I was, thanks to some weaver friends, able to attend part of the Florida Tropical Weavers Guild‘s annual conference this year. It ran from March 14th to the 27th (Thursday through Sunday). I was there for the first two days and checked out the morning of the third day. (I was supposed to attend a mini-class that day, but the instructor sadly passed away.)

The first day, Thursday, I met up with some of my local guild members and we chatted over lunch. One of them was vending, so after we ate (and most people went off to workshops) I bought a few things from her table. She had some targhee/silk/bamboo braids of fiber on sale, plus I got some hemp and some qiviut (musk ox hair). She gave me a tip on spinning fibers that make my hands hot: dust my palms with corn starch before spinning. It’ll wash right off the finished yarn. Genius.

Each local guild had tables set up in the hallway, with items made by members on display. There was some gorgeous stuff. Some was woven, but many fiber arts were represented. There was also a table dedicated to sprang, an ancient method of making stretchy fabric that’s almost completely died out. There was a note saying “Interested in sprang? See B–.” (Not posting her name without permission.) I resolved to keep an eye out for her. Her work was stunning.

I went to a mini-class on “ethnic” looms. (I hate that word.) Originally I was going to take a class on hemp spinning, but I’m dealing with tendonitis in my thumb so spinning was off-limits for a while. Instead I did the ethnic looms class. There were seven types of looms set up, from a ground loom (used by, among others, Bedouins and the ancient Egyptians) to a full-size warp-weighted loom to an African two-shaft drag loom. As part of the class we received the parts for a backstrap loom. I set mine up in my hotel room after class, and made some progress.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can take long crafting classes. I did a class with my local guild last month on making felted baskets, and I had to bail after two hours. I had to leave the ethnic looms class after about 90 minutes. I suspect the problem isn’t the crafting itself, it’s how much I interact with the other students. I have limited spoons for socializing, and the more people present, the less time I can manage talking. In both these classes I was talking a lot to other students as we helped each other out.

So yeah, I went back to my hotel room to calm down. I read for a bit and relaxed enough to enjoy dinner with some women I didn’t know. I was still tired, though, so I skipped the presentation and went back to my room.

Friday I didn’t do all that much during the day. Apparently most of the people who attend the con are there for the multi-day workshops. I hadn’t signed up for one, because they’re expensive. (I mean, I think you get your money’s worth, but I didn’t have an extra $400 laying around.) I had lunch with everyone during the midday break, though, and I met the technology chair of FTWG. (I recognized her from an online panel I attended last month.) We started talking, and I offered to help out with their web site. She introduced me to the communications VP and we made plans to get together over Zoom after the conference was over. (We did that yesterday, actually.)

Around 4pm I went to the hotel bar. A local guild member found me there. She’d just come for dinner and to model for a mutual friend in the fashion show later that day. She and I had never talked one on one before, and we had a really good time before it was time to go to dinner.

Remember B– from the sprang table? I wound up sitting across from her at dinner. I gushed over her work and said I wanted to learn. After we were done eating she pulled me aside and gave me a quick demo, and told me a good source for inexpensive sprang frames. I ordered one and promised to keep in touch.

The fashion show was fantastic. These people are ridiculously talented. I enjoyed every moment of it. Afterwards I attended the afterparty for a bit, where we tried to watch a shuttle launch (we couldn’t see it) but did see the Disney fireworks. I went back to my room, played with my backstrap loom some more, and went to sleep.

Saturday I packed up and drove home. It was a really good trip. I’m delighted I got to go. I made a couple new friends, I learned some tips and tricks for various crafts, and I made contacts who can help me learn things. I doubt I’ll be able to attend again, for financial reasons, but I’m so happy I got to go this year!

Categories: Travel


Mary · April 7, 2024 at 4:37 pm

Loved getting to know you better at the conference too, Grayson! You have such a depth of knowledge on so many subjects! Not to mention a rather humble way of expressing yourself.

    Grayson · April 8, 2024 at 9:03 am

    You’re very sweet. I enjoy your company too!

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