It all started because I wanted a crochet calendar for Christmas...
Last November 2002, I was browsing through a yarn store in New York City, my favorite lunch time activity. I saw the 365-A Day Knitting Stitches calendar. Oh, how I would love to have a perpetual calendar with crochet stitches. I asked the store manager if these calendars existed for crochet. She said she didn’t think so. I couldn’t believe that was true. So, I began an extensive search of bookstores, catalogues and web sites. What I found, shocked me. There are no published crochet calendars in America. Come on, there are more crocheters in America than knitters! Why no crochet calendar?
In February, I was taking part in CIP certification workshop at FIT with members of the New York City Crochet Guild. During a lunchbreak, I mentioned I was searching for a crochet calendar and couldn’t find one. I said I would love to make one, but I didn’t think I could do it by myself. Yvonne Tate, then 1st Vice President of the NYCCG was listening to the conversation. Yvonne became very excited about the idea. She presented my idea at the next Board meeting and before I knew it, I was asked to make a presentation to the NYC Crochet Guild at the March meeting.
I only had a couple of weeks to research our options. One option was to try to get a publisher interested in our project. I learned that calendar publishing is primarily geared toward photographers. Next, I submitted a proposal to a craft publisher who expressed interest, but they wanted a finished product, complete with patterns and photos. I then considered a fundraiser calendar.
Searching online, I ran across Yearbox by Rotten Uncle Designs. They had a unique calendar that fit inside a CD jewel case. I contacted the owner and asked for a sample which I presented at the March meeting. I passed around examples of traditional calendars as well as the Yearbox sample. Members seemed interested, but were skeptical because of the size. I pointed out that the Yearbox calendar was affordable. Large calendars cost a lot to print. I also pointed out the uniqueness of the Yearbox calendar. It’s a great size to sit on a desk and the CD case acts as a stand for the calendar. The laminated pages make the calendar useful long after the calendar is out-of-date. The Board asked me to continue my research. They would have to decide if we could even afford such an undertaking.
I made a tentative schedule: hold a contest in September; hold a photo shoot mid-September; display the winning designs and take preorders at the Knit-Out Crochet, Too 2003 in NYC end of September. We’d have all patterns accuracy checked and completed by October 15, 2003. Yearbox could print and ship to us by our first meeting in November. This would give us November and December to sell for the holidays. We had a plan. We formally announced the contest in April and placed monthly reminders in our chapter newsletter and on our chapter website. (Project management is easy for me as I have a background in many industries. I’ve worked in publishing, marketing and sales as a college textbook editor; I run my own internet craft business; and I’ve also worked as a professional model, giving me knowledge of photo shoots and layout.) In other words, I knew just how to put this thing together! But, I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
What do we do next? I knew the membership would come forward with wonderful designs. The New York City Crochet Guild is filled with talented designers—professional and non-professional. We wanted a professional photographer, but didn’t think we could afford one in New York City. That’s when our members started stepping forward. Meredith Weaver, a stylist of store displays and windows in NYC, knew a professional photographer who would shoot the calendar for the experience. The Guild would only have to pay for the film and developing. Meredith agreed to style the shots for the calendar, and lined up a photographer and photographer’s assistant, another stylist and models. Willena Nanton, Past President of the NYCCG, volunteered her home for the photo shoot. Member Lily Chin suggested that rather than print the pattern on the back of the photos on the calendar, we could post them on our website. We decided to print partial patterns on the calendar and put the full pattern on our website, password protected. There were legal issues to be dealt with also. Willena Nanton is also a lawyer. She drafted releases. Jo Ann Segreto, Treasurer, began selling advertising space, immediately. By October, we had six advertisers whose contributions helped our downpayment on the calendar. Anna Morgan-1st Vice President, and Mary DuBois-2nd Vice President began talking to yarn shop owners for potential store sales. Yearbox volunteered to design an online shopping cart for us, for free! They’d take orders and ship. What a wonderful arrangement without straining our bank account! Are you beginning to see a pattern? We used everyone’s ideas and talents!
One month before the contest was held, I received a new job offer and relocated to Tallahassee, FL. Earlier in the year, I was elected 1st Vice President of NYCCG and would now have to resign from my position. I reassured Barbara Hillery, President, that I would continue with the project management of the calendar from afar. I knew I would be back in NYC the week of September 12th, so we set the photo shoot for the Saturday before the Knit Out Crochet, Too 2003. I crocheted my entry for the calendar contest during the drive to Florida, while my cat fretfully climbed in and out of my yarn bag.
The Guild held the design contest in September and chose the winners. Meredith and Barbara worked together to decide what design would go with what month and which designs could be paired together. Willena began the arduous task of pattern checking. As one of the fastest crocheters on the East Coast, skilled in all types of crochet, Willena was the perfect choice as accuracy checker. Member Tatyana Mirer helped Willena with two of the designs that didn’t have written instructions. The designer supplied a chart with symbols, but we couldn’t print symbols on the calendar. Barbara Hillery proofread all patterns.
The day of the photo shoot was a typical sunny New York City day in Fall. We had one day to do thirteen shots. Shannon Fagan, photographer, set up lights and reflectors. Meredith storyboarded every shot and supplied props. I stepped in to help focus the shots on the crochet and to help the models with suggestions of poses and angles. (Meredith and I modeled as well!) Barb and Willena advised and ordered pizza. The calendar was right on schedule! The next day was the Knit Out Crochet, Too 2003. Thousands of eager crocheters and knitters crowded into Union Square; watched fashion shows; visited yarn vendors; received free patterns; got free knitting and crocheting lessons; learned from crochet and knitting doctors; watched free demonstrations; and witnessed the premiere of the designs for the New York City Crochet Guild 2004 Calendar. Based on preorders, we knew we had something special!
I went back to Tallahassee, exhausted but excited. The next couple of weeks was a flurry of emails. Shannon, Meredith and Barbara selected the final 13 photos. Shannon processed the film, digitized, formatted and copied to a disk. I cropped the photos and sent them on to Yearbox to complete the process. Six AM came early Halloween morning as Barbara and I looked at online proofs of the calendar. Between Barb in New York City, Yearbox in California and me in Florida, it was beginning to look like a calendar. By Halloween evening, we had a final proof and the calendar was good to go.
We’d promised our members calendars by the November meeting. As luck would have it, Yearbox’s printer chose that week to break down, but happily, members had their calendars by the following Wednesday at our weekly Crochet-in-Public at the Citicorp Building. One last item remained. I made the printed instructions. It took an entire weekend to format the patterns, print, fold, staple, and ship to NYC and California.
We learned that it takes a lot of teamwork. We learned it takes each individual's talents to make a project of this enormity run smooth. And, yes, we already have plans for Calendar 2005! It will be bigger and better. But hey, it’s the New York City Crochet Guild. What else would you expect?
To order your copy of theNew York City Crochet Guild 2004 Calendar, go to http://www.yearbox.com/nyccrochet. The calendar is $11.99, plus shipping/handling. The full pattern for each design is on our web site at www.nyccrochetguild.org, password protected. If you would like the full, printed patterns, order the pattern book from Yearbox for an additional $2.50 + shipping/handling. You must purchase a calendar to order the pattern book. Pattern book not sold separately.