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

Saturday Guild Meetings a Hit

When former Sacramento Spinning and Weaving Guild President Will Taylor announced the beginning of extra Guild meetings to be held on Saturday last year, most members who have met for weaving, spinning and the monthly Guild Meeting were skeptical. Franco Rios found out about the Saturday meetings and was the first to sign up for them. Rios, who works during the week as a salesman, found the Saturday group an easy fit. He now works with Linda York organizing the monthly meetings of the group,  arranging  where the meetings are held, and playing a key part in selecting the fiber arts subjects.
He makes it a point to publish meeting reminders and follow-ups online and in the Daily Reed, the newsletter of SSWG. If you attend a Saturday meeting, you will notice the enthusiasm shared by Rios and the members.

The Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Guild holds their monthly meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month.  For those who cannot attend those monthly meetings during the work week, the Guild’s Saturday Group meets once a month at the Arcade Library on Marconi Avenue in Sacramento.

Franco Rios and some Saturday members

Unlike the monthly Guild meetings, which usually fill the Shepard Garden and Art Center to capacity, the Saturday group is smaller, but is gaining membership.  The conference room at the Arcade Library can accommodate the group and its fiber activities.  It is not unusual for a visitor to the library to walk into the room and observe the group’s monthly presentation.  Visitors are always welcome.

“I find this worthwhile,” says Rios of the Guild’s Saturday Group,  “I plan on doing this for a long time.”

The enthusiasm that Rios has for the world of fiber arts is something that is shared by the members.  As Rios leads the group meetings, he always has a project to share.  These days, his interests are in the art of sprang.  On his way to his day job, he weaves on the bus.

Franco sharing a sprang sample

“No one bothers me,” he says.  “I’ve done other weaving on the bus, and that includes Navajo.”

Like any fiber artist, Rios is also delighted with his finds.  His latest favorite is an afghan hook.  Found at a yard sale with other related items, he finds the hook useful with his sprang work and recommends anyone to pick up used items because you never know how you can incorporate them into your work.

For each meeting, there are members who eagerly share their fiber skills.  There are members who bring their spindles and spinning wheels to meetings, and there are knitters working on projects.  The Saturday Group is packed with creative people.  Besides the “show and tell” of completed projects at the beginning of the meeting, members have given lectures and have provided their audiences with hands-on projects like basket weaving.  Many members of the group are experienced spinners and weavers who are willing to demonstrate their skills in carding, spinning, and weaving.  The Saturday meetings mean a learning atmosphere for anyone interested in fiber arts.

Rios is looking forward to future Saturday Group meetings. To gather more interest, he posts reminders of meeting dates online and in the Guild’s newsletters.  He records each meeting by including information and photographs in his blog, Francosfiberadventure.  In 2012, Saturday Group members are looking forward to learning more about about fiber arts, including learning to dye fleece at a member’s workshop.  As the Saturday group has grown, Rios has  expanded the meetings from 2 hours to 4 hours. When it concerns the topic of fiber arts, members agree that 2 hours is not enough time to meet.

Franco demonstrating one of his handcrafted spindles

Rios is no stranger to fiber arts. Like many Guild members, Rios attraction to the fiber arts began when his sons raised Dutch rabbits for 4-H projects. His wife, Tracy, began to raise and show Angora rabbits.  Before long, raising the Angora rabbits became a family affair.
Rios learned how to make a spindle and learned how to spin. Tracy took up needle felting purses and animal figurines from Angora and sheep’s wool. She went on to purchasing a Babe Electric Flyer Spinning Wheel and a  Reese traditional spinning wheel. Purchasing a Schacht petite drum carder allowed the couple to combine Angora with other fibers.

“We found out that we could sell the Angora rabbit’s fiber for $4-$6 an ounce instead of throwing it away,” admitted Rios. “We groomed them for their wool.” He explained that raising the rabbits were no different from raising other animals for their fiber. “You are raising animals in hopes of getting the best fiber,” he said.
Rios admits to trying knitting, but prefers weaving with small, low tech looms. He enjoys creating different types of spinning and weaving equipment and,  in the tradition of generous spinners and weavers, Rios has given away many of his projects.    Although he has sold skeins of yarn and cotton cloth towels, he more is interested in making simple weaving tools for sale.

Click here for the next article