The Champaign-Urbana Spinners & Weavers Guild began as “The Spinners & Weavers Club” in a meeting attended by eleven local women in December of 1950. The women agreed to meet on the first Tuesday afternoon each month to discuss examples of weaving, their own work and publications about weaving.
Annual dues of one dollar were established at that meeting. By 1956 the group had 33 members and the dues had risen to 4 dollars. In the late 1960s there was a general resurgence in interest in crafts, and the membership surged as well. By the early 1990s the Guild had grown to about sixty members who each paid a $15 membership fee. We started the 21st century with over seventy members.
Our first public weaving exhibit was held in a member’s studio on a Saturday afternoon in May 1953. Thirty-five people exhibited their work to some 300 visitors. This spring exhibit continued through the years and the group also displayed its work in local churches and libraries, at street fairs, at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, in galleries, at national and regional weaving conferences and in other venues. In the early years the work was for exhibit only, not for sale. Later, sales were allowed on a limited basis. Today’s annual Show and Sale began in the late 1960s when a small group of members put together an invitational pre-Christmas sale which they held in the house of a member. Not long after the sale went “public” and has been held in different places over the years.
Although our emphasis remains on spinning and weaving, we are interested in many facets of the world of fiber. The Guild continues to adapt to members’ needs and interests. Rarely does a club survive for half a century, but the spinners and weavers of Champaign-Urbana have been meeting regularly for a full fifty years. We continue to celebrate the longevity and vitality of our craft.