There aren’t a ton of organizations available for knit and crochet designers. A few years back, some of our fellow designers had a group called the Association of Knitwear Designers – AKD for short. I recall that right about the time that I was interested in joining they unfortunately disbanded, but I know they did have mentoring options. I actually considered trying to set up something in the same vein, but I realized that I wasn’t up for managing something of that magnitude. That’s part of the reason that I set up the YDU forums for established designers – so we could help and mentor each other. Because everyone has something they can learn. Right now the main professional organization that you can join as a designer is TNNA – The National Needlework Association. They have membership requirements, and the current membership fee is $60. Depending on when you join, membership allows you to be included in their directory, and grants you admission to their winter and summer shows. They have been working to have more resources and courses available for designers, but the organization’s main focus is still on the wholesaler-retailer relationship. Attending the shows is a very valuable networking experience however, and there are opportunities to showcase your work at the trade shows.
If you can only attend one show per year, I would highly recommend attending the summer TNNA show. The summer show is more focused on the yarn segment versus the needlepoint segment. More of the yarn and fiber vendors attend the summer show, and the attendance overall is generally higher. It is also a great way to cultivate in person relationships with yarn companies, local yarn stores, and other designers. This year the summer show is in Washington DC, and you have plenty of time to join if you want to attend that show.
CHA – the Craft & Hobby Association also has membership opportunities for designers, but their memberships are a bit pricier at $165 per year. CHA caters more to larger retailers and usually has one show per year in California in January. I have colleagues who swear by the connections they have made at the CHA show, so I am planning on attending that show next year.
CGOA and TKGA – the Crochet Guild of America and The Knitting Guild Association are really consumer/hobbyist organizations, however there are benefits to joining. For example if you want to teach at TKGA events, it is required to be a member. Both subscriptions include a magazine subscription,and it’s always helpful to keep up with different publications.
Currently I’m a member of TNNA and TKGA, and I will attend the summer shows for both. It will be my first TKGA event, so I’m excited to experience something new. Which organizations do you belong to?