Today we have the pleasure of visiting with Rachel Anne MacGillivray, who is here to remind us of the importance of community and how to start your own if you haven’t got a fiber community nearby.
I have a friend, Anna, who’s a lovely and talented woman and, like me, has the Fiber Fever. We recently spent a Sunday afternoon working together in her studio because I had a project I wanted to make that called for some extremely chunky corespun. The jumbo bobbin on my spinning wheel wasn’t up for the job, but Anna has a Country Spinner that she was all too happy to let me use.
She felted and I spun, and while we worked away we chatted, shared stories and happy silences, and all around enjoyed the satisfaction of being with someone who really, really gets what you do. Oh, and tea. We drank lots of that.
While I was there I got thinking about all the different people in my life who are also into fiber and the various groups I belong to, and how they all enrich my experience of making. I don’t know about you, but often, after a long week, I have the urge to hole myself up in the house and just spin or fiber all of the hours away (ok, yes, occasionally I do this and love it). But, just as important is getting out there and being with people while you make – building up and taking part in your personal fiber community.
There are the obvious benefits of course: talking, laughing, having fun, and the joy that comes with sharing. Here are some other great reasons for building your own fiber community:
- Resources: Have a question about a technique? Looking for just the right book? Odds are someone else has suggestions, tips, and lots of ideas for you. More bodies = more heads = more knowledge!
- Encouragement & inspiration: This is my favourite. ‘Nuff said.
- Support: Be it emotional, moral, learning, or even financial (lots of guilds & groups have awards/ grants), having the support of a community goes a long way.
- Sharing: Being part of a group can mean access to resources and events you wouldn’t otherwise have had by sharing things such as equipment, space, or booth fees at a sale. I belong to a fiber group that has a loom for any of us to use (in lives at one member’s house). How cool is that?
- More strengths & interests: Do you love to spin, but don’t dye? Maybe someone in your groups lives for wild carding but doesn’t spin. Support each other’s businesses, or trade fiber for fiber/casseroles/craft beer. A vibrant community is good for everyone! (I often trade handspun for knit socks, which my toes love!)
- A reason to Make and push yourself: Days get busy & sometimes it’s hard to squeeze in making, but I love that when I have a meeting coming up it motivates me to sit and spin & try new things. Sometimes that’s before my meeting and sometimes just during.
- Laughter & companionship: I know I said it at the beginning, but it’s just such a great part of the whole thing! It’s wonderful to share the thing you love with people you love, but to share the thing you love with people who love it to, and grow to love those people? Well… That’s just rosy.
Need some help finding YOUR community? Here’re some ideas to get you started:
- Local: Look for guilds in your area (try spinning, fiber arts, knitting, etc). Check out yarn shops and libraries to see if they have groups that meet. Keep your eye open for “makerspaces” or other community centers and comb your local craft sales and fairs for spinners. Don’t be afraid to ask where they hang out.
- Regional: find regional retreats, seminars, festivals, fairs, and workshops with google, facebook, and magazines. There are at least 7 annual fiber arts retreats in the Canadian Maritimes, and some have spawned smaller get-togethers for those who just can’t wait a year!
- Internet: Get involved with an online community like Ravelry, Craftsy, or Reddit (reddit.com/r/knitting has spinning) or look for groups on Facebook. Want a more localized one? Start a Facebook group for spinning in your region. Instagram is also a great resource!
Don’t be afraid to start your own group; you may be surprised to see where it goes and who you meet.
Handweavers Guild of America, Inc local guilds directory
Have some other suggestions or ideas for finding community? I’d love for you to share them in the comments!
In love with all things Textiley, Rachel Ann MacGillivray teaches spinning & other things at the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design in Fredericton, Canada. A farm kid, spinning and wool are in her bones (well, not literally in her bones, that would be just a bit too wobbly). Oh yeah, and she loves drinking tea. Like, a lot.