Art · ATV - Ex 4.4 - Deconstructing Colour as Yarn · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Exercise 4.3 – Hands-on Exploration

After deciding that I was not comfortable with any of the new techniques that I’d researched, don’t get me wrong I like them, particularly the stick weaving and I’m sure I will go back to them later. The problem was I was finding it difficult to be truly experimental and to concentrate on the colour whilst I was getting caught up with how well I was working with the new skills. So after deciding this I thought why don’t I make some samples using crochet and knitting which I am very, almost too comfortable with. This would still challenge me because I almost always crochet or knit to a pattern and being more experimental will challenge my preconceived ideas.

Many of the original yarns have now gone so I selected some more that matched the yellow yarn wrap. I worked a base yarn using different weights and textures of yarn on a variety of sizes of crochet needle. Working across and down. Once the base was finished I felt that it was too fluffy and undefined so I used a corse yarn made from nettles to run a focusing line down the yarn.

I was really quite pleased with the result, I felt like I could work with this yarn and I would be happy to make more and to develop the idea further.

Then I worked on developing a yarn with the emphasis on the blue yarn wrap. I love the contrast between light and the dark blue and the way it translates across from bulky to slender. It looks nice from the front and on the reverse. 

I was a little concerned that the blue yarn was too like conventional crochet so with the next sample I tried to be far less defined and built up the layers using highly contrasting materials, using the full colour palette. I am pleased with the results of these experiments, they may not be the most inventive but I find them more pleasing to look at than the previous set of samples.

I really like the contrast of light/dark, bulky/thin so for the final crochet sample I took this further by including a silk yarn that could be split and frayed. I used the nettle yarn again and got quite excited when the bulky yarn started to turn back on itself and I had a random mesh of the slim yarn developing between the thicker side pieces. The silk has the most beautifully delicate qualities and frays wonderfully. I’d really like some more but I’ve only got some scraps.

Art · ATV - Ex 4.3 - Re-interpret, re-invent · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Re-interpret, re-invent. Explorations

After doing the design work I decided I’d do some samples using an overhand knot technique that is used to make strings with buttons. So ploughing on forgetting that I should be using one of the 3 techniques I had previously learnt I started making samples.

I selected buttons and yarns with the same colours as the ones I’d used in the colour wraps. I really quite liked the results, the colours worked together well but I felt they were too simple and there was nothing new or exciting about them.

Using my sketchbook I worked up a few more inventive designs.

And then using the yarns from the original yarn wraps I worked up a couple of samples.

Again these didn’t fill me with excitement, they were starting to meet the brief but they didn’t say anything about me and had very little evidence of my style.

I think this sample is far more me, I like both sides of the piece but I didn’t feel that they reflected back to the original yarn wraps enough.

This sample started to look more fun and interesting and I like the explosion of colour. It was at this point that as I looked back at the samples to decide which features of the samples appeals to me most and I looked at the ripple effect created by the threading of the yarn through the button/felt that I remembered I was meant to be using the new techniques.

So for the last sample I used the three stick weaving technique and the lovely textured clumps of Oliver Twist threads that I had used briefly in the yarn wraps to make a very bright and chunky exploration. 

I’m really not sure that I have reached a satisfactory conclusion to this exercise by I am going to move onto the next exercise and if I feel I need to I will go back and revisit the requirements.

Art · ATV - Choices & Planning · ATV - Ex 4.3 - Re-interpret, re-invent · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Re-interpret, re-invent. Design and Planning

Although this exercise called for the use of the colour wraps from Part 3 I wasn’t quite sure how to start this exercise so I decided to gather some ideas together about the colour wraps and do a review of what I had done so far in my sketchbook.

As I reached the end of this review I decided that I wanted to look to my flower paintings from Part 2, they have a luxurious feeling and I wanted to use them as the source for the shaping of the linear samples. 

Again I worked in my sketchbook and looked for some suitable shapes and referring this back to my book of knotting techniques to match the designs with a suitable technique. It’s only now as I look back I realise I’d forgotten I was meant to use the techniques I had previously tried. Doh!

Art · ATV - Ex 4.3 - Re-interpret, re-invent · ATV - Part 4 - Yarn & it's Manufacture · ATV - Pt4 - Pj2 - Creating Linear Forms · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Trying New Techniques 

I already know how to knit and crochet but there are plenty more ways to make cords and strings. It was fun looking for techniques to try and slightly scary because I’d need to at least learn the very basics of the ones I chose.

Firstly I had a go at stick weaving. It’s very simple and the technique gives you a lovely restful ripple effect. I did 2 samples: the first with three sticks and the second with five. I did a little bit of experimentation with yarn choices.

Macramé was the first word in the table of techniques in the course materials that appealed to me, it caused two feelings, one of dread: wasn’t it naff, old fashioned? And one of interest: is there potential here? Could new things be created from this dated technique? 

