TKGA Cast On Magazine Review

I joined The Knitting Guild Association back in September 2011.  It wasn’t too long ago but I’m sad to admit that I hadn’t done more than skim through their Cast On magazine until I got the May-July issue a few weeks ago.  I’m kicking myself for it now.

I am in love with this magazine.  TKGA is all about education for knitters and Cast On showcases that.  I have had a few other knitting magazine subscriptions in the past but I have never renewed one.  I would renew Cast On even if the magazine was separate from the TKGA membership.

So what’s the difference?  Again, it’s education. The magazine is designed around providing knowledge to knitters.  It’s not about selling yarn, needles, books, patterns, designers, events, etc.  It’s not a huge advertisement masquerading as a valuable reference.  It actually is a valuable reference.

The Layout

Cast On is divided into articles and patterns.  Advertisements are found in the form of a page each for yarn, book, and product reviews.  For the most part any other advertisements are either very small or located at the front or back of the magazine.  You will not find your patterns or articles stuck in between pages of advertisements.  In fact I would have said there were no advertisements if I hadn’t gone to look for them.  I really hope it stays this way.

If I seem a tad obsessed with the lack of advertisements, let me tell you why.  I was ecstatic over the first issue of my very first knitting magazine subscription (I believe it was Vogue Knitting).  I thought now this makes me a knitter.  I handed the issue to my sister and told her to pick out the projects she liked and I would try to learn them for her. I would make her Christmas gifts.  It might be Christmas gifts years from now, but I was a knitter, and I could do it.

Can you guess how this went?  She picked out projects all right.  They were all advertisements. Some were for yarn, some for books, and some for the pattern itself.  I was completely deflated.  I very meekly told her those were advertisements and did she like any of the patterns in the actual magazine?

The Articles

I finally picked up this latest issue of Cast On for the articles.  Every issue has an “On Your Way to the Masters” article that covers some technique needed for their Master Hand Knitting Program.  These articles are helpful to anyone as the entire purpose of the master programs is to become a better knitter.  However, they are even more useful for anyone working towards completing the program itself.  The MHK program requires a lot of research and what’s better than getting that research straight from the source that will be evaluating your work?

My favorite portion of Cast On are the “Stitch Anatomy” articles.  Each issue picks a stitch type and breaks it down into its definition, uses, and the various techniques associated with that stitch.  It ends with a simple pattern using the stitch.  I’ve been frustrated in the past with overly general descriptions of stitches and techniques.  I always want to know more and I want to know why.  These articles finally satisfy that curiosity and frustration.

The “Fashion Framework Series” articles discuss pattern elements or the basics on a type of garment.  These articles didn’t pull me in as much but if I were working on designing or altering a pattern I would hunt for one of these articles.  I like to customize patterns and I’m pretty sure I will need these articles in the future.

The last reoccurring article series is “Knitting 911” that covers different emergency fixes.  All three of the issues I have cover different forms of dropped stitches.  These remind me of the “Stitch Anatomy” series but for mistakes.  I’m eager to see an article on something I don’t know how to fix.

The Patterns

Okay, I will admit I’m not a huge fan of most of the patterns themselves.  However, this is not new.  I haven’t found any magazine, book, or other collection of patterns where I’ve liked more than a few patterns.  Cast On is no different.  That would be too good to be true.

The patterns redeem themselves with the designer notes, technical tips, and the layout itself.  I like that all the pictures and all the instructions are together.  I haven’t found a pattern or a teaser picture that sends me off to a completely different portion of the magazine.  The pattern intro by the designer is a nice touch as well and has made me interested in a pattern that I would have skipped past.

Summary

I love Cast On and I can’t imagine a magazine that fits better with what I want.  If you are a knitter who wants to understand what you’re doing and keep expanding on your skills and knowledge then I definitely recommend TKGA and Cast On.

If you’re a knitter who prefers to simply pick up a pattern and knit then there might be better magazines for you.  While there is still value and nice patterns for you, I think you could feel overwhelmed with all the details and explanations that are of no interest to you.  It’s hard for me to judge for those without interest in all the details but I would still recommend it anyone.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this review.

    You are really inspiring me to consider joining TKGA and, maybe, just maybe, entering the Master Knitter’s program. Even though I’ve been knitting off and on for many years, I’m self-taught so I think I’ll start with their basic classes and then work towards the Master Levels. I read all about it this morning, and it looks like a lot of work but also, a wonderful opportunity to really get to know the ins and outs of knitting.

    • I think you could go straight to the Masters if you were interested. The first level is all about the basics and really stopping to make sure you are doing it right. It is a bit overwhelming because there is just so much to consider that you’d never stop to think about otherwise. However there isn’t anything entirely new for me it’s just making sure it’s done well. Which means I really have no excuse for how little progress I’ve actually made.

      I’m hoping to really get into the Masters this summer so you can see if I regret what I just said later =)

  2. Pure Klass says:

    Oh, Stitch Anatomy sounds like something I would LOVE to have on hand. I’m constantly looking up stitches (especially the various decreases and increases) to figure out whether or not they’re doing what I think they’re doing. Definitely a tempting reason to join TKGA!

  3. Thanks for this – certainly sounds good and am going to investigate!

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