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BessH
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3095 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  11:57:32 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
I have been knitting swatches for the Knitting Guild of America's masters program (risking a little hubris here, but it's their name for it, not mine). I have also been keeping a little journal about my experiences. Since several people have mentioned that they are interested in the course I thought I would share one person's knitting journey. It's all a bit wordy and I beg your collective pardons if it's out of place.

* * * * *

April 1. Started on swatches for TKGA this morning. Oh lord. I never saw such awful knitting. Iím so nervous I canít even increase accurately. Who would have thought Iíd get so tense? Started with the Brown Sheep Nature Spun and decided to switch to Aurora 8 instead. Itís much more cushiony looking so it might forgive my tension errors. Cast on 20 stitches, work k2p2 rib for 2.5 inches, increase 5 st. evenly, then 4 inches of garter stitch. Whew. Garter stitch is so slow. Decided to slip first stitch of every row on this swatch. I can never get a neat selvedge if I work the first stitch of the row. Glad I switched to the Aurora 8 Ė itís a joy to knit with. Hope I donít use up so much I wonít have enough left for a sweater. Went off with Principles of Knitting as bedtime reading.

April 2. Finished up the swatch except for weaving in ends. Looks pretty good too. Got the notebook and page protectors out of the car and assembled Ė figure I better store the swatches so they donít get lost or dirty. Cast on for swatch #2 Ė k1p1 ribbing, inc. 5 st., 4Ē of st. st. This time Iím trying to work each beginning stitch of each row. Looks rough to me. It looks like every other row is a twisted stitch. Also Ė to k1p1 for 2.5 inches I have to begin the first row of st. st. on the wrong side, with a purl or the bumpy side of the cast-on is on the outside, instead of the smooth side. Stitch tension looks pretty good but not perfect. Wonder how strict the judges are. Maybe I ought to write Patience and see what she says. Sigh. Still knitting tighter than usual. Who would have believed Iíd be so nervous. Reading at bedtime about tension they show uneven stitches are more obvious on reverse side where the rows of purl bumps are slightly too far apart. . Look at mine Ė yep a few little wide patches. Canít really see on the other side.

April 3. In the morning I look hard at that uneven tension in swatch #2. Yes I see Ė stitches just a little bigger. I wonder if I can tug them neat Ė with tip of needle I begin tightening up individual stitches. Hoo boy . Now thereís this horrible loop, almost Ĺ an inch of yarn poking out of already imperfect selvedges. Nothing for it now but to rip. The gauge Iím getting with this yarn is 6 st. to the inch on st. st. and it looks tight to me. Ball band recommends trying to get 4.5 st. to the inch. Principles of Knitting said tighten up on the purl rows and I think Iím tightening up too much on them. Itís all very even and tidy, but tight. Rip out again and deliberately try to knit my normal tension and tighten up only a little on the purl sides. Oops. Got to go to work.

April 4. What ever made me think April would be a good time to do this swatching!?! I must be out of my mind. Taxes are due and the FOL dinner meeting plus the full board meeting and the library directors meeting and that lecture Iím giving and my wedding anniversary and the garden hissing at me ďif you donít get the mulch down before May 12, you wonít be able to work in it at allĒ. I must be nuts! And how could I have ever guessed how much I was going to care about the perfection of my knitting - or how imperfect it was going to be! Thank goodness, Patience wrote and offered to share her expertise with me.

Still, this is a really neat program. I have never examined my knitting so thoughtfully before. Finished up the st. st. swatch Ė and may rip it out after Iím done with the other swatches. I have never given so much thought to the front and back of cast-on stitches. I prefer long tail casting on Ė and that definitely has a front and back. And I did a K1P1 with the right side being the smooth loops Ė a perfect front side for st. st. but now that I think about it, maybe the bumpy purl side would have looked better for a k1p1 rib Ė will check that when I go home. (No, I do not bring my knitting to work. Bad enough that I use up my lunch hour writing this diary) Also, I think I cast off in knit on a purl row. Have to check that too.

Began the seed stitch swatch. Itís much shorter Ė 20 sts. in seed st. for 4Ē. It is also the easiest looking knitting to make look good. Selvedges look nice. Got about 1.5 inches done before I had to go to work. Sigh. I wish I could just play with my knitting all day. And this makes me wonder what in the world makes me fill my life up with so much stuff? Why arenít I better organized? Who do I think I am just spreading myself so thin? This darn multitasking is for the birds. Why in the world does a 50-year old woman still let doubts assail her? For goodness sake. Go eat lunch Bess.


