Master Knitter at Last!

The very exciting news this week is that, as of June 25, 2015, I am officially a Master Knitter. It took 27 months to the day for me to accomplish this goal.

In looking back over the journey, I feel very proud of my efforts. Before I started the program, I had been knitting for about 35 years, or so (why yes, as a matter of fact, I was a young child when I learned to knit, thank you) and I was a good knitter. I thought I was a great knitter, but now I know that I was not. I knew what I knew, but there were vast holes in my knitting knowledge and technical abilities.

I remember picking up my needles for the the very first swatch I worked for Level 1 and thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. It was a very simple stockinette stitch square with one ribbed edge made of plain white worsted weight yarn–something I could do in my sleep. With my eyes closed. My plan was to quickly knit up this boring swatch and move on to more interesting things.

Photo of Master Level 1, Swatch 2
The final version of the Level 1 swatch, in all it’s glory.

In fact, I think I ended up knitting this one swatch at least 5 times. Wait, what? Five times for that simple thing? Why was it suddenly so difficult? Because, maybe for the first time ever, I was taking a very close look at what I was doing. In that plain vanilla yarn, there was no place for the tension problems to hide. Because this is a self-study program, I had to do research to find out what was causing my problems and how to fix them. I cannot imagine doing this program in the pre-internet age. Of course, the classic books are still very useful, but it is so much easier to see someone demonstrating a technique on video than it is to read a series of illustrated steps.

Photo of rejected swatches
I had to knit almost all of the swatches for Level 1 at least 3 or 4 times before I got one that I considered worthy of submitting. Here is the pile of those bad swatches. It’s pretty big. Notice that I rejected the first project mitten, too.

It would prove to be the first of many Level 1 swatches that had to be knit several times before I got one that I considered acceptable for submission.

Anyway, flash forward to today. I have learned so much from this program, and probably the biggest lesson I have learned is that there is always more to learn. I now consider myself a very good knitter, but there is always room for improvement.

As always, I did not pass on the first try. I was expecting this because I knew from the first two levels that the committee will notice when you don’t quite have the technique down, and they will guide you to that last little thing that makes all the difference. I have learned the most from working on the resubmits for all three levels.

I was very relieved to see that all of the larger works (reviews, reports, hat and sweater) had passed. I needed to rework 4 swatches and several questions and tweak a couple of patterns. I was able to turn it all around within one week.

One of the four swatches that didn’t pass was the doily that I wrote about in this earlier post. The committee felt that the knitting was too loose for the yarn weight, which caused the lace pattern towards the outer edge to be indistinct.

Photo of rejected Swatch 19
Rejected Swatch 19. Notice the various colored threads marking incorrect stitches.

During the review, the various members mark incorrect stitches with threads. As you can see from the photo, there were several. Finally, the committee recommended a more aggressive blocking to bring out the pattern.

So I made a third doily, using smaller needles. As I was blocking it, I realized that I had made a very obvious mistake in several places of one row. One of the challenges of this pattern is that, because it is knit on a set of three double-pointed needles, you can’t stretch the piece out, which means that you really can’t see what you’ve knit until you have bound off at least half of the stitches.

There was nothing else to do but start over. I am happy to say that, in this case, four times was the charm because it passed without any threads and the single comment, “Beautiful.”

Photo of Final Swatch 19
The fourth and finally accepted Swatch 19. Notice how much more crisp the stitch patterns are due to the smaller gauge and more aggressive blocking.
Photo of Swatch 18a
Curse you, duplicate stitch! This was the last piece to be accepted.

Everything in that resubmit package passed except for the cursed duplicate stitch swatch. I had missed a critical aspect of the technique, so I had to submit another swatch, which finally did pass. Now I know how to do duplicate stitch correctly, and I will not forget!

So what else do I get for all of this work? A pin and a certificate to show the world that I am a Master Knitter. But, most excitingly, these are given in a ceremony as part of TKGA’s annual knitting convention. This year it happens to be in San Diego, which is about a 2-hour car ride away. I will be attending my first TKGA convention to receive my pin in person. I am looking forward to meeting many of the committee members and other Ravelry friends who have helped me get to this point.

And the final thing that I have received is an invitation to sit on the committee, which I have accepted. So my Master Knitter journey will continue, but now from the other side of the binder!

2 thoughts on “Master Knitter at Last!

  1. I’m a member of the TKGA and have nothing but the utmost respect for the master knitters. I would have loved to tried this program but too many ideas seem to pop into my head to be able to stick to the program that is required for the master knitter certification. It is a wonderful association.

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