The Needle Bee


My journey to the TKGA Master Hand Knitter program

Brenda Reynoso PenaComment

The purpose of this post is to help anyone interested in becoming a master knitter by the Knitting Guild Association (TKGA). I will try to explain and share my journey through this program and hope you will find useful information. I will try to post my progress in several parts.  

Last year  I decided to start the The Knitting Guild of America (TKGA)  Master Hand knitting level 1 (MHK1). Warning: This is not for a beginner knitter.  This is a correspondence program for the serious knitter!  To become a Master Knitter you will need to complete all 3 levels. "According to the TKGA website, this is a not for profit organization that support serious knitters in their efforts to perpetuate traditional techniques and keep the artisan aspects and high quality standards of the craft alive."

 When you are a member like me, you get their quarterly Cast On magazine and their informative newsletter. The yearly membership at the time of this post is $25 (this is worth in my opinion considering all the content and support you receive and the Cast on magazine). TKGA offers several correspondence courses to help you with tension and gauge as well as as tech editor certifications. You can also go the TKGA ravelry group for more details. This group has tons of resources and great support to help you with any questions you may have. 

The first thing you need to know and understand is that you need to be very organized and keep notes of every technique you use in every swatch. You are knitting at your own pace but you have about a year to complete the first level. This first level requires the completion of 19 swatches  (this includes the preliminary swatch) plus one mitten  project sent to your reviewer in a binder along with your blocked swatches and the blocking report.

This first post consist of swatch 1 to 3 plus the preliminary swatch which are all about gauge, tension and even increases. Here is what I am doing to keep me organized:

First, I set up  several google Docs. A file for the blocking report, a file for each swatch information sheet (it is easier to copy the swatch template and save it a new file with the swatch # in case you need to go back and revise it), a file for the bibliography section and a file for the mitten project.  I also have the MHK instructions saved in Evernote ( this is very handy if you are traveling and don't want to bring the binder with you). These google docs will be printed and included in my 3" binder when I am ready to mail my package for approval. I will share my binder in another post.

So far I have knitted the first 3 swatches plus the preliminary swatch. The preliminary swatch is the first swatch  required to help you determine your tension , gauge, needle and yarn choice.)  In the  picture below you can see this swatch was knitted with different needle sizes. From the bottom up, needles US7, US8 and US9 were used. After blocking the preliminary swatch, I decided to knit my swatches with my Lykke needle size US8. I felt it has the best fabric, the stitches don't look tight and the gauge falls within the required gauge by the program.



I had trouble with swatch#1 trying to  choose the increase  that would give me the best finish.  After knitting a few times trying to get a nice neat fabric, I decided to use the M1 increase (increasing 1 st every 4th st). Here you cast on 20 stitches and you need to increase 5 st evenly for a total of 25 stitches. The M1 increase is the only increase that blends nicely with garter st and doesn't create a hole. 

I am not very pleased with swatch #2. The stockinette stitch doesn't look even and there are ladders in the back of the swatch (you can see this in the picture below). This is a tension issue which means I was probably distracted and not paying attention. The total increases are the same as swatch #1 but instead I chose the KFB (knit front back)  increase. This is the proof that blocking doesn't fix tension or crooked stitches. I might have to  knit swatch #2 again. I want to send my best work for review and avoid any resubmissions.

back of swatch #2 has a gap between rows. 

back of swatch #2 has a gap between rows. 

Swatch #3 is the seed stitch swatch. It looks pretty even and there are no visible holes. The key is too follow the directions and submit your best work. 

As you can see,  gauge and tension are Very Important in the MHK program.  The swatches must be blocked with neat edges but not over blocked.

from left to right:  swatch #1, 2 , 3

from left to right:  swatch #1, 2 , 3

So far, I found knitting the swatches and researching the techniques are the fun part. I am using my big  reference books and understanding why a particular increase work for this pattern or not. Writing the report and the swatch information sheet is tedious work. Honestly, I feel like I am going back to my college days researching and writing papers.  But I know this is worth it so I will stop complaining! If you want to complete this program you need to cite every reference (books, video, blog, etc..) 

My goal is to complete a swatch a week and to document my work here in this blog to help me feel accountable and to help others wanting to dive in and start.

Working on the MHK program makes you a better knitter. It is not required to teach or design, but it is definitely worth it.  It is a personal but it will make you aware of your knitting weaknesses and strengths.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment or send me a private message in Ravelry.