TKGA Master Hand Knitting Level I, Conclusion Part 2

So here is the swatch-by-swatch breakdown of what passed, what squeaked by, and what I needed to redo for my TKGA Master Hand Knitting Level I swatches.  The feedback I describe below comes from the wonderful 4 page letter that I got back from my original submission of the Level I binder.  Everything passed on the first try except #8.

First attempt at Level 1 swatch #1

First attempt at Level 1 swatch #1, never submitted

This first attempt at Swatch #1 was never submitted.  As I related back in a previous post, my first reality check in the program was to find out while researching that I had been twisting my purls for many years.  It explained a lot.  So this one is just to show you that even when you think you know something, this program can help you learn things you never thought to question.

Especially if you are a “make it work”, fly by the seat of your pants kind of knitter like me.

Swatch #1: All good.

Lv1 Swatch #1

Lv1 Swatch #1: Passed with positive comments

Swatch #2: My ribbing section was apparently a bit short, and a bit uneven, but the increases and stockinette were well executed enough to pass muster.

Lv1 Swatch #2

Lv1 Swatch #2: Passed but ribbing a little uneven

Swatch #3: I don’t recall if this was in the instructions, or if it was a helpful hint I found on Ravelry, but you know you have good tension in your seed stitch swatch if you hold it up to the light and don’t see any obvious holes.

Lv1 Swatch #3

Lv1 Swatch #3: Passed with positive comments

Lv1 Swatch #3 Backlit

Lv1 Swatch #3 Backlit

Swatch #4: My tension in doing the increases on the right side was apparently a bit off, and the slack got taken up by the next stitch making the stitch to the right of the increases on that side a little large.

Lv1 Swatch #4

Lv1 Swatch #4: Passed but increases on right side a little distorted

Swatch #5: My tension was a little off on the right side.

Lv1 Swatch #5

Lv1 Swatch #5: Passed but tension on right edge is off

Swatch #6: All good.

Lv1 Swatch #6

Lv1 Swatch #6: Passed with positive comments

Swatch #7: Passed, on the merits of the decreases, but with a lot of comments, web links and suggestions about my long-tailed cast-on.  I mentioned in the last post that I purposefully tried some different cast-ons than I was used to.  My cable cast-ons worked beautifully, but my long-tailed cast-ons had loose, lacey, uneven tension.  And worse, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t supposed to look that way.  They recommended a video from Knitting Help, as well as a TKGA On Your Way to the Masters article on ‘Crafting Cast-Ons’.  I was asked to demonstrate a better long-tail cast-on on my redo of Swatch #8.

Lv1 Swatch #7

Lv1 Swatch #7: Passed but cast on needs work

Swatch #8: The long-tail cast-on was extra bad on this one.  Apparently my 1″ borders on either side of the decreases were short, and finally, the first decrease on the right was “distorted enough that it almost looks as though the decrease was missed and then worked in after a couple of rows”.  The decreases on the left were also a little distorted, and I was told to be careful with all the “slipped stitches so as not to stretch them”.

My resubmitted swatch was passed with positive comments, much better long-tail cast-on, good decreases, and all.

Lv1 Swatch #8

Lv1 Swatch #8 Good and Bad

Swatch #9: Passed, but same comments on the long-tail cast-on.  Had to demonstrate better cast-on in redo of #8.

Lv1 Swatch #9

Lv1 Swatch #9: Passed but poor cast-on

Swatch #10: All good

Lv1 Swatch #10

Lv1 Swatch #10: Passed with positive comments

Swatch #11: Passed, but cast-on still has problematic tension.

Lv1 Swatch #11

Lv1 Swatch #11

Swatch #12: Passed, but cast-on still has problematic tension.

Lv1 Swatch #12

Lv1 Swatch #12

Swatch #13: All good.

Lv1 Swatch #13

Lv1 Swatch #13: Passed with positive comments

Swatch #14: All good.

Lv1 Swatch #14

Lv1 Swatch #14: Passed with positive comments

Swatch #15: All good.

