Thursday, January 30, 2014

Members exhibiting work - Pen Women Art Show

Ruth Truett and Barbara Mitchell, both guild members, have work in the Birmingham branch of Pen Women annual art show that opens this Sunday, February 2, from 2:00 to 4:00 at the Soon-Bok Sellers Gallery at Artists on the Bluff (571 Park Avenue in Hoover). The exhibition continues through February 26. The National League of American Pen Women include professional artists, writers, and composers.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Newsletter, January 2014

President’s Column

Hello Fiber Friends!


Congratulations to those elected to serve you in the Guild this year! I am looking forward to working with you all as President! Please remember we are currently collecting dues so bring your checkbook to the meeting! We don't want you to miss out on a fun year!

I trust everyone found Santa to be in a Fiber mood this year! I signed up for the Laura Nelkin's Magpie MKAL and have already received some beautiful yarn and BEADS...oh what have I gotten myself into! Also my daughter enrolled me in a sock yarn club, so we know what I'll be doing this year!

I have to say I am really excited about 2014 for the Guild! We have a very SOCTAKULAR meeting planned for January....and believe me you won't want to miss it! Remember that we are meeting at St. Peter's in Hoover now so come join us!

Thanks again to Mary Kaiser for opening up her lovely home to us for our Christmas party! So many beautiful cowls...and they all seemed to go to the right person! We have so much talent in this Guild!

Stay warm and Fiber on! See you on January 11th at 10 A.M. Bring your feet and expect to be inspired!


Karen Ford


January Meeting - SOCKAPALOOZA!

Saturday, January 11th, 10:00 am
St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church
2061 Patton Chapel Rd
Birmingham, AL  (205) 822-4480


Our program this month is a SOCK SUMMIT.  We will have stations set up around our meeting space so that members can circulate and pick up inspiration, tips, and free patterns, see hands-on demonstrations, ask questions, and see a wide range of sock-knitting techniques.  Everyone from beginner to expert should be able to find a station that introduces a new approach. Some of the stations will include spinning for socks, knitting socks toe-up, knitting socks on circular needles, designing sock patterns, using color work in socks, custom-fitted socks, and more.  Please come ready to share your own sock-knitting expertise, your favorite sock book or sock pattern, your finished socks, half-knitted socks, and your favorite sock yarns.  

If you are willing to have a station at Sockapalooza, just e-mail Programs V.P. Mary Kaiser at, subject line "Sockapalooza."  

Thanks,  Mary


Note new time and location!  When you arrive at the church, park and then look for an awning at the front left of the church.  Enter through the door under the awning



THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For ALL you have done for the Guild in the past year(s)

Janelle Zorko Schultz - President, Webmaster and Newsletter
Nancy Lavender - Treasurer
Tonni Henderson - Secretary



It's January and time for payment of your GBFG dues! Membership dues are $25 per year and need to be paid by March. Dues are used for our meeting supplies, rental costs for our meeting space, supplementing workshop fees when possible for Guild members,  and for administrative expenses. They may be paid to Nancy Lavender at January's meeting or mailed to: GBFG, P.O. Box 660723, Birmingham, AL 35266-0723. Please make your check out to 'GBFG' or Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild, thanks!

We always encourage guests to attend our meetings but if you come more than a few times in the year, we kindly ask that you join.
Remember that as a GBFG Member, you have access to our Yahoo Group in which we discuss current fiber news and events, priority registration and possible reduced fees for GBFG workshops, and equipment rental.

