When I first learned to crochet (after several fruitless attempts from a variety of teachers), I knew no one in my personal life who crocheted. The woman who had finally been successful in teaching me this fine art had disappeared. The craft store where I took her two classes could never find her again. Sad news for me since I wanted to continue and take her Intermediate Class. Wasn’t in the cards. But, I really wanted to learn more about crochet and I felt the need to have someone show me the techniques.
What was in the cards was the start of a local crochet club. When I got the idea, there was no CGOA chapter active in the St.Louis area. I belonged to an online community known as Crochet Partners and was learning lots there, but I wanted more. So, I determined a location (a mall) and a date and time and announced on CP that anyone who cared to should join me. I got to the mall early, set myself down in a prominent location, got out my hook and yarn and waited. Just on time, DJ and Cindy found me. We hit it off immediately and determined that we’d meet the following month.
Initially, we met at St. Louis Bread Co, the public library, and at the homes of members. Finally, I asked a shop owner if we could meet in their space. The Weaving Dept generously offered us the space we needed at a good time. I spread the word to our meager group and word spread. Before long, we had about a dozen members and had relocated to our current space at Hearthstone Knits.
How did we grow? We networked, placed flyers at libraries and yarn shops, and offered to help anyone with crochet problems. Most of the members of the group, early on and now, are far more accomplished crocheters than am I. Each has her own particular talent that she shares with the group. While we always welcome newcomers to our group, we have remained fairly constant with about 12 members. We charge no dues, love Show ‘n Tell, and are grateful to the owner of Hearthstone Knits, Georgia Druen, for continuing to welcome us to the shop on the third Wednesday of every month.
About those special talents. Ronnie can decipher any pattern and rapidly applies mathematics to solve problems. She’s also terrifically prolific, often turning out 10 or more projects per month. DJ is the most practical of crocheters. She can take orphan skeins of peculiar colors and turn them into a stunning baby sweater or afghan. Give her two different variegated yarns and she’ll unite them into something more pleasing to the eye. Rita is the Queen of Food Color Dying. She buys plain – or just plain ugly – balls of sock yarn and overdyes them, creating colorways that have all of us drooling. She also knits and sews. Cathy takes fairly mundane yarns and whips up scarves and shawls that anyone would covet. Georgia and shop staffer Joan are both switch hitters, working up beautiful projects in both knit and crochet. Joan loves to make socks (knit) and single crochet ripple stitch afghans. Georgia turns out shop models and contributes original designs to several knit magazines AND she crochets beautiful baby sweaters and one very special, intricate afghan for her new grandchild. Mandy is a dedicated artist who finally followed her bliss by enrolling to earn her MFA. She knits, crochets, weaves, spins, cards, and dyes. These days find her with nails dyed every color of the rainbow as she dyes her own spun yarn in silks and wools. Joyce crochets cute skirts for her granddaughters and her ‘almost’ granddaughters. And, she’s almost always working on a 12 inch square for charity. Valli is constantly developing new stitch patterns to suit the upscale yarns in teals and blues that she prefers. Marty is a professional artist who has transferred her skills to her crochet work – and to her daughter, Mary, who has had her bracelets featured on this blog. Melinda has a fixation with Strawberry Shortcake hats that she crochets while enrolled in nursing school and chasing around her two red headed daughters who love when mom makes them their Strawberry Shortcake caps. We have some newer members whose special talents are not cataloged here. I’ll learn more about them as I get to know each person better. But, every person who has joined our group has brought something special to the table. We are always learning from each other.
In addition to crocheting, we happily include and appreciate the other arts and crafts that our members share – from beadwork to knitting to button collections to sewing to whatever. We have fun, are kind and encouraging of each other, and share a lot of laughs each month as we gather around the table at Hearthstone Knits.
I have the advantage in the process of starting a crochet club – I’m not shy! That helps a great deal. But anyone who wants to form a crochet club can find a small meeting place, ask a few friends, type up, copy and hang flyers around town, and offer a welcoming attitude to those who show up. Good first meeting locations include public places like malls, libraries, or churches or synagogues. On your flyer, list a phone number in case someone needs directions or can’t attend the first meeting but wants to be included in subsequent meetings. You do not need to be an expert at crochet, making flyers, or public speaking. You need only e desire and some determination.
So, now you know how to build yourself a crochet club. We have a great one. So, if you find yourself in the neighborhood on the third Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM, come on in!
ADDENDUM: Clubs may already exist in your area. Check at libraries, churches, yarn shops, and bookstores/coffee shops. You might be presently surprised to find that you don’t have to create your own after all!