Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Women's Meeting"

 Women's Meeting
A Gift to the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild from the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho

At the end of March, Guild member Linnie Trettin received this message from her husband Carl, who was working in Africa.
I went to the Maseru Weavers today, and they did have a "gift" for the Charleston Fiber Arts Guild. I'm sure the Guild will appreciate the recognition. It's entitled "Women's Meeting." One of the trainees did the piece, which I thought was quite an accomplishment.

Our Fiber Guild met Carl and Linnie when they came to a meeting last May and shared the story of the Maseru Weaving Cooperative and showed us samples of  tapestries made by a small group of women in the African country of Lesotho. Carl's work with the Department of Labor takes him to the area with some regularity. He had become a fan of the fine weavings produced by this small cooperative -- and he had become aware of the barriers they faced to increase their capacity to be able to operate on a more sustainable business model.

By American standards, a relatively small amount of money was needed to train additional weavers so the cooperative could fill more orders and serve more customers. Our Guild decided to help out.
 A member of the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative at work

When the women in Lesotho learned financial assistance was on the way, they immediately made arrangements for an instructor and began to recruit students. Women began to jockey for a place in the class as soon as they heard it would be offered. One woman was so eager to learn a skill through which she could earn an income that she came to the coop daily before the class ever started, and began to learn by watching the other members at their looms. Her initiative earned her a spot in the weaving class that started at the end of July.

Within six weeks, our Guild raised over $800 and contributed another $500 from our treasury -- a tiny bit more than was requested.

 First you make your plan, then you warp. . .

Our contributions helped this young woman take a 3-month tapestry weaving class to become a part of the Maseru Weaving Cooperative. The simple loom propped against the wall has the warp strung over nails at the top and bottom of a wooden face. The "cartoon" taped behind the warp gives the weaver her  pattern to follow.

 Here is her completed tapestry. 

New Weavers -- New Coop Members

These are the students who completed the training class and joined the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative. It is hard to believe these tapestries were made by "beginners."

As Carl's message to Linnie indicated, the students have made and sent us the beautiful hanging seen at the beginning of the post as a thank you gift. It has arrived and we cannot wait to show it off to you personally. You will be amazed at the fine work and the vibrant colors.

Since we do not have a permanent "home" where we can hang our tapestry, we will investigate the possibilities of a small scale "traveling exhibit" to various galley and display spaces in the Charleston area. Our connection with weavers across the world is a good story to share with the larger community.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Resources for Spinners

Several members responded when we asked about favorite resources for spinners. The websites they told us about not only offer all you could ever need for spinning but many of them are beautiful to look at as well.

Paradise Fibers -- Here they sell everything for spinners, knitters and weavers AND they donate 2% of their annual profits to preserve fiberarts traditions. Check them out.

Crown Mountain Farms -- Another very nice site catering to spinners and knitters. Their BFL is said to be just incredible.

If you want pre-dyed wool dyed by real people there are lots of choices available on Etsy -- plus you gotta love that you're supporting small business owners. Just search for "Fleece" under "Supplies."  One Etsy business that was specifically mentioned is Fiber Fancy. Our member said they have amazing hand-dyed Punta and Falkland.

International Fleece -- this company  "imports unique, beautiful fibers from around the globe to provide new, exciting opportunities for fiber artists." The PFAG spinner who recommended this site says she hasn't bought from them yet -- but she's heard good things about them and she's impressed with their selection.

Of course the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) held each fall in Asheville was mentioned. This year the dates are Oct. 22 - 24.

To shop local, go to Local Harvest.  You can shop for spinning fiber and specify a geographical range to support those who raise and care for animals close to you.

Kristin Nicholas lives on a sheep farm in western Massachusetts and designs, and knits, and paints and teaches and does a million creative things. Her blog is always fun to look at and right now, they have new lambs on the farm. Worth bookmarking for a regular look-see.

That's our list for now. If you know of additional resources we could share with Lowcountry spinners, we'd love to hear them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What Is Involved in Owning a Craft Business?

Have you ever dreamed of having your own craft business? Wouldn't it be awesome to spend your days surrounded by your chosen crafting materials and tools, and meeting people who share your passion? What if encouraging creativity in others was your "day job?"

Added bonus: You might actually have a chance to finish some of the many projects you've started and time to start more of those projects that you never seem to be able to move past the idea stage.

At our Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild meeting on April 17, our guest is living this very dream. Emily Spearman opened Summerville's The Village Knittery (pictured above) in 2008 and has created a thriving business which has also become a community center and classroom for the area's knitters and crocheters. Her website tells us:

"The Village Knittery is more than a yarn shop. It's a place to relax, to share and to celebrate the joys of creating. We cherish the history of knitting, while embracing the future of the fiber arts."

Now, doesn't this sound like someone you'd like to know? We're delighted to have Emily join us on the 17th to share her experience in becoming the proprietress of one of Charleston's favorite LYSs (local yarn shops). I'm sure she'll find us to be a group of like-minded souls and we'll be inspired to hear how she transformed her dream into her job.

In our on-going effort to build our own crafting community, our meeting on April 17 will be a pot-luck brunch at the home of Lynn Holland in Summerville. Bring a dish to share and we'll start at 11:30. We'll let Emily talk to us early so she can get on back to her shop -- Saturdays are busy days there. Afterwards there will be time to enjoy each others' company and we'll share what we've been making lately. (So bring your latest project along.) Several members have been to the John C. Campbell Folk School recently so we look forward to hearing about their experiences there.

As always, all are welcome. If you've never been to one of our meetings, this would be a great one to begin to get to know us. We are a friendly, sometimes noisy group, diverse in our range of interests and skills. We enjoy a wide range of fiber arts. In getting together regularly, we each sometimes find ourselves teaching others and sometimes learning something brand new.

And one more important note: If your life is crazy busy and you can find time to make it to the meeting, but you can't manage bringing a dish -- please come anyway and let us feed and nurture you just a little bit. Based on prior experiences with this group, there will be no shortage of food. We'd rather have you join us than anything and no one will be checking that you bring a plate as you come through the door!

We won't publish Lynn's address here, but if you'd like to join us and need directions, contact Sandy Hutchinson at sandee63@bellsouth.net or 843-766-0752.

Thanks to Lynn for having us again. We enjoyed a similar meeting at her house in December and decided it was worth repeating!