April 5 Finished the seed stitch swatch last night and Swatch #4 this morning. That one was a bar increase: cast on 20, st. st. for one inch, increase 1 st. every 4th row, st. st. an inch and cast off. Very quickly done. I switched over to Patons Classic Merino because I donít want to use up any more of the Aurora 8. I am surprised at how much my knitting has improved over just a year ago. I still prefer circular knitting to flat. It seems more logical to create a tube that you can read as it grows, than to knit half the garment from the back then sew it up into tubes that sort or useless effort does not appeal to me. The function over form argument, I suppose. But itís nice to know I can knit a shape that is tidy enough on the edges that I can sew it up. There is something so pleasurable too, about this fabric growing.

Checked the st. st. swatch. Itís okay. The k1p1 rib does look better with the smooth side of the cast on showing. Also, I very much like increasing in the last row of the rib instead of the first row of the st. st. Forgot to check the cast off, though.

Thank goodness itís a weekend.

April 7 sigh. Yesterday I started teaching my beginnerís class and Friday afternoon one more person asked if she could sign up - that would make 7 and I only have 6 needles. So - ripped the 16Ē size 7 needle out of my TKGA swatch to give to last student. Fortunately for me, there was one no-show - not just for needles. 6 is a big class to teach solo. And so the second increase swatch sits unfinished beside my bed. These increase and decrease swatches go fast though, since they donít require ribbing. I keep hearing EZ saying ďnothing for it but to grit your teeth and knit 30 roundsĒ. Then - biiiiiig mistake. Had to go to Fíburg and of course had to stop at the new knitting shop and they had Opal sock yarn - in the pretty robins egg blue I like. Funny how I like the stripe yarn well enough, Iím not mad to get more. Itís like chocolate. of course I like it but really I prefer cheese. Anyway - who could resist? Opal yarn and no shipping. Bought some Susan Bates circulars too, at Ben Franklin. Size 2, 24Ē. The joins are as good as the Addi Turbos but the finish is not as slick. They color-code the sizes, though, which is good. 1ís are pink but size 2ís are pale green and the 3ís were something else. Even though the colors repeat, youíd never mix up a size 1 with a size 6 so itís easy to tell what size circular youíve grabbed. So - see how easy it is to wander off task. So of course I knit 1 inch of sock cuff last night instead of working on swatches. baaaaad Bess. Off to the swatching with you.

April 8 Finished up the increase swatches on Sunday; bar increase, make 1 and lifted increase. Had to look in 4 how to knit books to find the answer to why you donít do a lifted increase every knit row Ė because it causes the knitting to pucker if you put them too close. This, the book says, after I went on and knit a swatch with a lifted increase every other row (each knitted row). And it was very visible, in a decorative way, but quite pretty and it didnít pucker at all. Perhaps I didnít have a big enough swatch. My own guess was that it would have left a hole, so that is what I was looking for, not how it would affect a larger piece of fabric. Also began the first decrease swatch Ė a k2tog swatch. Of course, that stitch is easy Ė what I was looking at was the overall st. st. and there once again, in a purl row was a slightly larger row of stitchesÖ.and I tightened them up a bit and ended up with another big loop on the end so I had to rip it out. Ripped it out again when the decreases looked funny. It looked like I had gone too many rows between decreases (supposed to be every 4th row or every [I]other[I] knit row). I looked and looked and puzzled till I figured out that I had decreased in the wrong stitch! I had knit 11 and k2tog, on the 3rd decrease. That made it look like I had skipped a row. But that is another reason Iím taking this course at all. To be a better teacher. If a student were to bring this problem to me, I would have an idea of what caused it.

chris
Permanent Resident

USA
2463 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  12:21:38 PM  Show Profile Send chris a Private Message
pssssssssssst! Bess! Thanks for posting this. I was thinking about doing that master knitter thing. Now I think I'll wait. I'm not ready yet.

chris (slinking away)

Keep on knittin', mama, knittin' those blues away!
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knitfanatic
Chatty Knitter

