Join an Online Weaving and Spinning Guild

Joining a weaving and spinning guild can both inspire you and help propel your craft to the next level. But don’t fret just because there are no guilds in your area. In this excerpt from the Summer 2018 issue of Spin Off, we introduced you to the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers.

In the early days of the internet, before Ravelry, Instagram, and Facebook, fiber lovers chatted in Yahoo! Groups. They swapped ideas, shared triumphs, and commiserated over catastrophes in the online forums. In 2002, Margaret Parker, convener of the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers (OLG), remembers being skeptical about whether the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers in the United Kingdom should facilitate members who wished to meet and converse over the internet.

Spinning Guild

This weaving was created by Katy Barrett for the OLG’s 2016 Annual Challenge with the theme “Sea and Sky.” The tapestry background is woven with dyed, blended, and handspun Falkland/Merino, and the designer used assorted wools and threads for the embroidery. Photo courtesy of Margaret Parker

Fast-forward sixteen years. With almost 500 members representing eighteen countries, the OLG holds its meetings over the internet and via email. Neither time nor place constrains meetings. Members enjoy logging in whenever they want. Margaret explains, “The monthly workshops are run using distance-learning techniques on the private Yahoo! Group website. [Editor’s Note: The OLG has recently transitioned to the Groups.io platform.] Tutors post instructions, photos, and videos. OLG members can likewise post details of how they are progressing and raise questions to be answered by the tutor.” Workshops and guild resources remain archived online, and members may access the database anytime. Yet the flexibility provided by hosting events online does have its challenges. Margaret says, “With an international membership spanning numerous time zones, committee meetings mean that some planners are up early and some are up very late!”

OLG workshop themes for 2018 include spinning plant fibers, resist dyeing, shadow-weave structures, tablet weaving, making felted garments, and embroidery. Members may also participate in an annual challenge. Margaret admits, “One obvious drawback to the Online Guild is the lack of opportunity to touch and feel items.” Mindful of this, the guild hosts an exhibition of member work at the British wool festival Woolfest, held in Cumbria each June. The OLG also maintains a presence at the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers’ biennial conferences and summer schools, which offers members the opportunity to put a face with an email address.

To learn more about the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers, visit www.onlineguildwsd.org.uk.

Featured Image: If there are no weaving and spinning guilds in your area, join an online guild. Photo by George Boe


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