The first time

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You may not know that I also run a knitting club and we meet once a month in Hounslow, West London. About 18 months ago a number of club members asked if we could hold a Knit & Natter Day. They’d attended similar events and found them both enjoyable and stimulating. The only drawback was the travelling distance and transport so on 17th September we held our first Knit & Natter from 10.30 am to 4.00 pm. It was a great experience, but full of stresses and a few strains leading up to the day. Any club contemplating such an event might find my checklist a help, as I know of no instruction booklet on how to set it up.

Find a venue We were lucky to have a club member on the hall committee of a local church – All Saints in Hampton, Middlesex. The hall had plenty of room, was light and airy with parking and disabled access. It was also reasonably priced for the hire, so it didn’t break the bank.

Find a date It’s important to hire the hall when as many members as possible can attend.

Decide on an entry price and what it will include We decided on £5 plus free coffee or tea. If we’d charged a nominal amount for the drinks, it would have helped to defray the costs. Many people who attended wanted to give us a donation for their teas.
Invite exhibitors to the event. We were lucky to have Brenda Bristow from Heathercraft, Sue Castro and Nina Miklin for the day. Others we invited were either away or had previous commitments.

Find a guest speaker Carol Chambers agreed to be ours but things were touch and go, as she was due to have a knee operation and thought it might be scheduled on the week of our Knit and Natter. Thankfully it was done ahead of time, which was a great relief to us and showed, once again, that she’s a fine designer and speaker.

Publicise the event MKM and the GMK newsletter informed many machine knitters and messages were placed on some Yahoo knitting group sites. The church newsletter also carried details before the event.

Ask club members to demonstrate aspects of knitting if they’ve some special skills We’ve a very talented group of knitters involved in other crafts as well. Jenny Kelly used DesignaKnit to design and knit our logo. Barbara Logan demonstrated her sock machines and allowed visitors to have a go. She also created our embroidered name badges, so visitors would know who we were! Norma Valvona demonstrated adding embroidery to knitwear with her sewing machine. Brenda Moger and Margaret Grant helped anyone with hand knitting problems. Sandra Saunderson and Janice Engall showed how to make Dorset and woven buttons. This proved to be extremely popular and I think almost everyone who attended left with a Dorset button made at the event. All our members (except one with a holiday booked a year in advance) supported the event. It was a real team effort with not enough space here to mention everyone, but in the end we all enjoyed ourselves.

Organise the front-of-house Janet Naylor posted herself at the entrance to take money and issue tickets. Sandra’s husband Harry took charge of parking and directing traffic.

Middlesex Machine Knitters meet on the second Wednesday of the month (except for December) at Hounslow Community Association Hall, 9 Montague Road, Hounslow, London TW3 1JY and everyone is very welcome. Whether we decide to do it again will be discussed at our next club meeting but I do hope so. I’m sure the first time you try something is always the most difficult and we should know that, we’re machine knitters!

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