Giving A Successful Presentation To A Knitting or Craft Club

Many knitters, be they beginners or more experienced knitters, like to join knitting clubs or circles, where they can make new knitting friends, swap ideas, pick up hints and tips etc. There are clubs for those who hand knit and crochet, as well as for those, who like myself, machine knit. Sometimes these clubs have guest speakers who come along and share their experiences, give demonstrations and talk about their world of knitting.

The first time I was asked to do this, I simply refused. How could I stand in front of a room full of people and talk about myself? The idea filled me with dread. However, after a bit of gentle coaxing by a very persuasive knitting circle leader, I found myself having to prepare something that the group members might find interesting in some way.

I decided to speak about my experiences writing patterns for publication in magazines, as that is what my main forte is. As well as giving a talk, I took some examples of my knitwear with me to show the type of garments that were being commissioned at the time, which were quite complicated, with lots of pattern, shaping, and unusual techniques, many of which the audience were not familiar with.

Although I was like a nervous wreck on the day, I needn’t have been. It was a little daunting to address so many people at once, but when things got going, the time flew. I learned a lot from that first talk, and each one I did afterwards became easier than the last one.

If you have been asked to give a talk at a knitting group, women’s institute, or any other interest group about your knitting, or particular craft specialty, here are a few tips which can help you to make it hassle, and nerves, free. If you have never done a presentation before, and you, like I was, are scared to death by the prospect, reading through my ideas, will hopefully alleviate the stress and give you positive ways to present a good talk.

Make Notes – It is a good idea to have, at least, some sort of outline of what you want to talk about. If you keep to a plan and not go off at tangents, it’s obviously better for yourself as you can stay on track more easily, and much better for your audience, who will stay interested and not get confused by a lot of mixed up ramblings. Even sketchy notes, or bullet points will help rather than trying to rely on memory. If the nerves do just happen to kick in on the day, you will be thankful you wrote things down.

Take some of your knitting or craftwork – People like to look and touch things as well as sit and listen. Bringing physical items to show people, takes the emphasis off you alone, it stimulates conversation with your viewers and makes it more of an interaction between presenter and audience. It also encourages more questions from people, who may ask about techniques or other issues pertaining to your work. All this makes the talk more interesting for everyone, when people are questioning and chipping in with their own comments or ides.

Do you have anything to sell? – If you specialise in baby bonnets, take some. If you knit to order, don’t forget your business cards. Wear your own knitted or hand crafted garments. This is to promote sales. Whether your talk is paid, or unpaid, you might as well try to generate some extra money while you are there. Encourage people to pass your details on to other people too.

Q and A – Always have a ‘question and answer’ session at the end. This lengthens your talk and brings in lots of other interesting conversation by your audience. This is usually the part of a presentation where everyone, including yourself, are more relaxed and conversation, and sometimes laughter, can flow.

Finally, it’s easy to say try not to be nervous… that’s not really very helpful, because even the most seasoned speaker can get butterflies in the tummy on occasion. What is helpful, is to remember that your audience want you to be there. They have chosen you to come along and talk, so they are already interested in what you have to say. Your audience will be on your side. They share the same interests as you, otherwise they wouldn’t be there, so if you look at it in these terms, it is easier to feel confident about your upcoming talk.

Children Gift Basket Presents Are Right on the Money When Giving a Gift to Any Child

Did you ever know a child who didn’t light up at the sight of a treasure trove of surprises? Just look at how they act at places like a doctor’s or dentist’s office when they’re offered a small prize or treat. Any time they have a large number of gifts to choose from, they’re in a happy world all their own. I can remember the happiness of my own kids rummaging through the prize box at a local restaurant trying to decide between the numerous small items inside. So imagine the smiles of delight you’d get by sending a special child in your life an entire basket filled with little surprises and snacks. Children gift basket gifts make a perfect present for any occasion.

Gift baskets are ideal choices for children, because children get off on abundance. Their perspective is different than that of most adults. Whereas we know that one larger gift is probably the more costly one, children judge by how much of something they receive. Therefore, a basket filled with ten or more small toys and favorite snacks is going to make any child more supremely happy than if you bought him still another expensive toy. A toy will soon be relegated to a dusty corner, but a gift basket will be used immediately and enjoyed.

There are a lot of choices for you to make when selecting a gift for a child, because there is a variety of them to select from. Of course, your knowledge of the child’s likes and interests can point you in the right direction. The selections in these deluxe baskets were made with a child’s tastes in mind, and they will help take all the guesswork out of gift-giving for you. Not only that, but if you live long distance, you can order the perfect present and then have it delivered directly to your child’s door. No more hassling wrapping and shipping chores. What’s more, the basket will arrive beautifully wrapped for any gift occasion.