Where Do Study Groups Come From?
by Mary Spanos


The fiber guild is lucky to have several study groups right now: a spinning study group, a knitting study group, and a bobbin lace study group. For the people involved in these groups they provide an opportunity to focus on a specific topic and study together.
            However, the members of the guild comprise a diverse group with many interests, many work schedules, and many life-styles. The fiber guild could support many more study groups. They could be permanent groups that last for decades, or they could be short lived, gathering to study a very specific topic and then disbanding. All that is required is someone to take the lead, think up a study group topic, and ask for other interested participants. Maybe this short discussion of some of the features of the current study groups will give you an idea for forming the study group that you’ve been wishing for.
             The spinning study group has been around for about 20 years. People bring their spinning wheels, their spindles, or whatever they are working on, along with anything they have recently finished. We break for lunch with some going out and some staying in. The low-stress, non-organized format seems to be what has kept this group together for so long. We have no programs, no officers, and only rarely a group project. Currently, Barbara Tucker sends out an email the Sunday before the meeting and asks if anyone is coming and that reminder is probably more important that it appears.
            The knitting study group started only three years ago and being recently formed I can provide more information on how that came about. Karen Ford and Debbie Scott were interested in a jacket I was knitting and asked if I would show them how I planned that project. We decided to ask other members if they wanted to join us. We picked a location and time and after a year of meetings, we decided that we would make it official and call our group, which by then included about fifteen people, the knitting study group. We are slightly more organized than the spinning study group and pick a topic and a leader for a calendar year. For instance, the first year we worked on the knitted jacket and I was the leader. Pia Cusick lead us the second year and we focused on cabled vests. Mary Kaiser was our leader for 2013 and we worked on color-work, such as Fair Isle. In 2014, Terry Martin will lead us as we look at lace in knitting and we’ll start out by knitting one of Janice Weinstein’s patterns. Although we pick a topic and a leader, we try to keep our study group work low-key, we don’t want to make the study group projects too oppressive so we can’t keep up with our non-group knitting, or so we start wanting to hide from the study group meetings. Since we meet at Karen Ford’s home and she was one of the original organizers, she is our defacto leader, while I am the email person (sending out our monthly reminder, like Barbara Tucker does for the spinning study group).
            The bobbin lace group is a much smaller group and although they have a regular meeting day, they don’t meet every month. They check in with each other and decide if they can meet.
            There is a new night-time knitting study group opportunity at ArtPlay on Southside. Mary Kaiser teaches knitting there and in-between the semesters the students continue to meet (the classes must be great if she can’t get the students to quit coming even after the course is finished). Guild members are welcome to join them on Thursday evenings. Contact Mary Kaiser ( to find out more.
            If you would like to start a study group on any fiber-related topic, bring it up at the next fiber guild meeting and see if there are others that would like to join in. You might find meeting rooms at your office or your church. If you are going to meet at someone’s home, you may run into the same problem the current knitting study group ran into and that is that only so many people can fit around a dinning room table, even one as large as Karen’s.



Study Groups Meet Monthly

  • Spinning Study Group:  4th Wednesday, September 26, 10 a.m. St. Peter’s Church in Hoover.  Please check out the Yahoo Group (you must be a GBFG member) for cancellations or schedule changes.
  • More groups may meet in the future.  Watch the newsletter and website for more information and read Mary Spanos's article above about starting new groups!


"When I am feeling bad I stay in my house and am bored. Then I go to weave at the local weaving center with my companions until I forget about feeling bad. When I am sad or I'm bothered and I start weaving, it quickly goes away." - Juana Pumayalli  (Peruvian fiber artist from Chincherro)

Still, though, I am able to spin, thanks to God. When I spin, I forget about my troubles and sorrows. Also, when I spin, I can sell (my yarn) and get what I need. There are times when I spin for other people and they pay me with their products such as potatoes, corn, and wheat, and they bring me coca leaves to chew as a gift... Only when I die may I be done with spinning, although when we die we take our spindles... so perhaps we will continue to spin in the other world...   - Emilia Yana age 80 (Peruvian fiber artist from Pitumarca)

From Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands: Dreaming Patterns, Weaving Memories by Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez


Newsletter News...

Each month, I am planning to have items coming from YOU, our Guild members. These will include short book reviews related to any fiber art; a tip you have discovered and used that make your fiber art a little bit easier to execute; any fiber related articles; and a fiber question you would love answers or suggestions from other guild members. Please send your ideas, suggestions, book recommendations, questions to me (Susie Strauss) by the 20th of the month to go into the following month's newsletter. Email me at and put GBFG Newsletter in the subject line.

Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild
The Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild is comprised of individuals dedicated to the dissemination and preservation of fiber arts.  Meetings are the second Saturday of the month, 10:00-12:00 (no meeting in July and August). Visitors are welcome.  The Guild offers programs almost monthly, focused workshops several times a year, and equipment rental (see below).  Southern Strands, the Guild newsletter, is published monthly (no issue in August); deadline for submission of material is the 20th of each month).  Send items to Susie Strauss at

Congratulations to our Officers and Board for 2014!
Karen Ford – President
Mary Kaiser – Programs
Debbie Scott – Workshops
Nancy Lavender – Treasurer
Janice Weinstein - Secretary
Mary Spanos – Website
Susie Strauss - Newsletter


Rental of Guild Equipment & Materials
The Guild has available, for rental to members, the following:
  • Looms of various types (floor, table, rigid heddle, tapestry), spinning wheels, drum carder, and more. Rental fee is $10 dollars per month with a deposit of $100 per item. Deposits will be returned when equipment is returned in good condition. 
  • Lucy Neatby's DVD knitting collection. Deposit of $30 per DVD. This is the current replacement cost. One-month checkout. See for description of DVD contents.
  • See inventory list and photos of Guild equipment in the Yahoo group folders section (you must be a paid member to access the Yahoo Group files and photos).