I had learned about the weaving guild through my beginning weaving class (Deborah Chandler was my teacher) at my local weaving shop (where I met my husband, Barry Schacht) and was eager to become part of this group. But when I attended my first meeting I was overwhelmed with the knowledgeable, closely knit people. As an outsider, I felt intimidated by the power of the group, and if it were not for my strong passion for weaving, I would have quietly exited through the side door before the announcements were finished. Luckily, my strong desire to learn more overcame my shyness.
My breakthrough in feeling that I belonged came when I volunteered to help at the guild’s Textile Fair. Here, I was able to chat personally with guild members as we worked, and later, having agreed to be part of the clean-up committee, I became acquainted with Maggie Casey (who I consider to be my first “HGB friend”). I was ever so grateful to Maggie for her openness and interest. Because of her friendliness, I finally felt that I could belong.These are the thoughts and urgings I’d like to pass along to guilds and new weavers (and spinners):
Guilds: It’s easy to be your own “private club”. It is natural to want to visit with your friends each month, but know that there is probably a new weaver or spinner in the group who is a potential guild member or future friend. Many guilds are suffering declining numbers, and we need to be as welcoming as we can be to prospective new members. The more the merrier.
Outreach: The Textile Fair was the guild’s gift to the community. It was a day of sharing our crafts with the public, complete with hands-on activities for adults and kids, vendor booths, and guild craft sale. Back before win-win entered our lexicon, the Textile Fair benefited both the community and the guild (and made Boulder one of the major textile craft centers of the U.S.).Exposing the public to weaving and spinning is important to growing our market and keeping the crafts of weaving and spinning vital. Today, Spinning and Weaving Week (sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America and the Spinning and Weaving Association) offers a way to share these crafts with our communities. Held the first full week in October (October 1-7, 2007), Spinning and Weaving Week is a good excuse to organize demonstrations, hands-on events, shows, and exhibits. It’s not too early to start planning. Check out the links below for planning ideas. After your event, I hope you’ll share your successes with me. I’ll try to post as many events as I can.New Weavers and Spinners: I urge you to get involved with your local guild and to take classes at your weaving shop or community craft center. You’ll enrich both your craft life and personal life. Volunteer or join a study group. You’ll learn a lot and make friends along the way. Don’t be afraid; everyone in the group was a new member at one time or other.