Barbara Wright, of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, tells us all about the Association and its upcoming exhibition in Scotland . . .

Can you tell us about the Association and how it started?

“The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers formed in 1955 with the aim of bringing together the community of craft weavers, spinners and dyers.

It's an umbrella body to which local Guilds are affiliated, and the aim is to support those local Guilds by operating at a larger scale with national conferences, national exhibitions, summer schools, publications and recognised qualifications certifying individuals’ high level of achievement and competence in their chosen craft.”

Where are the Guilds located – and how many are there?

“There are 114 Guilds spread out all over the UK, a small number abroad and an online Guild. Depending on where they live, some people are members of more than one Guild.”

What’s it like being part of a Guild? What are the benefits of joining one?

“Being part of a Guild offers the opportunity to meet like-minded people at meetings, usually at least once a month, where there are often talks and workshops offering the opportunity to learn new skills. 

Some meetings are DYOT or ‘do your own thing’, so the more portable activities such as spinning, weaving on small looms, knitting of yarns previously spun etc are enjoyed amid much chat and coffee. 

Many Guilds have items such as spinning wheels which can be borrowed and many have libraries of relevant books. The Association also has an extensive library from which books can be borrowed.

Every other year there is a week-long summer school where courses are offered in the core activities and related ones. In alternate years, there is a weekend conference and also a national exhibition.”

What advice would you give to somebody who has an interest in weaving, spinning or dyeing but has never tried it?

“Find your local Guild and go along, members will be very willing to share their skills and advise on equipment.

The Association’s Foundation Certificate is available to study for if someone wants a formal way in – and for the more advanced, the Certificate of Achievement can be worked towards and demonstrates a high level of skill. 

The Association also publishes a quarterly Journal full of interesting articles, news about Guilds and information about exhibitions and courses.”

And what about somebody who enjoyed it in the past, but hasn’t been involved for some time and is reticent about joining a Guild?

“Just get back into it! Maybe you have more time now and want to go about the activities in a different way, but finding your local Guild is the first step.  You almost certainly won’t have forgotten your old skills.”

You have a major exhibition coming up – where and when will it take place, and what can visitors expect to find in it?

“The Guilds are regionalised and it is the turn of the Guilds in Scotland and Northern Ireland to organise the 2018 National Exhibition.

It’s being held in the old Collins Gallery at Strathclyde University, Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XQ, from 16 - 29 July, open 10am – 5pm each day including Saturday and Sunday.

The items for exhibition have been submitted by Guild members for selection by a panel of experts and there will be 104 beautiful items ranging from scarves to rugs to skeins of yarn to garments.

There is also a non-juried open section where the brief is to make an item of textile jewellery in the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  The exhibition is free to enter, catalogues will be £2 and contain photographs of all the exhibits.”

How can people find out more about the Association of Guilds, and perhaps join a local Guild?

“Visit our website at which gives information about each Guild, where and when it meets, and the contact details for the secretary.”