Whidbey Weavers Guild is a community of fiber artists. It is a dynamic organization dedicated to providing an environment instilling interest, stimulation and education in the fiber arts. Membership extends well beyond Whidbey Island to throughout the Puget Sound, Admiralty Inlet and the Straits of Juan de Fuca region. Members come from seven counties and one province.
The current members range from beginner to production weavers and fiber artists, some of whom are nationally-recognized artists and teachers. The large spinning community has members who raise sheep, alpaca, llamas, and dogs for fiber.
Meetings are on first Thursdays, 10 - 2:00, at the Pacific Rim Institute (see Home page for directions).
Committees of volunteers organize activities and participate in demonstrations. Officers are elected in odd-numbered years for a term of two years. The Guild annual year is July to June. Our meetings include a business discussion, and the program is typically given after a break for a bag lunch. Whidbey Weavers Guild is famous for supportive and constructive interest in members work at show and tell. The extensive Guild library is open at the Pacific Rim Institute on meeting and other days as announced. Workshops throughout the year provide technical knowledge. Study funds and a grant are awarded annually for classes and for independent study. The guild enjoys several study groups for weaving, spinning, and other fiber art forms.
Outreach efforts each year include the Island County Fair with a large display of juried weaving, dyeing, surface design, felting, basketry, spinning and handspun knitted items. Looms are warped for people to weave and spinning is demonstrated.
Guild members also teach, demonstrate or hang displays in libraries, shops, theaters and festivals on Whidbey Island, Fidalgo Island, the Olympic Peninsula or wherever we are asked to provide fiber art in the region.
Our annual Uncommon Threads exhibition and sale of fiber art is held at the Nordic Hall in Coupeville the first Friday and Saturday in November.
An auction of member-donated yarn or equipment at the December potluck meeting is the only fundraiser of the year.
The Guild hosts a two-day communal Spin-In on the first weekend of April with a lecture, teaching session and vendors for a large audience drawn from neighboring states and Canada.
The germ that started the Whidbey Weavers Guild happened in 1965. It was a textile exhibit at the Coupeville Recreation Hall. Mary Ellen Littke, Thelma Brown and Doris Macomber brought their looms to demonstrate weaving and had a display of photographs. Mary Fullington brought her mothers' handwoven things, including a dress she had woven from her handspun.
In 1966 the group demonstrated on the loading platform of the Coupeville dock at the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival.
In 1968 Treva Carter, from the art center at Oak Harbor, talked Doris into teaching a weaving class to five gals. After the class the group felt they needed a weaver's guild for continued growth.
The Whidbey Weavers Guild started in December 1969 with seven members who met in Doris' home for five years. The original members were Thelma, Mary Ellen, Lynn Murphy, Elaine Hadden, Joy Fantry, Treva Carter and Doris. Mary Fullington became an active member of the group, as did Ann Meerkerk.
Virginia Harvey was the first program speaker, talking about textiles. She, along with Mildred Sherwood and Anita Luvera Mayer soon became active members.
As the group grew, they decided a leader was necessary. Ann followed Doris as the second "leader" of the group, planning the meetings and programs. When she became ill and was not able to do the planning, she asked Mildred to take over. Mildred lead the group until 1981 when she asked Suzanne Ramsey to become the leader. Suzanne led the group until 1987. By this time the group had grown to about 30 members, meeting in Coupeville at the Methodist Church.
In 1972 Spin-In was formed by Ann, Lynn and Laura Vanderbeek. Spin-in is an Australian word meaning "joyful gathering". As a result of this gathering Ann, Lynn and Laura started raising sheep.
In 1986 a decision was made to legally organize the guild, setting dues and electing officers. The new Constitution and By-Laws were accepted in April 1987, with Virginia Dusenbury elected the first President. Subsequent presidents were Pauline Doyle, Lucetta Walker, Evelyn Boyd, Alphild Johnson, Nita Coates, Jean Nelson, Rene Delight-La Torre, Sally Starnes, Pat Oetken, Nancy Baggott and Linda Thom.
The yearly Auction in December has raised a great deal of money to be applied to further education in the fiber arts field as well as a wonderful potluck lunch and time to visit with other interesting members. The Guild has also presented several fashion shows to the community. Study Groups formed, Crazy 8's being the first followed by Blockbusters, Braidy Bunch (see further details under The Braidy Bunch), Firehouse Spinners, Foursomes, Dye Study, Foursomes, Firehouse Spinners, NW Regional Spinners, Samplers (formerly Twill Group), Sixteen Shaft Group and South Whidbey Spinners.
In the early years the guild demonstrated carding, spinning and weaving at the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival, even had dye pots going. Members also went into the school classrooms to demonstrate the fiber arts.
Yearly participation in the Island County Fair has brought members many blue ribbons in weaving, spinning, surface design, to mention a few of the fiber arts that are now being created by the Whidbey Weavers Guild.
In 2004 Carys Hamer undertook the leadership of our first Annual Guild Member Sale. It was held at the Coupeville Recreation Center for three years and then moved to Greenbank Farm in 2007.
By Judy Lynn, Suzanne Ramsey and Sally Starnes