A history of the Hudson-Mohawk Weavers' Guild, by Susan Wood

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As current president of the Hudson-Mohawk Weavers' Guild, I was asked to write the foreword for our book. We have a fascinating binder full of Guild history which I was going to use for research until one of our members told me that several past newsletters contained a history of our Guild. Margaret McKinley, one of the founding members wrote the history articles and graciously sent them to me to excerpt parts of them. The history articles were written in two parts titled "In the Beginning........” a reprint of February 1998 and "Guild History......Part II", written sometime in the winter of 1998.  Below are some excerpts lifted from her articles. There isn't any interpretation of what she meant since the articles were so well written. I eliminated many sentences for the sake of brevity.

The Hudson-Mohawk Weavers' Guild had its roots in the Schenectady Handweavers which was
formed in 1972, by Peggy Wilkins and some of her weaving friends and a few sessions were held on Peggy's front porch. An organizational meeting was held February 24, 1972 and dues were set at $3.00. The group thrived and met monthly at various locations including a bank community room and members' homes while trying to locate a permanent home. In October, the group finally found a home at the Schenectady Historical Society with all programs presented by members. Chris Lipo started a newsletter and Gail Winters organized a small display of weavers' work at the Schenectady Public Library in 1976.

By 1977 attendance at meetings had dropped to about 6 members and a decision was made to
put all the treasury money into a one-day workshop which would hopefully rekindle interest and recover some of the old membership. Jan Nyquist was hired to teach Double Weave and that work hop attracted 14 weavers. Attendance at meetings was still low and the group decided to change the name to Hudson-Mohawk Weavers' Guild since it was no longer Schenectady oriented in the hopes of revitalizing itself. Sister Ignatius joined and offered the craft room at Our Lady of Hope residence as a meeting place. Finally, a home! In the fall of 1978, there was a large influx of new weavers with various levels of expertise.

With some trepidation plans were made in the summer of 1979 for a sale of weavers’ items. The
November sale was a learning experience for all who took part. Little did anyone realize how big a part the annual Guild Sale would play in the future! Also, in 1979 the computer age crept in and by 1982 came a computerized newsletter and mailing system. It was sent to all members and weavers that Peggy Wilkins met through her shop. This caused the membership to jump to 108.
The computer has made it possible to keep and up-date Guild records and mailing lists. The
records for the years 1980 to the present show a very active Guild, from monthly meetings,
workshops and member program presenters and other weavers outside the Guild. Also, there
have been field trips and our annual Show & Sale which is still continuing with exploding growth. None of this could have been accomplished without a lot of hard work and the enthusiasm of all members, but especially from those who volunteered their services as Board members.

In 1983, there developed a good deal of interest in daytime meetings and the Saratoga area
started monthly meetings in their homes. this became known as Guild north. albany County
weaver then decided to have their own day time meetings and they became Guild South.
eventually, Guild north disbanded and South Guild became Day Guild and is still in operation.

We continued to meet at Our Lady of Hope residence and in 1985 it was decided that we needed a logo. Jan Baucom's design was the winner with computer refinements in 1996. These
refinements were made by Carol Hammer. The Spring 1988 issue of "Weavers” magazine ran a
three-part article titled "Where have all the weavers gone?" It is interesting to note that at this time the Hudson-Mohawk Weavers' Guild was actually gaining members. We were ready for
computerized weaving, fine threads and beautiful cloth, after the '70s craze for "Big Hairy Wall-hangings and Granola" had passed.

Once again, I thank Margaret for her interesting early history of the Guild. As the years go on we continue to evolve. We have firmly entered the computer age with an e-mail newsletter and now our web site. The annual Show & Sale probably couldn't exist without our tech savvy members keeping on top of mailing list, inventory and finance. Some of our members do other shows and demonstrations at other venues. This exposes us to a wider audience and brings in new members.

We now meet at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Latham, NY. The speaker and workshops continue. We hold a popular yearly auction of members’ yarns, equipment and some household items. The Guild is strong thanks to members who work hard to keep it moving. Without them, who knows where we would be. To those members, I can't give you enough praise.

- Susan Wood
Copyright 2014.  Do not reproduce without permission.