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CGOA Celebrates 20 Years ~ Part 6A: Where Are They Now?

Thursday, May 29, 2014
CGOA Celebrates 20 Years, Part 6A: Where Are They Now?

When I began to search for these early CGOA members and dedicated volunteers, they replied with such gratittude and excitement that I received way more than I usually include in a post! I've divided it into two segments and Part B will be posted next Thursday. June 5. Thanks to all who participated and for their enthusiastic responses!

John Boggs
John Boggs: "I still remember why I joined the CGOA. My company, Annie’s Attic, held Crochet Renaissance in Philadelphia in 2000 and I attended. One of the events included a speech by Annie Potter. After dessert was served and the lights were dimmed for Annie to take the stage, 350 women bent over in unison, pulled their crochet projects out of their bags and started to crochet! At that moment, I was convinced me of the passion that many hold for the craft.

Not long after, I joined the CGOA and eventually was elected for a 3-year board term during which I served as treasurer. We expanded membership over those three years and celebrated the ten year anniversary. I made many friendships that I cherish and several I still have today. I never became much of a crocheter myself but acquired a respect for the craft and talent of the designers.

I left the craft industry in May of 2009, but Facebook keeps me in touch with what is happening in the CGOA.. I wrote a book about marketing and advertising sales which gets me a little consulting business from time to time; and I stay pretty busy as the general manager of my hometown radio station in Portland, IN. I am president of the local Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, sit on a couple of other boards and recently completed a two year stint as the Campaign Chair of the local United Way. I look forward to when I can spend a little more time with my nine grandchildren.

Congratulations to CGOA on the second decade. You are all wonderful ladies (and few unique gentlemen, too). I wish you well!

Nancy Brown served as Vice President for 2 CGOA Presidents and also served 1 term herself at the helm of CGOA as President! Nancy recalls her experience as President, "During my term, I helped move CGOA from a volunteer based organization to a professionally managed entity.  

I taught classes and sold yarn and patterns in the Marketplace druing the Chain Link conferences which were such wondrful experiences. Each one was special, but my favorite was the 2000 conference in Atlanta!

I dabbled with designing for years, but am now designing almost full time, having retired from about twenty years "on the road" as a Yarn manufacturer's rep. I now have the time to do one of the things I love morst: crochet!  My self-published patterns are available on Ravelry, Craftsy, ePatternCentral, and Etsy.  

"I truly believe that CGOA helped bring crochet back to the forefront of the yarn crafts and may be partly responsible for the crochet renaissance we see today."

Editor's note: As an aside, to any of you who knew Nancy, you surely also knew her darling mother, Lester Vaughn. Lester was an avid supporter of her daughter and an expert crocheter in her own right who continued to teach crochet classes into her late eighties! She passed away at the age of 93 in 2013 and is surely missed!

Barbara Collister
Barbara Collister attended the very first meeting of the Northern IL Chapter which proceeded the CGOA by two months. As a charter member, she has been actively involved in both the chapter and CGOA for the past twenty years. She served as President of her chapter from 2002-2006 and has served a s custodian of the chapter by-aws for many years. Currently, Barb is Chairperson of the 20th Anniversary Celebration Committee which is putting on a big party for its members on June 14, 2014.

Mary Colucci
Mary Colucci was the Executive Director of the National Needleart Association from 1975-88. She started her own consulting firm with Christine Holmes and has been the Executive Director of the Craft Yarn Council since the beginning of CGOA. An avid supporter of the guild, Mary attended the very first conference and she has used her vast crochet knowledge and expertise in marketing to support the guild efforts. We are honored to have her serving currently as a board member

Here is what Mary wrote on the CGOA blog recently: “Wow, it’s been 20 years since CGOA was formed. I remember meeting CGOA Founder, Gwen Blakley Kinsler, back in the early1990s when she was organizing the first Chain Link conference. It is amazing to see how CGOA has grown from that small group of enthusiasts to a national network of crochet fans.

