I ordered TKGA's Master Knitting Level 1 program about a year and a half ago. I worked long and hard on it the first few weeks to a month after I received the instructions, until I went over to the dark side and started feeling about my knitting the way I was feeling about my writing. I sucked, and the joy of the creative process had sucked itself out of my psyche. So I put it aside for a while and returned to knitting for pleasure. I still persued learning new techniques and worked on improving my results, but I focused on the pleasure I got from knitting for myself and others rather than picking apart . I wanted it to be fun. I needed it to be fun, so I could then translate that feeling to the creative writing process.
Months passed. I picked it up again, working to perfect stocking stitch, which I hadn't known was a problem before the MK Level 1 came along. I re-knit swatches, and saw that my technique actually had improved. I still rowed out at one end of my stocking stitch swatches, but my ribbing had improved vastly due to the Norwegian purl.
Eventually, enough time passed (a full year) that I needed to get updates to the instructions. They had been overhauled in a big way, and I liked them. So I decided to reknit most of my swatches using the new instructions. Finally, FINALLY, in August I somehow was able to get my stocking stitch perfect. But the instructions for the cable swatches mentioned something about "balancing" the pattern vertically, which I hadn't done. I had simply knit to the required length and cast off.
Based on what the new directions say, what I need to do at the top is add a couple more rows, so I have those two rows of purl stitches I have at the bottom of the swatch. No problem, right?
So I cast on, and suddenly, the right side of the public side of my cable swatches were total crap. The loose stitch on the left end of knit stitches followed by purl stitches were enormous. What the hell happened? I moved on to something else...I knit up the new hat project that is part of the Level 1 modifications and screwed up the gauge (see previous blog entries). I hit my frustration limit and put it aside. Again.
So the new year rolls around and I have a couple projects I want off my back. The MK Level 1 program is one of them. I cast on for the hat, and everything goes swimmingly. I finish it, block it and I'm pleased with it. Time to look over the rest of my work. Yesterday, I read over my answers to the questions and made sure I said what I wanted to say, and that I had all the appropriate references listed. Then last night, I cast on for Swatch 15, which is a cable swatch of my choice. Like I said, it looked fine before, it just wasn't perfectly balanced.
Here's what I ended up with last night:
It's complete crap. Aside from the fact that this hasn't been blocked, the second repeat is short two rows in each vertical half -- which is a stupid mistake, easily corrected -- and I knit one too many rows at the top (again, easily corrected)...okay there are a lot of issues, but they're all bonehead mistakes I can fix. What I don't seem to be able to fix is the column of 2 knit stitches on the right. No other column of 2 knit stitches looks like this on the public side, nor on the private side.
I mean, look at this:
What confounds me is that if I knit an actual Aran garment or afghan, I don't have this problem, so I'm not clear what I'm doing wrong when I knit up these swatches. Again, and again, and again. I have tried knitting my favorite flat-knitting method, which is anchoring the needle at my hip and throwing with my right hand (this is how I knit the original swatch); I have tried knitting a combination of Continental, Norwegian, European untwisted, and English, I have tried that trick where you wrap the first purl stitch after a series of knit stitches in the opposite direction (which I never have to do when I knit an actual Aran prjoect), and all of these work sort of to solve part of the problem, but then another one pops up. Like I fixed the problem of the second knit stitch in looking all sloppy (doesn't happen on the purl side), but fixing it caused the end stitch to get REALLY awful.
What is clear to me, though, is why every few months I scream in frustration and put this @#$% project back on my shelf.
I will win this war. I will.