Canada
160 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  12:43:34 PM  Show Profile Send knitfanatic a Private Message
Bess, not too wordy at all. I really enjoyed the read. I was thinking of doing the course this summer and now I think I most definitely will. You seemed to learn alot about your knitting and really what the work looked like. I will need something to give me break between the kids and and whipping off a bunch of items for the November Craft Sale.
Again, I really enjoyed the read.
Kelly

P.S. Chris no need to slink away, we wait until we're ready.
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BessH
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3095 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  4:09:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
Oh Chris - don't slink away. The swatches aren't difficult to do and the learning is so much fun. What's hard is knowing that somebody will be actually judging my work. Now, that's what I wanted - to have my work evaluated...but it's so easy for me to borrow worries! anyway, I would hate to think I discouraged anybody from participating. What is obvious also, is that there's a lot I would have learned if I had ever had a classes or a structured learning setting. Since I am entirely self taught my knowledge is shot full of holes.

now - good knitting to you!

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kknitter
Gabber Extraordinaire

407 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  5:33:10 PM  Show Profile Send kknitter a Private Message
Bess! I so enjoyed your post!!! What a wonderful idea to keep a journal of your Master's progress. Please keep adding as you go along.
kay

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Patience
Permanent Resident

USA
1080 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  7:00:32 PM  Show Profile Send Patience a Private Message
Bess,

<Why does a 50 year old woman still let these doubts assail me>

That's a question I often ask myself and I'm beginning to wonder if it has something to do with when we were raised, because we're around the same age. The funny part of it is, that we BOTH probably have some wonderful knitting skills and have knit lovely things, so WHY DON'T WE KNOW IT?

I got so many wonderful compliments in my letter from TKGA telling me how skilled I was and how beautifully I knit. So how come I posted a topic about Knitting Confidence? Who knows, but we are definitely kindred spirits.

I enjoyed your diary and applaud you for your efforts...keep up the good work, give yourself a much deserved pat on the back, and if I can help you in any way, don't hesitate to ask.

Regards, Patience
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Lissa
Permanent Resident

USA
4942 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2002 :  7:16:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit Lissa's Homepage Send Lissa a Private Message
Bess:

More!More!


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chris
Permanent Resident

USA
2463 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2002 :  07:27:02 AM  Show Profile Send chris a Private Message
Bess, you didn't discourage me from doing the Master's course...just showed me that I need a bit more knitting time in before I attempt it. There are many things I haven't even done yet (picking up stitches for one) and many of my other skills need much more practice (increasing and decreasing for two). So, I'm going to give it another year of knitting before I attempt it. And attempt it I will, but not till I feel I am a Master ...or close to it, anyway!

I bought 6 cones of Elmore-Pisgah (from Spindale NC, no less!!) cotton in the Daisy ombre. It was just at $6 a cone for a 1# cone. I've already made 1.75 placemats out of what I bought locally and I LOVE them! I "modified" a facecloth pattern to make them, and believe me, just figuring out how to make it longer and wider made me feel that I was really advancing! Even my son said they look good! Imagine that! He picked up the finished one and said "Hey! Nice placemat, Mom! This is pretty!" I blushed. So, I'm getting there...I'm advancing...I'm accomplishing. There is just something so terrific about taking two sticks and a string and making something useful and pretty from it. It amazes me every day.

chris (head high while approaching the Master(course))

Keep on knittin', mama, knittin' those blues away!
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2002 :  10:19:16 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message
Dear Chris,

Doesn't that course have three levels? Have you done the two that preceed th "master" course?

Fran

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chris
Permanent Resident

USA
2463 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2002 :  12:26:49 PM  Show Profile Send chris a Private Message
Hah! Shows you how much I know! No, I haven't. Guess I should start at the beginning???

chris

Keep on knittin', mama, knittin' those blues away!
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Dot
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
350 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2002 :  1:15:43 PM  Show Profile Send Dot a Private Message
Bess, thanks for posting your diary. It wasn't too long at all--I could have read on! As a beginner, I found it encouraging to see that an experienced knitter looks at her work as critically as I do (the difference being that you know what to do about something you're not pleased with where I just unknit or unravel and try again!). This forum is so terrific...not just for specific information but also for the general encouragement to persevere. I, for one, would love to read updates as you continue with the course.

