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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Swatch #5: My tension was a little off on the right side.
Swatch #6: All good.
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.
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.
Swatch #9: Passed, but same comments on the long-tail cast-on. Had to demonstrate better cast-on in redo of #8.
Swatch #10: All good
Swatch #11: Passed, but cast-on still has problematic tension.
Swatch #12: Passed, but cast-on still has problematic tension.
Swatch #13: All good.
Swatch #14: All good.
Swatch #15: All good.
Swatch #16: All good.
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…