Experience alive in your guild

We count on our spinning groups to be there for us when we need them. Think how many years of learning and living are represented in your guild! So much knowledge is held within the minds and hands of its members. We depend on this when an unknown fleece shows up on our doorstep and we wonder whether to pitch it or process it. We rely on that special person who can make a cantankerous wheel cooperate during a demonstration. We hope an experienced member will help turn a major mistake into a masterpiece, and we plan on the regular meeting as a time to catch up with friends under the pretext of producing yarn. Our group feeds our fiber passion (and our tummies with yummy goodies), absorbs our surplus stash (or supplies it), introduces us to people who become the best of friends (possibly even future spouses), and offers us opportunities to keep in touch with our wheels and our creative yearnings.
A number of your newsletters have recently shared concerns about your group’s downturn in membership, difficulties in finding suitable places to meet, the decision to raise dues as we curb our personal spending, or the absence of those whose time available to spin cannot fit the majority’s schedule. But the most frequent lament seems to be the need for others to step forward to make the next year’s existence possible. Those who have worked tirelessly to provide us with this year’s activities need to be relieved of their duties by those of us who enjoyed the benefits of them. They would like to experience the same fun, excitement, and carefree time they made possible for us. But, more importantly, they want to train future leaders (through current members) to carry the group through to the next generation of spinners and weavers.
Several years ago, the Pinellas Weavers’ Guild (Florida) asked its members to write down the answers to two questions: “What do you want from the Guild?” and “What do I have to give to the guild?” The responses were listed in an issue of the newsletter and a sampling of their thoughts on the latter is given here. As you read them, perhaps they will suggest what you have to give to your group. Is it knowledge of your guild and its history? Help with running special events? Providing refreshments while encouraging new spinners? Donating fiber or yarn for beginners? Sharing ideas by demonstrating to reach out to others? Making samples for, contributing hints to, or proofreading the newsletter? Teaching the basics in spinning, knitting, or weaving? Producing items for a donation program or a fund-raising effort? Providing a field trip (or transportation) to an interesting sheep farm or festival? Contributing to short-term projects like a display or long-term needs such as housing the library? Sharing your organizational, computer, secretarial, or calligraphy skills? Offering your home, back porch, garage, or barn for a meeting place?
This summer I had the pleasure of attending two fiber events, the Midwest Weavers Association conference and the Midwest Folk and Fiber Art Fair. Looking back on the happily-ever-after potential they gave me as a spinner, I am grateful for the countless unsung volunteers from local groups who played important roles in making them appear on the calendar. The names of individuals may go unpublished, but they were the backbone and muscle enabling the events to take place. Kudos to each person of every guild who is making natural fiber the world’s focus in 2009!
If you are the editor of a group’s newsletter, I would love to be on your mailing list and report on your guild’s activities to the larger spinning community in this column. Many thanks to all those who faithfully send me their newsletters. That’s how we keep connected!

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