Thursday, November 17, 2011

Something Beautiful

I went to my local yarn shop in search of someone I’ve never met.  I asked the women knitting at the work table if any of them worked at Company X.  One did.  I asked her if she knew Ms. Y.  She responded in a warning tone, “She’s a crocheter.”  I said that was okay, as I’m a crocheter as well.  I explained that I only know Ms. Y through the email list for my guild, that I wondered if perhaps she was one of the women who gather at the yarn shop during the lunch hour.

Alas, Ms. Y does not frequent the shop.  But this got me to thinking.  Knitters routinely gather at yarn shops to knit and chat, but crocheters do not.  Why is that?

Knitters work with at least two needles at a time and many, many loops.  If there is a problem, say the knitter doesn’t understand the pattern or stitches are dropped or the knitted fabric looks nothing like the picture, help is required.  The knitter seeks out an expert—frequently a yarn shop employee.  When the crocheter, working with one hook and one hoop, gets stuck, what does she do?  She punts.  She improvises, she works out her own solution—it might not be what the pattern called for, but the problem is solved and on she goes. 

Maybe the simplicity of the craft gives us an inferiority complex—one hook, one loop, that can’t be hard.  Or perhaps the simplicity inspires improvisation.  Sometimes improvisation is forced on the crocheter simply because she doesn’t know any others who practice the craft.  Many of us learned to crochet from our grandmothers, and now being of “grandmother age” ourselves, have lost the personal connection.  Whatever the reason, we tend to go it alone.

But we are not alone.  We have a guild that meets regularly.  We have a blog, and email communication.  We have topics of study.  I don’t know about you, but I come away from our meetings feeling really pumped.  I get to learn something new, show off my recent accomplishment, and solve my pattern problems.  Got a problem?  Just show your project at a meeting and you’ll get a solution—or three or four or more!  We crocheters are improvisers and each will come up with her own solution, you just take your pick.

The problem is that the guild just doesn’t run itself.  It needs a lot of help.

Our meeting space is really too small.  A committee has come up with some basic requirements.  What we really need is some members who will actively search for a new space.

We have a great blog.  But we only have two people who regularly contribute to it.  We have only one person who photographs projects.  What we really need are more contributors, and more photographers. 

What I’ve learned by attending meetings is that we have a lot of talented members with many skills and interests.  Some also knit, some spin, others weave.  Some are skilled at felting.  When guild members are stuck on a crochet question, they know they’ll get a solution (or three or four or more!) at the next meeting.  But wouldn’t it be great if we knew who to contact between meetings, or who might offer some non-crochet help?  We all know how to crochet, but are there tricks to working with handspun yarn?  What we need is a sort of skill bank.

We have a guild presence on Ravelry, but no one monitors it, and most of us members probably ignore it.  What we really need is someone to welcome new members, someone who will contact group members and let them know we’re going to pay more attention from now on.  It really is a shame when someone posts a question and months go by and no one responds.

A few members attend all meetings, but most only attend a few meetings each year, and some have never attended any meetings because they live too far away.  How do we make decisions and move forward as a guild when membership and attendance is such a moving target?  What we really need is more of a dialog, whether it is through our blog or through our presence on Ravelry. 

What we need if for you to speak up.

The fact that our members are willing to drive many miles to attend a meeting is an indication of the uniqueness of our group, and of the difficulty in finding like-minded crafters.  The fact that so many are willing to be shoe-horned into such a tiny space just to learn a new technique is evidence of the enthusiasm of our members.

A few of us have put together some ideas regarding the direction of our group and a new meeting space.  These ideas will be presented at our December meeting.  For those who are unable to attend the meeting, a simplified version of these ideas will be posted on this blog a few days before the meeting.

What we want from you is feedback.  I’ve put some issues out for you to think about now.  When the proposal regarding our future direction is posted, read it carefully and think about what you want from the group, and what you might be able to contribute.  If you cannot attend the December meeting, we sincerely hope that you will reply directly on the blog about the proposal (not to the email notice).