Carmichael weaver shares artistry with community
By Jessica Laskey
Lynne Greaves admits that many people think weaving is a lost art, but she and fellow members of the Sacramento Weavers & Spinners Guild are here to show the world that the artform is alive and well.
“You name it, we can weave it,” says Greaves, a New Jersey native who’s lived in Carmichael for 48 years. “Anything made out of cloth was made by a weaver. In fact, when the commercial industry makes fabric, it’s first designed by hand by a weaver on a handloom, then it’s transferred to a commercial loom.
“A weaver uses a loom the way a painter uses paint, it’s just a different medium.”
Lynne Greaves wasn’t a stranger to fiber arts when she first got into weaving. She’d grown up knitting thanks to her Swedish mother and grandmother. In Swedish culture, it’s the job of the children—especially the girls, Greaves explains—to knit mittens and socks for the family. When she moved to Sacramento in the 1970s so her pediatrician husband could take a job with Kaiser, Greaves read an article in The Bee about a new weaving store in town. Intrigued, Greaves visited the shop and fell in love with her future pastime.
“After visiting the store, I was interested enough to attend the National Weaving Association’s biennial conference in San Francisco that year,” Greaves recalls. “I immediately knew it was for me. I bought a loom that day and have never regretted it.”
The artform also introduced her to one of her closest (now late) friends, a fellow weaver named Arlyn Uslan. Uslan mentored Lynne Greaves for years before both women decided to join the Sacramento Weavers & Spinners Guild, a group founded in 1947 to educate the public about fiber arts and bring together practitioners for monthly meetings, conferences and special events.
“The main goals of the guild are to educate and do outreach,” Greaves says. “Meetings are open to the community and we welcome guests anytime. The weavers are such a friendly, cross-generational group. We all share our knowledge equally and we learn from each other, so it’s nice to have new people come in.”
To that end, the guild holds open meetings at 10 a.m. at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park every fourth Tuesday from September through May, as well as special workshops three times a year headlined by prominent guest speakers.
The group also hosts an open house each February that features demonstrations galore, including weaving, basketry, the spinning of raw fleece into yarn, felting, dying and Navajo weaving taught by a Navajo expert who’s a member of the guild. The event is free and open to the public, and children are welcome.
“I’ve been going to the open house for 40 years and I’ve never seen a cranky child,” Greaves says. “They’re fascinated by what we do, watching the looms and the spinning wheels. We’re happy to have them come.”
The 200-member guild also donates its artistry to the Sacramento Blankets for Sacramento Kids program, which provides handmade blankets to children in Sacramento and Placer counties who are in hospitals and shelters, involved in domestic disputes or victims of emergencies like Hurricane Katrina.
“Having something handmade is just so special,” Greaves says. “That’s why I love the guild—it’s full of such helpful, generous people.”
Check out the Sacramento Weavers & Spinners Guild Open House on Feb. 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center at 3330 McKinley Blvd. For more information, visit sacramentoweavespin.org.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.