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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2002 :  04:19:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
April 10 Teach me to wish for something - I did get to stay home, and I can even knit if I feel up to it - knocked flat with a full-blown allergy attack -straight to the lungs. Bet itís that durn hackberry tree by the library - went from completely healthy to longing for death in 8 hours. Between coughing bouts and naps I did get some swatches done. finished the decrease swatches, K2 together, ssk, and skpasso. all started on 30 stitches and decreased down to 25, over 17 rows. Lying in bed with all these knitting resource books around me (thank heaven for Inter-library Loan!) I finally look at the sections on selvages. duh bess - hmmm. so. my knitted selvage is supposed to look bumpy and twisted . hmmm. and that is supposed to make it easier to sew up the seam. well - not my opinion. I think the twisted selvage stitch pulls the penultimate stitch out of line too. Well - there are no seaming of swatches in this level 1 part of the course. Might make a seam swatch anyway just to see if I like it. Decided to do the garter stitch selvage (knit first & last stitch on all rows) for a change. rather pretty, actually Also had to do some delving into yarnovers. Never have really bothered to read up how it is done. Just did what felt logical - so much for my sensory/logic synapsis Seems Iíve always done them backwards. well, I knew that. always ended up with the right side of the yo stitch behind the needle on the purl back row. I never thought it mattered but I do know that this sort of thing really does matter to judges.

Resource books Iím using: Vogue Knitting, Principles of knitting (my favorite - word on KnitU digest is that it is going to be reprinted.yea!!), Knitting in plain English, Big book of knitting (I own these) and the readers digest knitting book, canít remember th name. I sent back idiots guide to knitting. It had a lot of good stuff in it but the format so offended me I just grew irritated. bah.

Still canít seem to perfect that purl tension and find plenty of gappy places on the back. Sometimes I rip back and re-knit but sometimes I donít. Ran out of the Patons too, and had to switch to Brown sheep nature spun. I like this yarn but when I started doing the first of the yarnover swatches I decided it was too fuzzy to make good looking yoís. Iíve got some filiatura de crossa yarn that isnít enough to make anything with - a tighter spin, more like the aurora 8 and a light color so I may try the yoís with that. Sure not going in to work today - a voice like a frog and a throat that feels like it could breathe fire. Probably finish up all the yo swatches today. unless the opal sock lures me away.


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BessH
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3095 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2002 :  04:21:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
PS thank you all for your kind encouragement. I will continue to post updates.

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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2002 :  07:38:31 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message
Dear Bess,

Longing for death is a good sign, it means you are going to get better.....LOL In my experience, dying is peaceful and comfortable, but getting well again is painful and uncomfortable. And I am experienced because I have been near death several times and actually did it once and was revived.

Be extra careful with your allergies this year, the mild winter we have had makes for an increase in those things that we are allergic to.

Fran

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farmgirlnow
Chatty Knitter

USA
106 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2002 :  7:31:23 PM  Show Profile Send farmgirlnow a Private Message
Bess,
Thank you for your posts! I Just sent for information on the courses. I am printing out your Diary to read tonight (I just cannot stare at this screen for too long!). I will see if I am ready to take the course myself! I look forward to your updates!!
Julie
a lonely knitter in NW PA

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schoolmama
Permanent Resident

USA
2310 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2002 :  7:43:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit schoolmama's Homepage Send schoolmama a Private Message
Bess, it sounds like you're doing a great job! Being a wordy person myself, I don't mind the length of your journal. I think it is neat, too! I know I am not ready for this course yet, maybe someday, though! Hope you get better soon. I know how those allergies are; it's bad here, too, this spring! Barb

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BessH
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3095 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2002 :  11:39:58 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
April 11 The grace day - feeling much better and the luxury of staying home one more day before having to talk again. Iím no longer swallowing around rocks. lungs clear. Dug out another skein of Patons too, so I donít have to use the more expensive yarn. It wasnít F. de C either but OrnaghiFilati Merino Kind. A luscious peach and turns out I had 8 skeins of it. calls itself worsted and supposed get 19 s to 4 ď with #7 needles, but not in my lifetime. Itís a dk weight if I ever saw one and oooooo it wants to be a lacey bottomed tank top. the eylets are stunning in this tightly twisted yarn. Itís so light and soft I bet I could wear it in summer even. dressy enough for work. not something to hang out in. already ideas are hatching. Knitting up these swatches lets me ponder and all sorts of things drift into my head. The catholic school version of Dick & Jane books had a story about Sally playing Ďguess whoí with her mama, who was supposedly knitting. I remember staring at that picture so long because the mama didnít have any needles in her hands. She had this little wad of cloth and now I think she must have had circular needles, if there were little circs. back in 1958. and all the time I am knitting on 16í circulars with these little 4 inch wads of cloth I keep thinking of that book. odd what sorts of junk sticks.

