netflix here in my study as I knit instead of out in the family room.

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My knitting reference library sits alongside the credenza.  I like having these books within easy reach as I do my knitting research for the MHK2 course.  I can spread all my books out on the credenza as or, if I am sewing, I can set up my machine on the credenza.

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One of my favorite things in this room is the cork board my daughter made me with wine corks.  It is covered with knitting swatches, some are to check gauge and some are to try out a pattern before proceeding with it.  It is always a reminder to me of the importance of knitting a gauge swatch.  If anything has ‘stuck’ going through this course it is the importance of gauge.

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The dining room cabinet sits across from my desk and I use it for storage.  The drawers are stuffed with yarn and other knitting tools.  The hutch contains projects that are ‘in process’ or that need to be finished.  I’m sentimental about this cabinet because it was one of our first big purchases after marrying thirty-two years ago so I held on to it when I gave the dining room table away.  I eventually want to replace the knobs with some fun knobs, something unique and colorful perhaps.

Well, that’s it.  You have seen where I like to hang out and play with fiber!  Do you have a special place you like to knit?

Seams – The First Week

With the recent revision of the Master Knitting Program Level 2,  I have decided to start afresh.  It seems like a primary focus in this level is seaming. With nineteen swatches to knit the first nine swatches all have to do with seams.  Although I cringe right now when it comes to finishing a project involving seaming I know that the purpose of this part of the program is designed to give me the confidence to tackle properly any project I take on.

 

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Right now the quality of my knitting most definitely does not match the quality of my finishing techniques.  I look forward to the day that, instead of dreading the finishing, I will instead enjoy it.  So without further ado, I will get going on the program and share my progress in mind.  Please keep in mind that all the swatches I share in the next months may very well need to be resubmitted to the Review Committee because they may have been done incorrectly.

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Whenever you seam a knitted garment you encounter three different type edges that must be sewn together.  Side seams, shoulder seams and the way the arm is sewn to the garment may all employ different techniques depending on the type of pattern knit in the garment.  Knowing these techniques and knowing when to use what kind of seam can greatly alter the appearance of the finished garment.  Case in point – for years I have been slipping the selvedge stitches thinking that gave a smooth edge to aid the seaming not knowing, bad idea. Instead, you need a nice sturdy edge so instead just work the stitch just as the pattern indicates.

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Stockinette Seam

Reverse Stockinette Seam

Reverse Stockinette Seam

Seed Stitch Seam

Seed Stitch Seam

I have critiqued these three swatches to death and have decided, for my sanity, that it is time to move on.  I am really bogged down in this section.  These three seams have been worked and re-worked.  I have changed the color of the yarn from lavender, to beige, back to lavender and then on to soft sage.  They need to be DONE!

I know this isn’t the most exciting of posts but I wish I had known more about seams in my early knitting years.  If I had I might actually be wearing those sloppy looking garments.  If you are currently about to seam any project using the above stitch patterns just take a few moments to research and that time will be a great investment for you.

Next up……seaming ribs!

Master Monday – Let the Swatches Begin

Monday is a laundry day for me.  It is also the day I iron shirts.  Sounds mundane, doesn’t it?  I think I will need to throw in a bit of knitting to work on between those loads of laundry and what sounds like a perfect fit for that knitting are the many Master Level Two swatches that must be knit in the upcoming months.  After a couple rounds of resubmissions I passed the first level of the TKGA Master Knitting Correspondence Program and Level Two has commenced.

Swatches to Seam

Swatches to Seam

I picked Cascade 220 in Lilac as the color I will knitting my Level Two swatches with but I have already grown weary of the color.  I’m not sure if this weariness is truly related to the color or the simple fact that I have knit six stockinette swatches to seam together with the mattress stitch and am not happy with any of them.  My daughter tells me colors evoke emotion.  I wonder what emotion purple evokes?  I ordered some Cascade 220 in beige to play it safe and I am hoping it brings about feelings of neutrality.

Figure 8 Start

Figure 8 Start

After three swatches I am still working on the Figure 8 weave to begin seaming the stockinette swatches.  I’m using the Mattress Seam one stitch in from the selvedge.

IMG_8325I have a row of wonky looking stitches on this first swatch.  The second swatch has the figure 8 tail showing in an early stitch and the third swatch, well I can’t remember what I didn’t like about it but I know it didn’t measure up to my critical eye.  Sigh.  I will try again with the BEIGE Cascade 220 yarn and see if I can get better results…………. time to throw in another load of laundry and after it gets going to pull out the BEIGE yarn and cast on again.

(Don’t feel sorry for me.  I may sound like I am grumbling but I can assure you, being a process knitter I am thoroughly enjoying this endeavor)

On My Way to the Masters

Packed up and shipped off! The last couple weeks have been a fog as I have concentrated completely on finishing up the Master Knitting course so I could mail it today! It has felt like when I was in college during those last two weeks of school studying, writing, pulling assignments together along with extensive research – WHEW!

