The seed for the development of Association of Northwest Weavers’ Guilds was sown in 1957 when the Seattle Weavers’ Guild, under the leadership of Virginia Harvey, held the first conference for weavers of the Northwest. In 1965 a second conference was held in Portland. Two years later Inland Empire Handweavers hosted the conference in Spokane, and the biennial schedule has been followed since.
Following Seattle’s second conference in 1969, a small group of active weavers from Washington and Oregon gathered in Seattle with the intention of forming a non-dues paying Association to promote and perpetuate the conferences, but not to be a complex organization. In the spring of 1971 a conference was held at the Hilton Hotel in Portland. An informal meeting of representatives from northwest guilds was held at that time.
The Association continued to take form. Minimal dues were assessed, and the newsletter as a means of communication was begun. As membership grew the need for more structure became apparent. At a meeting in Yakima in May, 1975, with 10 guilds represented, a proposal was written to be taken to guilds. It was approved at the meeting the following October. Included were dues at 25 cents per guild member; two newsletters per guild plus one for each additional 25 members or fraction thereof; that only member guilds have one free booth at each conference; that conferences be rotated geographically; that officers expenses for non-conference meetings be paid from Association funds; and that a list of member guilds with meeting times and places be included in the first newsletter of each year.
Following the 1975 conference, the Association voted to adopt a policy of collecting 10% of conference profits to create a fund to provide seed money for conferences and assist a sponsoring guild should expenses exceed income.
In February, 1976 there were 29 member guilds, and by May the number had grown to 35. Much of the May, 1976 meeting was devoted to discussion of the Association’s first attempt to coordinate a series of workshops which would bring teachers from outside the geographical area to the Northwest with participating guilds sharing the cost. The function of the newsletter was then expanded to include minutes of the general meetings and to convey information concerning workshops and speakers as well as guild activities which would be of general interest.
In order to give more structure to the growing organization, by-laws were rewritten. They were approved October, 1978. Articles of incorporation were filed with the State of Washington in April, 1979. Services for member guilds also increased. Following the conference in Spokane, 1979, categorized swatches from swatch swaps were made available for guilds to borrow. Conferences slides were also added to the library. In 1980 Dale Skrivanich introduced a directory of speakers and workshop leaders from the region of our membership.
At present, there are over 90 member guilds and affiliates representing over 4,070 weavers, spinners, and fiber artists in the Northwest.