As I mentioned on Sunday, a few weeks ago a group of us had a Black Friday Sew-in, mostly on Twitter (you can read the old tweets by searching for the #BFSI hashtag). I asked you a bunch of questions in order to give you the opportunity to win a bunch of books compliments of Lark Crafts. I thought it would be fun to recap your comments and you, dear readers, reacted well to the first review (posted on Sunday). You can find the original post that coincides with this review on Friday November 29. You can also find more about the Black Friday Sew-in on the introduction post.
In Question #3, I asked you about guilds and groups. These answers were a lot harder to distill down to one line answers. Reasons for belonging and not belong are complicated and I share some of the thoughts and feelings that you wrote.
Tell me about the guild or guilds to which you belong. Why do you belong? What do you like? What would you change?
- “My “main squeeze” guild is wonderful. Smallish–we have something like probably 60 people on the rolls but about 40 show up regularly, and about 25-30 of us go to a lot of the retreats. I love it. We’re very loosey-goosey, rules-lite. We’ve never really elected our officers–once in awhile they ask, “Hey, anyone else want to do this?” We all say, “No, you’re doing great,” and we move on. Anyone who wants to lead something pretty much can. When someone has an idea, they stand up and ask, “Would anyone like to…” and if people do, that person organizes it. If no one does, we move on. We’re good at basically moving on. No drama. Love it. Lots of laughing and goofing around during meetings, and everyone’s show n’ tell is appreciated. I do technically belong to two other guilds but never make meetings. But I do my best not to miss meetings of my main guild!” (SandyH)
- “I’m a member of two guilds – the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild (name soon to be changed) and the East Cobb Quilters Guild. AMQG has <50 members, and I consider it my “main” guild since I know everyone in it. The ECQG has over 300 members, and I go there mainly to show off stuff and get access to national teachers.” (Pam)
- “I belong to a local guild of about 140 ladies. I was a member years ago, and returned to the guild in May. Twenty years ago, I was part of a large young(ish) group of members, we had young children and still were able to be active in the guild. We held offices and chaired committees. The older members from before are, well even older, as are we ‘youngsters’. There is no young group now. The meetings are marked with strident, almost desperate requests for volunteers. The obit emails come more than once a month.The guild needs new members, and I don’t know how to help. I rejoined to find a community, and am unsure if I will continue.” (Carole)
I think Carole describes the problem that a lot of guilds end up with:
lots of enthusiasm
Enthusiasm turns into projects
Lots of people work on projects
More people needed as projects become more successful
Guild becomes about the projects and not the people
People drop out, because of demands
Pleas for assistance
Nobody is willing to cut programs and focus on the people.
I don’t think this is limited to quilt guilds. I really think that successful guilds look at each project every year and compare it to their membership and make sure every projects contributes something to the guild. I don’t think guilds can be successful if there isn’t enough time for socializing. For a lot of people, visiting a quilt guild meeting is one of the few times they can get out without husbands/wives and children. Such meetings needs to be worth their while.
- “SCVQA is my guild. It’s the first guild that I gave belonged to and I think it’s great. The quilters are friendly, helpful, and informative. It’s well organized. There are classes and guest artist, as well as small group meetings throughout the month. Each meeting has fabric and books for sale. Plus there are other fun activities and community outreach opportunities. I will always stay a member.” (Polly)
- “I belong to an online guild that I have belonged to for over 20 years. I can always make the meetings but it wish it was a touch more active.”(Cathy)
- “I belong to the Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild, and consider myself an active member. It was the first quilt guild I’ve ever joined, even though I’d been quilting for a few years before moving here. Pretty sure the reason I joined was to meet other quilters and hopefully make friends. (Done, and Done! lol)
Likes: the other members,;being inspired by other members’ work; this year we did small groups, and it was kind of nice getting to know a few members at a time; I’m participating in an intermediate/advanced round robin project which is *amazing*; and I’m looking forward to more national speakers/workshops in the future.
I also belong to the SCVQG, the local Art Quilters Guild, and the South Bay Area MQG (sadly, I’m not terribly active in any of those, sorry!)
Being very active in one means sacrificing the others. I have enjoyed the meetings I’ve attended at the other guilds, just haven’t been able to get to them as regularly as the BAM meetings.”(Kelly)
- “I belong to the Wenonah quilters and I like to talk Quilty with like people. I also like when we have guest who talk about how they quilt. I would have a committee to make each meeting more interesting to all of the members. And more fabric exchanges.”(Ethel)
- “I do belong to guild, however, I am not able to make the workdays or the monthly meetings since the group meets during the day. What I do take advantage of though is the fabulous library that the guild has. The books can be signed out for several months at a time.” (Janet)
Janet brings up an excellent point about guilds. Many of them still have libraries of books. This can be a huge benefit if the Library continually gets new books, especially if you do not have the space or money to buy books of your own.
- “I belong to a guild of about 150 members. I have made lots of great friends who understand why we like fabric and quilting and know that it is OK to have a stash and not to finish a project every week. They provide inspiration and support. We enjoy and learn from each other and from the programs presented.” (Beth B)
- “In 1999 I visited my local guild. DS had just moved out, and I was empty nesting again. Yes, one can do that twice. The guild is large, 225 or so strong. What drew me in were Show and Share, friendly people, the whole comment interest business. I like those aspects, speakers and the lovely inexpensive workshops. What I don’t like: not as interesting speakers or workshops. The powers that be work very hard, but don’t seem to want input without full on participation, for example board office or committee chairmanship.” (Diane Rincon)
- “I belong to the Johnston County Quilters, which is sponsored by the County Extension Homemakers. I go to the night meetings (since I work days), which has a small attendance. We do show and tell, learn a new technique, and talk about quilting. We have a small quilt show once a year in the fall. We’ve been making lap quilts for the meals-on-wheels participants & we’re looking for a project with kids.” (Joyce)
It looks like Joyce’s guild has a small, but manageable group of activities that benefits the members. I wonder if there is a database of quilt guilds with descriptions of their activities?
