06 February 2012

A Circle of Clacking Needles

I had my knitting needles out over the weekend, knitting some new dishcloths. The ones I made last year are ready to be moved from the kitchen to the bathroom. When they're finished in the bathroom they'll move to the laundry, then finally to the garage or garden shed - does anyone else rotate through their dish cloths like this?

Anyhow, as I was happily knitting away I was thinking about knitting and how it's become trendy again - or at least trendy, I think in the past knitting has been a way of having the jumpers, scarves and blankets we needed to be comfortable, and was a necessity rather than a trend.

It occurred to me that knitting is the hot new trend that is not really new. Men and women have been knitting for centuries, creating household items and clothing for their families, often getting together with a group to knit and chat, much the way the Amish have quilting bees or modern day women gather over a cup of coffee. Getting together in a "circle" and creating something is a centuries-old tradition. There's a new twist to any trend that comes back around, though, because a new generation is discovering it and giving it a unique character.

Knitting in the 21st century is a good example of this old-meets-new cycle. Starting a contemporary knitting circle looks different than it did a century ago, or even a quarter century ago. These days knitting for most people is a hobby, something they do for pleasure. And of course with many homemakers working outside the home, spare time is scarce. If you'd like to start one up, here are some hints on how to start and run a knitting circle so that everyone has a good time and enjoys their knitting "time-out".

With the trend growing, finding others who are interested in knitting should be fairly easy. Ask around at your workplace, church, school or even the Cheapskates forum ;). The Internet is a great place to connect with other knitters and for finding others who share your interest. Here are some other ideas for finding fellow knitters:

* At your local sewing or wool store, where knitters are likely to go to buy yarn, post a notice that you are starting a knitting circle and would like to know who's interested. For safety's sake, leave minimal contact information, such as a mobile phone number or an email address. You can also leave the contact information of the venue where you plan to meet.

* Send out a group email to others you know to see if there is interest. If you're a parent, you can check with other parents at your child's school or homeschool group. If you're single, this could be a great way to connect with other singles who might be interested in a low-key, relaxed social activity.

*Ask the members of your social clubs (Rotary, Probus, bowling, tennis etc etc etc), chances are there are secret and not-so-secret knitters amongst the members. These knitters offer a vast knowledge and skill, over all levels of experience.

* Post your interest in knitting on your favourite social networking site and see how many responses you get.

Deciding where and when to hold your circle is important; it will affect the dynamics of the group. There will probably not be a time and day when everyone in the group can all attend, but you should be able to agree on a time and date where at least some of the group will be able to attend each time. Here are some ideas for finding a venue:

* Members of the circle can rotate host/hostess duties. Each circle will meet at a different member's house each time. This works well for small groups, where everyone is known to each other and is especially convenient for groups whose members have small children.

* Your local library would be a good place to meet. It's free, and the library is generally accessible to everyone and you have access to a vast array of knitting books to use while you are there. Libraries are generally very open to community events.

* A church hall is another good place that often costs nothing (or a nominal fee) but can accommodate a larger group. Most churches are also very supportive of fellowship and community activities.

* A conference room at your workplace could be ideal, especially if it's a lunch-hour group of your co-workers.

*Your local community house, pre-school, school hall, scout hall - all of these venues may be willing to let you use a room for a small charge.

Make sure the expectations of the group are clear. Decisions need to be made about the following questions:

* Are drinks, snacks and refreshments to be provided? if so, by whom?

* Should everyone bring his or her own supplies?

* Can beginners join, and will there be instruction given?

* Whom should members call if they can't attend a circle?

* Are children welcome, or do members need to find childcare when they attend meetings? Will childcare be provided?

To start keep your knitting circle small and informal - you could start with just yourself and a couple of friends - and the rules simple. The idea is to get together and knit, with some informal skill, knowledge and experience sharing and have fun too.


  1. Cathie

    Girls join machine knitting group I have been in two diffent since 1988 I live at Burleigh Heads we have a great time helping each other and showing what we are up to

  2. Hello my sister in Wales belongs to a group called Knitting nannies They knit lots of different things for charities chip shop babies in Africa babies who are wrapped in newspapers when they are born .A local church organises this and they like very colourful knits Also Xmas tree decorations which they sell at local events and share the money to charity Tricia uk


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