Where I write about knitting, crocheting and lace, and, on occasion general comments on other topics

Master Knitter Level I – Swatches #1, #2, & #3

Written by: Lindy

I have completed the first three swatches for the TKGA Master Knitter Level I program. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I discovered an issue with tension that I did not realize I had. And over the last few weeks, I have done quite a bit of reading about tension and an equal amount of knitting, reknitting, and being much more aware of HOW I knit. This is one of the purposes of the Master Knitter program — it makes you think about your craft and helps you identify the bad habits you have developed over time.

I have decided to use this blog as I way for me to document the lessons learned as I proceed through the Master Knitter Level I program. Hopefully, others will find my notes and comments helpful and will also learn from them. So, here is the first of my “lessons learned”:

Swatch #1 — 2 X 2 Ribbing & Garter Stitch
Garter stitch (knit all rows) was fairly easy for me — the key is to maintain an even tension throughout knitting the rows.

Tension can be a real issue with 2 X 2 Ribbing, because most knitters tend to purl more loosely than they knit. [I do]. The result of this tendency is that your ribs are formed of uneven stitches and appear “wonky”. My first attempt at this swatch was definitely “wonky”. After much researching, knitting and reknitting, I determined that I was really out of practice purling because I had been knitting projects mostly “in the round” and this was part of my problem. So, I spent some time just purling and working on my tension — trying to get it more consistent. I eventually managed to obtain a fairly even tension with my ribs. From my reading, I think that the unevenness on the edges is normal and should be satisfactory.

Swatch # 2: 1 X 1 Ribbing and Stockinette Stitch
Swatch #2Tension was also an issue for me with the 1 X 1 Ribbing. With this ribbing, I found that my looser purl stitches really impacted the shape of the ribs. Again, I found that I really needed to practice purling and focus on keeping my tension even when doing the ribbing.

For the Stockinette Stitch, I was able to obtain the even fabric required — but only after I had worked on my purling. The evenness isn’t as noticeable on the right side — you need to look at the wrong side of the fabric and make certain that there isn’t a distinct difference in your rows between the knit rows and the purl rows. Along the way, I discovered that I knit fairly loosely and I had to go down one needle size to achieve a decent fabric.

If you are trying to correct uneven tension when ribbing, here are a couple of ways to do so:
1) Just try knitting with an even tension; 2) Give your yarn and extra tug when moving it to the front of the needle and before purling; 3) Try wrapping your yarn under your needle when purling — note, this makes the stitches sit on the needle with the back loop leaning forward — to avoid twisting the stitch you must knit through the back loop rather than the front when knitting; 4) Try purling using the Norwegian Purl method [link to video here].

Swatch # 3: Seed Stitch
Swatch #3
Swatch # 3 was a sample of Seed Stitch — which is K1, P1 across the row over an even number of stitches. The goal here is to produce a nice even fabric with no visible holes between the knit and purl stitches. This is another tension challenge. It took me three swatches to produce the swatch shown. I finally came to the conclusion that I was over-doing the tension, basically trying too hard — and once I relaxed a bit on this, I got a better result.

In summary, here’s what worked for me: 1) After practicing, I needed to relax a bit — I got to the point that I was pulling my purl stitches so tightly that I made my knitting even less consistent. 2) Remembering to do that little extra tug when putting the yarn in front to purl. 3) For the edges — giving the yarn an extra tug when knitting off the last stitch on the row, followed by giving an extra tug after knitting the first two stitches on the next row.

One Response to “Master Knitter Level I – Swatches #1, #2, & #3”

  1. Jody says:

    Lindy, I found your narrative to be very helpful to me as I start the Level 1 Master Knitting course. I, too, have found in the very short time of working on swatches 1, 2, and 3, that I am taking a very close look at my knitting techniques, style and results. I have made swatches several time with two different kinds of yarn and will block and see which I like better. Over the years, I have read many knitting ‘how to’ books, but I am finding that I need to go back and take a second look at some of the articles. I found your article by google-ing ‘seed stitch without holes’. So, you can see where I am with my transitional stitch tension. I have added your site to my favorites and will continue to ‘check with you’ as I move through this exciting course.