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.

Master Knitting and Pattern Tweeking

Small things are just about all I have been able to focus on this last week.   Nothing too complex, nothing that requires deep concentration but tasks that a flu wracked body can handle.  Yesterday afternoon I spent time re-visiting the design software on my laptop called Intwined  so that I could make some long overdue revisions to the Guernsey Potato Peel Hat.  I made those revisions last night and uploaded it to Ravelry so the new PDF should go out to everyone who has downloaded the pattern in the past.

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download now

This pattern is free on Ravelry so if you have a hankering to ‘color ‘with your stash yarn then you might give this simple project a try.  Other color possibilities are dancing  around in my head  so there just might be a Potato Peel post in the near future.

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Today was another lazy day trying to knock this bug out of my system.  I pulled out the TKGA Master Knitting course that should have been finished last year, blew off the dust and was pleasantly surprised to find there were only two cable swatches and one color work swatch left to knit.  Of course, I still have half the questions to research, the final hat project and the final research paper before I’m done but if I put my hand to the plow I could easily have this finished this month.

Swatch #15 has given me a few problems.  This is the swatch to test whether you can follow directions p.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y and to see how you can clearly write the pattern for what you knit.  I won’t belabor you with details other than to state it is to be a cable of our own choosing with a couple repeats fitting within very specific measurements.  I first read the part about the repeat wrong and had a lovely little 4″ Saxon braid going until I re-read the directions.  The second attempt resulted in the cable portion being just a half-inch too long. I didn’t frog it but hung it on my project board.

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I kept the same cable for the third go round but this time dropped a needle size.  So far it is looking pretty good and the reverse stockinette looks much crisper.

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It’s a process, folks and is teaching me invaluable lessons!

I found this particular cable in Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting. As I thumbed through the initial historical section,  admiring several museum pieces, I was thrilled to see that the eleven Aran sweaters photographed are in the MUSEUM OF IRELAND in Dublin!  This will most certainly be added to our list of tourist attractions for our upcoming trip and I will read in careful detail Aran Knitting.

Weekend Ramblings


Last weekend was perfect for a long anticipated outdoor wedding in the mountains. There were a few rough roads to travel on but the destination was well worth the trek — such a lovely spot.

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The bride’s father wore a kilt and hand-knit kilt stockings from Scotland. The mother-of-the-groom told him I knit socks and I had eyed his. He asked if I could knit some for him…..ummm….I don’t think so….. that would be a project I would only embark upon for a loved one.

The five hour trip to and from the wedding gave me a stretch of knitting time in the car. I worked on a swatch for the Master Hand Knitting class – the dreaded swatch, the seed stitch. Three times now.

This one will have to do! This is a very difficult swatch for someone who knits as loose as I do! One has to remember to give the working yarn an extra tug after every knit stitch so that the resulting fabric will be dense instead of lacy looking.

I worked on the ribbing for the Portuluca sweater. I was pretty excited to finish it up so I could move on to the fun cabling of the sweater body. Unfortunately, later that evening whilst setting up the cable row I discovered I was ten stitches too short. I unraveled the ribbing and put the whole thing in timeout for a few days.

With the western states ablaze with wildfires, I am more than happy to announce that our monsoon weather has arrived. With our afternoon showers the vegetation has greened up and taken off growing. I decided that I would reflect this new weather pattern in my Colorado Sunrise Hat. I’m well past the normal sizing of a hat and have now moved in to the ‘stocking’ part of this sampler hat. With several decreases behind me and more up ahead the rounds are going faster.

Kenzie patiently waits for the showers to stop every afternoon so she can run out on the deck. I think she hopes to see chipmunks flooded out of their homes. The birds don’t provoke her, the deer don’t provoke her but the chipmunks….. let’s just say she won’t keep her mouth shut about them and let’s all our neighbors know that she.does.not.like.rodents.of.any.kind.

It is pretty nippy up here in the mountains today. When I went for my walk after lunch I noticed that many of the aspen trees are already starting to turn gold. I think autumn will come early this year….

Swatching Away


I have been knitting away on swatches for the first level of the TKGA Master Knitting course.   I know…I agree…I should have long finished this by now but I always seem to get sidetracked by something a little more exciting to knit on.

The swatches I have been working on this week each demonstrate different increase techniques that can be utilized while knitting.  There are questions accompanying the swatches that I still need to research and think through.  By the time I am finished with these I should know which increase method to select for various projects and why.  I still think this is a great course and well worth the effort and time investment it takes.  My goal is to finish the course this summer and get it submitted for evaluation and on by September 1.

And just in case you are wondering what my crazy toes look like……………..

I’ll keep them like this for a week or two just to have some summer fun and then I will have to return to my conservative ways!


Yarn Along: Wednesday 2nd November

My nose has been buried in books of another kind this week, non-fiction ones.  I’m still working my way through The Knitting Guild Association’s noncompetitive achievement program.  This week I have been researching unobtrusive increase techniques in ribbing.  I have knit and re-knit the swatches for this first portion that will eventually be submitted and evaluated.  Today I am working on answering written questions pertaining to those swatches.

Here is a stack of my favorite knitting reference books.  As I post this photo I realize that I did not include my collection of Elizabeth Zimmerman books which, of course, should have been included!  My favorite reference in this stack that I feel I could not part with is Vogue Knitting.  Do you have a favorite knitting reference book that you would like to recommend?

Following Ginny and her literary friends today on YARN ALONG.  If you like books you might consider jumping into the thread.

Master Knitting Program ~ Level 1, Swatches 1-3

Last October I became a member of The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) so that I could enroll in the Master Knitting Program.  This non-competitve achievement program has three levels of skill and you must complete each level in order to graduate to the next. The program is made up of sample swatches to knit, questions to answer and a research project.  After you have completed all the assignments your work is submitted to a Master Knitting Committee for review.  The committee checks over your work and returns swatches to you that may have been knit incorrectly and offers constructive criticism.  Ideally, you will not have to reknit anything. If everything is up to speed then you will graduate and can enroll in the next level.

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A quest for knowledge is part of my personality and because of this I will most likely be a student for life.  This quest is what makes the Master Knitting Program very appealing to me, right up my alley. But, as I’ve talked to other knitters and told them about the program I’ve had a variety of reactions.  A few thought it great idea and a worthwhile pursuit.  Many thought it ridiculous to have a ‘committee’ evaluate your work. And still others thought it a worthwhile pursuit but were content to find the answers whenever they encountered a problem and didn’t see the need to go through a ‘program’ and put forth the hard work it will take to complete.

Okay, so what is up with those pink swatches with tags?  The first three swatches were to test your ability to knit ribbing, garter, stockinette and seed stitch with an even tension.  I also had to place some increases after the ribbing evenly and without interfering with the ribbing pattern.  I hope thes swatches pass the test.  

Next up – working on increases.