Birmingham Weavers, Spinners ​and Dyers

Blog for Birmingham & District ​Guild of Weavers, Spinners ​and Dyers


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Natural & Acid Dyes Picnic

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

The June meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers was dedicated to a dyeing day at the home of Guild member Sarah Cage.

During the day, Guild members and visitors dyed yarn, fibre and fabric with both natural and acid dyes. Seven different natural dyes were tested: cochineal (pink/red), logwood (purple/grey), Christmas nut shells (browns), cardoon (yellow), red onion skin (brown), lichen (yellow), and indigo (blue).

In addition to dyeing, there was plenty of tea, cake and a buffet lunch.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

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A Visit from Harcourt Rare Breeds

At the October meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers we were joined by Harcourt Rare Breeds, whose flock are split between Market Bosworth, in the Midlands, and Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

The Harcourt flock of native traditional and rare breed sheep, come from the Portland, Leicester Longwool, Border Leicester Greyface Dartmoor, Hebridean and Coloured Ryeland sheep breeds.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Guild members heard from Shaun of Harcourt Rare Breeds about his flock, and took advantage of the opportunity to buy yarn and fleece.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

There was also lots of spinning, knitting, and a little lacemaking, taking place.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting


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Back to Back Challenge

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

For the June meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, we ran a Back-to-Back Challenge at Lickey Hills Visitor Centre.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

My understanding of the history of the Back to Back Challenge, is that the initial inspiration for the challenge is the Newbury Coat. In 1811, in the village of Newbury, a Baronet allegedly made a large bet that a local mill owner could produce a tailored coat in one day. In thirteen hours and ten minutes, those workers involved sheared a sheep, washed, spun and wove the wool into cloth, the cloth was then scoured and dyed, and finally tailors cut and sewed the cloth into a formal hunting coat. The Baronet sat down to dinner wearing the coat at the end of the day.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

The original Newbury Coat challenge celebrated contemporary developments in mill machinery, but in 1992 the Back to Back Challenge was created to raise funds for charity by producing a hand-knit sweater from a fleece in a day (I believe the World Record is less than 5 hours). Official Back to Back Challenge entries need to follow set rules, so our Guild Back to Back challenge was more informal. Rather than starting by shearing a sheep, we started with a local Romney fleece, unwashed but pre-sheared. Participation was open to all interested members of the Guild and visitors, with everyone contributing depending on their skills/preference, including carding, spinning, plying, and lots of knitting.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

We didn’t quite complete a full garment during the day (our event took place from roughly 09:30-05:15), but we got very close, with just a little knitting and seaming left to do to complete an adult’s oversized cardigan, from a pattern designed by Guild member, Wendy.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre


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Sandwell Park Farm Wooly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

A few Guild members spent a sunny Friday demonstrating at Wooly Week at Sandwell Park Farm. The farm is located in a restored Victorian farm, with walled kitchen gardens, a tea room, and a number of rare breed animals.

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Shearing demonstrations were taking place throughout the day, and Guild members were demonstrating carding and spinning to attendees.

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week


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Textile Tasters

The April meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers was a textile tasters day, with Guild members sharing and demonstrating their crafts.

Crafts on show included bobbin lace, tatting, Japanese braiding, crochet on a knitting needle, inkle loom weaving, spinning, and button making.

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day

Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Textile Tasters Day