History of the Greater Boston Knitting Guild

The Greater Boston Knitting Guild as we know it today was founded on January 28, 1993. It was the result of interest expressed at the First National Needlework Exhibition held at what was once the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU) on Boylston Street in Boston. It was the brainchild of Doreen Hartley, director of the Needlework Shop, Anita MacKinnon, events manager and Marie Crocetti, WEIU member. Seventeen interested knitters came to the organizational meeting on that day, and elected Shirley Ritter and Susan Parker, co-chairs. The guild was named “The Golden Swan Knitting Guild” after the Golden Swan that hung over the front door, a symbol for the year the WEIU was founded (1877) and the year the Swan Boats were launched on the Lagoon in the Boston Public Garden. Plans for monthly programs with knitting professionals were made. Charitable efforts started early. In the summer of 1993, the guild began knitting the Love Sweater, designed by Jane Livingston, a professional designer member, and sold it to benefit the Children’s AIDS Program (CAP). The early years were a time of experimenting with new ideas, making new friends and learning the art/craft of knitting from each other.

Then the Guild underwent two major changes: The Guild changed location by moving across the street to Common Interests, a space provided by Jane Sibley’s daughter, Ellen Richardson and the guild name was changed to “The Greater Boston Knitting and Crochet Guild”. Jane Sibley became president in 1995 and crafted the by-laws that are now in effect. She sent the membership the meeting notices which evolved into the wonderful newsletter received by the membership today.

By 2000 attendance at guild meetings outgrew the meeting space at Common Interests and the guild moved to The College Club. In October 2003, the membership voted to make the name of the guild less cumbersome by eliminating the word “crochet”.

Over the years, meetings, programs, workshops and participation in the Holiday Boutique at the College Club have taken place and the membership has grown to over 150 individual members and 15 business members. Well noted instructors, designers, authors and manufacturers from all over the United States and Canada have taken part in the monthly and annual meetings.

In May 2006, two exciting events occurred. At the annual meeting, an NBC camera crew arrived to record the activities. Renewed interest in the so called Granny skills such as knitting was the impetus for the Today Show’s visit. The much anticipated moment of fame was just that; perhaps not even half a moment. Mary McGonagle was on camera for 30 seconds representing all guild members with her flashing needles and wise words about the joys of knitting. Second, the GBKG was invited by the Needle Arts Guild of the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society to show the works of its members. In an exhibit called Expression Through Knitting, the talent and creativity of the GBKG was shown to the public for three weeks.

The Greater Boston Knitting Guild is truly extraordinary. Talented members, always ready to assist one another in their knitting endeavors, produce a large quantity of knitted and crocheted goods for its Community Outreach Program. Today the Greater Boston Knitting Guild has the reputation as one of the premier knitting guilds in New England and is well known for hosting meetings with interesting speakers and workshops in a sociable environment and is true to the logo: “Knitters’ Home in the Hub.”