Saturday, 3 December 2016

Summer School 2017, reminder that booking closes 31st Dec 2016

Next summer school will be held at Sparsholt College in Hampshire from 13th to 20th August 2017, with 18 courses including ones led by 2015 tutors Jane Deane, Amanda Hannaford, Averil Otiv and Debbie Tomkies. The booking deadline is 31st December 2016 and the brochure with booking form information is downloadable here (link). If you have any queries please contact Janet Crowther and team on

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Summer school is ended ... but not forgotten!

Summer School and its Open Day were inspiring immersive experiences for those that were there. Too busy to have time to post about them in this blog (sorry). However many aspects were 'captured' online in tweet, post and photo format. The overview links are shown in the navigation on the right of the screen, but below are further links and more information about these. If you have uploaded something that we should include in this list then please let us know (you can contact which will be monitored until the end of 2015).

Storify of the 2015 summer school
This was prepared by Katie Weston as a chronological and ordered account of summer school. Good place to get an overview. It draws heavily on ...

AGWSD Twitter account 
This has summer school as it happened. You will find tweets from PolyphemusBob here - such digitally talented silkworms!

Flickr pool of shared photos
A collective album shared over 300 photos taken by students and visitors.

Tutor posts about summer school 
Isabella Whitworth (wax resist on silk)
-  Susan J Foulkes (narrow band weaving)  Part 1 Part 2
Alison Daykin (design for the terrified)

Student blog about summer school 
- Katie Weston  (student on wax resist and rigid heddle courses)

Visitors blog about the Open Day
Englishgirlathome (Birmingham guild visitor)
Needlesofsteel  (Non-guild member)

Thank you...

We've shut the green door on the office and completed post-summer school tasks. So some final thanks are in order ...

Thank you to those that took the time to share their memories online and special thanks to Katie Weston who led on the Twitter account and made the Storify for us. Thank you also to the prefects who helped tutors and fellow students throughout the week and organised the excerpts from each class which will be published in The Journal Spring issue (J257). 

Thank you also to the many volunteers (and spouses) who helped make the event happen and kept it on track - from stewards to cake makers, from auction, fashion show and trade fair crews to speakers, from ticket sellers to clean up crews with special thanks to the team who helped organise both before and at summer school. Big thanks also to the many lovely students and their talented tutors. We have absorbed your feedback and passed this on to the 2017 team.

More information upcoming AGWSD events including the next summer school can be found in the Events section on the AGWSD website.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Summer school in full swing ... onwards to Open Day

Amanda Hannaford's class finds out the secrets of  the daily fleece
We are now well into the second half of the summer school week. This post is therefore brief because you can now follow what is happening at summer school AS IT HAPPENS by visiting our Twitter stream.  Please follow this to see it all happen day by day.

The Open Day runs from 10-5pm on Saturday and students who have registered will have received information about it. The registration process has now closed (we are expecting around 200 extra people to visit the site on Saturday and that is enough to take us to capacity on this small site).

Before we get to that we have the fashion show (tonight), a last minute opportunity to make things in the construction hall, the trade fair and the Certificate of Achievement.Onward to enjoy and onward we go.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Party Like It’s 1955 – Saturday Night Celebrations …. At the Dance and At the Flicks ….

Not quite the last word but a post getting you in the mood to take a 1955 theme for the last night party and the preparations along the way.  Here is Jill setting the scene and explaining the plan for preparations...

The year the Association was established, Britain was slowly emerging from the end of rationing which had finished the previous year. Widespread shortages of cloth, thread and yarn which had occurred as a result of the diverting of manufacturing resources to reconstruction were beginning to ease. The devastation caused by the bombing of manufacturing districts was slow to repair and this meant that supplies were often scarce and haphazard at times. Locally produced fibres and fabrics were valued and often reused or made into something different. The skills of ‘handwork’ were taught across the school curriculum and considered an essential part of everyday life. ‘Make do and mend’ had a resonance that carried through the 1950s as folk sought to make their lives less grey and add gaiety to their ‘leisure’ time, a new concept gaining ground.
Against this background, and although not new, the practice of forming cooperative clubs of like-minded crafts-people has proved to be a highly successful one. Working together to improve practice and gain experience has allowed many people to develop their understanding and share that with other people, be it as teachers or practitioners. To celebrate the establishment of the Association, in a small way, we are going to use those principles and play. The Summer School Fringe events are designed to encourage you to share your skills with other people and have fun along the way.

We will be using the Construction Hall during the week as the centre for 1955-style after-hours activity, which will culminate in the celebrations of Saturday Night. You will have the opportunity to play board games including chess, playing charades, cards and cribbage, I will be running four dressmaking sessions for those who’d like to make hats, fascinators and clothes for the social dance and ‘drive-in’. You’ll be using sewing machines from the 1950s and re-purposing fabric to make circular skirts, we’ll be recycling ornaments and feathers and reusing lace trimmings and ribbon. We’ll be doing what my mum did by adapting, making and getting ready for Saturday Night. Going to the flicks or out to a dance was the highlight of the week for my mum and dad; newly at work in 1955 after school and National Service. The excitement of music and the glamour of film was not to be missed and we won’t be missing it either.

