Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Guild

Nearly a year ago while visiting the blacksmith shop and consulting with the folks there about making a set of hand combs, I was sitting there using my drop spindle. John, one of the smiths approached me about starting a spinner's guild.

Now spinning is one of those skills that is in a revival stage right now. I'm glad for that because it is an essential skill that I feel strongly needs to be preserved. Should something happen to our electrical power grid for a long period of time it is one of those skills that will be needed and valued. In any case, it has significant historical interest.

At the time I didn't really know any other spinners in the area, however, but offered to do a demonstration with the hopes of stirring some interest. Low and behold, the same day I was spinning with my wheel, there was another woman there (Judy) spinning on a great wheel. And we got to talking a bit. Then I met Sally. And then I got my loom and realised how much I needed instruction in weaving.

Okay, now there were three and Judy, who is a member of the Five River's Guild, said there were others out there. We started an on-line Yahoo Group. I talked about it in Ravelry. We met once in Sally's studio. We got together to do a second demonstration at the Tavern and did the fleece to shawl.

Things were beginning to gel. I offered spinning lessons and had five students at the first class. I polled the ladies I now knew were interested in spinning and weaving and found there was a whole group of folks who work full time and who want to join a guild but can't make it to weekday/daytime meetings. There was also significant interest in working together in a studio setting.

I made up a draft of By-laws and extended conversations with the President of the Tavern Foundation regarding available space. On Tuesday, Sally and I presented the By-laws to the Foundation board. Much to my surprise, a few questions were asked and we were asked to step out because they needed to have some serious discussions.

I had forgotten about the politics ... well, to be honest, I knew the politics existed, I just convinced myself that they would overlook the politics at the idea of having another guild join them with serious ideas for generating more income for the Foundation and providing additional educational opportunities for the community.

They were apparently assuming that we would just haul our equipment in from time to time and do demos and our meetings would be lectures and only involve projects that could be completed in an hour or two. They also assumed that we only wanted to use the space once a month or so rather than be an on-going, open as often as possible, working studio. Formal meetings once a month, yes, we have to do that for the sake of planning, money management and supply management. But lessons (especially individual or small group lessons) could be given on a variety of subjects anytime the building is not in use by other groups. At other times we envisioned members of the guild being able to come in when other activities are not happening, sit down to the loom or wheel they have "rented or reserved" and work on a project. They could come any time, and any day that nothing else is scheduled and a key keeper is available to open the building.

We did another spinning and weaving demonstration on Saturday (this time making "pockets" -- basically decorative drawstring bags) and while we were there five more folks came up and said they were interested in joining a spinning and weaving guild.

We already have several items being offered for donation including two looms and a great wheel.

Anyway, this working guild idea is on a roll right now because even if the Tavern turns us down for a permanent site, we are already discovering possible alternative sites. And as we talk about it more, we are realizing that now is the time to do this.

And I'm excited about it and scared at the same time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Green Man

This is how I like to use spinning waste.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My birthday present

My husband and the guys at the Blacksmith shop went all out for me this year. They made me a distaff for flax spinning.

It's free standing and instead of being made from wood, they made it out of iron.

It's the best of recycling too because they used two wheel pieces from a wagon from 1920 and an old weight and piece of pipe from something else. The only two things they bought new was the finial and one internal piece of rod.

They made it to the height I needed to suit me while spinning and they added special touches like the finial but it also turns when I need it and comes apart for easier transport.

Works like a charm, too. The only problem now is that for some reason, the flax strick that I have smells like cow manure.

Combined with the fresh sheep fleece that hubby hauled home today, my house smells distinctly barnyardish. Personally, I like the smell and find it comforting.

I'll talk about this monster fleece in the next post. It is, by far, the largest fleece I've ever seen. And while the thing if filthy dirty and probably will never come completely clean and bright white, it's soft and spins up very nicely.