31 January 2011

Program Ideas

As you may have noticed when I updated my profile information, I'm the 2011 VP of Programs for North Georgia Knitting Guild. When Gerri was on the nominating committee, she called and said something along the lines of, "Well, you know so many people, we thought you would be a really good fit for the job." Now why did she have to go and present a valid argument? Dare I say that so far, things have gone pretty well. I have all of 2011 programmed. A couple months are only tentative, but a good many are confirmed.

At the last meeting, Pat from Taming of the Ewe asked me about programs. She is a member of a small guild over in Alabama. Newer and smaller guilds often don't have a lot of resources to put towards programs. So what can you do?

I thought it would be helpful to post here some free or nearly-free guild program ideas. NGKG has a lot of talent, so we've had a number of programs in which someone shared her expertise with the group. And we have been able to afford the occasional outside speaker. But there are other programs that can be put together by combining the resources of the group.

Tabletop Techniques
For this program, the room is set with with several tables and one teacher at each table. Members move around the room, learning a new technique at each stop. Technique ideas: bobbles, buttonholes, edgings, life lines, short rows, an unusual cast-on or unusual cast-off.

Knitting Tips and Tricks
Each member submits her favorite knitting tip or trick. Then one person reads aloud the submissions. Later, a handout is available to help everyone remember all the wonderful ideas!

Charity Knitting
If your group donates objects to a favorite charity, this is a night for learning the patterns. This could also be a night to seam a blanket or do other finishing that might be necessary. You might even invite someone from the charity to come speak about the impact of the knitted items.

Knitting Competition
Knitters seems to be natural show and tell aficionados. A competition gives members a chance to really look closely at the best work of their fellow members. The competition could be judged by a small panel or by the entire membership. Secret ballots recommended.

UFO Night
This can take several forms. You can have an ER, in which people present stalled projects and the group can offer suggestions -- or possibly sympathy when a project must be euthanized in the frog pond. You can also swap stalled projects, as one person's "Ugh!" is another person's "Oooh!" And to prevent us from becoming too proud, you can have a disaster competition. Guild not responsible for camera lenses broken by viewing hideous knitting disasters!

Yarn Tasting or Needle Tasting
Sooner or later, we all develop opinions about yarns and needles. If members are willing to bring leftover scraps and to share their needles, you can set up tables and give everyone the opportunity to test drive yarns or needles that are new to them. This is also a good program for local shop involvement.

Knitter's Wish List
I've done a couple previous posts on unusual gifts for knitters. After awhile, we all have lots of yarn and needles. For this program, members bring unusual ideas for gifts for other knitters.

Christmas in July
This program is sort of the opposite of the wish list, as this is about knitting for other people. Each member would bring an example of a favorite gift she likes to knit, along with information about where to obtain the pattern.

Stash Busting
This is another program that can take several forms. One is a stash swap, where members can swap yarn. It can also be similar to Christmas in July, except that members would bring an example of a favorite stash-busting project. Members could also swap tips about how to store or organize stash. If you really want to share, have people bring pictures of their own stashes and then have everyone try to guess whose stash is whose.

Travel Knitting
This one can require some long-term preparation. Ask your members to pay attention as they travel. If they visit an exceptional yarn shop, write down the address, gps coordinates, and contact information. They should also provide an exterior photograph, if possible. Most importantly, they should contribute a small review explaining what is so special and wonderful about this particular place. A little care must be taken not to offend any local shops. Alternatively, a travel knitting program could be another opportunity to share pattern ideas; this time for items that are easy to knit in planes, trains, and automobiles.

Measuring Night
Members bring a measuring tape and a non-judgmental friend and get accurate measurements. Ugly truth -- you can't expect to knit to fit if you don't know your own true size.

Book Reviews
We used this as an emergency program for Atlanta Knitting Guild. Have about half a dozen members bring a book and a project that was inspired by the book. It is a great opportunity to share with your group which books you think really deserve some attention. You might also craft this program around the books in your own guild library.

Auction or Raffle
If you need a fundraising event, an annual auction or raffle may be a good choice. Members donate yarn, needles, books, patterns, bags, and the like. You can have a full-up auction, a silent auction, a Chinese auction (raffle tickets and little cups), or a combination of these ideas.

Shop Night
The relationship between shops and guilds always seems to get sticky. Especially if there is a time of year when your local shops are clearing out old inventory, a shop night can be a nice way for members to become more familiar with what is available in the area. If any of your local shop owners attend TNNA, ask if someone would like to present a program on the new trends in fibers or fashion.

Holiday Party
Many groups find that December is too busy crazy a time for a serious program. Depending on your group, you may want a potluck event or a catered event. Some guilds will purchase a ham or other main course and have members contribute the rest of the feast. You may also wish to have a gift exchange.

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