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Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild

Lucy Tyler demonstrates a tahkli spindle, used to spin fine fibers such as silk and alpaca.

August 4, 2011

35 years of education in the art of fiber mastery

UPPER DELAWARE REGION — Practitioners of the fiber arts have many potential friends and supportive teachers in the Upper Delaware River Valley, where a quiet but purposeful organization has been weaving its peaceful influence for 35 years.

The Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild (WWSG) was founded in 1976 by Phyllis Barth, Nellie Burnham, Dolores Quinn and Cindy Heyn, who began gathering in one another’s homes to exchange spinning and weaving knowledge, thereby establishing the group’s primary purpose—to teach and to improve their own skills.

“Memories, friends, learning and good times is what WWSG has come to mean to me,” said Burnham, the sole surviving founder, who continues to impart her knowledge today. Recently Burnham conducted a workshop on solving problems related to looms. A retired home economics teacher, Burnham never stopped helping others to learn and has taught weaving classes across the country as well as locally.

WWSG meets monthly in Damascus, PA (see sidebar), while study groups on weaving, spinning and knitting are conducted at members’ homes. The group also has a large library of books, magazines and videos on various fiber techniques.

Show and Tell is a favorite part of the meetings, as members share their projects with others in the group. The eager, inquisitive and supportive response provides encouragement and often some helpful problem-solving.

Members are described as “warm and caring people who are as delighted at a new weaver’s first warp as they are by an experienced spinner’s miles of exquisitely spun yarn.” Adds Burnham, “We’re always open to new members as long as they’re willing to learn.”

Bev Nerenberg recently traveled to England to study with renowned weaver Jason Collingwood and displayed the beautiful rug she made. A self-described “fiber-holic,” Nerenberg laughed, “It’s a disease. It takes over your life and is contagious. We come from different backgrounds and all walks of life, but this brings us together.”

The fiber arts appeal to all ages, and WWSG members range from 13-year-old Angela Waltman, who loves weaving belts and bands on her Inkle looms, to those in their 80s, some of whom even accepted the challenge of spinning fur from a wolf and weaving it into a liturgical scarf for its owner, a priest in Callicoon, NY.