Reason to Join a Local CGOA Chapter #6: Local Crochet Experts!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Post by Stacy Vaka of Crochet Kitten.

Welcome back to my blog series on what it's like to join a local CGOA chapter! I joined the Prince William County chapter of CGOA back in January, and I've been writing about what the experience has been like. You can find links to the whole series on this post.

One of the best things about learning how to crochet in the digital age is having a library of free resources at your fingertips! When you want to learn a new technique, all you need do is type the name of the technique in Google, and suddenly all the video and photo tutorials you could ever want are right in front of you.

But sometimes the photos are not clear, or the video is at a funny angle, and sometimes it would be really nice if the person who made the tutorial was just sitting right next to you telling you exactly what to do. Obviously that's just not going to happen in most cases, but on the bright side, your local guild chapter is a place you could go to meet crochet experts in your area who could potentially help you with whatever has left you baffled. And sometimes, the particular expertise that your local guild members have may surprise you.

At our last meeting, I had the pleasure of meeting Karen C. K. Ballard of Threadwinder. If you have ever read CGOA's newsletter Chain Link, you may have happened upon a regular column that focus on the history of crochet. This has been one of my favorite features of Chain Link, and as it turns out, it is written by none other than Karen Ballard!

This month she brought some of her antique collection for us to see. I was particularly interested her niddy noddies, which are tools that had been used since the Middle Ages for winding yarn into skeins. I believe she said her specimens likely date to the 1800s, but as the mother of a homeschooler who is learning about the Middle Ages and Renaissance this year, being able to connect that time period to my own craft was especially exciting (seriously, I'm totally geeking out over here).

Top to bottom: A wood swift, metal swift, and two niddy noddies.

Now I realize that most of our local crochet experts probably won't have ancient crochet artifacts hiding in their garage, but Karen also brought to us news of some collaborative crochet projects we hadn't yet heard of. I'm sure most of us have heard of the famous hyperbolic crochet coral reef by now. Did you know that a hyperbolic crochet forest is also in the works? I didn't! It will be premiering at the Festival of the Mind in September 2016, so Karen brought her contribution to the project, a crochet stream complete with moss-covered pebbles and a waterfall, which she was busily trying to finish before the submission deadline.

As you can see, Karen (and many others in our chapter--we really have a fantastic group) is a real treasure, and you never know what treasures you will find at your local chapter until you go.

Karen, if you're reading this, you had mentioned at the last guild meeting some other collaborative projects which I unfortunately didn't write down. Would you mind sharing them with us in the comments?


  1. Stacy, Thank you for the very complimentary article featuring me. What a surprise!!! You asked about other collaborative projects; some of those I participated in over the past few years have been: Prudence Mapstone's Jumpers & Jazz and 50 Years of Flower Power projects (both currently on display in Australia), Kathryn Vercillo's Mandalas for Marinka project to raise Depression awareness. and a British group's flower project to raise money for Alzheimer's research. The purpose of the Hyperbolic Forest UK, is to highlight the prevalence of hyperbolic forms in nature. And although my stream is not hyperbolic, when I mentioned some animals (that would qualify as having hyperbolic components) stating they would require a stream, the organizers of the project got all excited about the stream rather than the animals, saying it would add a touch of realism to their project. The steam is finished and on its way to England now.

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