Saturday, October 10, 2009

The guild

Earlier this year, I joined the state knitting guild. It's an interesting organisation, run predominantly by older women, many of whom are excellent knitters and/or crocheters, but who are not necessarily up to date on current trends in knitting (including in particular the internet but also modern or newer designers and yarns). (This is, of course, a generalisation, as the guild, like any organisation, has all types!) And perhaps this is more of a perception than a reality, but there also seems to be a reluctance to share information (eg judging standards at the shows, contents of the guild library and archives etc) and a whole lot of politics. The politics is also, I know, pretty standard in most organisations.

Sometimes this apparent inability of many in organisational roles within the guild to embrace the internet and all it can do for knitting is frustrating for the more internet savvy knitters, and it results to some extent in the guild being seen as a backward organisation which reinforces the stereotype of knitters as little old ladies making things that no-one would wear. Which is a real shame, as there is a lot of knowledge and talent amongst the guild members, not to mention an element of charitable work which is also valuable to the community.

Nevertheless, I figure that things in the guild which I think are less desirable will never change if "new blood" doesn't join and take part in guild activities. Not that I expect anything to change overnight, or even quickly but it will get there. Membership is important both to help effect changes I'd like to see, as well as to see how the guild really works from the inside, and to experience what is good about it as well. I've found a branch of the guild that contains many knitters like me - not all internet savvy but all genuinely interested in learning and sharing skills, as well as having a fun time. Not to mention meeting in a heritage building with million dollar harbour views over Circular Quay in Sydney!

Sometimes I feel kind of weird about being a member of a knitting guild, but then I wake up to myself and remember I must feel proud - I love to knit (and crochet) and I love to share my pasttime with other people who love it too - and that is something that, I hope, all members of the guild have in common. So the guild, notwithstanding the concerns I personally hold about it at present, is an excellent way of doing this, as well as sharing and learning from others too (and teaching other people how to knit and passing on the pleasure in that way).

If you have a local knitting guild or similar organisation, are you a member? If not, please think about it - you might not want to get involved in the organisation side of things, which is absolutely fine, as just getting together with other knitters is such a great experience (and no, I'm not going to say it's empowering!!).

20 comments:

Bells said...

yes yes yes. It's not just about being 'modern' is it - it's about the openness and sharing that we've all learned from the internet communities - surely most of us who exist in the online knitting world, and the way it spills over into real life know that there is SO much value in the sharing and the generosity of time and knowledge and enthusiasm. Why it has to be so hard to understand, I just don't know.

No guild in Canberra. Sadly. There's a Spinners and Weavers guild, with lots of knitters in it, but not a knitters guild.

2paw said...

I am SO not modern really. I think I span the old and the new. My mum and nan and aunt all knitted from English pattern books and I learned from them very solid knitting knowledge and skills, but I never knew that there were other ways of knitting: casting on for instance. This week a lovely Dutch lady I know talked about her knitting experiences and then I gave her the Ravelry address and she was off home to look it up!!

Shazmina Bendi said...

Great post! For me it comes down to my comfort zone, I tend to stick with like minded people (that is how I met you gorgeous!). A pretty typical response in humans! So I tend to not get involved with established groups as they seem (to me) to have an element of knitting snobbery and judgementalness about them. Makes me feel insecure about my knitting skills. But as the whole purpose of me being in the UK is to get out of my comfort zone I really should get involved.

Michelle said...

Nice post! The reasons you brought up are the same reasons that I joined the quilt guild years ago. I even joined the committee for a couple of years. The best part of the quilt guild is that they are very forward-thinking. They brought in a judged show, they have a huge charity component and the most amazing library. But the sharing with newer quilters is really what it's all about, and that's what I like best.

MadMad said...

This is so interesting to me, and so... relevant? I work in a yarn store one day a week, where the clientele is completely unfamiliar with computers/ravelry/Knitty... It's so weird to see there is this whole world out there of people who just ... knit stuff.

del said...

Well, they need new blood to continue, of course, and as time goes on, the "older" guild members (who are younger now) will be internet savvy and more modern. Maybe by then, the Granny stereotype will be a thing of the past!

Sarah said...

I keep dithering about joining the UK Handknitters Association as it seems a bit outmoded but you're so right about new members being the only way these things move on. I shall sign up this weekend :)

Caffeine Girl said...

Madison has one of the largest Knitting Guild's in the U.S. Each meeting draws more than 200 people! We have the full range of ages, Internet abilities, etc. As far as I can tell, there aren't any generational tensions, but I'm not involved in leadership ... so maybe there are.

I just feel lucky to have such an active group in my city.

Gemma said...

Bugger! And that was such a perfect place to use it! :o)

I haven't even looked to see if there is a guild locally! I am still trying to screw up the courage to go along to the local knitting group!

dr k said...

i had a great time yesterday as a guest of your lovely group in that AMAZING building. im definitely going to join now. and nothing changes if nothing changes. you guys yesterday are a great example of how a group can span the old and the new. good on you!

Kris said...

Awww, dr k! I'm so glad you had a good time. It was great having you visit us... :)

Alwen said...

The closest I've got is a lace group that I helped start several years ago, and whose meetings I've been missing because of work!

gemma said...

I really liked your post, and agree wholeheartedly with what you say. So last year I too joined "the Guild". Looking to update the Guild won't happen unless in subtle ways we encourage our like minded guild members to stand for the committees and then support them every chances we get.

missfee said...

I so agree Rosered - and you have put the positives and negatives in such a balanced way. As these two are so intertwined in this instance - although I think this is the gap that a lot of groups and organisation are struggling with. As you say if we don't join who will carry on the tradition?

TinkingBell said...

Wish we did have a guild - I would join in a flash!

However, given that we don't, I am going to join the local CWA next year - the ones down here do enormous amount of community work, have a huge skill base in all sorts of areas and are forward thinking enough to advocate the legalisation of therapeutic marijuana for pain relief, especially for MS and Chemo!

diane_s said...

Well said , it made me wonder whether the next generation will feel this way about us. Ravelry , that's so last century haha.

Anonymous said...

WELL PUT!!

We ALL have skills to contribute even if we don't think we do but just being there & being part of the Guild contributes to the growing of of a wonderful skill to pass on to others as well as the friendships, conversations & laughter.

1funkyknitwit

Lynne said...

At our Guild meeting in September, we had a talk from Faye Elsworthy [the standards convenor] on judging and the merit certificates. You can check out the info on our blog [bluemountainsknitters.blogspot.com] or you can ask your executive to invite Faye to one of your meetings and get the chance to meet her; she is an incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, easy-to-talk-to lady.

amy said...

There's a craft guilt that I plan to join when the baby is older. They're about an hour away, so it would be hard even without the baby. But they encompass all fiber crafts, with separate, additional meetings for knitters and quilters. Some day!!

Ann said...

I have the same thoughts when I saw the hand knitting entries at the Royal Show. A lot of excellent hand knits which are generations old. I am trying to get involve in a small way & introduce some modern techniques.