If you want to help what do you need to do?
  • Bring any clothing, shoes or scraps that you think you might need.
  • Bring any fabric that is tucked away in the cupboard that can be used for dressmaking (I’ll have a few patterns and know-how) even bedsheets, curtains and tablecloths were used in the 50s for clothing. I’ll have some fabric which I’ve been squirrelling away for the purpose - if you don't bring your own materials you are asked to put a contribution in the pot for the nominal cost as I’ve used my budget to buy some at 50p - £2.00/metre.
  • Bring scraps of lace, feather and any costume jewellery that can be used to make ornaments or fascinators.
  • Bring your sewing kits and a pair of scissors that cut fabric. If you’ve got any 1950s style patterns, that are not too tricky, bring those - bear in mind we will have four evenings to do this and there are others distractions too.
  • Bring yourself and your enthusiasm.
  • Don’t forget your red lipstick, girls, and boys, bring your Brylcreem. I can do your make-up on Saturday evening for the wobbly of hand …
  • I’ll bring sewing machines, interfacing, threads, pattern paper and pins.
  • Any questions, just ask (once you are there) or email in advance to using 1955 in the header.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Summer School Silent Auction - call for sellers (and buyers)

Click image to enlarge.
Ann Baseden might recognise the felted object?
The best way to stash or de-stash (individually or as a guild) may be on hand if you are attending the summer school auction or know someone who is doing so. Pictured are a few of the things which we expect to be offered as part of the silent auction this year. There are also larger equipment items (e.g. an Ashford Joy (single treadle) with bag offered by Stratford guild. Items both large and small are welcome but they do need to relate to the activities of the Association. You also need some way to get them there on the day.

You can offer items as donations (in which case they will start with a low reserve and 100% of income will go to the AGWSD bursary fund). Or you can also sell on commission (in which case you get 80% of the sale price and the bursary fund gets 20%). You can also just go along to look and buy (we encourage you to do this).

Brenda Crocker of Cotswold Guild explains a little more here ...

Now is a good time to sort out all those pieces of equipment, wool, books and anything else you would like to enter into the Silent Auction.  It will be held in Moreton Morrell Sports Hall on Wednesday August 19th and run from 10am to 8pm (for viewing/bidding). First bid must be made by the owner of any item, this to be the lowest amount you will accept (the reserve price). Sellers need to fill in the form and bring this with the item for sale between 8am and 10am on the morning of the sale. 

At the end of the Auction the hall must be cleared.  So if any item offered on commission is not sold you must make sure you or a friend collects it.  Please fill in the form to bring with you with your Auction goodies to sell. 

You can download the form for sellers using this link or complete one on the day.  Please read the terms outlined on the form. If you have any queries please email

Friday, 17 July 2015

'Showing off' at summer school

In the month running up to the start of summer school we will be sharing some of the events that are happening there. In this post Ruth McCartney of Coventry Guild shares plans for the fashion show on Thursday 20th August and asks for early information about entries. (Remember that if you are not attending as a student you can still sample some Summer School fun on the Open Day on Saturday, 22 August).

Those of you who are “old hands” at Summer School may be rummaging through your projects from 2014 and 2015 to find items you would like to share with us in the Fashion Show. If this is the case then please keep searching, as another fashion show will take place this summer. For new members to Summer School, hopefully I have caught your attention and you are looking for more information.

The Fashion Show this year we are hoping will be bigger than before and we know many have not been to one before - hence the forward notice. The type of items we are looking for can be anything that you would like to share with others, so demonstrating weaving, spinning or dyeing skills, construction techniques or imaginative objects that you feel would inspire, encourage or interest other members this summer. These can have been made prior to attending summer school or indeed made during one of the classes during the week. To help us plan, it would be useful to have information now on the item/s that you are thinking of bringing with you.
Andrea Cross shows off
some woolly items at Summer School 2013

You can use this form (link) so that you can let us know the important details. We want to give your item the best introduction when it hits the catwalk. The form asks key questions including about:
  • Skills you used to make the item; 
  • Whether items should be grouped or shown together; 
  • Interesting background details to describe the inspiration, planning and construction that may be of interest to others whilst the item is being shown. 
As much advance notice as possible is requested about what you may be showing so that we can start to plan the event. We hope to accommodate as many items as time permits, but please read the form and note possible restrictions.

If you have items to show you can download an entry form HERE (click download to make a copy to write on/print out). Please return this as an attachment to an email addressed to Blank printed forms will also be available from the summer school office while at summer school.

If you have any queries about the fashion show before summer school starts please email Ruth at - she will be pleased to help. She looks forward to finding out more about your proposed exhibits (as do we all!).

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Will we have silkworms at Summer School?

 Here is a silkworm update from Jane Deane (tutor of Cocoons to Cloth) about the extra participants in her class. I am sure we will all be interested to see how these develop ...
Polyphemus female with new baby silk worms. Called Polyphemus because of the huge eye spot on the lower wing, after Greek one-eyed giant!
Will we have silkworms at Summer School? Well, I was beginning to worry a bit about that but I have just received some Chinese Oak Silkmoth eggs and if everyone crosses their fingers, toes, whatever, and they hatch within the next week, we might have some and they might even be spinning along with us! They may, of course, not hatch and then I'm not sure what we'll do. My Chinese Moonmoths will all have cocooned by then, and I suspect my Polyphemus caterpillars will also have tucked themselves up.

We'll just have to hope....