“Show and tell” is a highlight at the monthly Columbia Weavers and Spinners’ Guild meeting. During February’s meeting, several members showed off their latest creations: towels made in a guild study group and baskets woven from palms by a member on a trip to Hawaii. Everyone else applauded the members’ hard work.
“It’s been a group of very generous people,” said Barbara Overby, a guild member for 43 years. “I never feel that something’s not good enough.
WhatColumbia Weavers and Spinners’ Guild 60th anniversary exhibitionaWhere| Boone County Historical Society Museum, 3801 Ponderosa Drive
WhenThrough May 14; museum hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays; 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
AdmissionMuseum fees are $3 for adults; $2 for children 12 and younger; $8 for a family; no charge on Wednesdays for anyone; and no charge anytime for library patrons or Historical Society members
“This common interest in fiber arts enriches those relationships,” she said.
Throughout its 60 years, other fiber arts, such as felting, knitting and quilting, have been incorporated into the guild’s areas of interest. The guild is celebrating its 60th anniversary by showcasing work done by its members at the Boone County Historical Society Museum through May 14.
“I think the exhibit will give people a really good way to look at the breadth of what we do,” said Shelda Eggers, guild president.
Her closet, filled with bundles of yarn and boxes of other craft materials, is where Amy Preckshot finds her inspiration.
“I come here, look around and decide what I want to do,” said Preckshot, a guild member for 39 years.
For the guild’s 60th anniversary exhibition, she created a shawl made from handspun silk, camel down, alpaca and wool yarn. The shawl was made on her new $12,000 computerized loom from Finland.
“Some people might have bought a car, but I don’t really need one of those, so I bought a loom instead,” Preckshot said.
According to Preckshot, the loom, which takes up a good share of the living room in her apartment, is one of two in Missouri. The box containing the loom weighed more than 500 pounds, and Preckshot said it took five men to carry it into her apartment. This whole process baffled Preckshot’s neighbors.
“They saw that box come in, and they didn’t know what was happening,” she said.
It took Preckshot two months to learn how to use the computer program that helps operate the loom. After a month of working with the loom, Preckshot was able to use 18 of the 24 harnesses; most looms only have four to eight harnesses. As more harnesses, which can also be referred to as shafts, are added, they permit the pattern of the project to be more complex. Preckshot has made more than eight pieces on the loom.
“You try to stretch your capabilities as far as you can,” Preckshot said.
A room at the back of her apartment holds two old looms, a sewing machine and other equipment ready for Preckshot’s many projects. In addition to weaving scarves and shawls, Preckshot estimates she has made more than 1,000 stuffed animals in the past 12 years. She also wrote an instructional book on how to make 16 stuffed animals.
After seeing a notice in 1964 for what was then the Columbia Weavers Guild, Overby called the phone number listed and was invited to attend a meeting. Members welcomed her.
“They were so happy to see anybody under 60, so they just loved me,” she said.
Overby was equally impressed by the guild. “All the china and all the crystal and all the silver was out,” Overby said.
The first meetings Overby attended left a lasting impression; she is still an active member 43 years later.
“It’s a way to keep in touch with people who do the same thing,” she said.
For the anniversary exhibition, Overby is contributing a walla rug she made in the mid-1970s. The rug was made partly on a loom and partly by hand when she was taking care of her children.
Nancy Finke considers her best experience with the guild to be when, as guild president, she helped bring the annual Missouri Fiber Artists Conference to Columbia in 2000.
“It was a real honor for our guild to be able to host it,” said Finke, who has been a member for 11 years. “It’s exciting to have all the fiber artists come together for the sharing and networking.”
She thinks the exhibition is an important tool in sharing the wide variety of fiber arts projects the guild members create.
“I’ve just really appreciated the artistic support, knowledge and expertise that we all share,” Finke said.
Finke, who is one of the members organizing the exhibition, is also contributing a red woven wall hanging, with hints of yellow and green mixed in, that she made several years ago.
“I like the way it adapted the traditional pattern with more abstract aspects,” she said.
In the realm of fiber arts, Eggers, who has served as the guild’s president for two years and has been a member for 15 years, found her best creative outlet to be lace knitting.
“I’m kind of a lace knitting nut,” Eggers acknowledged.
For the guild’s exhibition, she knitted a lace shawl. She also helped organize workshops on the subject, including scheduling a knitter to come in from Canada.
“I’ve attended a lot of wonderful workshops and programs,” Eggers said. “It’s always just wonderful to see the other things that people are making.”
Aside from the Columbia guild, Eggers has been involved with several fiber arts Web sites and runs ample-knitters.com. According to the Web site, it was created to focus on “issues of concern to knitters in all sizes of large.”
Lisa Groshong, the guild’s secretary and a member for four years, has had experiences similar to Overby’s in finding herself one of the few younger members of the guild. Despite any age differences, she has found a place for herself among the members.
Groshong finds the guild extremely open to new ideas about fiber arts. The group gave her a scholarship to the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee, where she studied with a well-known basket maker and installation artist who works with recycled materials. When she came back from the workshop, she gave a presentation to the guild on how to incorporate found objects or junk into fiber arts.
“They’re pretty open to weirdness,” Groshong said. “I think that’s helped it continue.”