Lv1 Swatch #15

Lv1 Swatch #15: Passed with positive comments

Swatch #16: All good.

Lv1 Swatch #16

Lv1 Swatch #16: Passed with positive comments

So those are all the swatches for Level I (at least, those were the requirements when I completed the level).  I was desperately pleased that I only had one swatch to reknit.  My advice to prospective Level I knitters is to focus on executing the fundamentals well.  Learning to achieve better tension on different types of stitches is worth the effort, and the results look much more professional. Improved tension is the aspect I am most proud of achieving.

Most of these swatches I only have one copy of.  I am not a perfectionist, and I do not have piles of swatches that I reknit, that is not my style.  I try to catch problems as I go along, rip back a bit and retry, not start all over.  If you are not a perfectionist either, don’t be intimidated by stories of swatches people reknit a dozen times.  It’s important to present your best work, but I worry a bit when I see people agonizing indefinitely over one swatch when there are other swatches, and more to be learned.

The committee seems to be pretty respectful of the fact that everyone has something to learn from this process, and maybe some of us have more to learn than others.  As far as I can tell, this program is supposed to be for advanced knitters who want to become masters, and may not offer much to people who have already mastered everything.

In retrospect, I wish I had been more careful about my cast-ons, and tried to master the cast-on before using it for submitted work.  Not to mention I wish I had recognized that the cast-on was done poorly.  The rest of the mistakes I chalk up to a learning experience with no remorse.  Part of the benefit of this program is that real expert knitters evaluate your work and let you know how to improve.  If there is truly nothing to improve in your knitting, then this program is a lot of work for just a feather in your cap.

Until next time, keep those needles clicking…

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6 thoughts on “TKGA Master Hand Knitting Level I, Conclusion Part 2

  1. Thank you for making all of your work without editing available. I am just about to start my Level 1 and you have given me additional support and help to shore up my confidence that I can achieve this myself. I enjoyed reading though it all – including the ups and downs of your submissions.

    • Thank you for the kind words, I’m glad my progress has bolstered your confidence. I definitely recommend the program to any knitter trying to improve their understanding of the craft and increase their skills. I started this blog because I thought it was important that more voices add to the chorus of “it’s hard but not impossible, it’s challenging but worthwhile”. Rock on with Level 1, you will be done before you know it.

  2. thanks for all you time to post about Level 1. I’m toying between the TKGA and CYCA courses. I’m a crocheter and want to vamp up my knitting techniques. I teach both, but my knitting needs work. It’s fine for teaching up thru adv beginners.
    again, thanks for the insight! now I need to decide!

  3. Thanks so much for this blog. I just discovered the TKGA program and wish I had known about it when I was a young knitter. I’ve seen something that said taking the Basics Basics, Basics course was a good introduction. Do you think it would be worth it or redundant? Your blog has really inspired me.

    • TKGA’s Basics, Basics, Basics is supposed to be a good introduction to the MK Level 1, because it much more guided, lesson-oriented, and teacher supported. Basics is intended to be more of a correspondence class. MK Level 1 is more like a take-home exam: you don’t have to know it all when you get started, but you are expected to teach yourself what you don’t know. Now the TKGA Master Knitter learning community on Ravelry makes it easier to find support and answers when you are stumped, but the bulk of the work is quite independent and intended to be challenging.

      So my advice is to think carefully about your level of knitting and learning style. Would you be more comfortable dipping a toe in with lots of guided lessons and teacher help? Or would you rather jump into the challenge of the “exam” and figure out the answers through your own research?

      I do sort of feel like TKGA should have a learning style & knitting level placement quiz to help you pick where to start!

      • Thanks for this. I’ve decided to go with Basics because that will help me decide if I want to pursue the master. I consider myself an advanced knitter because I will tackle anything but the execution can be less than stellar. It seems like Basics will help me with that and then I’ll know deeper I want togo. I appreciate your taking the time to reply.

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