Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy Anniversary KANG

This August marks the 20th Anniversary of the Knit at Night Guild. It was formed when two best friends, Denise Winter and Jane Sheppard, saw a need for a knitting group which met at night so that working people could attend. They put a small notice in the paper and spread the word at Turrentine's, a local yarn shop (which later became Nancy's Knits). To their surprise, that first meeting was packed and they moved the meeting location to the Tracy Gee Community Center in the same room where the Chix with Stix chapter meets now. I wasn't at that first meeting (I was pretty intimidated having learned to knit only a few months earlier), but my friends Ann Cole and Roddie Shelly got me there asap (we met when we took knitting lessons at Turrentines).  And I am so glad they did! I have made so many new friends that I probably wouldn't have met otherwise, and my knitting improved in a hurry with so many talented mentors, classes, and workshops.  In those early years, we had a Saturday workshop once a month, featuring a new technique that was used to make squares for community service afghans.  Plus we brought in a nationally recognized instructor twice a year for weekend workshop, and supplemented with member-led 1 day workshops at various times throughout the year.  The guild's mission was education, and we certainly nailed it!  The year that Roddie and I attended Stitches West, we took goodie bags made up by the guild for every instructor there, and made sure that we met them all personally (usually in the bar).  It definitely made it easy to find people who wanted to come here to teach!  Here are a few of us from the trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in 2006. (l to r:  Virgina Martinez, Roddie, me, Anne Sasko, Ann Cole, Jan Clark)

Over the years, KANG grew to over 350 members. We threw our own "mini-Stitches" event at the Hotel Sofitel for our 10th anniversary, with a market, meet and greet with chocolate fountain, banquet and style show, judged knitting competition, an anniversary tote bag full of goodies, and classes featuring local teachers and teachers from across the country.

It was a huge undertaking, and took the cooperation of the entire membership to pull it off. You can check out some of my pictures here.  The market was about the size of Yellow Rose now, and featured mostly local vendors, in addition to kits and yarns from teachers and member booths.  The whole event was a huge success thanks to the vision and energy from our then President, Vicki Katz.  I have never met anyone who was so organized and could get people to do anything she needed.  Here's Vicki celebrating after the conference.

By our 15th anniversary in 2011, the guild had decided to split up into chapters (boo!) to make it more convenient for members to attend meetings. At that time, there was the KNOT chapter in Spring, the KNOW chapter in Katy, and KANG (the mother guild) in central Houston. This made planning a big event more logistically challenging, so we went with a luncheon and speaker, Adrienne Martini, for this event.

 We introduced Adrienne to watermelon margaritas at dinner.   For our party favor, we had a special yarn colorway, "Jane", commissioned by Mama Llama (Catherine Kerth) just for us, in memory of Jane Sheppard.  It was a fun event, but also bittersweet, in that it highlighted the fact that there were so many people that we didn't get to see on a monthly basis now that everyone met in chapters. You can see luncheon photos here.

Now here we are in August 2016, with six chapters, celebrating our 20th anniversary. Jane passed away before our 10th anniversary, but I know that Denise is happy to see their legacy continue. A few of you may have run into her at Fiber Fest on Friday. As the chapters seem to be celebrating the milestone individually, I'll just be getting together with my BKB (best knitting buddy), Roddie, and we'll offer a toast to friends past and present, remembering the great times we've had over the years.  I really miss having the guild meet as one group.  We've lost a lot of the cohesiveness and comraderie that comes with having all the members gathered together.  Maybe I can talk some young, energetic person into planning a guild-wide Christmas party?

So here's to another 20 years KANG.  Hope I'm still alive to celebrate!
This is Roddie and me with Denise at the 10th anniversary conference.


andreah said...

I don't know if you remember me, but I was involved in some of those early KANG meetings-- and I hope to return to active participation, once my kids are older and things are calmer. It was such a treat for me to find other knitters in Houston; at the time I didn't know anyone who did. You, Denise, Jane, Roddie, and so many others were so welcoming. Can't believe it's been 20 years!

GrammaKnits said...

I do remember you Andrea. I don't make it to many guild meetings now that we've moved, but try to hit the Chix meetings when I can. It's much easier to get into town during the day. Loving retirement!