ATV - Ex 4.2 - Experimental yarns & concepts · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Pt4 - Pj1 - Exploring Lines · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary · Uncategorized

Tones & Textures

This is the last part of exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns & Concepts, it involves looking back at the neutral fabric explorations done in previous colour studies.

I decided to use these 3 studies that I did with a very pale piece of devore fabric with different coloured backgrounds. I really like the subtle colours and had been hoping for an opportunity to explore with them further.


I’ve used the winding method again; it’s become my favourite way to make these yarn concepts and I can see that they will make excellent bases for adding more detail if I decide to explore with them further.


I’ve still tried to use a variety of threads and played with putting some of the colours together in different amounts and combinations. I also tried to make sure there were interesting changes in the tonal values of the colours.

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I’m finding it very difficult to photograph these yarns. I’ve tried some close ups but it’s still hard to show the full pieces.

After completing these tonal concepts it was time to try and translate the textural qualities of the fabric sample. The devore doesn’t immediately say texture; I sat for a while and rubbed the flurry bits of velvet and the rougher rivers of lace inbetween. I noted that there was a clear contrast between the 2 areas and that the edges were cut quite sharp, but the piece had frayed edges.

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For the first sample I found some rough ribbon and some frayed ribbon to this I tied some softer and smoother wool and then ran the whole thing through the sewing machine. I see this as a direct translation of the ‘words’ I used to describe the textures of the fabric but I didn’t feel that it did that visually.


So I sought out a base surface that was similar to the devore and found some mozaic felt that I had previously made.  So for this sample I cut the felt into strips and backed with the frayed ribbon, I attached these together with a running stitch on the sewing machine, adding little blocks of felt to create more raised areas. To excentuate the inlayed orange felt I hand stitched the lines and then stitched on the orange beads that have a devore/velvet surface. I felt I was getting closer to what I could see in my mind but that I was trying to cram too much detail into one piece.

As a translation I’m much happier with this concept. I highlighed the edges of the orange and brown felt with machine stitch and also caught the edges of some lacy scrim into the brown areas to replicate the ‘burnt out’ lace areas of the devore. I then cut the felt into thin strips and sewed them together.

The colours look more interesting in real life and I caught see myself actually using this concept as a yarn. I’m not completely happy with it visually but I think it’s a good first sample.


Finally I found some metal edged ribbon poking out of a draw and decided to use this as a base for some scrim, cut in a thin strip and some chenile knitting yarn held down with some zigzag machine stitch. I was able to crumple up the construction and fold and overlap it. It was just a bit of fun but I quite like the result.


This is them altogether with my simple notes. That’s all of the yarn concept experiements done now so after a more indepth review, have I been creative enough? it’s onto creating linear forms. I’m slightly worried about this, I’m sure my C&G pals will smile when they remember my attempts to rip tower shapes/linear forms from paper. I’d soon created a number of shapes that would have made my Mom blush and my teenage son’s giggle, or a should that be the other way round!!


ATV - Ex 4.2 - Experimental yarns & concepts · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Pt4 - Pj1 - Exploring Lines · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary · Uncategorized

Constraints of Colour

The next part of ATV and development of yarn concepts has taken me into the world of colour. I am far more used to letting colour develop, its rarely my starting point unless of course I’ve picked some beautiful threads or fabric and I’ve linked their choice by colour.

I had to select one of my colour textile studies completed in the previous project; I chose this study because I have always been fascinated by the colour palette and intrigued by how the selection worked together in a slightly unsettling way.

It didn’t take me long to gather together a huge pile of thread, yarns and more unusual elements to use to make the yarn concepts.


Let me just say that making yarns is fiddly, one of the most fiddly things I’ve ever done. The visions in my head of the yarns I would like to make soon prove to be too difficult or complicated to work through so I decided to keep the colour explorations very simple.

It was lovely winding the different threads around a centre made out of stiffened mulberry twine. I could see plenty of uses for these ‘threads’ to make 3D pieces and to use on stitched pieces; couched down to fill large areas in a more interesting way than simply using close stitches.

I was very surprised that the individual colours from the colour palette worked together well in different combinations, I always thought it was the full combination that made it work.

These 2 concept yarns I actually made before I did the simple colour combinations but I soon felt that these fitted more into the ‘unusual materials’ category.

The little leaf piece was worked using a dark brown synthetic fabric, I cut it roughly but wasn’t satisfied with the result; the fabric was too floppy and looked unfinished. To remedy this I mixed some Pavapol (a textile hardening agent) with some Stewart Gill textile paint and painted and modeled and leaves in to more pleasing shapes.

I used the orange fabric beads to replicate the circles in the original textile piece and worked at including all of the colours in the colour palette. I like the thin outlines in this extension painting that I did so used slender pieces of white and yellow to replicate those links.


After a detour back to make the four colour combination yarn concepts I went back to translating the colour palette using unusual materials. I’d been looking for ways to include feathers into my work without them becoming twee or passe, I’m not completely sure I have accomplished my mission but I have used some feathers and I like the result.

The final piece is worked using beads, metal wire and some thin threads sewed in and out of the twisted base.

Once I get started I find that I can run easily with these challenges, it’s taken me a long time to see the potential of making my own yarns and threads. I would never have thought of doing this; I might have bought new threads, or even dyed some threads but I would never have gone down this route. This is why even when I feel like throwing in the hat and admitting that I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew I keep going. I fight down this urge to bow out because I am learning so much and when I do concentrate I love every minute of this course.

