The Conference of Northern California Handweavers
was last weekend. It was grand for me, pleasant, well run, I saw lots of people I enjoyed talking with, had dinner with old friends (and a few new) and generally caught up with/met up with people I enjoyed. We talked silk, and inkle bands, and looms and spinning tools, fiber and yarn, and what are the new books this year?
There was so little time though, I had to set priorities. I spent most of my time in the classroom, thankfully with, again, a wonderful group (several wonderful groups) of people. I did not shop much and in consequence missed seeing some of the vendors who have become my friends over the years. I did not get a chance to see the exhibits in the galleries, for which I am sorry. There was
a nice lounge in the conference hotel, though, and groups of people gathered each evening for spinning/knitting/talking over a glass or two. This, to me, is the heart of why we are there: people to people, new and old friends, and time to talk, face to face, about what we love to do.
So my experience was delightful. I heard no discordant commentary. I heard lots of discussions, lots of dialog, but it was all respectful interaction. When I left the conference center, I thanked the organizers with whom I had interacted, and commented on how well they had done, and that I heard no complaints.
Apparently I was always in the right places, because they rolled their eyes, and said I just had not heard them: there were, as usual, complainers.
We have these conferences every year. We are spoiled, here, in that Northern California is generally drive-able: most conferences are a short, less than 5 hour drive from anywhere there is a guild. There are (or were, I have not checked recently) 36 weaving/spinning guilds in Northern California. The members volunteer to put on these conferences, and the organizing committees change every year, so each conference is invented anew, the location is different, the classes are different, the vendors may or may not be there, in short: the flavor of each one changes each year but we have them. Put on by volunteers. Every year.
I may not go every year, but I could if I wanted to; I've missed very few years, in the 35 years I've been a member of a weaving guild in Northern California. I've also taught at a few of them, and been part of the committee that arranges the conference, so I've seen several aspects of process.
Most people come for the classes: the committees try to present a variety of classes that span the wide spectrum of textiles: from spinning, to weaving cloth, to dye classes to basketry, to weaving bands, and rugs and, and, and, and. Textiles are a vast field, no conference can cover it all. We have to bring in everything we need, which precludes some large weaving equipment, so some classes are necessarily lectures or slides. Teachers give of their time and expertise, vendors come to supply us with the necessary tools and equipment, fibers and yarns, dyes, books and lovely finished products. The vendors are the ones who tote and haul, do the heavy lifting of setting up a shop so we can browse and buy.
The committee volunteers are fewer and fewer every year, not only as our guild population ages, and new weavers have jobs/careers/young families, but also as the thankless-ness of the task of organizing such an event entices fewer people to take it on.
to those of you who worked so hard to pull this off this weekend. Thank you to all of you who have organized a conference, or workshop for your guild, or a weekend getaway/retreat for your members, and given of your time so that we all may meet each other once again, share information and a glass or two, and go home energized for the next step in whatever textiles process we engage.
Gratuitous grandchild picture:
Taking the bear for a walk is serious business, and requires just
the right outfit :).