Sticks & String

A podcast by an Australian bloke who knits.


One of the most enjoyable aspects of knitting is sharing it with other people. This sharing might be via the internet, which as we know connects knitters across the globe, or it might be in a local group – and fun as the internet is, a face-to-face group is even more fun. And often you get to share baked goodies too. In series one we explored the many ways knitters join together, in this series we’ve heard stories of knitting within families – but what do you do when you don’t have a knitting group?You could always start your own.

Now before you say that you can’t organise something as complex as a knitting group, of course you can, and the reason, they’re not complex and they’re sort of self organising, they don’t require a constitution and minutes, just sticks and string. So how do you start? Now I haven’t started any knitting groups (although I did help start an astronomy club once), but I go to them and I’ve listened to the women who have started them, and here’s what I’ve picked up. It’s probably easier to start with someone else – or a couple of other people. You probably know at least one other knitter who’d be in it with you. I don’t think you need another person with you, but I think it would be a lot more reassuring with someone else, and for that very first meeting, you’re assured of at least one companion.

Find somewhere friendly, with some room to spare, and not too noisy. I go to groups that meet in coffee shops, pubs, yarn shops and community halls. Yarn shops are an obvious choice, if they don’t already have a group, they may well be pleased to have you there, if they have the room. The group that meets at the Rubi + Lana yarn shop and the one at Tapestry Craft both get the use of the main display table (they clear it off for us) and both tables will seat about 12 people reasonably comfortably. A yarn shop offers a new group the advantage of ready-made potential new members wandering in while you’re there, and what better place to be when you discover that you’ve lost yet another tape measure.

Pubs and coffee shops are designed for people to sit and chat, so rarely would they have a problem with knitters knitting as well as sitting and chatting. Still it’s probably a good idea to talk with the management first, make sure they are not going to have a problem with a group of knitters spending a couple of hours taking up seats. I’d suggest that for the first few meetings you buy a reasonable number of their beverages just so they see the benefit of allowing you a regular meeting. Many of these places will also allow you to put up a notice to attract potential new members.

Places like community or church halls are good if you end up with a large group, but they tend to be a little impersonal, you have to make arrangements for refreshments, and you usually have to pay for their use. Still, if your group of two becomes a group of forty, then it may be your only option.

Pick a time and a frequency to meet that will suit you in the long term. You’re not going to be able to please everyone, so just find a time that suits you and which you think will suit others. The time you pick may well have a bearing on the type of person who is able to join your group, a daytime group will exclude people with full-time day jobs, weekends may suit them, but exclude people with family commitments. How often you meet is perhaps less important, unless you have a very formal structure, no one will make it to every meeting, so again, pick a frequency that suits you.

The one thing that I think every group needs is a sign. One that can sit on the table or whatever, letting people know what it is that you are up to. We’ve all had the experience of being the new person having to meet a whole group of new people all at once, and it’s scary. It’s even scarier if you’re not sure that the group of people you are looking at is the right group. A few weeks back at one knitting group, I was a bit early, as was one other person, so we were sitting talking and knitting, while two other people who were new to the group had taken up a position on the other side of the venue unaware that the two of us were the group. If you’re meeting in a yarn shop, although it might seem obvious, a group of knitters could be a class, or a closed group of friends, so a small sign saying “Sit and Knit Group – Why not join us” or words to that effect is nice reassurance for a new member.

Finally, the last thing you need is a way of keeping in contact between meetings. Luckily there are numerous ways of doing that. Yahoo groups and their associated email lists, a communal blog or even a twitter group (if you’re in the US); all of these take very little work yet they keep the group together between meetings.

Anyone who has belonged to a knitting group knows how much fun, and how supportive they are; how you will make new friends, share skills, and get more from your knitting. So, if you can’t find a group, get out and try starting one, and when you do, write and let this group know how you’re doing.

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