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 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 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.

tendrils

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