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

A Sacramento Open House Tradition

What do the words “Open House” mean to you?  To the Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Guild it means two days of educating the general public about weaving, spinning, basketry, dyeing and other fiber related techniques through displays and demonstrations.

Setting up

The Sacramento Guild was established in 1946 by Lydia Van Gelder, and it just hosted its 52nd annual Open House.  From the beginning the Open House has been an integral part of the year’s programming.  Guild members are a most willing and sharing group and there is never a shortage of help in setting up the Open House or a shortage of handmade items to be displayed.  So many members participate in the set-up, demonstrations and other aspects of the weekend that it would be impossible to name them all.

In the early years of the Guild, the Open House was an elegant affair, complete with hat and gloves, jacket and tie.  Members served tea, poured from Christine Davis’ silver tea service.  Cookies were provided by Guild members. The forms of address were also formal (Mr., Miss, Mrs. Husband’s name).  Through the 60’s there was a Sunday afternoon program; either a lecture or slide show presented by a fiber expert and followed by refreshments.  When the public began coming in dressed in shorts and jeans this began to change.

The people keep coming

Over the years the attendance has been up and down, depending mostly on the weather and other events in the Sacramento area held the same weekend.  We have seen as few as 450 up to an all time high of 2,300 in 1976!

In 2011 our attendance was just short of 1,500 and we hope for more next year.

Spinning from the Angora Bunny

At each Open House members display techniques of weaving, spinning, basketry, preparing raw fibers and dyeing.  Some years members have brought Angora rabbits, spinning with the rabbit on their lap.

Since public education is the main goal of the Open House, we offer a hands on experience to anyone who wishes to try spinning and weaving.  It is always exciting when children show an interest in our crafts.

Our Open House also includes a sales area, which grows each year.  Our members sell processed fiber from their own animals, handspun yarn and knitted items made from handspun yarn, and woven articles of clothing and household items. The sales area takes up an entire room at the Garden Center and is very successful.  10% of each participant’s sales goes to the Guild treasury.  We have quite a large number of the public returning every year to buy handmade items and fiber.

A new Weaver

And a new spinner

The Sacramento Weavers and Spinners Guild Open House has been a constant success, reaching people who had no idea that the arts of spinning and weaving were still being practiced to such an extent.  There has never been a year in 52 years when the Open House was not held.  The tradition will continue as long as the Guild continues.  If you have not attended our Open House in the past, we invite you to do so in 2012. The event is free to the public and there is plenty of free parking. Open House will be held on February 11 & 12, 2012 at the Shepard Garden and Art Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento.  See you there!!!

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