Physical or online groups?
As I live alone, and with no family living in my adopted country, I often consider the pros and cons of joining quilting groups. These could be largish, like guilds, or small and local groups who meet in each others' houses on a regular basis. I have tried both, and there are limitations as well as positives. The plus side of the guild is that they sometimes have inspiring speakers, or invite well-known artists to run workshops, as well as putting on shows that are only open to members. The downside for me is that is is quite a distance, and many times I found the speaker had cancelled and people were just going to do show and tell and drink tea. Some members are very prolific and innovative, but the vast majority work in the more traditional designs, which no longer capture my imagination.
The smaller local groups were friendly, and it was easier to keep up with each person's development and ideas. However, I found most times that I didn't have any work that I could usefully take – most of my work needs concentration and quite a lot of space (I am messy!). I began to resent the time going to the meetings which I could more profitably use on my work.
So now my groups are all online. They have the advantage that participation takes only a few minutes when it is convenient. There is still a feeling of camaraderie, and shared goals, probably more than in a real group. It is interesting to e-chat to people from other countries and other cultures, learning a few details of their lives and homes, as well as combining in joint works or joint challenges.
I am sure that the best option would be a group that could meet occasionally to review each other's work for the year, but given the geographical spread, this is not easy to organise. I was lucky that most of my first online group was able to meet twice, once at the now defunct Long Beach show, and once in Canada for a self-run retreat. Some of the Latitude members have met each other, and more will meet at FOQ this year. I did meet some last year, and it gives a wonderful richness to the online life.
From my online groups I have made good friends in other parts of the world. From my local groups and guilds, I have made only one, and she is going to move away from the area soon.
I wonder how things are for others in their countries, and if they live in cities or countryside.