stitchin fingers, cyborg knitting, and the threads of story

A couple of things have caught my eye recently …

First is the new social network, Stitchin Fingers, started a few days ago by Sharon B of In a Minute Ago, and already looking like a great place for anyone who practises textiles to explore and enjoy. 

Next is Spyn. Alan brought a short flyer back from CHI 2008 about “a system for knitters to record, recall and share information surrounding the processes of handcraft”. It’s a prototype design using digital techniques to literally craft personal stories into the knitting.

That set me thinking about metaphors we use in English that link story and fibre – we talk about losing or picking up the thread of a narrative; of spinning a yarn; of unravelling the truth. Maybe others…

I was also reminded this week, by this post on Blue Beyond by Tiree artist Colin Woodcock, of a Hans Andersen story I loved as a child. The princess spins a yarn of nettles to knit shirts that will free her brothers of the evil enchantment that has turned them into swans. Her hands are burnt and blistered and she is forbidden to speak, but the pain and love she may not articulate is embodied in the healing garments she creates.

And something else comes to mind – I’m always a little overwhelmed by the fact that text and textile are actually, etymologically, related:

“The word text is a cognate [of textile], coming from Latin textus ‘that which is woven’, referring originally to a particular style of Medieval script which was so dense that it looked like weaving.” 
Quoted from Take Our Word for It Issue 33

I’m suddenly feeling very excited about the possibilities here.

knitting, with woven yarn

developing designs

I’ve been in a hiatus for months as far as my OCA Textiles course is concerned – stuck at the beginning of a module I really want to spend time on and enjoy – applied and manipulated fabrics. The exercise starts by asking you to select half a dozen previous drawings and develop them before interpreting them in fabric, and that’s the part I baulk at. I don’t know why I find it so daunting. Anyway, over the last couple of days, I’ve done it – six sets of design developments to inspire the fabric manipulation. I used the computer, and that helped, as did some suggestions my tutor had made about design methods in her feedback on the last assignment. I took ‘drawings’ to include photos and fabric printing as well as paint and pen.

sketchbook mosaic

1 2 3 4 5 6

The numbers link to the images on Flickr.

playing on the computer

I rarely use the computer for textile design work – as I spend all my working hours attached to one, I usually prefer to get up and do something physical – but I’ve been grappling with a creative low and just wanted to get some ideas out quickly and maybe get a kickstart as well. I’m not sure about the latter but it was fun learning a bit more about displacement maps and playing at the same time. I tried them once before but had forgotten what to do; happily Mags (Digital Gran) has a great tutorial that helped me get started. I don’t have Paint Shop Pro so I was using Photoshop and trying to translate, and I found a helpful Photoshop-specific tutorial by Bob Comings  via Dale Glaser’s page of links to displacement tutorials.

I used photos of various samples I’ve made – prints, patchwork, shibori, felt, stitch, sketchbook pages, paint and collage – and a photo of sunset over the sea, and displaced them using these five images:

displacement maps 

These were the results (mosaic thanks to Big Huge Labs). The numbers read across from top left and link to the images on Flickr:

displacements mosaic
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Next I’ll be looking at these along with the rest of the design work I’ve done for OCA Textiles 1 to find some interesting aspects to develop with fabric collage and appliqué techniques.

Draw Something Every Day

I know it’s not Monday, but I missed last week too, and I thinking waiting for next week is just asking for trouble. I commented on Juli’s Draw Something Every Day posting for this week that my hand and my pen had become disconnected. Here’s an attempt to reconnect them, but I didn’t use a pen! – I drew it with a graphics stylus. I use one for work instead of a mouse but I don’t try to draw with it very often…

hand and pen

speaking of colour…

Yesterday’s post on Ragged Cloth Café mentioned a fascinating site – WebExhibits – there are sections on the causes of colour, pigments through the ages, and colour vision and art. Be warned, once you start exploring you just keep finding more to see – for instance Laura Joy Lustig’s very striking Building Views – “abstract, hand coloured photographs of architectural and constructed scenes”.