Thursday, October 2, 2008


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Robert Genn of the twice-weekly newsletter called Painter’s Keys wrote a letter in response to a woman who wanted to know what to do because her small art group had broken up. Here is a part of that letter. When he talks about artists, think weavers.

The main reasons artists congregate into groups are friendship, education and opportunity. Groups ebb and flow with the increase or diminishment of any of these. I've noticed that many artists actually bloom when they abandon clubs....Artists thrive when they learn to stand on their own two feet. They often find it easier to access their own inner creativity, build a unique style, and activate the latent ego-force that's necessary for growth.

This was the part of the letter I responded most to because it described so accurately what has happened to me.

Like the woman who wrote Genn, I felt lost and adrift when we moved to an area with no weaving guilds within a relatively close distance. (By close, I mean within an hour-and-a-half drive, which is about how far the Atlanta guild was from me). I looked at two relatively large guilds in this general area. But their distance was such that I felt I would have to arrive the day before and stay overnight, in the case of the one, or arrive the day of the meeting and stay overnight before returning home. That was disappointing.

So I tried a small guild that was two hours away. After a year I realized that the two-hour drive was not worth it for me. That guild offered little to enrich my own education. Moreover, it was too far away from me to work with members on helping the guild to grow

I then spent a few months feeling guilty about dropping out of the guild and also looking into once again guilds at a greater distance. This second look at those larger guilds showed me that they just didn’t have much to offer me. And the distance was just too great for any real guild involvement. Maybe, just maybe, I began to think, I had outgrown the need for a guild.

I started reflecting on the weaving I was doing here, isolated as I was from other weavers. I began to realize how content I had become with my weaving life. And finally, finally I realized that this move so far away from the guild that had helped to grow me as a weaver, was really a good thing. I was beginning to grow and flourish in ways that probably would never have happened had we remain in Georgia. Indeed, remaining in Georgia would probably have been a true road block in my weaving life. At the same time, , however, had it not been for the Georgia experience, I would not be the weaver I am today.

I have no weaving friends now. But I have friends and enjoyable non-weaving activities. And the weaving friends I have retained from the past are not really weaving friends at all; they are friends.

Perhaps this is the healthy way to be? Perhaps I have simply been able to turn a situation I was unhappy with into a situation I am happy with. If this is the case, I am very grateful.

To read Genn’s whole piece, go here.

Related Posts:
Carter Smith and Road Blocks
Solitude: Finding One's Own Way

"Weaving Groups" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on October 2, 2008. © 2008 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Susan said...

Hi Peg,
I spent most of 12 years surrounded by weaving friends and now due to a recent move, more or less all alone. But it seems okay!
I hope to use this time to explore weaving in more depth and not get caught up in guild activities which can be quite distracting and even contrary to weaving at times.

But I would say that you do have weaving friends... but they are all cyber! Those do count you know!

I have a surprize for you at my blog Thrums... a big thank you from me. You are like weaving friend who could almost be next door.


curiousweaver said...

Hi Peg,
This wonderful post strikes a real chord for me. I have always felt isolated from the weaving communities but have used the net, books, research and private experimentation to get along. The net is a wonderful place for feeling connected and inspired but not having to travel on a highway for hours. I've recently met some weavers from Sydney and Melbourne though and I really enjoyed talking 'weave' with them.
Thanks for your blog.

Connie Rose said...

Hi Peg,
Your post echoes what I wrote last week about being at the end of my guild tenure. So glad there are so many of us out there that don't need that crutch.
Incidentally, re: your comment to Meg earlier today or yesterday, please tell me you're not as close to 80 as you indicated you might be. It's certainly fine if you are, but your blog photo looks like you're maybe 60!

Leigh said...

Both your post and the comments are interesting to me. Even though I have both access and membership to a fairly large and active area guild, I have chosen isolation. I usually only attend a few meetings a year; meetings with programs that interest me. Every year I have to decide whether I will continue my membership or not. The Internet has filled any open gaps in my need for weaving society.

Now however, I find myself nominated for president of that guild. Not something I was looking to do! It's not so much that people think I'm the perfect person for the job, but the fact that no one else wants to do it.