CGOA is credited with raising awareness of crochet in the industry. Before CGOA, the yarn industry tended to be knit-centric. As CGOA provided crocheters with a more unified vice, yarn manufacturers and publishers took notice. They began to realize the diversity of crocheters and the need for finer yarns, a more extensive selection of crochet patterns and they responded with exciting new yarns and an array of magazines specifically devoted to crochet.

From a personal perspective, CGOA and TKGA national and its chapters have always been tremendous supporters of Craft Yarn Council’s education initiatives. When the Council organized Knit Out & Crochet Events, it was guild members who committed to staff the Learn to Crochet and Knit tables at these venues. They literally taught thousands of novices how to crochet and knit. We couldn’t have done it without them; and hopefully in the process, many of these newbies went on to join a local chapter.
Joan Davis <Headshot> taught at the 1994 Chain Link conference and has returned often as a teacher. She will be teaching in Manchester, New Hampshire this summer for the 20th Anniversary conference. Joan was instrumental in putting me in touch with Pauline Turner from England, who consequently also was a teacher at the first conference.  Thanks for introducing us to Pauline, Joan!

Bill Elmore's book: The Elmore Method
 Bill Elmore (1923-2013) <Headshot> in his late 70s, Bill taught at the very first Chain Link conference in 1994. His quirky volumes, The Elmore Method I and II continue to be of interest today. Bill continued to attend Chain Link conferences even when he needed his nephew to accompany him due to failing health. A passionate crocheter who loved to share stories, Bill will forever be remembered through his volumes of crochet knowledge

Portrait: BJ Licko Keel 
BJ Licko Keel attended the inaugural Chain Link conference in 1994 and is a charter member of the Northern IL Chapter, the 1st CGOA chapter. She and I became good friends immediately upon meeting because we have in common so much love of crochet and all that the guild entails. Consequently, we became co-authors of Magical Misers Purses: Crochet Patterns withVictorian Inspiration.

B. J. recalls, "In retrospect, CGOA has been an immense influence for me during the past twenty years. When I attended that first meeting I was overwhelmed by so many enthusiastic and skilled crocheters. Until that time, I had been collecting patterns and crochet literature, designing, and seriously working with crochet in profound isolation. My only contacts were with a few crocheters who were satisfied with what they could do with rudimentary skills and the few that I taught to crochet.

About the time I retired, I was able to keep in contract with crocheters through my local chapter. My experiences with CGOA introduced me to a new, post-retirement career. As I met more crocheters both locally and internationally, I realized that I had something to offer professionally that I had merely taken for granted for many years. I earned teaching certification in both knitting and crochet from the Craft Yarn Council and began to teach formal classes, began to market my patterns, and haven’t looked back since.

So much has happened in the past twenty years," says BJ, "But one of my most interesting recent activities has been my experimenting with painting in Photoshop." BJ’s creative talents are evidenced in her interesting self-portrait here.

In general, I have mainly divided my available ti me between designing and teaching, including local continuing education programs, and Michaels since 1998, as well as classes at 3 Chain Link conferences. My most exciting crochet classes have been at Sheep's Clothing LYS in Valparaiso, Indiana. Currently, I’m offering  a series of advanced thread-crochet sessions that feature handkerchief edgings using a special technique I created: "new vintage." I hope to publish a booklet of these designs in the near future.

Susan Lutz Kenyon:  "About 22 years ago, while reading a FiberArts magazine, I saw a Gwen’s request for a crochet pen and we became friends.  Luckily she also lived in Illinois and we met when she returned to the US.  Her passion for crochet was infectious.  I became part of her group which became the first chapter of CGOA.  I chaired the juried exhibit at the first conference and two later conferences.  Meeting talented crocheters, being exposed to the vast variety of yarns and crochet patterns, having the opportunity for my two books to be published (Name and link) are benefits I enjoyed through my CGOA membership all these years. After traveling quite a distance to participate in the Northern IL chapter for years, I started another chapter near my home, Crocheters of the Lakes in 2008. I am the immediate past president and currently am the Special Events Chair.   I have enjoyed sharing my crochet skills with students in classes and with Project Linus, an organization that provides blankets for kids in crisis.  Crocheting has helped me deal with the highs and lows of life, and every day I am thankful for all that crochet has brought into my life.  


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