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TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program Level 1

tkga knitting guild america master hand knitting program level one 1 finished book

In June 2004, I completed Level 1 of The Knitting Guild of America’s Master Hand Knitting Program. It took me about four months because I had to overcome some serious tension problems.

Along the way, I forced myself to learn continental knitting and I discovered that my tension issues were the result of knitting too loose and purling too tight, the exact opposite of most knitters. Back then, it was the best $30 I had ever spent to improve my knitting.

There is no time limit for how long it takes to finish – a double edge sword in my opinion. It is very easy to get frustrated with minute details of the samples and chuck everything into the closet. The more perfectionist and anal your tendencies, the worse you’ll second guess your swatches.

Since I work better with deadlines, I joined Sarah Peasley’s TKGA Knit-Along to add some pressure. Scroll down to her June 22nd and 23rd TKGA entries and you will find pictures of my mountain of practice squares as well as my thoughts at the time.

To pass, your swatches need to be done well and you need to follow the directions exactly as written. This is not a program where you "wing it". If it says to put the increase after the 10th stitch, don’t put it after the 11th. They will count.

At the same time, don’t hyperventilate about perfect tension. A few wayward stitch hiccups can usually be adjusted by nudging the extra bits of yarn towards the edges. Massive gutter rowing needs to be redone.

Remember, the purpose of the program is to help you become a more conscious and proficient knitter. It’s not to drive you insane.

Here are swatches 1, 2, 3, and 14. TKGA requires that all four be done with the same yarn so you can make gauge comparisons. I made the scans large so you can see that my knitting is far from perfect. The yarn is a worsted weight Red Heart acrylic . When I knit these, I had run out of light colored wool. Blocking acrylic is no fun.

I have darkened the scans so you can see the individual stitches better. The yarn is actually blindingly white. I’ll show you the other squares in later entries.

TKGA knitting guild america master hand program level 1 one swatch garter stitch two by 2 ribbing

TKGA knitting guild america master hand program level 1 one swatch stockinette stitch by ribbing

TKGA knitting guild america master hand program level 1 one swatch seed moss stitch

TKGA knitting guild america master hand program level 1 one swatch stockinette cable stitch


The Knitting Guild of America offers a Master Knitting Program for both hand knitters and machine knitters. The prices have gone up since I did Level 1. Still worth it in my opinion.

When you answer the written questions, you are highly encouraged to provide references. I was able to document all of my answers from the following sources:

  • Vogue Knitting
  • Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting Second Edition by Barbara Breiter
  • Reader’s Digest Knitter’s Handbook by Montse Stanley
  • The Everything Knitting Book by Jane Eldershaw
  • Standards and Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting (provided in the TKGA Master packet)

I also used the internet for encouragement and to overcome problems. My favorite places still active are:

Tension nightmares seem to plague most participants. It was my biggest struggle. When I upload the rest of the swatch scans, I’ll also show you how I finally diagnosed my gutter row problem and how I minimized my gaps. There is nothing more frustrating than knitting miles of stockinette and repeating the same tension woes over and over.

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January 8, 2007


1 Debbie { 09.08.10 at 3:28 pm }

This was very encouraging information. I am working on my level 1 swatches and I’ve been agonizing over my tension. This was the breath of fresh air I needed to keep going. Thanks!

2 Lisa (abycat3) { 09.28.10 at 7:07 am }

Can you explain to me what gutters are??

3 idaelise { 10.26.10 at 6:17 am }

How do I knit the cables on swatch #14 up-side-down.

I want the cables to look like hearts, and if I turn the pattern, they do.

Sincerely Idaelise

4 Susan Leibowitz { 07.06.11 at 7:17 am }

Thank you for your post. I’ve been working on my Master Knitter 1 program and am most frustrated with my stockinette stitch. I blamed my uneven rows on the purl stitch and when I tried to tighten it up, it got worse. Then I read your entry. I too had a too loose knit stitch and now that I know it my work has vastly improved. Thank you for your insight.

5 Corie Moon { 02.05.12 at 10:43 am }

I am about to begin my program and was wondering if there are any must have reference books that you recommend??

6 Corie Moon { 02.05.12 at 10:45 am }

Nevermind, I see your book list now. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!















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