In an excerpt from “History of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota” 1940-1990 by Jean Seeker, the beginnings of Federation are annotated.
THE MINNESOTA FEDERATION OF WEAVERS GUILDS AND FIBER ARTISTS
In 1979 veteran weaver Irene Wood approached the Guild Board about her dream of forming a statewide federation of weavers’ guilds. “The purpose,” she said, “was to encourage interaction between all Minnesota guilds, and thus to widen the scope of all and encourage education.” Board members suggested that the events centered around the celebration of the Guild’s fortieth anniversary in 1980 could emphasize the formation of the Federation.
Through a host of letters written to fiber people all over the state and also many consultations face-to-face by Irene, the Federation was formed and the first meeting held in October 1981 in Duluth. About a dozen guilds attended, including the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. Meetings followed annually and the group, known as the Minnesota Federation of Weavers Guilds, grew in both size and scope. Guest speakers include Kathie Wertenberger, Nell Znamierowski, and Anita Mayer – all highly regarded fiber artists. The Federation is still not a formal organization, but rather a mailing list of names on a computer to whom are sent a quarterly newsletter, A Common Thread.
The association, now known as the Minnesota Federation of Weavers Guilds and Fiber Artists, has representation in areas all across Minnesota: Duluth, Ely, Grand Rapids, Virginia, St. Cloud, Northome, Brainerd, Walnut Grove (southwest area), Winona, Rochester, LeSueur, Aitkin, Grand Marais, Cloquet, Detroit Lakes, Thief River Falls/Grand Forks area, the western suburbs of Minneapolis, as well as the metropolitan Twin Cities area.
History of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, 1940-1990 by Jean Seeker
from Maryann Olme: The original concept was that the event would be sponsored by a different Guild each year and hosted in a town in or around the area the Guild met. There was seed money to be able to reserve a space and print the registration booklet. In 2007, on the same week-end as the Federation in Windom, both the Guild in Duluth and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota held competing workshops resulting in the event lost money, including all of the seed money. The result was Leila Preston and I got together to make something work for 2008. She was able to secure Mt Carmel without an early down payment. We had time for registration fees to come in before we had to make a payment. That year all of the classes were taught by people who volunteered to do it for free. Instead of paying the speaker we just provided a free attendance to the event. end from Maryann Olme
2008 was also the first year the website was developed and on-line registration became available thanks to Al Olme. For the last 12 years, Al has been a driving force for the continuation and tech modernization of this event. It also became a non-hosted event with a group of volunteer “staff” who take care of the registration, classes, coordination, etc.
Since that time, “Federation” continues to be held at Mt. Carmel with a group of volunteer “staff”, non-hosted by any guild or group, and continues to be a non-formal organization, although there is still a strong presence of some past guild members from around the State. Themes, challenges, door prizes, style shows and keynote speakers, along with paid teaching positions from among attendees, round out a fun fiber weekend!