I bought a rainbow!

coloured fleece

Sorry about the shiny photo – I think it looks so pretty all packaged up I haven’t opened any of the bags yet!

Most of the fleece I’ve used up to now has been space dyed, which is wonderful for subtle colour changes but sometimes there’s only a scrap of a particular colour, and I’m always pulling little tufts out of the middle of the tops to get at the shade I want!

I’ve looked at various mixed packs of fleece recently, thinking they seem like a good way to acquire a bigger colour palette. In time I’m sure certain colours will be worth buying in bigger quantities but for now it’s more important to me to have a little of a lot of colours than large quantities of a few.

However,  I hadn’t seen any packs with a range of colours that really excited me till I discovered the lovely rosiepink crafts. Believe it or not, I ordered these at about 11.30pm last Monday night and they arrived in Tiree on Wednesday all the way from the south coast of England.

The vibrant coloured fabrics at the bottom are some hand-dyed scrim that Annie and Lyn (aka rosiepink) also very kindly sent along with the fleece for me to experiment with, having looked at my blog and some of the things I’ve been trying out recently! Annie and Lyn’s own blog is very interesting with a number of felt-related tutorials and tips as well as examples of their work – well worth a visit.

As if this didn’t feel enough like Christmas, I had an email yesterday from The Book Depository, to say that this book, which I pre-ordered a few weeks ago, has just come into stock – more exciting post to look forward to. I should confess that I found out about the book by squandering my time watching their utterly fascinating (but ultimately expensive) live mashup of who’s buying what books and where. So much more fun than “Customers who bought the items in your Shopping Basket also bought…”…

keeping the blogging habit

I always seem to find it much easier to get out of a habit of doing something than to get into one, and even harder to get back into one after the habitualness has slipped away.  I don’t really know why it should be nearly two months since I last posted, only that as each silent week goes by there’s more inertia to overcome; and more has happened – so what to write about becomes a bigger decision (decisive is not my middle name).

I’ve been doing a little of this and that, focusing on fabric manipulation as I get back into OCA Textiles 1, some stitched resists, some felt. One exercise was to develop a manipulated sample from a previous design, and I went back to these block prints that were inspired by a tulip and then scanned to try out designs on the computer.

sketchbook work from tulip image

I simplified the shapes and stitched a repeating pattern based on circles and the spaces between. I was thinking about bands of colour and bands of resist. It’s a 30cm square.

stitched circles

Pulling the stitches up was a bit fiddly, and then I’m always tempted to leave them gathered, loving the structures they  make.

stitched circles gathered

I dyed this with some other pieces (of which more in another post) and this was the end result.

stitched circles dyed

I would have liked a bit more contrast – for some reason this calico didn’t take the dye as well as some of the other cottons in the same dyebath, but apart from that I was quite pleased with the overall effect.

I’d like to try other variations with colour, width of the stitching, etc. And I noticed that last time I dyed some stitched resist (when I soaked the bundles in the soda solution beforehand) the whites were very white, whereas here the ‘white’ is actually a very pale purple. These were soaked in water, then added to a dye bucket and the soda added after 30 minutes, and I used some urea, so either or both of those could have had an effect on the resist. The stitching itself was pulled up just as tightly as the earlier samples, more tightly if anything – I’ve been watching Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada‘s Arimatsu Narumi Shibori DVD, and learning how to use the needle to knot the pulled up thread without letting the stitches loosen. Not that I have mastered it – the Japanese artists make it look so easy – but I’m practising!

drawing breath

Life always gets away from me in the summer when time away (lovely as it is) means twice as much work to fit into the weeks afterwards – and it’s not long before we set off again, this time heading down to Cornwall. In between, a little space to draw breath and share what I’m up to.

Our visit to Tiree was momentous, to say the least. Alan’s on sabbatical next year and we’ve decided to seize the day and do something we’ve been thinking about for years – to live and work in a small community on a remote and windswept island. So we went there looking for a home – and found one! We’re now jubilant and terrified in about equal measure. The move won’t be till November but there’s going to be plenty to do before then. We have two daughters starting uni this autumn too, one moving from Cornwall to Liverpool, and one just moving round the corner in Birmingham, but both will need help with their stuff. I’ll need to work hard to keep time for art among all this excitement!

While we were on Tiree I at last joined in with the World Beach Project.

