Way back when (in 2009), I started this blog with the purpose of recording my journey through The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) Master Knitter program. My craft interests, and thus this blog, have taken a circuitous journey since then.
The Master Knitter program is a correspondence program designed to test a knitter’s ability and comprehension of knitting technique, history, application, and design. Much like an academic Master’s program (ask me how I know), there is a lot of research, writing, practice, and independent learning required. TKGA also offers correspondence courses aimed at teaching beginner and intermediate knitters that have more hands-on help from instructors, if you do not feel you are at a level where “mastery” might be in your grasp. For the Master Hand Knitter program, the expectation is that while you may not be at a “master” level when you begin, through the questions and assignments of the program, you will learn independently, and when your work is evaluated to mark a high level of understanding and achievement, you can pass onto the next level.
How long? There are three levels to the program, and I passed Level 1 back in 2010. Considering the rather slow pace of knitting projects in the past few years, completing something on that scale in just 22 months seems kind of extraordinary when I look back. Although at the time, I was chagrined that it took me so long. In any case, my husband has just started a Ph.D. program this fall, and our joking challenge to each other is that we are having a race – me to finish the 2nd and 3rd levels to be officially a “master knitter”, and him to earn a Ph.D. Right now, I consider it fairly even odds… and considering that he is taking the program part-time and it may take him more than 4 years just to complete the coursework (let alone dissertation), you can guess that I’m expecting a slow slog on my end.
What’s my motivation? Unlike my with husband’s PhD, achieving this Master Knitter distinction probably won’t immediately lead to new job prospects – maybe for some it would, but not for me. I’m already in a career I like. I do hope to be a knitting teacher, artist, and knitwear designer in my retirement career, but I’m a looooong way from retirement. I probably have a good 20 years or more (the way they keep pushing back those things) before full-time knitter/artist becomes my new line of work. So the Master Knitter distinction wouldn’t get me anything in the immediate sense other than a sense of accomplishment, and probably some props from other knitters. I think there might also be a shiny pin.
Instead, the real benefit is the motivation to learn and challenge myself to be a better knitter. I haven’t knit much in the last 4 years. Between work pressures, finishing that other kind of Master’s, some issues with having a baby, and then actually having a baby, my knitting energy and enthusiasm slowed down for a while. I’ve been disappointed, as I’ve gotten my mojo back, at how much I feel like my skills have atrophied. And how slow I knit now! It’s time to get back on the proverbial horse, get back to the program, and start “leveling up” as a knitter again!
The cost: Back in 2010, when I passed Level I, I purchased Level II for $95 (the price appears to have been raised to $97 since). In addition, in order to interact with the program (i.e., buy a level, or submit anything), you must also be a current member of TKGA. This is, currently, $35/year with possible discounts for choosing the digital subscription to Cast-On magazine or for going with the two-year membership.
Then there are yarn costs: There are some worsted weight swatches, a couple of laceweight swatches, a colorwork wristlet, one argyle sock (although seriously, I’m going to want to knit a pair so my husband can wear them once approved), and a vest required. I might actually be able to manage all of this from stash, as I think I optimistically bought all the materials needed back when I purchased the level… the only question is whether I used some of it up for other projects in the meantime.
The requirements (as of Rev. 5/1/15):
Written materials: A 3-page report on the history of knitting, four book reviews, 16 questions, gauge worksheets based on a couple of the swatches, and a written pattern for one of the swatches.
- 19 swatches – mostly demonstrating finishing techniques like seaming, buttonholes, and necklines, but also some for colorwork, lace, and demonstrating cable problem-solving,
- a fair-isle wristlet
- an argyle sock – demonstrating intarsia and duplicate stitch, as well as sock construction and seaming (because the fancy part of the argyle sock is knit flat!)
- a vest… I think it’s supposed to have side seams – but maybe there’s an exception if you want to do Fair Isle… I need to find out more as I do love the look of Fair Isle vests.
I think I’m most intimidated by the prospect of the vest and sock, since I haven’t finished anything that technical or shaped or large (in stitch count) in a very long time!
Until next time, keep those needles clicking…