Saturday, April 5, 2014

Knitting Group Etiquette

Knit Groups (or spinning, or crochet ...) were probably founded and based on the history of quilting circles or other gatherings by neighbors to accomplish a large project. Imagine wool producing communities with gatherings for processing their product, from cleaning and carding to spinning. Local yarns stores use a group gathering period as a way of getting to know their customers better and to encourage those having issues. It's an easy thing to have those that have taken classes in your shop included in a group gathering for further positive reinforcement. 

Recently, I felt a personal need to do a little research on Knit Group Etiquette. I have now been a part of several different groups and attended a couple of knitting guild gatherings for which I was grateful it was acceptable to bring your knitting. (The only reason for so many is because I try to attend around a constantly changing work schedule, and have had a couple of moves.)  There are a few thoughts I've found in my recent search that I wish I knew for my own benefit.

The principles of a Local Yarn Store Knit Group generally are thought to be:

  • Everyone is welcome to attend with the purpose of sharing your projects and conversation is mostly limited to this topic without profanity so as not to offend other attendees or otherwise listening ears.
  • Food is brought when the shop owner says (as food odors may permeate the fiber in stock) and shared throughout the group.
  • Purchasing materials from each other while in the shop is thought to be the worst offense, UNLESS invited. Think 'Trunk Show'.
  • In some shops, only projects made of materials purchased within THAT shop are appreciated. I've personally not seen this in an established shop but this was something mentioned in Ravelry, so I'm including it here.
Of course, simple rules apply too. The one I have the hardest time with is not interrupting other people when they are speaking. It's gotten really bad the last couple of years, I think because I'm in a new area. I get so excited to be around people I care about because I don't know anybody else, that when they are talking, if it reminds me of something I've experienced or know about, without thinking I start sharing before they've finished. Without thinking. I have to learn to think first. Like I used to tell my daughter when she was small, if your mouth is engaged, your ears aren't working. I need to remember that before I open my mouth.
Joining a new group is something I've found in my research that causes the most consternation. Generally, I just show up to a group I've found. Guess what? WRONG. One young lady did this and spoke about her experience in Ravelry as absolutely awful. Those that were there stared at her and said nothing, which unfortunately she took offense to, rather than understand they hadn't a clue that she was wanting to attend or if they were being held up. It's best if you contact someone and let them know you would like to attend so they can expect you and look forward to meeting you. Anticipation can be magic. Once you're a regular, you shouldn't have to alert the group of your attendance.

There are groups that are organized or follow a program. For example: At some groups, everyone is to sit quietly, while you go around the circle and introduce yourself. I remember once a group that I had met with regularly had someone show up once who obviously came from one of these organized groups. This group wasn't like that. She forced the group to to the formal thing, and shushed someone who was talking in a corner. That's when I had to get up to leave, because it would have broke my heart to have her shush me and it was only a matter of time. Knowing if there's a format and what it is when you arrive is probably a smart idea.

Cliques are not a happy thing to have happen in your group either. It's always best to sit next to someone different every week. In fact, I recommend it, because you may be meeting a new friend, or at least learning something new about your craft.

Gossip should go without saying but it's a pretty easy snare to fall into. It means talking about people who are not there. Usually negatively. It's so easy to start asking about someone you care to see at knit night, and have someone immediately start bashing that missing person. Repeating personal information you may have been trusted with is especially nasty. Just don't. If you miss someone because you really care about them, call them or message them. Go to them and be caring, it's best when you don't fake it.

It is by our actions that we show who we really are. If we are a knit group that hopes for new attendees and we want to share what is wonderful about fiber (knitting, crochet, spinning...) we show we care by our manners. Are we warm and inviting? Do we speak to new people with smiles on our faces? or a judgmental frown? Do you know how your knit group organizer feels about the day that knit group rolls around? Is it with dread? Does she need a drink to get through it? 

Oh, I hope not. 

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