How to Start a Crafts Circle

Get yourself some crafty community

Today, Wednesday, is Knitting Circle Day, one of the highlights of our week. Many of our friends come over. The moms work on projects and the children play. Our circle is a little community, without which our lives would be a lot less full.

We help each other out with projects, problems, life and its inconsistencies, and boss each others' kids around to the point that we all got invited to the eldest boy's bar mitzvah last year because he couldn't imagine the Knitting Circle Ladies not being there.

So how do you come up with one of these nifty little circles of your own, knitting or otherwise?

Tell everyone you know you want to start this. All of my local email groups know about my circle, and everyone is invited. You never know where like-minded crafty people will pop up.

Join a local email crafting list. Yahoo Groups has dozens of crafting groups geared toward local communities. The most promising are those knitting groups with the label "Stitch n Bitch," though many of them have had to take the words "stitch n bitch" out of their names and go with something like "SnB" because of an ill-conceived copyright lawsuit by a bunch of idiots who think they own the term (they don't). On an "SnB" list you may find existing circles you can attend, or you can advertise to start your own.

Scout out a good location. I advocate for private homes because you don't have to depend upon the vagaries of a cafe's staff or clientele. There are more and more knitting cafes showing up these days, but not all of them are happy to have large groups of people with children in tow. We used to meet at a (non-knitting) cafe, and spent a great deal of money there. But we got the evil eye constantly because we had (very well behaved but still childlike) children with us, and we enjoyed ourselves. That is to say, we talked above a whisper. You'd think it was a library, that place. It's also much cheaper in the long run to DIY. At our circle, I provide the space, coffee and tea, and the members bring snackies.

Ask for interested folks on Craigslist. You may be surprised who turns up.

Start your own circle's email list. Use Yahoo Groups to start a little list for your circle so you can all stay in touch. Keep it private--invitation only--but be liberal with your invitations.

Offer help. One we we get visitors to our circle is to offer free lessons in spinning and knitting. Sometimes the visitors stick around beyond the one time, most times they don't, but we always have fun when they come by and we've gotten some good members that way.

Consider other topics alongside the crafting. Our circle is called the Stitchin' Sedition, because as the 2004 elections came close we became passionate about politics. We still talk politics, though not as intensely right now. We expect that to get more intense, though, the closer to November 2008 it gets. I hope to host some actual politicians at the circle to talk with us, in fact.

We all say we want community, and it's hard to find, especially for homemakers. So get out there and start a circle, and make your own!

Lynn Siprelle loves community.