Anyway, I think what you're saying is something to keep in mind as I approach this position.

Dorothy said...

No weaving friends, Peg? Well you certainly are on MY list of weaving friends!! Aren't we lucky to have the internet, less time driving to meetings means more time to do useful things at home, like weave ;)

When I do get to a Guild meeting, it's just to be sociable really because otherwise I only really go out to work and (apart from my neighbours) only meet people through work.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Susan, thank you for reminding me about my cyber weaving friends. How could I forget them. And thank you for the award and the lovely comments on my blog that you gave.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Kaz, and thank you as well for reminding me that I have cyber weaving friends.
Connie, the picture is recent and is a good one of me and many people think I am about 60. In actuality I am 70. I have apparently been blessed with good genes, but I have been blessed with many other things as well, all of which contribute.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Leigh, I will send you an email.
And Dorthy, thank you as well for reminding me of my cyber weaving friends.

Cally said...

You've obviously struck a chord with many people, Peg, and with me too as it happens. I have been thinking about whether I can really continue to support my local guild.

Such a thought makes me feel surprisingly guilty, as I know they want me to be more involved not less (at 41 I am the "youngster"), but as I have to fit all my fibre activities around full-time study and part-time work I do wonder whether committing myself to a whole Saturday every month with a group of people who are mainly spinners (only a couple of others weave) really makes sense.

In practice, I don't manage that many Saturdays anyway, so what exactly am I doing it for? Is anyone benefiting from the relationship? Who am I trying to convince??

kaylyn said...

I have extracted myself from a local club having worked for years helping to administer it and receiving in return a thoroughly torrid experience. Having made the break, I am now engrossed with weaving; my only regret is that I didn’t make the break sooner.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Cally and Kaylyn, thank you for your comments. It's amazing how difficult it is to break from a group (or person, for that matter) which does not really help us and perhaps is actually inhibiting us. I do not know if I would have had the courage to break if it had not been forced upon me.

bspinner said...

I am so glad you brought up this subject. I was lucky enough to be involved with the greatest little guild. There were only seven of us. Seven fellow spinngers and weavers but most of all seven friends. We were large enough to write grants netting us several spinning wheels, looms and other equipment and workshops. The equipment we were lucky enough to get was used for education and demonstrations and our guild sure did a lot of both. Once a year we hosted "Camp Weave A Way" and with instructors like, Virgina West, Daryl Lancaster and Sigrid Piroch. Mostly East Coast instructors in order to keep the cost down. We didn't do a lot of monthly programs but did quite a few sample exchanges including a "Friendship Coverlet". Over the years we have moved apart, one member is now in Minnesota, one in Canada. We still talk and email but I miss them and miss getting together with them. I haven't found a guild in my area and don't want to drive any distance for meetings. I have now come to rely on my "internet weavers" for inspirations and information. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to post their weaving adventures. Keep it up.

Peg in South Carolina said...

bspinner, thank you for sharing your story. That must have been a wonderful group and I can understand why you miss them.

Jane said...

Hi Miss Peg,

What a thought provoking post. I spent most of my weaving life in Wyoming -- a state with some excellent weavers, and no guilds (although there's some gals up north who have a good, small group).

So, everything I learned, I learned from my sister-friend, Patty, from pouring over Handwoven magazine, and books, books, books. Imagine my delight with the advent of the Internet.

Then, I was blessed to land in Colorado. A state filled with very good, and very active guilds. Alas, I was working during the hours when my local guild held its meetings. Finally, upon my retirement I was able to attend guild meetings and have really been thrilled with the quality of the guild and the willingness of the members to share their expertise.

I don't, however, belong to any study groups. I've found that I learn better on my own and enjoy flitting from one thing to another as the mood strikes. For me, I can begin to feel stifled if I have to complete some type of assignment, and would rather have the freedom to just do what I wish, when I wish.

In many ways, however, I get more out of my online weaving haunts, and the exchange in our little weaving blogiverse is just priceless to me!


Peg in South Carolina said...

Jane, it sounds like you have the best of both worlds. I too find the blogging world extraordinarily worthwhile. Unlike the weaving lists, you get to know more about people.