April TIF Challenge 3

Well, I ran out of time before I ran out of ideas, so I’m going to carry on playing with April’s Take it Further Challenge during May. I think it has some connections into May’s challenge as well so who knows where it will lead?

This, anyway, is where I’ve got to.

felt samples

The piece at the top left is partly felted. The little balls of yarn are naturally dyed as well – I got them at Soay Studio on the Isle of Harris (that’s the only link I could find, but I’ll go and hunt out a photo in a minute). I’m going to do big woolly embroidery stitches into the pre-felt and then finish felting it.

Next to that is a piece with some other coloured fleece added; and then my woven samples – I overdid the felting, so they’re very hard and small! Below them is a grid with thin strips of the pink roving in one direction and colours laid across it – I want to try this again on a bigger scale.

Bottom right are the samples of knitted fleece after felting – I like the coloured one in stocking stitch and this is another technique I’d like to explore – it was very easy to bring in additional colours exactly where I wanted to.

The middle piece at the bottom is very thin and webby and the piece on the right is the one I nuno felted into muslin. It was quite a dense muslin, and having seen the lovely lacy textures of Monika’s nuno felt, I’d like to experiment with some different fabrics to see how the effects vary.

The piece underneath the nuno felt is ‘just’ plain felt. Warm, soft, comforting – and pink – it has so much in common with the fleece it came from and yet it’s not the same at all. I plan to chop it up into pieces and sandwich each between different translucent layers, to quilt into the layers and watch the subtle changes that will emerge, and the differences between them.

I just love the amazing, endless variety of textures and patterns and colours that we can make with textiles, and their physical, tactile presence.

And this is the gateway into the delightful dyer’s garden at Soay Studio on Harris, which we visited in August 2006.

Soay Studio

TIF Challenge April 2

My response to Sharon’s April TIF challenge is about craft as change, taking something raw and unformed but full of potential, and effecting a transformation through a making process. Something like ‘n things to do with a piece of fleece’ where n is currently undefined, but (though possibly infinite!) will be determined by how far I get by the end of the month. I’ll put it together as a series of journal pages.

pink fleece

I decided to start with fleece and it isn’t actually raw – it’s already been washed, carded and dyed – a lovely crushed raspberry pink merino, dyed with madder and logwood, which I bought last week from Fiery Felts at the Embroiderers’ Guild North West Regional Day.

So far I’ve done some small experiments with weaving, knitting, needlefelting, and hand stitching, and I’ve started doing some felting.

weaving with fleece

I wove some of the fleece with a wool mohair warp and some with a fleece warp – I did two of each so I could felt one.

playing with fleece

Creative mayhem…

fleece ready to felt

Ready to felt – thick and thin layers of pink fleece, adding colours to the pink, felting onto muslin, knitted and woven samples. More to come when these are done…

TIF Challenge April 1

Sharon’s Take it Further Challenge for April is about change:

How do you see change?

I suppose I see it as essential to being. Everything that is alive changes all the time. The elements are constantly shaping the earth. Whether change is slow and subtle or dramatic and unexpected, it’s a given.

Part of change is growth. One of of my favourite Bible verses is about being transformed ‘from glory to glory’ (2 Cor 3:18). And part of it is decay. They are the warp and weft of life – inextricable, sometimes indistinguishable.

I’ve thought a bit about external change in my life as well. On a small scale I crave it – that is, I dislike monotony and have to work hard to focus on one thing for very long. I often rotate tasks for 15 or even five minutes at a time to create variety and stave off… not boredom, exactly… I don’t lose interest, but I get very restless. On a larger scale – we have been thinking for ages about a big change (moving house) but we are terrible at making decisions, so actually effecting a major change like that is such a challenge that inertia tends to prevail.

But I think the line of thought that will result in a TIF piece is that creative processes are change – the transformation of cloth and thread into embroidery; skeins of yarn woven or knitted to become fabric; the potent alchemy of dyeing; the turning of an idea or a vision into a tactile, shared object. And that as we create, we also change.

And my favourite change words – metamorphosis – variegate – refashion – worn – and begin…

layers of paint

TIF Challenge March 2

It’s April already and March has… gone – I’m not sure where. I don’t really think I’ve risen to Sharon’s challenge to pay attention to the tiny details during March, but as the month dashed on I thought about dots and spots and decided to try a small piece of shibori, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I tied some buttons into hand dyed muslin, bound some points around them and then bound the ‘tail’ at intervals. I soaked it in soda solution for a while…

tied fabric ready for dyeing

… then dyed overnight in Procion MX marine violet…

dyed fabric ready to untie

… and ended up with this …

shibori fabric

It was exciting to see what emerged, and I’m glad I managed not to abandon this month’s challenge altogether. Shibori is definitely something I want to explore and learn how to do properly. It was magical – and fun :-).

TIF Challenge March 1

Sharon’s Take it Further Challenge for March is about small things

Do you ever notice the little things, the small moments, the details in life? This month’s challenge is to do just that, pay attention to the tiny details. Sometimes the small things become emblematic for something larger.

This reminded me of one of my favourite quotes – I heard it on the radio, and later tracked down to an American writer, Donald Windham:

It is ordinary to love the marvellous. It is marvellous to love the ordinary.

However, while I aspire to a mindful, noticing way of living, my brain has never really cooperated. I’m either not paying much attention at all – I wander about in a daze, life gets very black and white and the small things pass me by. Or else I’m getting so focused on the detail that I stop making connections or even remembering why I was there in the first place. Finding the middle ground where I really breathe and look and listen… it’s a struggle, and it takes a lot of energy.

So, I’ve decided this month (thinking small) just to spend a bit of time focusing on two little things I like a lot.

1. dots – look around and find them, draw them, paint them, stitch them. I’d like to join them up too. Maybe I could take my February challenge a little further by experimenting with joining dots by machine.

2. dogs – (actually just one). Tansy, being a Tibetan spaniel, is very little and very much emblematic for larger things – joy, love, faithfulness, for example. Sometimes I draw her and as I’ve been thinking for a while it would be good to have a go at drawing her with the sewing machine, I’m challenging myself to do that this month .


I think, too, during March, I’ll seek out poetry that inspires me to stop and look, starting with the wonderful celebration of difference, Pied Beauty, by Gerard Manley Hopkins.