The Association is a registered charity and is the umbrella organisation which provides resources and services to affilated Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers throughout the UK and abroad.
There are 115 Guilds affiliated to the Association, all over the UK, including 11 Scottish Guilds, and in Ireland. There is also a flourishing Online Guild with members worldwide. A list of Guilds, with contact details can be found on our web site.
The Association exists for the members of each affiliated Guild to help them increase their skills and experience of their chosen craft/s and to enable them to make contact with others of a like mind around the country.
Each guild is unique and autonomous and may have a membership ranging from a few friends meeting regularly to share their interests and skills to a large group of over 100, meeting in a more formal way with speakers and tutors drawn from the membership itself or from outside the Association; many of them have international reputations in their field of expertise.
Membership of the Guilds is open to anyone who has an interest in textile production by hand. Most members join a Guild because they want to learn more. You do not have to be an expert spinner, weaver or dyer to join a Guild; many new members are complete beginners.
The annual programmes of the Guilds will be as varied as the Guilds themselves: archaeological textiles, textiles and their uses in the future, useable textiles, textiles as art, natural dyeing including the specialized dyeing with fungi, ancient and modern weaving techniques, braids, felt making, basic spinning techniques, spinning fancy designer yarns, historical costumes and how they were produced, conservation of textiles, etc. etc. These talks are often closely followed by workshops.
The variety of activities organized by the Guilds is quite immense but the one thing that the Guilds have in common is their objective, which is that of the Association itself, i.e. “the preservation and improvement of craftsmanship in hand-weaving, spinning and dyeing, for the benefit of the public and the promotion of public awareness and education in such craftsmanship”. The Guilds are becoming more and more important in the field of education and in the continuation of traditional textile skills as the number of courses at University level and at L.E.A. level are disappearing. Many Guild members are active in their local schools, teaching staff and children traditional skills and helping them to produce original art work for display in school halls and classrooms and giving the children the wonderful experience of creating something very special with their own hands.
In these days of mechanization, computers and demands for immediate satisfaction Guild members may seem a bit anachronistic – is there something of the “Luddite” about us? Definitely not. Electric spinning wheels are available and many Guild members use computer software to design original woven fabrics and some have computer driven looms. Dyers use a variety of dyestuffs to create their own beautiful, coloured yarns and fibres; from traditional natural vegetable dyes and the magical indigo and woad to the careful use of chemical dyes.
Guild members can often be seen “spreading the word” and demonstrating at Craft Fairs, Agricultural and other shows [e.g. Knitting & Stitching, Woolfest , Wonderwool Wales etc] all around the country
The General Purposes Committee [GPC] of the Association is responsible for organizing nationwide events such as Exhibitions, Summer Schools, Spring Workshops and Conferences; they produce a calendar, a Speaker’s List, organize the Certificate of Achievement and arrange Public Liability Insurance.
The Journal Editorial Committee [JEC] is responsible for the production of the Association’s quarterly magazine ‘The Journal’.
Year Established: 1951
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