World Beach Project at Traigh Ghrianal

And I did a bit more sampling of gathered fabrics while I was away. The ones in the middle will end up being dyed, I think.

gathering samples

I got fascinated by the effect of visible stitching…

gathering samples

and tying…

gathering samples

Tomorrow I’m going to a short workshop with the intriguing title “Kendal Green meets Shibori Dyeing”. I think I’ve mentioned before that Kendal’s town motto is Pannus mihi Panis – “Cloth is my Bread”; and the arts centre is having a festival to celebrate the town’s heritage with lots of textile events. Kendal Green is an old dye colour mentioned in Shakespeare, but I think we’re going to use a modern version! It should be fun, anyway. I’m just wondering if I can take my gathered samples along and throw them in too!

And these are some pics of Tiree I’ve put on Flickr, colours of sea and sky, rust and sand, light and water.

Tiree mosaic

1. Gunna Sound, 2. rocks at Caoles, 3. light and waves, 4. Balevullin, 5. light, waves and seaweed, 6. fences at Balevullin, 7. cows on the beach at Balevullin, 8. rust and lichen, 9. Crossapol beach, 10. oystercatchers, 11. rusty machinery on Crossapol beach, 12. sunset, 13. clear sea, Gunna Sound, 14. rusty metal at Hynish, 15. Crossapol beach, 16. Balevullin

Woolfest 2008

Although I’ve already posted today, I wanted to write about the Woolfest before I go away or the memory will have faded. It’s a wonderful show – a combination of all the elements of fibre arts – from the animals who provide the wool to the rainbows of fleece and yarn on sale, from tools and books and dyes to so much exciting felt, knitting, crochet and weaving that you hardly know where to look next. It’s small enough to wander round twice or three times in a day, discovering new things each time – and big enough to provide a very satisfying variety of experiences. I met up with my Mum and my friend Julie and we had a lovely day.

I’ve just picked out a few things to share that were highlights for me…

Helen Melvin of Fiery Felts had curtained her stand with beautiful lengths of cloth, dyed by mordanting and then rolling up with bits of earth and flowers and leaves. This view is of the back – some of these were nuno-felted on the other side.

cloth by Helen Melvin

The Hebridean sheep (these are from Heathland Hebridean in Kent). I bought some of their lovely dark fleece to try dyeing it for felting.

sheep

These graceful alpacas from WhyNot Alpacas of Sedbergh – I love their just-shorn textures and the range of colours.

alpacas

These amazing clothes, modelled by young women from Estonia, Slovakia and Cumbria, in a youth project called "From Sheep to Dress" – clothes made by hand, from Estonian Native Sheep wool, by girls from Saaremaa Island. There’s a bit about this (and some of the other exhibitions) at knitonthenet, and I found an image gallery on the web as well.

From Sheep to Dress

Finally, the gorgeous display of dyed hemp yarns from the House of Hemp.

dyed hemp yarns

I tried to be restrained but I did add a few lovely things to my stash as well as the Hebridean fleece: some beautiful undyed alpaca rovings in four different shades, a tiny skein of purple hemp yarn, some space-dyed knitting ribbon in rusts and pinks and bronzey greys, Liz Clay’s book on Nuno Felt, and a small felt-rolling mat from Jenny Pepper’s stand.

Provisional dates for next year’s Woolfest are 26th-27th June 2009 – it’s in my diary already 🙂

And now I really must go and think about what to pack!

looking and listening

A little bit of weekend inspiration 🙂

This is a quote from the opening page of “The Twelve Dancers” by William Mayne, published by Puffin Books, 1964.

Blue is the colour of the sky. Marlene was in bed still when she thought that. It was the colour of the sky in a chalk drawing or a painted drawing, but it was not the colour of the sky this morning. The sky now was green over the hills, with silver clouds lying tarnished above it. Higher still the sky was bruised with overhanging morning.

[…] The hills were a different green from the sky. Miss Williams, down at the school, would never allow a green sky into a drawing. Marlene thought Miss Williams must be an artist, to see things differently from ordinary people. She could look at the sun, and make people draw it yellow. Marlene had never looked at the sun, except once. It had looked white at the moment, then black for the rest of the day. Nobody else thought the sun was black.

And I just discovered (via BBC News 24) Nick Penny’s Sound Diary 2008 – Nick Penny is a musician who’s been recording snippets of sound daily since the new year and posting them in an audio diary on his web site. Birdsong, creaky gates, wind and waves, bells, machines, even the sound of silence. Very evocative.