History of the Greater Boston Knitting Guild
Established January 28, 1993
The Greater Boston Knitting Guild (GBKG) 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 one the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU) on Boylston Street in Boston. It was the brainchild of Doreen Haretley, Director of the Needlework Shop, Anita MacKinnon, Events Manager and Marie Crocetti, WEIU member. Seventeen interested knitters came to the meeting that day. Shirley Ritter and Susan Parker were elected as Co-Chairs. The guild was named “The Golden Swan Knitting Guild” after the Golden Swan that hung over the front door, a symbol of the year the WEIU was founded (1877) and the year the Swan Boats were launched on the Lagoon in the Boston Public Garden. The early years were a time of experimenting with new ideas, making new friends and learning the art/craft of knitting from each other.
Plans for monthly programs with knitting professionals were made. Charitable efforts started early. In the summer of 1993, the Build began knitting the Love Sweater designed by Jane Livingston, a Guild Member and designer. Sweaters were sold to benefit the Children’s AIDS Program (CAP).
The Guild underwent 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 name of the Guild was changed to “The Greater Boston Knitting and Crochet Guild.” Jane Sibley became President in 1995 and crafted the original bylaws. She sent the Membership the meeting notices that evolved in a newsletter.
By 2000, attendance outgrew the meeting space and the Guild moved to the College Club on Commonwealth Ave.
In October of 2003, the Membership voted to make the name of the Guild less cumbersome by eliminating the word “crochet”. When Membership expanded to over 150 members and 15 business memberships, the meetings moved to the Undercroft Rooms at historic Trinity Church in Copley Square. Over the years, meetings have always been well attended with well known speakers, instructors, designers, authors and manufacturers from all over the United States and Canada.
In May 2006 two exciting events occurred. An NBC camera crew arrived at the Annual Meeting to record the activities. The Today Show was covering a renewed interest in the so-called “Granny” skills such as knitting. This 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, 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.
In late 2020 we adjusted meeting in person to meeting virtually. Longtime leadership Board Members Anita MacKinnon and CC Fitzgerald retired. The Board did our best to fill their shoes and keep the Guild alive. By early 2021 with the Covid-19 pandemic in full lockdown, we took advantage of the virtual platform and reached out to designers around the world to present at our monthly meetings. We learned to use the technology to stay connected and added a new website, workshops, Knit A-Longs, and virtual evening knitting forums. Makers from around the world found us. Our Membership grew to over 320 Personal Members and 15 Business Members.
The Greater Boston Knitting Guild is truly extraordinary. Talented members are always ready to assist one another in their knitting endeavors and produce a large quantity of knitted and crocheted goods for its Community Outreach Program. We continue our strong reputation as a premier knitting guild. With so much change, the Membership voted to change the tagline to reflect today’s Guild. It is now Boston & Beyond… A Fiber Arts Community