History and By-Laws


The beginnings of our guild can be traced to the Arrowmont school in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the
TVH Charter Member Dale Liles
1960s and 70s, where pre-industrial arts and crafts were taught. According to our charter member Dale Liles, the inspiration for a regional revival of handspinning came from a teacher at Arrowmont, Persis Grayson. Persis taught her students how to spin, but she also taught much more: the history of fiber tools, the qualities of different fibers, the possibilities for fiber beyond spinning yarn—such as felting and dyeing. Some of her students raised silkworms and built wheels; many were weavers. Faculty and students from the University of Tennessee became involved, and students came from as far as New Zealand. They learned from each other as well as from Persis in a non-competitive and enjoyable atmosphere. The beginning class became an intermediate class, then an advanced one.

Several local students including Dale Liles wanted to continue as a group beyond Arrowmont. One early member, a local librarian, recruited other librarians, and soon the word spread and Tennessee Valley Handspinners Guild was formed in the late 1970s. It was formally organized as a non-profit in 1981. One couple brought wheels to share; others donated fiber for teaching. Several members took workshops at Shakertown, KY. Activities included dye days, participation in an opera, the creation of several samplers for display at group demonstrations, and Roc Day celebrations.

Over the years, the group has met in various places, and enrollment has risen and fallen. Today, TVH is a thriving, active organization with more than 75 paid members of all ages and experience, including several professional fiber artists. Members demonstrate at the regional agricultural fair, a spring arts festival, several venues for traditional Appalachian crafts, and historic houses. Our monthly meetings, which draw people from as far as 100 miles away, are filled with inspiration, mutual support, and energy. We should all be thankful to our patron saint, the “grandmother of local spinners,” Persis Grayson.

- Penny Tschantz, October 2012

UNC-TV's "Folkways" program featured Persis Grayson in an episode about southern Appalachian folk arts in the early 1980's.

The station has recently made the video available for streaming. It is a rare and valuable opportunity to be able to watch the teacher whose work directly influenced our guild's founding.


As stated in the Constitution of Tennessee Valley Handspinners, Article VIII, these duly adopted by-laws set forth provisions relating to membership and daily operations of the organization:


Section One: Active Membership and Dues 
  1. The membership of this guild shall be open to those persons who spin or are interested in other fiber arts upon payment of annual dues.
  2. The annual dues of $15.00 are payable to the Treasurer at the January meeting. Members who fail to pay annual dues for two consecutive years will be dropped from the membership list. New members pay the full amount of annual dues at the time they join the guild. 
  3. Guests are always welcome at monthly meetings. 

Section Two: Privileges of Membership 
  1. An active member may participate in monthly meetings, vote, hold office, and serve on committees.
  2. An active member receives the monthly newsletter.
  3. An active member may check out library resources and guild-owned equipment, according to the procedures established by the guild.
  4. Only active members have permission from the guild to advertise or sell fiber arts related materials at meetings, in the newsletter, or on the website. 


Section One: Regular Monthly Meetings 

  1. The guild ordinarily meets on the first Saturday of every month at the time and place established by the membership. Meetings may be changed because of holidays as determined by the membership. 
  2. A quorum shall be 25% of the members of record present at the time of the vote. 
Section Two: Annual Business Meeting 

The November monthly meeting will be designated as an annual business meeting if necessary to affirm officers and consider any matters related to the financial or organizational needs of the guild.


Section One: Officers 

  1. The officers shall be the President, Vice-President, and Secretary-Treasurer. Terms of office will be determined by the officer and the Executive Committee. Officers are nominated by the Executive Committee and affirmed by vote of the membership. 
  2. The President shall preside at all meetings, make appointments to customary leadership roles, coordinate the work of officers and leaders, and provide the newsletter editor with agenda items and information of interest to the guild. The President shall serve on the Executive Committee at least one year following her or his term. 
  3. The Vice-President shall act in place of the absent President, assist the President in her or his duties, and shall succeed the President at the end of her or his term. The Vice-President shall keep minutes of monthly meetings. 
  4. The Treasurer shall receive and record dues, deposit, record and manage finances, and maintain the membership list. 

Section Two: Executive Committee 

  1. The Executive Committee consists of the President, Vice-President, Treasurer, immediate past President, and those in customary leadership roles. 
  2. The Executive Committee nominates officers for the guild, who therefore serve subject to the affirmation of the membership. 
  3. The Executive Committee serves as an advisory board to the President. 

Section Three: Customary Leadership Roles

The following leadership roles have been established by the guild and are appointed by the President in consultation with the Executive Committee:

  1. Equipment Manager: manages the equipment owned by the guild. 
  2. Historian: maintains records of interest to the history, purpose, work, and minutes of the guild.
  3. Librarian: manages the library resources of the guild. 
  4. Meeting Facilitator: oversees the setup the meeting room. 
  5. Newsletter Editor: oversees the publication of the monthly newsletter. 
  6. Webmaster: maintains the guild website. 


Section One: Revenues 

Dues constitute the only source of revenue for the guild. 

Section Two: Disbursements 

Disbursement of revenue consists of:

  1. Monthly meeting expenses. 
  2. Incidental expenses related to promotion of the guild’s work. 
  3. Equipment and library resources for membership use. 


The rules contained in Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the guild in all cases to which they are acceptable and in which they are not inconsistent with these by-laws.


These by-laws may be amended at any regular meeting of the year by a quorum vote of the members present and voting, provided notice of the proposed amendment has been given at the previous meeting.


In the event of dissolution, the residual assets of the organization will be donated to one or more non-profit groups to be determined by nomination and vote by the membership.