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Guild's imprint celebrated with new exhibit

The Porcupine Handweavers and Spinners Guild is marking its 45th anniversary

For 45 years, a local guild has found a way to connect and weave its way into the community fabric. 

A Treasury of Textiles is helping the Porcupine Handweavers and Spinners Guild mark its anniversary. The exhibit is on display at the Timmins Museum: NEC until June 5.

From tea towels to blankets, clothing and wall hangings, the exhibit celebrates the work of the guild's members. 

“When it’s handwoven, whether it’s a basket ... or yarn or needlefelting or whatever, you’re touching it, you’re handling it, you’re leaving your imprint on that product. It makes you a lot more aware of fibre in the world,” said member Susan O'Riordan. 

The guild took form in the late '70s, around the time that the Timmins Symphony Orchestra started, she said.

Having dabbled in textiles from a young age, starting in school with a home ec class, O'Riordan was interested in weaving before joining the guild. These days, she's trying to work in more spinning.

With a location in the H.R. Bielek building downtown Timmins, active members have access to the club's looms, spinning wheels, mentorship and like-minded people.

Members of the guild, she explained, learn to warp the loom, and design their project colours and structure. Other members spin yarn. Some do both.

“We take the project from start to finish so you really you learn a lot. You’re engaging your brain, your heart, your hands and you’re using your body because it can be pretty physical. And you develop a patience. It’s meditative when you’re in a flow,” she said.

The projects don't have to be complicated. Simple tea towels express the makers' creative side through the structure and colour. Shawls and scarves are also a popular projoect.

“(Weaving) appeals to a lot of different senses and you’re always learning. There’s no end to what you can learn whether it’s the history of women, social history, political history. Cloth is with us for life and it’s often used by women not just to clothe people and to look after families but as political statements. I like it, I find it very interesting,” she said.

Sometimes there are challenges where members create something reflecting a photo or special item that a member brings in.

Overall, O'Riodan said it's a welcoming and diverse club.

Learn more about the group here.