13 November 2012


While you may not hear much about it for awhile, there is a new knit and crochet entity gestating. A group of passionate volunteers will be working behind the scenes to carefully plan and build and connect all the pieces into place. This new entity is The Center for Knit and Crochet: Preserving and promoting art, craft and scholarship.
Vintage gloves from the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild (United Kingdom).
Brought to the symposium by Angharad Thomas, Textiles Archivist.
More pictures of vintage objects can be found on the Atlanta Knitting Guild blog.

On Thursday morning, I flew up to Milwaukee and took the bus over to Madison, Wisconsin in order to attend the knit and crochet heritage museum symposium. Karen Kendrick-Hands has done an amazing job of nurturing the idea that knit and crochet textiles should at least enjoy the same respect as quilted and woven textiles. To that end, Karen and others, including Margaret Peterson, organized a symposium. The gathering brought together about 50 people, including two from outside the United States, who all have passion and interest and want to see a museum happen. A special thank-you goes out to the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Yarn Group of TNNA, both of whom lent significant support to the symposium.

The symposium consisted of several presentations. On Thursday evening, Dr. Susan Strawn helped the group consider how the image of knitting has changed over time. I had no idea that knitting during World War I was important and that the size of your knitting bag was seen as a measure of your patriotism! Perri Klass, author of Two Sweaters for My Father, happened to drop in for the lecture. She was in town for a pediatric conference and someone had told her about the symposium.

On Saturday morning, attendees enjoyed several presentations that covered basic museum principles -- how to start a museum, pitfalls to avoid, cataloging a collection, and culminating in a panel discussion of why our knit and crochet heritage matters. Speakers on the panel discussion included Karen Kendrick-Hands, Jack Blumenthal, Dr. Susan Strawn, Melissa Leventon, and Trisha Malcolm.
Wall of post-it notes used to organize the ideas of 50 people.
In the afternoon, we had a facilitated session to begin to develop ideas around the museum. What are our hopes and wishes? What are our concerns and issues? We were able to generate a lot of ideas and then organize those ideas into categories. On Sunday morning, we continued our group discussion. We spent time discussing the name for this new institution. We might or might not add "International" in front of it. There were good reasons both for and against the word "international." And while we didn't craft a full mission statement, we did craft a tag line that can serve as a starting point. We also established a provisional board whose job will be to draft articles of incorporation and file for 501(c)(3) status.

In the afternoon, many people attended the Wisconsin Book Festival where we had the opportunity to purchase books and then have them autographed. I schlepped my copy of Principles of Knitting all the way to Madison to have June Hemmons Hiatt autograph it. I also purchased Beverly Gordon's Textiles: The Whole Story. Dr. Gordon is a delightful lady and I look forward to expanding my understanding of textile history.

So, what happens next? There is still a lot of information to consider. While the board moves forward with the nuts and bolts of establishing an entity, there will be many people behind the scenes working on other aspects. The CKC will want to start small and grow in a sustainable manner. Some of the issues are very basic: How will we communicate within our group? How will we all stay informed? How often? Will we need to meet in person again? When? Many issues are practical: How will objects be cataloged? What terms should be used to describe knit and crochet objects? What resources will the museum need to develop to support scholarship? What will the museum be able to do while it is small? Should it make permanent acquisitions? If yes, when and what criteria? While those issues are being considered and plans are being made, the Center for Knit and Crochet will be gestating. Like any expectant parents, we have many hopes and dreams for the new museum, as we wait for a "birth" in 2013.