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

My Fiber Life

I believed I needed to make some changes in my way of thinking about a lot of things recently, including my fiber life. For a while I thought I could set my fiber life aside to make way for some important changes I was making.  After all my fiber life is a hobby, a past time, not something vital. After a couple of months of trying to live like that, it turns out that for me, my fiber life is vital.

After a month away from my fiber life I found myself twisting threads together and making small handwoven bits absentmindedly and in moments of stress.  I started thumbing through my old Handwoven and Spinoff magazines and marking the ideas I would try when I was back to having time for my fiber life.  After another month I realized my error in thought and started finding ways to bring fiber back into my daily routine.  Little things, bigger things.  I realized how important my fiber life was and is to me.  I smiled more, groused less and generally saw the world differently.  I was more centered and comforted having some fiber related activities ongoing.  It turns out that my fiber life is not negotiable.  It is important, vital.

Our guild, Fresno Weavers and Spinners, is an important part of my fiber life, too.  This guild was founded by a group of gifted people including my mom and I believed that my main reason for being a member was to participate as a way of remembering and honoring her.  It was necessary for me for a lot of good reasons to take a break from the guild for about 7 years.  I continued to weave and spin on my own but it was not the same.  The community, the ideas, the talent and the sharing were so wonderful to be a part of.  When the opportunity to come back presented itself, I returned.  Over time I have come to understand that I participate because it is good for me, another piece of my fiber life and the fact that it helps me feel a little closer to my mom is a pleasant perk.  I feel so honored to actually know each of you.  You are all so amazing.  Each month no matter what the meeting subject, I am a little bit smarter and happier for having taken the time to come to the meetings.  Your participation is an important part of my fiber life.

CNCH, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers, Inc. is another important piece of my fiber life.  Each guild, including ours, is encouraged to organize and participate in gallery exhibits and to demonstrate their art and craft to their community whenever possible.  Did you know this? CNCH’s focus is always to promote the education and the appreciation of the fiber arts.  We do this at Civil War Revisited and the Fair as well as the zoo, the Maker’s Fair, and the demos in Kingsburg and elsewhere.  CNCH sponsors an annual conference and produces an online quarterly publication, CNCHnet. If you have not taken the time to read CNCHnet, I highly recommend it.

Let’s not gloss over the conferences.  Talk about inspiration!  Northern California is one of the few areas of the country that still holds annual conferences related to the fiber arts.  We are part of a rare and special organization.  I don’t get to go every year, some years are just like that.  The years I do get to go I ride that wave of inspiration for most of the year.  I connect with people who share my interests and people who encourage me to try new things and I work on improving my technique thanks to their sharing and instruction.  I get to learn from the best in the country and connect with people I’ve met at previous conferences.

When I attend a conference I am definitely happier about my connection to my fiber life.  Meeting the highly gifted fiber people attending these conferences, just as spending time with all of you, is worth the price of admission and then we get to take classes with them or by them!  To be able to share a meal or a conversation with the people who are attending and teaching is so wonderful.  On more than one occasion I have sat down to eat a snack between classes and had someone ask if they could share the table and the person is someone whose book I have been learning from or just bought or read about in a magazine!

We are a part of these many-sided opportunities to be more than just ourselves.  We have each other, our local guilds and CNCH to enrich our fiber lives.  Those opportunities come with a responsibility to support these groups with our time, our talents and our dues.  These groups need you, we need you.  Our guild, CNCH, our fiber community.  Your fiber life is calling.

Cherrie Smith is President of the Fresno Weavers and Spinners.  This essay was originally published in their September newsletter.

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