The first organizational meeting was held on November 1, 1952 with eleven participants. Diablo Weavers Guild was born and has continued uninterrupted! The major emphasis of the founding members was cooperation and mutual assistance, with programs generated from the group members themselves. This continues, for the most part today, resulting in a close and mutually responsive group. Guests and beginners have always been welcomed, for how else to promote our very unique fiber craft.
One of the more interesting pieces of history is the Guild’s first participation in a CNCH Conference: the 24th Annual Conference of Northern California Handweavers, held on April 29 – May 1, 1977, at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo. The theme was The Intercultural Web and was hosted by Diablo Weavers and Golden Gate Weavers – Pat Anderson of Golden Gate as Chair and Helen Ellwein of Diablo as Co-Chair. The committee had a staff of 35 volunteers, with 24 Guild Exhibits and 11 school exhibits. Participating were also 50 vendors from around Northern California and Oregon.
Saturday was the only day with “workshops”. There were five 40 minute sessions offered during eight different time periods throughout the day which one could presumably simply sit in on. Sunday offered a schedule of six special programs, all of which could be attended if one had the time. It would have been difficult since there were also 23 different demonstrations being given both on Saturday and Sunday.
Diablo continues its involvement in CNCH with having provided several Chairs and Co-Chairs, including Lillian Whipple as the Chair of the first CNCH alternative conference that was held at Asilomar in 1987. It was actually a tough sell at that time, but has now become a favored type of conference for many of our CNCH membership. Other past Chairs from Diablo are: Sharon Gardner, Susie Hodges [chaired two Conferences], and Joan Anderson.
Our Guild also keeps another tradition alive: the June Picnic Project. A theme is announced early in the year and a finished project is presented at the Annual June Picnic, which is a wrap-up for the year. Pretty much anything goes here. One recent year’s theme was “Old Inspiration”. Each member was given an envelope with two old weaving publications and they were to make something inspired from within those pages. What began as a sneaky way to give out lots of old magazines, from the library of one of our past members, proved to be quite interesting. Other past themes have included Monks Belt, Lunch Bags, Handwoven Jewelry, and the enticing Balls to Dye For.
We have become more eclectic in our programs, sometimes including other crafts that complement weaving. We have speakers, we have in-house programs and projects. But the general emphasis remains the same: to keep our weaving interest alive and hopefully promote an understanding of weaving to those who have not yet discovered this marvelous craft.