Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 7, 2019

AGWSD Summer School – York Part 1

The 2019 summer school for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers is being held at Askham Bryan College just outside York. I’ve been coming to the grand biennial event filled with courses in the fiber arts since 1999 and this year 2 others from the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild have joined me on this adventure!

200 enthusiastic fiber folks arrived Sunday, collected our housing keys and got ourselves sorted in accommodation. The queue for evening meal was LONG….
I don’t think the staff was expecting all 200 of us to descend upon them en mass as soon as the doors opened! As the days have progressed the kitchen as adapted and we are now moving quite smoothly!

We gathered in the conference hall afterwards for the welcome and introduction to the tutors. This year there are 15 courses – spinning, weaving, dyeing, felting, knotting.

Then dismissed to our classrooms for a brief introduction and outline for our week ahead. My course this year is ‘Tapestry to Dye For’ with Dot Seddon.

Day 1
Dyeing yarns to use in our tapestries.

We are working with 1% acid dyes in the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) as well as magenta and turquoise. Dot challenged us to go with a color we don’t normally use. Since I go to the warmer colors (reds, oranges, etc) I decided to work with turquoise. My brain was not yet in gear so adding 200 ml of the leveling agent instead of 20ml at the start was an OOPS!!! Return to Go! Got myself resorted and I was off.

As it turned out the turquoise and magenta were not cooperating as nicely as the primaries! I started with the darkest batch which simmered for well over an hour and STILL had plenty of dye left! Once the my yarn had reached a nice dark color I took it out, put in another skein and got a second dark skein from the exhaust! Notes made as to amount of dye and the type of yarn used. Others in the group had the opposite problem as their yarn did not take up the dye. Notes were made by all on this! Luckily the lighter shades went MUCH quicker for me. 5 skeins by the end of the day.

Penelope Hemmingway, a textile historian, was our evening speaker: Dark Materials – 18thC & 19th C Textile-related Yorkshire Tales of Murder & Mayhem, Prisons, Workshouses, and Charity Schools. Lots of interesting (and surprising) information and stories!!

Day 2
Using the dyes we created a chart for the possible secondary colors.

Choosing one we then moved on to dyeing our next batch of skeins. Today’s ‘classroom adventure’ was repeatedly blowing the fuse to our room as we have 12 hot plates going! 

I chose to work with orange made from 2:8 red/yellow. My dye baths went to clear MUCH quicker than working with the turquoise and I am very pleased with my results!

The evening program was Textiles from Around the World presented by Cia Bosanquet complete with MARVELOUS samples which we could all see up close and touch!


  1. Thanks Barbara, good to read this. Great photos too.

  2. Dear Barbara – great to see that you are still enjoying Summer School – we met in Carmarthen on Alastair’s course. I’ve continued to explore tapestry but I’m too impatient to due my own yarns! Best wishes, Jane

  3. Autocorrect confounding me again – dye, not due!

    • Yes – autocorrect has a field day with writing about fiber stuff!! (laugh)

  4. Dyes and Dyeing have always fascinated me. Glad you enjoyed the conference.

    • It is a treat to be able to spend a week doing this!!

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