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The final knitting project for Level 1 was to knit the mitten pattern included in the course. At first glance I thought it would be a piece of cake but quickly discovered that the cuff was no ordinary cuff. I think I started and restarted the cuff at least five times before I figured the pattern out. I couldn’t figure out where the running thread was between the diagonal stitches and I needed that running thread to pick up a new stitch. On about the fourth try I just happened to peek at the inside of the cuff and saw the running thread because I had changed colors and it was visible in the cerise, can’t miss much with that bright pink color!

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In this project I had to also demonstrate the ‘jogless’ color change and how to weave in the numerous tails that come when you change colors. I also had do do something about the hole in the gusset that almost always occurs when you make mittens. I will confess right here and now that I was not please with this gusset and will not be surprised if the committee asks me to re-knit the mitten.

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I finished the bibliography and research paper yesterday. The research on blocking and caring for hand knits was very insightful and I feel more confident in choosing a blocking method that Is the correct method for that finished project rather than using one just because I don’t know any others.

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This has been an incredible educational experience and I highly recommend it. My binder has been mailed to TKGA and they say it usually takes 6-8 weeks to get it back. I felt like I was handing over my first born child when I gave it to the postmistress! And now? I don’t know what to do! I’m walking around in a daze! Guess I better pull out my knitting bag and see what has been abandoned……

Master Knitting Level 1 Swatches Done

Before I started The Knitting Guild Association’s Master Hand Knitting Program I didn’t really have a clear picture of what I was getting in to.  The TKGA website gave a very short synopsis of each of the three levels, not really enough for me to get a feel for how much work was involved.  Ravelry had just launched and even if there already was a TKGA group on it, I had no clue how to tap in to that wonderful resource!  So, tonight I decided I would do a little overview of the ‘swatch’ part of the program in case any of you are interested in participating in the TKGA Hand Knitting Program.

If you have started doing some mental math then you have figured out that I have had Level 1 for many years.  I’ve started this level twice only to set it aside both times because either life got in the way or I wasn’t mentally prepared to pour myself into it.  It does take lots of time.  I was ready to try again in August bound and determined to finish it within a six month time frame.  I’m really glad I did.  I have learned much and it has been well worth the journey.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Today I finished up the sixteen swatches in this level.  They have been blocked, labeled, photographed and inserted into plastic sleeves and put into the binder.  Most of the swatches have been re-knit more than a couple times and I am still not happy with a couple of them.  I fully expect some to be returned to me by the review committee with comments on how they can be improved.  I’m actually looking forward to that part of the review even if it means resubmitting my work.

Swatches 1-3

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Swatches 1-3 tested my ability to:

  • Knit ribbing, garter, stockinette with even tension
  • Place increases evenly and unobtrusively in the last row of ribbing
  • Accurately measure the gauge of different stitch patterns

Swatches 4-6

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Swatches 4-6 demonstrated the type of increase I might use at the selvedge edges of a sleeve. They tested my ability to:

  • Accurately produce Bar, M1 and Lifted Increases
  • Correctly place the increases
  • Properly mirror the increases
  • Identify the bumpy and smooth of cast on edges
  • Write instructions for a technique

Swatches 7-9

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Swatches 7-9 demonstrate the type of decrease you might use at the selvedge edges of a neckline or sleeve cap.

They tested my ability to:

  •      ~  Accurately produce K2tog, SKP, KSP and SSK decreases
  •      ~  Correctly place the decreases
  •      ~  Properly mirror the decreases
  •      ~  Write instructions for a technique

Swatches 10-12

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Yarnovers and decreases are the basic stitches used in eyelet and lace patterns.

Swatches 10-12 tested my ability to:

  • Correctly form yarnovers
  • Accurately make K2tog, SKP and SSK decreases
  • Follow a simple pattern to create eyelet patterns

Swatches 13-15

Swatch 13

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IMG_6009Swatches 13-15 contain cable patterns.  They tested my ability to:

  • Knit cable patterns with even tension
  • Select an appropriate cable for Swatch 15
  • Accurately write a pattern for a cable which contains all the required information

Swatch 16 – Color Work

photo-2In this swatch, I had to change colors several times.  This swatch tested my ability to:

  • Successfully avoid bi-colored purl stitches in ribbing
  • Smoothly change colors at the beginning of row
  • Change yarn in the middle of a row
  • Unobtrusively weave in yarn tails so that they do not pull loose or alter the elasticity of the swatch
  • Bind off with a WS row

What else do I need to do before I am finished?

  1. Write a pattern for Swatch 15.(partially done)
  2. Finish the research questions corresponding to all the swatches.  (almost done)
  3. Write a 2-page report on blocking.
  4. Bibliography of all books used in research
  5. Level 1 Project – Colorwork Mitten

Onward!  Onward!  Keeping focused.  The finish line is in sight.  Thinking one more week.