Our roots date back to 1949 (then called the Hand Weavers guild) when an organizing meeting was held at Dixon House in Peterborough. The annual membership fee was one dollar! Meetings were held on an irregular basis and the guild disbanded in May 1952. It was revived in February 1954 with Ethel Smedmor as president.
In 1969 the name was changed to the Peterborough Handweavers and Spinners guild. Membership has grown and waned since those early beginnings.
Our steadily increasing membership currently consists of 45 individuals, who either spin, weave, felt or enjoy working on more than one of these skills. Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday of the month (September to June) at the Kawartha Artists Gallery, 420 O’Connell Road.
Doors open at 5:30 pm, (for the Spinning group) allowing for social time before the 7:00 pm meeting start. Each meeting offers a talk, a demonstration or hands-on activity on a selected topic of interest. Meetings include a show-and-share time and cover business items, usually ending by 9:00 pm.
Visitors are always welcome at our meetings!
Members have access to an extensive lending library of books on weaving, spinning, felting and dyeing. We also have current and back issues of magazines including Handwoven, Spin-Off, and Fibre Focus.
We have weaving and spinning equipment available for members to rent.
Workshops are occasionally held on a particular skill in weaving, spinning, dyeing or felting.
In addition to the regular monthly meetings, several spinners meet informally once a month to share ideas and spin together. At the present time the Spinners are meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., before the general meeting, in the guild room at 420 O’Connell Road.
As well, a group of weavers meet monthly to exchange ideas and enjoy solving problems (called the weaving study group). These smaller gatherings are held at members’ homes and are open to both members and invited guests.
The guild participates in several community and area activities to demonstrate spinning, weaving and felting. We put on an annual display at the Peterborough Public Library. The guild sponsors a Fibre Arts Festival each year for the public to enjoy.
Jacquard Loom Project
Over the last few years some of our guild members have contributed many hours to the Jacquard loom project at Lang Pioneer Village Museum. The Village is in the process of bringing two Jacquard weaving mechanisms, called heads, back to life. The heads were donated to the Village in 1972 by well-known Peterborough weaver and former guild member Dini Moes. A decade ago, Master Weaver Didier Schwartz began restoration of both heads along with the large wooden loom frame that came with one head, and the construction of a duplicate loom frame to support the second Jacquard head. During this process, several additional members of our guild and other volunteers from nearby guilds have given their time to help set up the two looms, one for display, and the other for weaving Jacquard cloth.
From the top of the working loom Faye Jacobs tied 136 waxed cords which continue down through the head and are responsible for the correct warp threads to be raised. Other project volunteers tied hundreds of lingoes (heddle-weights) required to set up both looms. This was no small feat, as there are 1044 lingoes per loom. An elevated viewing platform has been built around the working loom so that visitors will be able to view the card-reading mechanism in action as it controls the weaving pattern. While the display loom is still in progress, the working loom has all its cords in place and has been dressed with a multi-coloured warp. There is still work to be done – loom adjustments, trial weaving and on-going problem solving. With continued team work and co-operation, Lang Pioneer Village will have two very special weaving mechanisms restored to life.
Read the article about the Jacquard Loom project, by Faye Jacobs, published in the 2015 Spring Issue of Fibre Focus and reproduced with permission, copyright Ontario Handweavers & Spinners.
We are currently involved in helping to found the Peterborough Artisans Centre, which will eventually house our guild along with other artisan groups. We want to establish and operate a permanent facility to:
- Provide readily available facilities for the use and training of the participating guild and association members
- Maintain and advance the state of the respective artisan disciplines
- Provide a central location within the Peterborough community for artisan crafts
- Learn new perspectives through association with other artisan guilds
- Provide a platform for sharing and promoting artisan skills through educational programs for all ages in the community
- Display and sell artisan products through a gallery/store for the purposes of educating and advancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of the artisans‘ art.