The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (AGWSD) holds a week-long Summer School every two years, with an exhibition in the year in between. The exhibition was cancelled in 2020, but after some uncertainty, the Summer School did in the end go ahead in August 2021. It was held at Writtle University College near Chelmsford in Essex. Three Guild members were able to attend: Denise Carroll, Katharine Bagshaw and Serena Mason. Serena was unable to join us, but several people who had attended previous Summer Schools agreed to share their experiences.
Denise had tried to get on a Summer School course several times previously, but been unsuccessful. This time the application form had a tick box for those who had not been to the previous one, and they were given priority. The course she attended was tutored by Janet Phillips and was for beginners to 4-shaft weaving. The tuition was excellent, and Denise has come back with a sampler of 4-shaft patterns, a netting shuttle bought from the trade fair, which will work as a shuttle and pickup stick combined, and a lot of ideas. She had also learned from Christina Chisholm that the AGWSD has now developed a Foundation Course in Weaving for which Christina is a tutor. We will try to get her to come to a Weaving Group zoom to talk about this.
The course Katharine initially chose was cancelled, and by then her second and third choices were unavailable, so she chose entrelac knitting from the courses which still had spaces. This was something completely new for her, though she had done entrelac crochet before, and she enjoyed learning a new skill in the company of other, mostly middle aged, women of widely differing backgrounds. Katharine also spoke about the exhibition at the end of the week, which included submissions for the Association’s Certificates in Achievement (C of A), which are judged at the Summer School.
Sadie Paige had attended the exhibition at the 2017 Summer School just to see the C of A entries as she had just started work on the C of A for Tapestry Weaving. There followed quite a bit of discussion about the requirements of the various C of A courses and the apparent emphasis on good presentation; also the facilities provided for display at different Summer Schools.
By coincidence Mary Paren had attended the 2017 Summer School (we didn’t know Sadie then) to do a spinning course: Flora not Fauna – focussing on developing the skills to spin all sorts of plant fibres. She also commented on the C of A displays and the contrast between an obviously artistic display and one where the work was simply placed on the table.
I showed some photos from the Summer School I attended in 2011, then in the afternoon, Fiona Dendy who was unable to attend in the morning showed photos from the tapestry course she did at a later Summer School.
The photos show: some samples of Katharine’s entrelac, C o A submissions in 2021 and 2017, and pictures from the course Mary attended.
The afternoon craft and chat session included more discussion of Summer School and C of A submission, as well as samples of spinning, knitting and dyeing members had been working on.