In a recent blog entry, Anna [of the Stitch Bitch blog] was discussing the ideal stitching group ... and it got me dreaming a bit. I have been to stitching retreats and conventions ... but without a local needlework shop in my area as a networking base, I've never been a member of a stitching group. There is a local EGA chapter in the county but it meets at a time that makes participation for me impossible 10 months of the year, September - June. But drawing on my experience at retreats and classes, I have come up with the following admittedly elitist list:
1. All members should have moderate to advanced skills.
2. All members should be unafraid of high count linen, silk, specialty stitches and any other esoterica of the craft.
3. All members should have some sense of how textile arts have always been a means of artistic expression for women, especially when such means were few.
4. Conversation when in session should range beyond last night's trash TV though it need not be so high-minded that only PhDs can follow the discussion ... a happy medium is all one can reasonably expect.
5. Politics and religion may be discussed but only if the conversation remains rational and civil ... people should be able to agree to disagree intelligently and graciously ... and no one should be allowed to reference the political gurus of talk radio, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.
6. Food should be served only if the group is meeting for three or more hours and then only in a different room/area.
7. All discussion of ailments, children, grandchildren, in-laws, husbands/lovers, etc should be severely limited. However, discussion of books, movies, local restaurants, local theaters, concerts, travel, food/recipes, craft shops/fairs, other hobbies would be encouraged.
8. An interest in new designers, new materials, new techniques would be a plus ... as would any interest in the unusual, the witty, the whimsical ... no prudes need apply.
9. People so immersed in the craft that they have attempted to do a bit of designing themselves would also be most welcome.
10. Age would not be a factor ... a multi-generational group, especially among women, can be a very good thing ... verging on tribal, in the very best sense of the word.
I'd be curious to know what others think. So please feel free to leave a comment: agreeing or disagreeing with items on my list, adding criteria of your own or detailing your personal experiences [good, bad or indifferent] with stitching groups.