- “I belong to a small traditional guild in the mountain community where we have a vacation home. I joined for 2 reasons – 1) to get to know more ladies in the community, and 2) because the guild at “home” is large and at some point I got the feeling it was stuffy and unfriendly. The ladies in the mountains are very nice and welcoming.I would love to have a little group of stay at home mommies near me to get together with on a regular basis and sew with, but everyone seems too busy or they don’t sew!” (Jen)
If you do not belong to a guild or quilt group, why not?
The major factors for not belonging to a guild seem to be the timing of the meetings, shyness, getting to the meetings, feeling unwelcome or awkward when new at a meeting or not being able to get to the meeting, because of physical or age related reasons.
- For the first time since I became a quilter, I do not belong to a quilt guild. I plan to join the local guild in January.
Sophie, who wrote the above, did not say why she didn’t belong to a guild at the moment, but it is nice to hear she will be trying one out. I find belonging to a guild something that I value. I do have to moderate my tendency to jump in and do everything asked of me, but I do that by picking something I can manage and doing that.
- “I’m not currently a guild member even though I have several available. This is mostly due to the day or time of the meetings not being convenient and my own forgetfulness. One guild does meet at a time that is perfect for me. Unfortunately, when I visited that guild the members were not at all friendly or welcoming.” (Jane)
One of the guilds I visit is very clique-ish. I have tried to join a couple of times, but never got anything out of it, so I usually don’t renew when renewal time comes around.
- “The one guild in my area meets once a month at night a fairly good drive away and I have trouble driving at night . Plus I work early in the morning. I know I should be able to make it work and some of it is laziness on my part. I do miss and need friends that like the same things I do.” (Carol)
I think getting to meetings will become more of a problem and wish there was some kind of video conferencing that would be effective as we age.
- “I do not belong to a guild. The reason why not is I’ve been to a guild meeting sort of a try out and was totally disappointed. My imagination of a guild was people get together to sew so I took my grandmother’s flower garden with me to work on. I was the oddball in the room as no-one else brought anything with them.”(Kati R)I don’t belong to a guild yet. It’s something I’m planning to look into in the coming year because I’d really like to connect with local quilters. I haven’t yet mainly because I tend to be very shy with new people, so it takes me a while to work myself around to doing a thing like going to a group meeting where I don’t know anyone for the first time. But I know once I go and break the ice, I’ll most likely wonder why it took me so long! There are I think at least groups that meet close enough for me to have an easy drive to (including one that meets at my LQS less than 3 miles away) which amazed me when I started searching.”(DaisyW)
- “I do not belong to a quilt guild. The one closest to me meets during the day, when I am at work.
I have a small group of sewing friends that meet informally, and this, along with online interaction and classes, is enough for me.” (June in AZ)
- “Currently I don’t belong to a guild because of my environmental/chemical allergies. I do attend sewing club once a month as its a small group in a large room on a Saturday morning and I have the rest of the day to crash if I need to. It is not just quilting related but lots of ideas. no fuss, just a group that meets for fun. We also have a mini retreat in the afternoon where we take turns showing each other different projects.” (Jackie)
Jackie has a unique issue that is probably more common than we think. I eat a special diet and there are snacks at every meeting. Unless I can see the package to read the ingredients, I don’t eat anything. I do contribute some items that fit with my diet. Jackie’s issue is a reminder to go easy on the perfume when you attend events and meetings.
- “I don’t belong to a guild anymore. I got tired of the long drive only to have to deal with silly political games. I wasn’t having fun anymore, so I stopped going. I do belong to a bee, though, and have a great time at our monthly meetings. There are about a dozen of us that have been together for about 15 years and have retreats twice a year.” (Sandi)
- “I don’t currently belong to a guild (and never have) I have only lived in my area for a few years and am a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. I am intimidated by the thought of a guild, especially given some of the horror stories that I have heard. I feel much more comfortable hiding in my house doing my thing,,,but have started to wonder lately if it is time to branch out…” (Julia P)
Julia brings up a point that I have thought about. What is a good way to reach out to people who may want to come and are shy. Katie, of Katie’s Quilting Corner, talks about the open house her local shop has to advertise new classes. What if a guild was there to encourage new members?
I did notice that a lot of people have bees to which they belong that take the place of guilds. That is a good way to solve the problem if, for whatever reason, you can’t attend a meeting.
In case you are wondering, I belong to three guilds:
- Contemporary Quilt and Fiber Artists, a local art quilt guild. I haven’t been making many art quilts lately or working at all on showing my quilts in galleries and such, but they let me stay anyway.
- Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild, a local ‘modern’ guild where I can find a lot of women my age, energy and fun activities.
- QuiltNet, an online guild of which I have been a member since the early 1990s.
There are a number of other guilds in the area and I visit them sometimes, if they have an interesting speaker and I have the time. The thing I would like to have is a group of ladies who meet regularly to stitch and talk.