Master Hand Knitter Program
Did you know that you can become a certified Master Hand Knitter?
Barbara Paley, one of our knitting teachers and knitter extraordinaire, is a certified Master Hand Knitter.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Barbara some questions about the process.
1. What is a Master Hand Knitter?
A Master Hand Knitter is a person who has successfully completed Level Three of The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) program. There are about 350 people worldwide with this designation.
2. What is TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association)?
TKGA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated specifically to knitting. Its mission is to provide education and communication to those wishing to advance the quality of workmanship and creativity in their knitting endeavors. The TKGA motto is “Master your knitting through education!”. Knitting clubs and individuals worldwide are members of TKGA. Everyone is welcome to join.
3. Can you briefly describe the Master Hand Knitter program process?
The program is fashioned after the old guild systems where artisans had to
demonstrate proficiency to attain the status of “Master.” Think “blacksmith,” “furniture maker,” “Dutch Masters painter.”
There are three levels of the Master Hand Knitters program. For each level you are
directed to create a portfolio of work that is evaluated by a Committee. You are
given gentle, but constructive, feedback. Once you pass Level One you may
advance to Level Two, etc.
For example, the Level One portfolio requires you to submit:
• Report – brief write-up about a subject (e.g., “history of knitting,” “how to care for
knit garments,” “how to block.”)
• 17 Swatches (e.g., pared decreases, simple cable, types of ribbing)
• 22 Questions (no trick questions! many questions relate to the swatches)
• 1 Project - Mitten
There is a modest fee at each level. The money is used for postage to transport your portfolio between Committee members. The Committee is comprised of volunteers.
4. How experienced do you have to be to join the program?
There are no prerequisites for the Master Hand Knitter program however it is not for
beginners. Someone undertaking the Masters program should be familiar with
knitting basics and be comfortable with the process.
5. What was your biggest challenge in going trough the program?
It is hard to stay focused and “with it.” Each little part of the portfolio seems simple
enough (who can’t knit a swatch with a certain technique?) but putting it all together
can be a challenge. I was strongly motivated to learn. So I took one step at a time
and got to the finish line!
6. How long did the program take?
The program is self-paced; it’s different for each of us. There is no time limit to
complete the Master Hand Knitters program. I worked on my submissions during a
period in my life when I wasn’t employed – my main “job” was to get those portfolios
done. It took me about a year to complete all three levels.
7. How did you learn the What types of knitting techniques were involved?
Part of the Masters program is designed to expose you to new techniques. For
example I had never made an argyle sock or knit an Entrelac swatch. I especially
enjoyed writing the report on the history of knitting. For Level Three I had to write
instructions for the Aran sweater I designed.
It may sound a bit daunting, but remember the program starts with the basics and
reinforces the foundation upon which it builds. By the time I reached Level Three I
was ready and eager to show how much I had learned.
8. What type of support did you have through the process? How and where did you get
the information to create the portfolios?
There are vast amounts of information easily available – classes at shops and
conventions, videos on the Internet, books, Ravelry, guilds, etc. So many more
resources now than when I did my Masters work.
9. What are the benefits of being a Master Hand Knitter?
Delving deeper into the art and craft I love was joyous. The knowledge I gained
about knitting is immeasurable. There are techniques I’ve added to my favorites
(i.e., slip stitch color work) and those I’ll never do again but at least I tried and know
why (e.g., Entrelac ).
Completing the Master Hand Knitter program gives me confidence to stretch and
explore further. I share some of this wisdom as I teach others. I am proud of my
Take your knitting to the next level! For more information about the Master Hand Knitter program, click here.
There is a TKGA Ravelry group where committee members and co-chairs answer questions. Click here.