You may never have considered purchasing a gift basket for someone, but they are becoming more popular choices every day. With our hectic, busy lives and the people we love already owning so much “stuff”, it’s nice knowing you can send something that any child on your list would appreciate. A children’s gift basket is a great solution to any giving dilemma you may have.

Presenting – Steven and Paul from the Accommodating the Soul B& B – Spirituality and Personal Touch

Sometimes the most interesting encounters happen spontaneously. I had just picked up the Beach Metro Community News and noticed an advertisement for a bed and breakfast in Toronto’s Beach that had a rather unusual name: Accommodating The Soul Bed and Breakfast. For my neighbourhood portrait of the Beach I had wanted to interview a tourism entrepreneur anyway, so I decided to call the number listed.

I talked with one of the owners and got a positive reception. Steven and I arranged that I would drop by Saturday afternoon for a quick interview. So on a snowy day I drove down Waverley Road and stopped just north of Queen Street: I had found my destination. Steven Zarlenga, one of the co-owners, opened the door to Accommodating The Soul B&B and welcomed me. He offered me a pair of slippers, a comfortable accessory on this cold and clammy day. The co-owner Paul Karamat had also been waiting for me and said hello. After offering me a glass of orange juice, Steven took me on a tour of the house.

The historic home has a beautifully decorated living room on the east side, with an adjoining dining room that features a colourful oversize floral painting which Steven and Paul brought back from a trip to Thailand. Upstairs are three tastefully decorated bedrooms, with one gorgeous private bathroom and one shared bathroom. Steven did all the interior decorating, and the entire house has a tranquil elegance to it. Straight down from the entrance is the kitchen, a room they plan to renovate in the near future. Doors from the kitchen and the dining room lead down a few steps to a new addition: a beautiful west-facing garden room with three sets of French doors provides a perfect spot to relax. In the summer you can gaze out over the green sanctuary behind the house. Their backyard is part of the Beaches Garden Tour.

Their garden has even been used as a backdrop for weddings and other special events. The generous garden room with its series of French doors reminded me a bit of a European palais, where doors open up to a beautifully designed oasis of colour and fragrance. Steven commented that the garden is a quiet respite and many B&B guests have remarked how peaceful the garden is. During the Jazz Festival Steven and Paul often sit in the backyard with their guests, enjoying a glass of wine and listening to the music that drifts up from Queen Street.

Steven and Paul used to live in Richmond Hill, and had been playing with the idea of opening a bed and breakfast for some time, but they always thought that this would be something to do later on in life. At a critical juncture in life they decided to go ahead with their plans anyway and started searching for a suitable property. They looked in different parts of Toronto and were shown various properties all over the city. When they looked around the Beach, they liked the small town feel of this neighbourhood and the restaurant and shopping opportunities close by. Paul commented that when their real estate agent drove them down Waverley Road, they somehow felt guided to this property and bought it right away after the viewing. They became good friends with the former owner who allowed them to put plants in the garden before they even owned the house and fixed up all the holes in the wall before Steven and Paul took over the property.

The name for this B&B came to Paul in a divinely inspired moment. Paul describes himself as spiritual, he prays regularly and asked for a name for their new bed and breakfast. Paul smiles and says the next day the name came to him spontaneously: Accommodating The Soul. He adds he wanted to create a home for people to come and just be.

Over the last three years Steven and Paul have had guests from all over the world, including from different parts of North America, Europe and Asia. Steven likes to spoil them with his full hot breakfast which includes a fresh fruit cocktail, coffee, tea, juice, and a main course, either an egg dish (Paul adds that Steven’s omelettes are to die for), a quiche or a dish made with filo pastry. Steven told me about his pancakes: he takes thin slices of ripe pear and puts them in the dough while the pancake cooks. The fruit remains visible on one side of the pancake and the top gets sprinkled with icing sugar. My mouth was watering just listening to this description.

I asked them to tell me a few of their favourite guest stories that they have accumulated over the last three years. They both commented that their guests come from all walks of life, some are wealthy, some are regular, hard-working people, but they treat everyone the same way, and 99% of their guest experiences have been positive.

Many of their guests say that they sleep so much better here than in their own home. Just recently some guests from the West Coast brought a bottle of malt as a present, and other guests brought some cheese. Often their guests are interesting personalities or they come for interesting reasons. One of their guests was doing research into the death of his uncle who was killed on duty as an RCMP officer. Another couple from Korea came with their Korean brother-in-law. As an interior designer, Steven got involved in an animated discussion about architecture with the brother-in-law. Later that day the couple commented that their traveling companion had not talked with anyone for five days, and Steven was the first person that he opened up to.

