CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

CNCH2016 Field to Fiber: A Conference Woven With Community

12294626_849831851797307_6571093525640944220_nStrewn and scattered along both sides of the street as far as the eye could see: knitted hats on lampposts, woven scarves in bike racks, crocheted shawls on park benches. No doubt about it, downtown Modesto had been yarn-bombed!

Astonished early-morning pedestrians either fingered a piece in covert desire, or openly nabbed a scarf as their own. Each one of the hundreds of textile pieces was tagged: “If you are cold, please take this scarf and enjoy its warmth with our compliments!” and included an invitation to “Field to Fiber”, the 2016 Conference of Northern California Handweavers.

a selection of scarves

a selection of scarves

and more

and more

more scarves

more scarves

The yarn-bombing and the conference in downtown Modesto, CA caught the attention of “The Modesto Bee” (front page: above the fold!), as well as reporters from Sacramento’s Channel 3 News. Both news sites featured the conference and the dramatic yarn-bombing in their coverage of the day.

More than 400 intrigued and curious people came that rainy April weekend, from Sacramento and beyond, paying for a day’s experience in the Conference’s Marketplace. They found more than 3 dozen vendors, hourly demonstrations of products and processes, and 8 separate galleries of inspiration laid throughout in the Convention Centre Hall. A fund-raising raffle of a unique spinning wheel and loom and the regular drawing of door-prizes added to a full forum in the marketplace hours.

proclamation

proclamation

Registrants to the conference received a personal letter of welcome from Ted Brandvold, Modesto City Mayor, who had proclaimed the week: “Field to Fiber: Textile Week in Modesto”. In the City Council meeting in which that proclamation was announced and signed, CNCH2016 Publicity Chair Cathy Koos-Breazeal gave an overview of the conference and explained its appropriate connection to the agricultural community. She then presented the council members with armfuls of textile gifts. Some City Council members became extremely enthusiastic in the process of choosing which piece to claim as their own.

City Presentation

City Presentation

Eventually, the City Clerk moved the pieces aside for post-meeting arm-wrestling, and so allowed the Council to move on to more usual business. Yet again, the draw of fiber, color and texture!

Modesto’s McHenry Museum was the locale for Saturday evening’s “Light Up The Night” fashion show, further weaving together the community with the conference. Only a few blocks from the venue site, the museum’s spacious backdrop of local history and culture was the perfect setting for this very special event.

The conscious act of connecting the Fiber Conference with a hosting locale of agricultural significance was one of the planning committee’s core values.  A vision of tapping into a number of fiber connections – that might not initially come to mind – became a foundational conference planning criteria, and one of the reasons that the planning committee chose Modesto as the site for the conference instead of more urban sites.

The concept of connecting “field to fiber” wove through all the subsequent efforts. The Modesto Convention and Visitors’ Bureau staff saw the value in this, and immediately became a crucial, supportive and instrumental partner in making the local connection possible.  An amenable City Mayor and City Council made this event particularly special, and an outreach of 1500 handbills distributed wide and far invited people, new to CNCH, to the event.

Modesto's claim to fame

Modesto’s claim to fame

The CNCH2016 Planning Committee is indebted to the huge number of fiber enthusiasts who supported this conference: with their generous contributions for the phenomenal yarn-bombing, with their support of all the extensive planning efforts, and in their presence at the conference itself.  The Committee is gratified that these specific conference efforts may have sparked an emergent interest in fiber in unsuspecting visitors, and helped vendors with a financially-satisfying presence at CNCH2016.

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