TIF Challenge January 3

I spent some time this weekend sampling and exploring my ideas – I was planning to stop with the visual journal and not make a textile piece but one is emerging anyway. Here I’ve tried out some ways of representing the darkness. (The idea I’m starting from is admiration of people who’ve “confronted their particular darkness by allowing something bright and fierce and tender and courageous to grow in their lives”.)

samples of darkness

samples of darkness

I found that hemp yarn, though difficult to knit with, leaves behind lovely curls and tendrils when you unravel the knitting.


I decided to weave a base fabric of colour and brightness, and I think I’ll use an overlay of painted scrim or plastic netting for the element of darkness. Painted with acrylic or ink it keeps a shape and can be shades of black and grey – I want it to net itself over the coloured fabric like some dark, strangling thing – it should have an ugliness yet the overall effect be one of beauty. I’d like to use the plastic netting because it has intrinsic destructive qualities in the environment, the way it literally overwhelms living creatures. But I think the scale of it is too big. I have smaller nets but they’re more stiff and difficult to distort and I want the darkness to gather in some parts and be stretched thin in others. I should play around with that a bit more, but time is short….

This is the beginnings of my fabric. The warp is wire, and I plan to use the ends to form tendrils of colour growing out from the centre, through the netted darkness, an affirmation.

beginning to weave

happy new year

I wish you all a very creative, fruitful and happy 2008.

We had a lovely time over Christmas with both our daughters staying and other family members visiting – it went in a whirl, and then suddenly everyone went home and everything went quiet – and a little empty. Stitch therapy and inner hugs being needed, I added another few hundred seeding stitches to this while catching up with The Archers. I have done some knitting too – experimenting with tension and learning that sometimes it’s the instructions that may be a little crazy and not me! Having failed dismally to achieve the required gauge for a modular waistcoat – four needle sizes down and it’s still too big as well as feeling something like a small knitted board (at this point I gave up), I discovered the excellent Yarndex which says that Noro Silk Garden (the yarn I’m using and the one specified in the pattern) knits at 18 stitches per 4 inches on US size 7 needles – whereas the pattern says 27 stitches per 3.5 inches on US size 8 … oh oh oh – still I think I learned a lot more from all this than if it had worked! I’ll get there … I also tried knitting up some hemp yarn I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show, using different needle sizes in the same piece – it’s messy to use because little bits fly off it in all directions – I ended up with a lapful of hemp confetti and a dusty cough, but after washing it, I think it has potential. I’m going to see what happens if I paint it.

hemp yarn knitting