What It's Like to Join a Local CGOA Chapter

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Post by Stacy Vaka of Crochet Kitten.

I have been a member of CGOA off and on since 2007, but I am ashamed to admit that I had yet to join a local CGOA chapter until just last week.

I'm sure my reasons for putting it off will sound familiar:
  • I'm shy and I won't know anyone there.
  • My schedule is already packed as it is.
  • I'm not sure I'm going to get anything out of it anyway.

I'm actually blessed to have the Crochet Guild of Prince William County as my local chapter. I've heard many great things about this chapter both from CGOA's newsletter Joined Together and from The Washington Post. I even see the chapter mentioned every once in a while in local community bulletins for events they're hosting. It really sounded like a great group to join, and yet I was still hesitant to attend that first meeting for all the reasons listed above. But since my goal for this year is to grow Crochet Kitten from a hobby business to a "real" part-time business, I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and take the plunge.

I'm really glad I did finally join, because I discovered that my reasons for not joining were really nothing to worry about after all.

"I'm shy and I won't know anyone there."
It's always a little unnerving to join a new group of people who have known each other a while. That was my excuse for not joining in December, as I was concerned they may have something special planned for the holidays that would highlight my status as an outsider. So I decided to delay joining until January.

As I approached the community room for the first time, I was welcomed by a woman who seemed to be expecting me and directed me where to go. I'm not sure why I was surprised. New people were clearly not an oddity in this group, as was evidenced by the sign with instructions for newcomers at the check-in desk. In fact, I was not the only newcomer there; two other ladies besides myself were there for the first time that night.

I took a seat at the end of a long table of ten or so other crocheters who were all busily working on projects. They all looked up and gave me an enthusiastic greeting and welcome. Unsure of what to do with myself after that, I took out my own project and began to work on it.

Here's the thing about joining a crochet group: when in doubt, you always have your crochet to fall back on. If you want to introduce yourself to someone, simply ask what they're working on. If you're not sure what to say after that, work on your project a bit while your brain mulls things over. As I worked on my own project, I picked up bits of surrounding conversations, and yes, even shy me felt comfortable joining in the conversations after a while.

"My schedule is already packed as it is."
The Crochet Guild of Prince William County meets one Monday a month for two hours. While that's not much of a time commitment, I just wasn't excited about having one more thing on the calendar. However, the best part about my first visit was the realization early in the meeting that for once I may not have brought enough to crochet. As the mother of a preschooler, I'm used to only being able to crochet for a few minutes at a time, and so I plan my projects accordingly. This was the first time in I can't remember how long that I was able to sit and crochet for a solid two hours. I got so much crocheting done that night, and I began to think about how much more productive I could be if I could count on those two hours every month.

"I'm not sure I'm going to get anything out of it anyway."
As it turned out, my decision to join in January came with a key advantage: since it was the first meeting of the year, I was able to hear the rough outline of what the chapter's plans for the year was. Now that I've finally gotten a taste of what I've been missing all this time, I'm really excited for what the chapter has in store for this year. In fact, I'm so excited that I've decided to turn this into a series of blog posts about my top 10 reasons to join a local chapter. Each month I will focus on a new benefit and how it has helped me to grow in my craft.

Top 10 Reasons to Join a Local CGOA Chapter
Reason #1: Local NatCroMo Events!
Reason #2: Special Guests!
Reason #3: Charity Projects!
Reason #4: Swap Meets!
Reason #5: Field Trips!
Reason #6: Local Crochet Experts!


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