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Old 01-10-2007, 05:05 AM
Andrew Garrett's Avatar
Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Nampa, Idaho
Posts: 3,579
What is a KITH?

The technical deffinition of a KITH is this: Knife In The Hat = A bunch of knifemakers agree on a theme if there is to be any (i.e., spring steels, Christmas, recycled material, daggers, arrowheads, etc., etc.) and a draw date. Each maker completes a knife by the draw date, and then the host draws names from the 'hat' to determine who gets which blade. The most common method (in my own experience) is to draw the names and make a list. Each maker sends his knife to the maker whose name appears below his on the list. The guy on the bottom ships to the guy on top. Done. Right? Not quite...

A KITH as it was conveyed to me is a modern adaptation of an old practice where guys at a job site would gather at lunch on Friday and throw their pocket knife in a hat, draw one out and that was what they carried for the rest of the week. Around these parts, the KITH evolved from an IITH (Iron In The Hat), where projects were kept very simple (arrowheard for example) to encourage participation.

In the end, a KITH is about community. It represents a challenge to new makers to do their very best work because they are sending it to someone who knows knives as well or better than they do. An honest critique can be a blow to a sensitive ego, but worth so very much in the development of a maker. For the ol' masters, it represents a chance to share years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom. For all, it represents a sense of brotherhood, sharing, and belonging.

Read some of the quotes I've dug up from past discussions. If you still don't get it, just hang around here and follow the action until you do.

"...some newcomers felt shy about participating. Just remember, it's not about what you receive in the draw, it's about fun, establishing enduring relationships, and building brotherhood."
"I've received some fabulous knives in the drawings in the past, and I've received some newbie work too. You know what? In my collection they all have a prominent place, because they all have an equal amount of good spirit in them."
"For that reason I never objected to getting the piece of a newbie. Because I knew that if they had their way, they'd be making heirloom quality pieces, but alas they couldn't (YET) as they were new to the craft. But like receiving a gift from a family member, it's not the gift itself, but the thought and more importantly, the heart behind it." -Dana Acker

"Why are we doing this? Because 1) we are new to knifemaking and need to develop skills 2) this will challenge us to make the best knife we can 3) this will establish a group of peers with whom we can interact and ask questions, and 4) the best part of all--to have fun!!!" -Nathan (Armory414)

"Hey, you never know when today's noob may be tomorrow's master! that maggot gagging blade may be fetch a fair price in the future!"
"Most kiths have no cost/fee associated other than you have to ship a blade. Likewise, any experience level is usually welcome. Anytime ya'll see another KITH going on, please don't feel left out just because you're new! That's all part of the KITH experience. As long as someone tried their best, that's all that counts!" -Don Halter

"Every new maker, without exception, has the same feeling that his work is not up to parr yet and wonders if his offering would be worthy. No one twists anyones arm to join in on a trade. If a more experienced maker joins in, he does so with his eyes wide open. Maybe he has been there and raised his own bar by joining the kiths and trying his to do his best. Now that he has improved he wants to give a little back. That would be in keeping with the spirit. It is cool to have all kinds of kiths and it is good to see lots of them going on.
The only thing that worries me is for us to fall into an "us vrs. them" type thing. After 5 years here, I still consider myself a noobie. These guys have welcomed us in. Shared their knowlege and not once have I ever heard anything but encouragement and constuctive help from any of them. Never once was I ever banned from any games they thought up. The spirit of the forum as a whole is, all for one and one for all. The spirit of the kiths is designed as a learning tool to get you to raise your own bar. To get you to push yourself to your limit and beyond.
Believe me, I know the fear of thinking I might send something off that might be considered a POS.(still have it). Checking and double checking the heat treat instructions for a particular steel. Taking the finish to one higher grit. Backing up two grits and starting over. I have ran over time by worring myself sick over trying to get things right and freezing up. Starting three blades at once so I have a back-up for my back-up. On and on, stress after stress. But still, exciting and fun! I feel partisipating in the kiths has made me a little better. Excluding people from the trades seems like lowering the bar to me." -Roc Ellis

Andy Garrett
Charter Member - Kansas Custom Knifemaker's Association

"Drawing your knife from its sheath and using it in the presence of others should be an event complete with oos, ahhs, and questions."

Last edited by Andrew Garrett; 01-11-2007 at 09:02 AM.
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