Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Block Party!

Over the weekend I had a one woman block party – WOOT! Not only did I work on my report on blocking for the Master Knitter Program, but I also blocked two finished projects.

For those that don’t know, blocking is the finishing touch on a completed garment  Once you’ve casted-off your last stitch you’re not fully done with it.  You need to weave in your ends and then block out your pieces so that they have a finished look.  I don’t think I’m explaining this correctly to those that don’t knit and read my blog, let me demonstrate instead.

The first item I blocked was a scarf that I made for myself (Pattern: Inside-Outside Scarf, Designer: Elise Duvekot).    When I casted-off this scarf the garter stitch edge curled under the main body of the scarf, blocking it solved this problem.  Blocking it consisted of me washing it, laying it out on my blocking mats,  pinning it down and the letting it sit over night to dry.  That allowed for the garter stitch edge to lay flat and the scarf grew in length and width.

K1B Scarf Block 1

Here is what the scarf looked like before blocking. Notice how the edges are curled up.

K1B Scarf Block 2

Here is how it looked once pinned out. Pinning it allowed me to make sure that it had the same consistent width and it grew in length from 7 feet to 9 feet!!

The second project I blocked was a baby cardigan that I made as a gift for one of my husband’s fraternity brother (Pattern: Jubilee Cardigan, Designer: Cecily Glowik MacDonald).  This little cardigan was knit up in a week but unfortunately I won’t be able to gift it (I will have to tell you all of the troubles I had making it in another post).    But the important reason why this project needed to be blocked was because of the lace bottom half.  When you knit lace garments 9 times out of 10 the design is lost if not blocked.  Blocking lace projects allows for the design to bloom, without doing so the eyelets wouldn’t open up to show off all of your hard work.

Jubilee Block 3 Jubilee Block 1

It was great to feel like I accomplished something over the weekend.  I hope you have your own block party soon!

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Becoming a Knitter & Hoping to Master the Craft

I have been working on the The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) Master Handknitting Program lately, this is a goal that I need to achieve.  My husband says I downplay my strengths all the time (and there is some truth to that)  so I am working on this course because I need to validate my skills.  My parents have always emphasized the importance of  pursuing  higher learning and this is a way that helps me affirm that I am a capable knitter.

I learned to knit while I was in high school, one of my dearest friends  taught me, I am forever grateful that she did and I still get together to knit with her whenever possible (she lives across The Pond).   It was a brief introduction to the basics, I made about 3 lopsided scarves as gifts and then called it quits.  It didn’t interest me as a teenager and during my college years I was too busy to deal with pointy sticks.

It was in 2004, during my first corporate 9-5 job that I joined my first knitting circle.   Two wonderful women would sit and knit during their lunch breaks and I was intrigued by what they were producing so I wanted to rekindle the spark with my knitting needles.  About five other women that are the  same age as me tried it as well and the circle grew for a few weeks, but it wasn’t for everyone.  By the end I was the last woman stitching with the two knitters and I thrived under their guidance.  They even taught me to crochet, so that I could make a blanket for my cousin’s baby that year!

My first crochet project - an oversized granny square baby blanket to which I still have some of the left over yarn

My first crochet project: an over-sized granny square baby blanket that fit me!  By the looks of the curled edges, I obviously did not understand the importance of blocking at the time.

From there I just kept on going, when my husband and I first moved in together I went looking for a knitting circle in Philadelphia.  It was there that my skills grew and my little hobby turned into a lifestyle.  It took me a while, but eventually I joined a great Circle of young professional women at a LYS and I was mesmerized by their skills.  I was definitely the newbie as they were making beautiful sweaters with intarsia colorwork, lace shawls with charts that looked intimidating, intricate socks with cable patterns… I couldn’t phantom being able to knit like them.   But the greatest thing about being a member of a Knitting Circle is the encouragement you get from those around you.   Eventually I tried some intarsia, a little lace, and braved cables.  I went through the awkward stages of dealing with DPNs and shed a few tears over dropped stitches and ventured to embellish my knitting with beads.  I was mostly self taught on these techniques thanks to some books, websites, and videos, but I could never bring myself to try them without the support of those around me.

As I have hinted to before, after 5 years in Philadelphia we went to California, and it was there that I switched roles.  I was no longer the beginner, I had advanced in the craft and was teaching these skills to other knitters… and I was getting paid for it!  I was unsure of myself at first, the knitters in Philly were still doing so much more than I, surely the SoCal knitters knew more than me as well?

Truth is there is always someone that you can teach

and always someone that can teach you.

Wow… that just hit home.  I want to teach others to knit in a way they will love the craft, just as much as I still want to continue to learn about it.  This is where the Master Knitting Program comes in, I want to be proficient and educated to ensure that I am passing on the information along in the correct manner.  The Master Knitting Program is making me stop and think about the littlest details, like when do you decrease with a SSK vs a K2Tog?  I am not only knitting up swatches, I am also researching the history, the reason behind certain techniques, the need for proper tension, the unique characteristics of different fibers, and so much more.  Just looking at the sources I have gathered for the  report that I have to write about blocking shows that I still have a lot to learn – and this is only Level 1 of 3!   Wish me luck!

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