ATV - Pt4 - Pj1 - Exploring Lines · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary · Uncategorized

Down the garden path and back again

Linear Studies? These have been giving me some hassle. I took quite a running jump into this part of A Textile Vocabulary, I filled in some sketchbook pages and worked though some worries about how to make the outcomes my own and decided on a process that involved using dripping dye to make the individual strands more interesting.

On a visit to Bilston Art Gallery I was very lucky to see an exhibition by the Through Our Hands group and specifically a piece by Clare Jones. Clare’s piece made a statement about our treatment of the environment and particularly about our use of water and dye. She hung the most beautiful strips of pieced silk and above she placed tubs of dye. On the ground were bowls of grains to symbolise the bounty that the earth gives us. Over time the dye slowly ran down through the fibres of the silk, following their own paths and creating their own organic patterns.

It was no small ask but I wanted to try and replicate this idea using yarn instead of dye. My brain buzzed with ideas but it soon became evident that I had bitten off more than I could chew. So because of the tight timescales I decided to have a go at implementing some of my ideas in a very simple way.

First I experimented with one length of yarn.

I was very excited and in my haste I made a good few mistakes, I didn’t wet the yarn so the dye just bounced off where it hit. I didn’t put enough work into making the dripping tray fit for purpose and the dye struggled to get out of the pot in a nice steady stream. It was an interesting exercise and I learnt a lot about what needed to be done next time.
I chose a variety of 30cm pieces of yarn in lots of different thicknesses but all in creams or whites with a few pink and green variegated elements.

They looked very lovely and nice together.

For a while I included some eco- dyed threads but decided they were too drab to be included.
Using these yarns I made some interesting threads by adding knots of some of the yarns along the lengths of the others. I used my instinct to decide what should be a length and what should be a knot.

I decided that this time I would use coated paper fairy cake cases to hold the dye; this would enable me to make a bigger whole with a nice jagged edge. I attached the knotted lengths to the cake cases using a nice big solid sewing pin.

This I then hung these between a variety of jars I had sitting around my workroom. This bought on feelings of doubt, I knew I was rushing and that things would become very messy!

This time I had actually thought to wet the lengths but I’d still not done this properly and had to spray the yarn with my expensive Elemis face toner just because it had a spray top and was to hand. At least the smell was very nice.

The dye still wasn’t dripping properly, I couldn’t see any movement and I soon became impatient and started to add water to the cake cakes. Let the messiness begin!!
Thinking quickly I grabbed some plain cloth to catch the dye as it ran quickly, too quickly down the lengths. And mopped up any mess with kitchen towel, not quite saving my notes!

In the end I forced myself out of the room and let the dye drips take their own course.

After they had dripped for a while I let them dry and then cut of the threads leaving just the knots.

In the end this just didn’t inspire me. They are not the delicate organic pieces that I wanted. They are stiff and quite drab. I really love subtle but I’m not very comfortable with drab.

It felt so deflating to have had, what had felt like such a great idea, an idea to turn to something I didn’t like. I blamed myself for rushing and not taking the time to be more considered and accurate with my experiments.

I ignored the whole exercise for some while, probably sulking and definitely procrastinating. The whole exercise has left my workroom sticky and dirty and me feeling frustrated and ready to abandon the whole course. Really, I promise I’m not a drama queen, really, I’m not!! Okay, okay I can sometimes take this all far too seriously.

The best outcomes have come from the unexpected accidents and ‘tools’ I used. Typical!!

ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Pt4 - Pj1 - Exploring Lines

It’s been a slow start

Grey, grey March. Even after a trip to sunny, snowy still but very sunny Switzerland I’m finding it difficult to drag myself through my most hated month of the year. I’ve never been the quickest on this course but now I’m almost grinding to a halt.

But, I’ve still got some work done. Okay, so this part of ATV is all about lines and for some reason I can’t yet explain I’ve been drawn to this stitch sample as the one I’d like to base my initial explorations on. 

It’s not been easy to find some simple lines to recreate in thread and I think this has contributed to my slow progress. 

I’ve set up a sketchbook and started doing some preliminary sketches and designs for the linear explorations which are basically drawing with thread but not as stitches. More sculptural than that. 

The whole concept of these creations keeps escaping me, I’m finding it difficult to identify where the exercises are meant to be taking me. 

I’ve had a little play at making some linear thread forms with the tangled threads that gather along the edges of fabric and some other scraps I had lying about. I like then but I’m still struggling to see the point of them.

There are some ideas forming in the back of my mind about how I can make this part of ATV my own and how I can produce something that interests and excites me. 

This means I’m still really at the messing about stage; reading books, researching ideas and jotting down notes.

And ….. procrastinating! It’s just so easy on these grey days to lazy about on the sette and knit!!

I love my blanket squares.

In the end I turned to my fellow textile students and asked for a kick in the pants. As always they responded immediately with kind words of encouragement. Thank you all.

So to try and kick start my mojo I did some linear doodles to loosen me up and get me back focused on lines.


Just for a change I’m away next weekend but after that I’m almost exclusively at home until the 22nd April  which should give me plenty of time to crack on and get this part of ATV done and dusted.