I made this little sample quickly yesterday and can’t wait to explore this further. I warped a tiny frame loom with some very rough hemp, and wove it with alternate picks of torn fabric and thick and thin Colinette yarn. Then I threw it in the washing machine with a load of washing.
When it came out I thought it looked quite interesting, with some parts firmly felted and some holes, especially where the yarn was thin. I hadn’t planned to remove the warp as well but once the idea occurred to me it became an irresistible ‘what if’, so I snipped the knots and pulled out the hemp. I wondered if the wool would hold the weft together and the answer is yes. I like the way it’s solid in places and fragile in others, just like memory. I also like the texture and structure of it, and the way the effect of the warp persists.
I’m going to have a play with handspun and unspun wool, and different kinds of fabric, and different warps, felting by hand, to see what emerges. I imagine a series of pieces, ragged yet strong, To do with prayer and memory and being made new. I am thinking about habits and quotidien rhythms and the structure of praying the hours, and how our outworn clothes embody our history and memory, about what we keep and what we waste, and about connections and inclusion and mixing things up. All sorts of things.
I always enjoy the way a current preoccupation takes on a life of its own and starts appearing all over the place, a bit like when you learn a new word and then it crops up in everything you read. Was it there all along and you just start noticing because you’re now paying attention? Or maybe it’s a kind of grace that delights in seeking out connections and charging them with significance.
In the last few days I’ve been finding some lovely insights and inspirations around combining strips of cloth with wool, especially from Jill at Centering with Fiber, and this wonderful woven fleece by Elizabeth Armstrong (Studiofelter).
This weekend I made some felt samples for our workshop tomorrow: including a piece to show add-ins of various kinds, some 3D felt using a template resist, and some samples using different types of pre-felts.
And this little bit is just for me, an experiment with torn strips of silk chiffon, caught between thin strips of drafted fibre and felted. Very fiddly!
But what if I wove something like this before felting, instead of laying the fibres out? I would need to put a little twist in the drafted wool, to stop it drifting apart; I wonder what difference that would make to how it looks and feels and behaves.
I’ll leave you with some netted inspiration from a walk along the beach,
and some plastic made beautiful by the sea.
I had heard this word, Saki-ori, before, but I never quite took in what it is. The Japanese tradition of creating new cloth from old cloth, weaving with thin strips of worn fabric. Akin to rag rugs, but on a fine scale, soft enough for clothing.
When I made these …
for these …
… I knew I would come back to this, one day. Find out more. Take it further.
A long time ago, I stitched connections between the fabrics I’ve worn and worn out.
Three weeks ago I met a woman who will never buy any clothes again, ever.
Then, I read the year of enough by Joanna of Things[HandMade].
Yesterday, sorting out supplies for a feltmaking day I’m leading next week, I felt drowned in everything I’ve amassed, such quantities that I hardly know what I have.
There’s so much going on in my head right now I think I may fly apart. But I hope that the quiet discipline of cloth will hold the fragments together.
I don’t begin with images, not even in my head. When I don’t know where to start, I reach for a pen, and spill out words. Not sentences, just words, and phrases. They seem disjointed but they’re connected, a web of thoughts.
A few weeks ago I learned that something scary and wonderful may happen. I might be part of an exhibition. Maybe. If it happens. If they want me. I don’t feel ready. But I’ll never feel ready, so I can’t let that make a difference.
Since the possibility emerged, the enormous hole of fear has gradually been mending, patched with fragments of ideas scribbled onto little squares of paper, here and there.
This morning I opened a blank sketchbook, pasted in the little squares, scribbled some more, saw where I might go.
Worrying that I can’t begin by seeing, looking, drawing, I turn (of course) to a book for reassurance.
This is a common way of working for many artists who, for one reason or another, do not find observational drawing a suitable basis for their ideas or thoughts. For many, it would be impossible to draw what they want to express.
Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists, Kay Greenlees, Batsford, 2005, 59 – 68.
Scraps of paper, crammed with words, building blocks of ideas I need to dwell with, within. Foundations for pieced thoughts.