Handmade: Weaving guild welcomes range of crafters

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

The name may be a little misleading but the Eastside Handweavers Guild is really a group of fiberart enthusiasts who gather together to share their love for various forms of handwork — everything from knitting to quilting.

Out of the 29 members, guild president Cindy Greenfelder of Grosse Pointe Woods, said, “We only have about six to eight members who actually weave. We had a lot more weavers when we first started, but then there are people who get out of weaving because you have to have a lot of equipment. We allow anyone to join. We have a lot of spinners, knitters, and basket weavers, and there are (also) felters, and people who quilt.”

The guild was formed by a group of weavers, hence the name, around September 1975, back when members met at a yarn shop in Grosse Pointe Woods.

“We actually still have one member who is from that time,” said Greenfelder, a member since the late ’80s. “They met at the knit shop until it closed, and then began meeting in members’ homes. Then, when the group grew, they started finding other venues to meet at, including the Grosse Pointe Public Library, (and) the Children’s Home of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Woods.” They also met in Warren at one time at an apartment complex that had a community room.

“There are close to 35 weaving guilds throughout the state of Michigan, and we all belong to the Michigan League of Handweavers. We just happen to be one of the smaller guilds,” she noted.

Members of the guild, which at one time included a couple men, range in age from about 50-80, and currently meet at the St. Clair Shores Adult and Community Education Facility (23055 Masonic) in St. Clair Shores the third Monday of the month, from Sept.-Nov. and Jan.-May. The membership fee is $20 a year which includes their monthly newsletter.

Study groups are among guild activities. Greenfelder said at Monday’s meeting, they were joined by a woman who gave a talk about her grandmother’s blanket – which at one time was in the Smithsonian – that had been woven for her grandmother in the 1800s..”

Although the group is about more than weaving, members host a summer exhibit of their handwoven items at the St. Clair Shores Public Library. “We do that in the month of July to encourage people to think about weaving. We put a lot of projects that we worked on throughout the year in the display. It’s quite difficult to keep weaving going. It’s something all the weavers have been trying to do so that it’s not a dying craft. (Weaving) is a solitary type of thing. There are a lot of weavers out there who don’t belong to guilds, but sort of weave on their own. The Handweavers Guild of America is seeing what a lot of local guilds are seeing.

“We continue to try to bring weaving to the community, (but) equipment is not cheap. One of the things we have found is that a lot of the knit shops have gone on to teach weaving on the Rigid Heddle Loom (a portable tabletop apparatus), which you can get for $200-$300,” explained Greenfelder, who had five floor looms in her home until she sold one recently to make room for one that can weave rugs.

Despite the fact the guild doesn’t teach weaving, she said, “We encourage people to go to places around the state where they can actually learn. We encourage them to go to Heritage Spinning & Weaving (47 E. Flint, Lake Orion) and the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (1516 Cranbrook, Birmingham).” Greenfelder, who’s been weaving for 38 years, said she learned at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

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