How to Start a Knitting Group in Your Local Area
Knitting is a popular craft and hobby that is shared by people in every city and town - and knitting groups can play a fun part in getting them together. In these groups, knitters can work on projects while socializing and sharing information with others who enjoy the same activity. It is a great way to get to know other people in the community while building a support system and knowledge bank for your craft.
If your community does not have a knitting group, here's how to start your own!
Do you belong to a knitting or needlework group?
First - Decide What Type of Group It's Going to Be
Most "knitting" groups I know of are really "knit and crochet groups". The two crafts are very similar and a lot of knitters also crochet, and vice versa. By welcoming both crafts, you can get more members and attendees.
If you live in a large city, you can probably gather a group of just knitters, or knitters and crocheters. However, if you live in a smaller city or less populated area, you may want to open your group up to all needle crafts (embroidery, cross stitch, crewel work, and lace makers). Hopefully by welcoming all needle workers, you will create a large and diverse group of dedicated members.
You should also determine whether the group is going to meet weekly or monthly, whatever works for the members. This may be best decided at the first meeting by asking the attendees.
My knit group meets every Monday at a local cafe. We meet from about 6 PM to the cafe's closing time. It is a drop-in type of casual meeting, with people coming as their schedules allow and staying as long as they want.
Pick a Fun Name For Your Group
Clever or fun names always attract people's attention. If you can't think of anything, try something traditional like "(Name of Community) Knit and Natter" or "(Name) Stitch & B*itch".
Find a Meeting Place
I would suggest you pick a meeting place that is centrally located, safe, and convenient. I find it is also best if your meeting place either serves food or allows you to bring food and beverages in. (Every meeting is better with food!)
It may be tempting to hold your meetings in someone's home, but this can be both intimidating for someone who might not know the group very well and also puts a lot of responsibility on the host.
Instead, pick a place that is well-known in your community and preferably free to use. A friendly cafe, or your library, local church, yarn store, or community center might be good choices. If you choose to meet at a cafe or restaurant, you should suggest to the members that they order items from the establishment as a gesture of thanks for letting you meet there.
Advertise Your Knitting Group
One of the most important steps in forming a successful knitting group is getting the word out about the group. There are many places to post electronic messages, public notices, and flyers about the group.
- Start an electronic bboard for your group on Ravelry.com.
- Post a notice on your Facebook page and/or start a Facebook page for your group.
- Contact your local yarn or craft store and ask if they would send a message to their email list.
- See if there is a knitting or needlework guild in your area that can help spread news about the group.
- Place listings or ads in your local community paper, church or school bulletin, or even your neighborhood/HoA newsletter.
- Ask if you can hang flyers at local cafes, stores, libraries, churches, activity centers, gyms, schools, and other places where potential members might see them.
Start advertising at least a month before your first meeting date. Be sure to include a contact email address in case people have questions or need more information. It would be nice if you could ask people to RSVP so you know how many people to expect, but you also want to leave it somewhat casual so people don't feel any pressure. Be sure to post that beginning knitters are welcome!
Plan for Your First Meeting
The most important thing - be early! No one likes to be the first one at an event and everyone likes to be welcomed by a warm smile. Try to be the first one at your meeting place so everyone knows they're in the right place, etc.
Think about asking some friends to come along to the first meeting - even if they don't knit, crochet, do needlework, etc. Just having a couple of other people there to keep the conversation going will be a big help and make things more fun.
Bring some knitting magazines or books (you can borrow these from your library if needed) to pass around and discuss. Knitters always like talking about new patterns and different types of yarn :) You can also bring along a tablet if you have one to visit websites like Ravelry.com and other knitting sites.
Sometimes it is hard to engage people in the conversation. There are a lot of websites that have lists of introductory questions for getting to know someone new (like here). But here are some knitting-related questions you can ask each new member:
1. How long have you been knitting, crocheting, doing needle work?
2. Do you do any other types of crafts?
3. Where do you buy your yarn and supplies?
4. What is your favorite type of project to make?
5. How did you learn to do your craft? Have you taught anyone else?
6. Have you taken any knitting classe or gone to any knitting retreats? Did you enjoy them?
7. Are you on Ravelry or do you visit any knitting-related websites?
Possible Project Ideas
Some knitting groups are open groups where the members just work in personal projects. I always have a small project on my knitting needles that I bring to my group. Smaller projects are easy to transport and won't get damaged or lost during travel. I also pick something somewhat simple (and mindless) to bring to my knitting group, so I won't screw it up if I get carried away talking and don't really pay attention to my knitting :) I keep my cable or lace projects at home where I don't have as many distractions.
Other groups might pick community or charity projects that their members can choose to work on. These projects are a nice way for the group to serve their community and can be fun, quick things for members to knit.
These projects can include:
- little hats for premature babies
- chemotherapy caps for cancer patients
- lap blankets for nursing homes or wheelchair patients
- warm winter goods (hats, scarves, mittens) for the homeless
You can find lots of free knitting patterns for these items on the internet. Contact your local hospital, churches, social service agencies, or non-profits to find organizations that might need these items for their clients.
I hope this information gets you excited about starting a knit group in your community. Stop by and tell me how it's going, or post ideas you have to share!
Copyright © 2013 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.