Friday, March 14, 2008

Madrona Fiber Arts Event & Shetland Guild

I was fortunate to travel to Tacoma, WA in mid February to attend the many events organized by the 2008 Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat; (The dates for the retreat in 2009 are 12-15 February and the schedule will be on their website this October.) The event was very collegial and offered a wide variety of daytime classes, evening events, a marketplace and a special charity night--which took place on the evening of 14 February and was called ‘2008 Giving from our Hearts’. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee ( was the keynote speaker. At this time, four projects were selected for presentations—Doctors Without Borders (sponsored by Knitters Without Borders); the Mother’s Day Project (designed to draw attention to the human cost of the Iraq War); Caring for Kids (a project which helps underprivileged children and families in the Tacoma area.

The fourth charity, dear to the heart of many knitters, was to help the Shetland Textile Working Museum in their efforts to raise enough money for their own textile museum, specifically dedicated to the preservation and display of their Fair Isle and Shetland lace collection. In addition, there will be space for meetings, workshops, a designated room for one of the oldest handlooms on Shetland, and an area for washing and dying fleece. A committee of three, Mary Adams from Denver, Melinda Mullins from Seattle and I collaborated to present a case for the worthiness of this project.

Those who have come on previous Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tours,, will remember with fondness our visits to the Weisdale Mill, which used to be home of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers. The guild was only renting space at Weisdale and has had to find a new home—hence this dedicated project. A site has been selected in the west mainland area. There are the remnants of a 16th C. building, which the Shetland Amenity Trust will virtually reconstruct, however the Shetland guild is responsible for all interior fittings and will be renting the space from the Trust. As you can understand, it is very important to ensure their unique collection is properly stored and displayed. These Shetland textiles illustrate the history of spinning, knitting and weaving in the islands from their earliest days to the present. This is an expensive project for any guild and they are working very hard to raise the necessary funds, however require outside assistance.

Although the new Shetland Museum in Lerwick has an outstanding collection of the textile arts, the concern is that knitting was poorly paid and undervalued, and was viewed as ‘women’s work’ and thus not as important!

I haven’t heard yet how much was raised for all the charities, and specifically for the Shetland project. As soon as I know, I’ll post the figures on this site. In the meantime, we are working on a contribution process for any of you who would like to help the Shetland guild.

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