None of my fluffy yarns were suitable for macramé on their own so I made a sample using a thick yarn as a base with thin fabric strips to make the knots. I also made a sample completely with the fabric strips. Both samples worked okay but the fabric tends to fray and this distracts from the knotting. They look better in the close up photographs.

Lastly I had a go at french knitting, this is a very restful technique and it was nice to see that you could add in various yarns to give different effect. I particularly liked these strings, they were soft and springy.

Art · ATV - Reflections · ATV - Research · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Break that Block – the WARofART and Morning Pages. 

Before I talk about the OCA work that I’ve done I’d like to explain how I’ve battled my latest block of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my creative work and my poor output.

Firstly a book found its way into my hand whilst I was procrastinating a few more moments away in Waterstones. Steven Pressfield’s the WARofART shone on the shelf and after I’d read the sleeve I knew it was just what I needed  “A vital gem…a kick in the ass” – Esquire. 

The book is slim and written in a very simple and easy to read way. It’s split into 3 sections:

Book One – Resistance – Defining the Enemy. This book helps to make sense of why we delay and faff and dance round our dreams and desires. It made me see that my resistance is not personal, it’s indifferent, it’s a simple force of nature that has one job which it does very well especially, if you don’t find a way to avoid falling for it’s temptress ways.

Book Two – Combating Resistance – Turning Pro. This book provides a tool box of actions and mindsets that take the sting out of resisting. It recommends that you turn pro, that you sit down and work, that you don’t worry about all the intrusive thoughts about success, the market, why your doing what your doing. This part of the book helps you to step back from the outcomes and to mould yourself into a person with the right attitude.  I particularly like the last page in this section: “There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision bought about by an act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.”

Book Three – Beyond Resistance – The Higher Realm – The most important lessons are in this small part of the book but you have to read this whilst interpreting the language to work with your own spiritual beliefs. Steven is a Christian and uses terms like ‘muses’ and ‘Angels’ He offers alternatives to help you decode the terms in a more abstract way. 

This section has the chapters about ‘territory’. Here was the part of the whole book that has helped me the most. It has allowed me to create an area; a place surrounding and within me that is mine. The place where I work. Steven uses examples like: “Stevie Wonder’s territory is the piano. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s is the gym’. Mine is my sketchbook (wherever I am), my studio, my sewing machine. This is my place, where I sit down to work.

Back in the early days, before I came back to art and found embroidery and quilting I bought a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book was a course, several months of tasks, words of wisdom and actions to break creative blocks. This book changed my life, it kicked off sysmic changes that saw me leave my job, become friends with a whole new group of creative people and helped me start to draw, design and sew in ways I could never have imagined. 

At the base and as the foundation to all of Julia’s help and advice are the Morning Pages. Every day you sit and write 3 pages of flow of conciousness thought. Everything that’s there: blah blah blah. A total brain emptying action, a way to clear away all the negative thoughts so that you can enter the day with a few less burdens and worries. 

So often I believe I am ‘okay’ I don’t need the pages, I have self confidence, I have willpower, blah blah blah! Then bump! I crash, I shrivel and slow down. I pretend I’m okay by doing lots, lots of stuff but it’s all simple and easy and mind numbing. It’s not what I should be doing. Then the anger, the dissatisfaction and the unhappiness creeps back in and I escape it by running away and eating and drinking so I’m too tired to question myself. I convince myself this is what I want.

Steven’s book shined a light at the end of the tunnel and grabbing a new notebook I started back with my morning pages, pouring out all of my worries and insecurities and clearing some space to create my territory, my place to work.

And that should be me sorted for a while, I’m not sure how long it’ll last but I’m going to try and get as much work done as possible whilst I have my gremlins and demons in their cages. 


theWARofART – Steven Pressfield 

The Artist Way – Julia Cameron 

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 - Part 4 - Yarn and Linear Exploration · ATV - Research

Still Procrastinating

Yep, I’m still at it: being very, very busy but not doing a lot! 

I did finish a baby hat for a gift though. Well the knitting anyway, it still needs to be stitched up.

Another time bandit I’m favouring at the moment is this book. I’m hoping it will give me some answers!

The guy’s name never fails to make me smile. It’s a great book, there’s not a lot of technical science stuff, thank goodness but there are lots of insights into how the brain works. All very interesting.

I particularly like hearing about white matter which is where all the little nerve fibers that link the cerebral cortex and the thalamus, which are crucial to consciousness are housed. 

This got me thinking about what they look like and if they are linear. 

This Pinterest board holds the pictures I found looking for suitable images. The brain is an amazing thing. Even if it drives me crazy at times! 

I love this quote :

We’re convinced that events happen exactly as we remember them and will state as much under oath in court. In fact, our brains are just knitting neat stories out of the countless scraps of information they receive, leading to all kinds of consequences.