Going Home: Visiting the Madison Knitters’ Guild
Last month, I went home. Not to visit relatives, but to see my knitting family, the Madison Knitters’ Guild in Madison, Wisconsin. Visiting a guild offered me as assistant editor of Spin Off and PieceWork an opportunity to step out of my cubicle and reconnect with the people of my greater fiber community.
It’s been seven years since I last attended a meeting, and boy, has this guild grown! Membership is up to 789, making it one of the largest knitting guilds in the country. Meetings are convened September through May on the second Monday of the month and include guild business, a speaker, show-and-tell (my personal favorite), vendors, and access to a knitting help desk and the guild’s extensive library of knitting books.
As I said hello to old friends, visited with former knitting students, and met with board members, I was thrilled to see how this guild remains both engaged and dedicated to its craft and the community at large.
Tables in the cafeteria of the Promega Biopharmaceutical Technology Center, where the meetings are held, displayed evidence of the Madison Knitters’ Guild’s commitment to community projects. Knitted and crocheted donations, including hats, scarves, mittens, toys, and blankets, covered the tables’ surfaces and would soon find new homes with an individual or family in need. Each item was tagged with the words, “This scarf is given to you simply because you are here. Nothing is expected in return. It is a symbol and reminder of your strength and courage. There is kindness in the world and, although you may feel alone, there are people who care for you. We hope that this scarf will wrap you in the knowledge that you are strong and deserve respect!”
Guild members and the greater Madison community donate yarn, notions, and patterns to the guild, which sells the donated items. Some of the proceeds fund guild programs, but the majority of the profits are given to charities, such as the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southern Wisconsin. In 2016–2017, the guild raised $13,691, providing 41,073 meals to the community.
Joining a guild is a great way to meet other fiber lovers, but it also offers an opportunity to volunteer and support your community through your craft. Each donation of a handmade item reminds us that family extends beyond the walls of our houses. Family includes all the members of our community, and the guild works to make everyone feel more at home.
Featured Image: Elizabeth Prose speaks at the Madison Knitters’ Guild March 2018 meeting.