A young woman from Japan who spoke no English stayed for several days at their B&B, and they went on some joint excursions to Niagara-on-the-Lake together. The only way they could communicate was through improvised sign language, and the three established a great connection and had lots of laughs together. Positive human connections are possible even without the aid of a common spoken language.

Steven and Paul’s favourite guest story involves a woman from Halifax who came to stay at their B&B. Mary, a good-looking tall woman in her fifties, with blond hair, was a bit reserved, yet she also came across as relaxed and spiritual. The two owners knew that they were going to connect with this B&B guest. Mary finally opened up and told them her story: she had had a very close friend, Anna, whom she had grown up with. They would often have tea and cookies together, and one day, during one of their get-togethers, Anna got up, and fell back down – she had suffered a massive heart attack and passed away the same day.

When Mary was taking the train to Toronto on her way to visit Steven and Paul’s B&B, Mary said to herself “Anna, if you are out there, give me a sign. ” Mary closed her eyes and when she opened them again she saw a big A in the sky. As Paul was telling this story, something had just given me a chill. Steven and Paul added that they became good friends with Mary and they cried when she left. They felt they had met a soul sister. Needless to say, Mary has been back several times since her first visit.

I inquired into their personal backgrounds and Steven started to explain that he was born in Toronto into an Italian-Canadian family. He graduated from a program in marketing and started to work for American Standard. He moved into the field of human resources and started to work with disabled people for whom he organized job fairs and work placements.

One day he literally had a light bulb moment, he realized that he needed a change in his life, and at the time he considered that he might open a home accessories store. Steven had always had a real talent for interior design, and since he was a child, his relatives would ask him for decorating advice. He figured he might as well try to make a living at something that he is really good at. He got as far as attending some trade shows and gathering some samples for the intended home accessories store, but in the end, Steven and Paul decided to harness Steven’s decorating talents by putting them to good use in their own bed and breakfast which they were planning to open.

Steven is also a talented stained glass artists, and some pieces of Steven’s art adorn their home. Steven has also sold several pieces of stained glass to some of his bed and breakfast guests while several other visitors have requested his help with their interior design projects.

Paul was born in Guyana and was twelve years old when he came to Toronto. He said his initial adjustment period was a bit difficult since he was used to growing up in a large family who had been living closely together. Once he arrived in Toronto, his entire family was spread out all over the city. In his twenties Paul completed his education in nursing and worked as a “traveling nurse” in various parts of the USA for three years. He was hired by different nursing agencies and worked in various cities throughout Florida and California.

Paul is also a registered physiotherapist and describes himself as an aspiring spiritual counselor, writer and public speaker. He also provides mindfulness awareness meditation workshops.

One experience that shaped Paul Kamarat was a walk along the ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago. We briefly talked about my friend Sue Kenney who has become a recognized authority on the Camino. Paul recounts a story of when he was traveling by train from France towards the border of Spain where he would be starting his pilgrimage. He had met a local woman on the train who told him that they were very close to the famous French pilgrimage town of Lourdes. Paul decided to get off the train and spent a night in this historic town, a magical experience.

Once he had started his pilgrimage near the Spanish town of Roncesvalles, he asked God to give him a sign whether he was on the right path. Just at that moment he saw a pair of dancing butterflies, which had always been a positive symbol for Paul. He knew he was on the right track.

Paul adds that as a budding writer he has a strong interest in regular people. He said that he meets so many interesting people and there are so many special individuals out there who are making a positive contribution to the planet.

Steven also pulled out his album and showed me a few pictures of the B&B’s renovation project. Other images featured some of the special events held here and some of his stained glass work. We also went through their guest book which features so many positive comments about the guest experience at Accommodating The Soul B&B. Ever the gracious hosts, Paul and Steven had brought me cookies and a delicious plate of cheese and crackers to keep me energized during the interview. Their natural knack for hospitality is genuine and welcoming.

Just before I had to leave, Paul showed me his pilgrimage passport and the scallop shell that is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Steven also had a special item to show me, particularly since Paul was instigating: Steven’s artistic talent manifested itself early in the form of a blue paper-maché pig, an art project that was displayed in his high school along with a variety of other exhibits and science experiments. We all chuckled at this unusual long-lashed yet strangely endearing piece of art.

Two other interviewees were waiting for me, but meeting these two hospitality entrepreneurs was a real treat. I have interviewed many bed and breakfast owners over the years, but I don’t think I have ever met B& B hosts who enjoy the guest experience and the human connection as much as Steven Zarlenga and Paul Karamat. Both gentlemen invited me to come back and I didn’t leave before I got a big hug from both of them. Truly a bed and breakfast with a personal touch…