Happy NatCroMo from Kate Steinke, Newest Member of CGOA Board of Directors!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome back now to the CGOA Now blog for another stop on the on the Crochetville NatCroMo Blog Tour!  Big thanks to Amy and Donna at Crochetville for setting up this extremely successful and super-fun event again this year ;)  I hope you have had a chance to follow along this month reading about all of the other amazing members and leaders of CGOA.  As well, it is my extreme honor to be sharing this day with the founder of CGOA, Gwen Blakely Kinsler, go over and read her blog today as well!  Perhaps you have also had a chance to make a hat (or two!) for our featured charity this month, Halos Of Hope.  Cancer has hit my family far too many times, as I am sure it has hit many of yours, so I know first-hand how much that little bit of warmth and love can mean to someone fighting every day for their life.

I have to admit that this post is not what I had intended to write just a couple of weeks ago when I found out I was going to be on the tour.  I was going to talk about all the amazing work being done behind the scenes on the board, what our functions and responsibilities are, how I got there, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Not to worry, I will definitely be posting about all of that soon, but today I really want to tell you about my “Crochet Ladies”!

My husband and I moved here to Durham, NC back in 2005 from Rochester, NY.  We really did not know anyone down here except for the people we worked with.  And being the only female engineer at a company is one thing, but at the company I worked for at the time, I was the only woman in the whole office!  It was nice to have my own personal bathroom (they even let me decorate it a little!) but it certainly was not a great way to meet anyone with any of the same interests outside of the office.  So one day, I was surfing around the old Crochet Partners forums looking for anybody else near me that got together to crochet.  I did have one woman reply back that she was a member of the Tarheel Crocheters that met up at a Shoney’s once a month and that I was welcome to join them anytime.  I was so excited, the next meeting was in 2 weeks and I wanted to have at least 3 amazing things to show everybody as well as have the perfect project to be working on at the meeting that I could tell them all about ;)  I can’t even remember what I was going to show them except for the fact that I left all of them at my office because I was still sewing in ends on my lunch break and had somehow left them on my desk.  I was so upset when I had finally made it to the restaurant and realized what had happened that I almost didn’t go in.  But, I still had many skeins of yarn in my car (you always need backup yarn, right?), a couple of patterns I was hoping to try and even a couple of hooks that would work, so I shoved them all into my too-small purse and headed in.  This was the first time that crochet had changed my life and these were my Original Crochet Ladies!

The ladies were all so intriguing, I had never met a whole group of other crocheters that I wasn’t related to, so seeing all of the different projects and hearing their stories was just awesome!  Sure, I was the youngest one there, and I am sure a few of the older women didn’t quite know what to make of me, but they welcomed me all the same.  We met every month for 5 years, we moved to an IHOP for a while, then a Bob Evans, new members would join and some just stopped showing up.  We worked on all sorts of different charity projects, sometimes a member would teach a new pattern or technique, we always had show-and-tell, and we even started coming up with games and events that were crochet related, especially during March!  Those ladies saw me through many life changing events.  When I was due to have my first child and couldn’t travel to any of our families, they gave me a baby shower.  When my sister’s husband was dying of a brain tumor hundreds of miles away, they made an afghan for him that he cherished till the day he passed and that my sister still has out.  And after I had my second child and realized I couldn’t juggle being a full time engineer and a mommy to 2 little ones under 15 months old, they were my only saving grace when I found myself at home all day with 2 babies and no more career. 

It was around that time when I first heard about CGOA, (I had started to write out the whole story for this blog post too, but it’s almost like an entire chapter of a book, so I will spare you for now!), and I attended my first conference in the summer of 2010.  The Buddy Program was in its first year, and since I had signed up to be a member of CGOA at the same time that I registered for conference and to be a Newbie, it seemed like overnight I had found hundreds of new Crochet Ladies!

I was completely blown away by my experiences at my first conference.  It was so remarkable to meet people from every walk of life and from all around the world who may do something completely different for the other 51 weeks of the year, come together and share their passion with each other for that 1 week in July.  This is when I truly realized what it meant to be a crocheter, not only because I like to make and create things with a hook and yarn, but because I love being a part of this community where we are all each other’s Crochet Ladies!

It has been an honor to be in charge of the Buddy Program myself for the last 3 years.  I have been so fortunate have been able to meet so many of our newest members of CGOA as well as some of our longest, and to witness on a daily basis the generosity of the members in sharing their knowledge, experiences and talents.  Whenever I needed help, there was always so many eager to do whatever they could for the program as well as for each other.

Unfortunately, I have had to step down as the Buddy Program Coordinator so that I may focus on even more responsibilities as a member of the Board of Directors. You can bet that I have loads of new ideas for our community to keep growing and enriching, but for now I would just like to take a moment to thank Gwen Blakely Kinsler and all of those first CGOA members for their hard work to create and sustain this organization for the last 20 years.  

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read all of this.  It probably would have been much more interesting with a few pictures, so I will try for a few more of those the next time I post!  I hope you have a fantastic rest of National Crochet Month and I urge you to reach out and not only learn a new skill this month, but to meet another crocheter!

Till next time, STAY STITCHIN'!

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