Butler County Spinners and Weavers Guild

In the photos: (Right) Butler County Spinners and Weavers Holiday Show, 2007 Butler Arts Center Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2007 – Sheep to Shawl Competition. Pictured at the loom: Spinners: Kathy Knoth, Carol Buttignol and Christine Williamson with weaver (at the loom) Wini Labrecque. Pictured with the finished shawl: (from left) Wini Labrecque, Carol Buttignol, Christine Williamson, Kathy Knoth.

The Butler County Spinners and Weavers Guild, of Western Pennsylvania, celebrated their Silver Anniversary in 2007 with a number of tribute events throughout the year. The guild showcased the members’ talents at three local fiber arts shows. Together with the International Fibers Arts Show which visited a number of venues in the Pittsburgh area, in April, the guild sponsored their own show. Members exhibited their wide array of talents in spinning, weaving, knitting and felting in beautiful and creative wall hangings, tapestries, garments, scarves, shawls, skeins, stuffed animals, and more. Displays of fiber processing methods, various weaving looms and spinning demonstrations were also featured. The THREADS show, in August, at the Butler Arts Center, featured selected member hand-made items. Finally, more incredibly creative and skilled members’ handspun, knitted, woven or felted products were showcased during the annual Butler Arts Center holiday show and sale in December.

The guild’s mission is education about fiber arts. Monthly guild meetings feature a program on spinning, weaving or related subjects. The highlight workshop in 2007 was a 3-day and 1-day spinning workshop in October with the internationally renowned author and instructor Anne Fields. Additionally, for general public education, the members prepared for and participated in three Sheep-to-Shawl competitions at annual regional and state farm shows. Also in 2007, during National Spinners’ and Weavers’ week in October, the guild demonstrated spinning at a local big box craft store and provided lessons with make-and-take CD drop spindles and hand weaving cards.

The guild planned and coordinated the first fleece-to-shawl competition, September 29th, at the annual Penns Colony Colonial Arts and Crafts show. Three teams, made up of 4 guild members each, prepared the fiber from sheep fleeces, spun, and wove shawls to the competition guidelines. The winning shawl was woven on a multi-colored warp that was hand spun and dyed with natural dyes from pokeberries and goldenrod.

Also in commemoration of the guild’s 25 years, they compiled a book of short stories written by guild members, The Tails We Spin that Weave our Lives Together. The stories capture their memories and experiences about such topics as learning to spin or weave, trials and tribulations of spinning, knitting and weaving projects and Sheep-to-Shawl competitions, and raising fiber animals. The book was printed and made available for sale at the guild show events.

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