On the Needles : Basics Basics Basics - Lesson One

"Why did I do this? Why am I using my coveted making time to go toward lessons and instructions and courses rather than just doing the making?!" These were the things my brain was yelling at me as I waited for my results to come back from the instructor for the TKGA "Basics Basics Basics" Course, Lesson 1.

I had told myself before that it was because I loved learning. And that's true. I do.

But another truth that this first lesson brought to my attention is that I have a massive inferiority / imposter complex. I haven't been knitting since I was 5 do surely I'm not a "real" knitter. I don't live in a particularly cold climate {the Rockies / Canada} and my home doesn't have a particularly strong knitting culture {New England / Sweden}. Surely this also means I'm not a real knitter.

Yes, I'm able to read patterns and make things that... mostly... fit. But that's just basic comprehension. That doesn't make me "real" does it?

Yes, I've had an idea and then made it happen with skeins of yarn and two needles. But that's just problem solving and working through mistakes. That doesn't make me "real" does it?

The thing that this first lesson taught me, first and foremost, is that I'm not a "fake" knitter. I'm as real {ie. individually strange} as they come- I know how to make the basic two stitches and, with some written instructions and the occasional youtube video, I can make lots of things happen. Sometimes they happen less than perfectly, but they happen, and "things happening" is the essential part of me that needs to come out. That's the stuff that makes me a maker.

I learned that I need to get over my silly complexes so that I can truly focus on the learning. And I learned I'm ready for Lesson 2.

Below are the five swatches I knit for the first lesson.
Scroll past the images to see the instructors comments and my results.

The first thing that Arenda helped me realized was that this class and it's next step {TKGA's Master Hand Knitter certification} doesn't initially help foster creativity. The first steps are about following directions and knowing how to exactly make another's pattern. This is, she says, a stepping stone to knowing best how to get your ideas onto paper and into someone else's hands.

She then went on to address specific questions I had while working through these swatches.

Tension: I had mentioned that my last purl stitch always seemed loose. She explained that this was a common issue and directed me toward these two articles {ridges + enlarged bind-off} by Suzanne Bryan {whose website I find to be a treasure trove of nerdy knitting information}.
She also mentioned that the yarn I choose had "high twist", and that this generally contributes to wonky tension but that by tension was "quite nice" in the center of the swatches. {my reasoning: more twist equals more energy which equates to yarn pushing out and wanting to do its own thing}.

Weaving in ends: This was one of the things I MOST enjoyed about the entirety of this course... though I didn't realize it in this lesson. Anything related to finishing was foreign to me. As a mostly self-taught knitter I never had a problem with knots or random unwoven ends... I just figured that was a quirk of a self-made garment. But something that came up over and over in Arenda's course was the difference in "handmade" versus "homemade".
She explained that a garment that is finished with the same acuity as the "proper" knitting makes a much more beautiful and elegant finished piece. 

I really appreciated this from an artist perspective. If an artist obsesses over an oil painting for hours only to realize that it has been painted on a refrigerator box and mounted it on toilet paper, its value is suddenly in question. Something that I learned from a wise artist is to let one's work be intentional. Proper finishing is intention and, in that, an art. One that, I confess, I still have to work on, but am light years ahead of where I was before this class.

Blocking: Again, a finishing issue that I had never made myself learn. I viewed the resource she shared approximately one thousand times. If you are new to blocking you should too: White Horse Designs "Blocking for TKGA".

Increases: As this was the main part of lesson one, she went into lots of detail about this. One of those details was about how I had done the right side of swatch 04 incorrectly. Scroll up and it's pretty easy to catch: I made an open M1 stitch instead of right leaning M1 stitch. As such she requested that I make it again and re-send it to her with my lesson two stuff. ie. I failed!! 
Well maybe not failed, but I didn't do it perfectly. Scrolling up again you can see that it is a bit wonky and would probably catch the eye of someone admiring the sweater you've spent literally days of your life toiling over. Might as well figure out how to make it correctly, right? 

This was a great start to my TKGA experience: mostly "known" concepts presented to me in a super structured format, with enough "new" to make it interesting. What I didn't realize was that I would enjoy the next lessons even more.

More on those soon.