the eyelet swatches go swiftly - about 30 minutes a piece. 20 stitches, an eyelet after the 10th st. every 4 rows. One eyelet is a left smooth , one is a left broken. At least, that is the name given in Principles of Knitting. More and more I love this book. Itís good reading too, skillful use of language. I didnít intend to block any pieces till Iíd done them all but Iím so distressed over the uneven tension in the st. st. portion of my knitting I decided to see if blocking one would relax the yarn. I think of it as doing a Clara on them. Oh lord I love blocking. Everything is being knitted in wool and I can swirl the square in lukewarm water with woolite, rinse, spin on slowspin in the washer, then block. patting it into shape, pinning the edges, itís like sculpting wool. pure pleasure. The swatch dried nicely, measurements perfect. but sigh. there are 4 stitches that are visible to me. turn the swatch over - yep - that space between the purl rows. I hate knitting tightly but it looks like I am going to have to if I want to make perfect swatches. It seems that I can knit the knit rows using the whole needle but have to keep the stitches on just the tips of the needles to purl the purl rows. itís such a crampy feeling. humph. well. I taught myself continental stitching last year, I can durn well teach myself even tension too.

The first cable swatch starts out pretty uneven. no - it's awful. cry help to Patience who soothingly encourages. okay. rip it out. knit it again. seemed to have to tense my hands up pretty much but this one has good clean tension. actually, it looks pretty darn good. hmmm. okay. okay. only 3 more swatches to go - a cable of my own choosing - thatís hard, there are so many pretty ones. but has to fit on 20 stitches with 2 purls on each side of the cable. Then one done on the yarn I did the first 3 swatches on, and a 2 color swatch to demonstrate joining techniques.

I havenít woven any ends in yet and I even left one swatch with the ball still attached. Iíll do that and block everybody and put them aside for a day or two and then come back to see if I am satisfied with the quality of my knitting. Itís hard to judge oneself.


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chris
Permanent Resident

USA
2463 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2002 :  11:54:53 AM  Show Profile Send chris a Private Message
Bess, this is sooooo cool! Please keep it up!

Does anyone else feel like they're inside Bess' head? Or reading Griffin and Sabine?

chris

Keep on knittin', mama, knittin' those blues away!
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2002 :  1:00:14 PM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message
Dear Bess,

In 1958 I was knitting with circular needles. I only had one. I was 16 years old. The joins were terrible.

Fran

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RoseByAny
Permanent Resident

USA
12598 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2002 :  2:01:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit RoseByAny's Homepage Send RoseByAny a Private Message
LOL it's like "Being John Malkovich" without the John Malkovich part!

"Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color. Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense, and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable."
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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2002 :  2:32:44 PM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
Fran, but do you remember the picture in the book?!! I am sure it was also in Fun with Dick and Jane. (the catholic school version was fun with John and Jean but the pictures were the same) My sister started out in parochial school but i started in public. evidentely she had to buy her school books because this thing lay around the house for
ever.

anyway, a journal entry update -

am knitting the choose your own cable and i chose one from Big Book of Knitting and it is not turning out like the picture. This is a mystery to me and in fact I rather like the new cable. It looks like a 3 stitch braid with a zigzag traveling stitch up the center. so - no problem with knitting something different but I'm supposed to site my sources. does the book have a missprint? (i work with books. zillions of them do) or am is it me. odd little puzzle. I may just do another very easy cable and use that instead. this is not brain surgery after all.

for your entertainment the cable goes like this

CO 20 using long tail cast on
p4,k2,p8,k2,p4
k4,p2,C6F,k2,p2,k4
p4,k2,p8,k2,p4
k4,p2,k2,C6B,p2,k4

repeat for 4 inches

bo in pattern



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