I had a bit of a doodle plying bits and bobs to make my own yarns: I used a variety of knitting yarns, raffia, strips of gingham and jacquard woven fabric, ribbons, lurex lace, wool pencil rovings, ric-rac braid and stockings. I’m not sure that many of the samples look particularly sophisticated but I do like the pink hairy knitting yarn and lurex lace (bottom right).
I decided on using this image for developing my final sample:
I produced this on the inside of a brown envelope using wax crayons and ironing on some plastic net which had held garlic. I like the effect the scraps of regular geometric net give to the otherwise organic design.
I cropped and enlarged small areas using the computer and came up with this image to work with: I love the violet and iron red of this image. The smooth pink “dogstooth” shapes on the left are the layer of melted plastic which was white originally. When I printed it out the printer made even more of the reds and yellows than this image shows and so my choices of yarn are much bolder. I really like the way that there is a slight shadow beneath the edges where the plastic meets the paper. It gives it a kind of outline. I also like the layered effect of the application of different colours of wax crayon over the paper.
Here is a photograph of my collection of yarns and other bits, along with my wrapped card showing the balance of colour proportions: I also made up some plarn (plastic yarn). I love going to the Polish grocers locally. In some countries in Europe Walkers crisps are known as “Lays” and there are a whole bunch of different flavours that we don’t get on the normal supermarket shelves. One of the Polish flavours is paprika and the “sharing” size packet is called “TV PAKA”. I have this image in my head of the family sitting around their television watching the football and crunching away … It just so happens that the paprika packet had just the right amounts of orangey reds and yellows so I added it to the mix by stripping it, folding and sewing down the centre with a straight machine stitch. I had seen this technique used in pieces at the Brunel Broderers exhibition in Frome and couldn’t wait to try it.
For my final sample I chose the linen-mix fabric as a background which meant I could easily use some of the thicker yarns and threads without too much trouble. I secured it in a 10 inch embroidery hoop which is why it retains the circular outline. I used a great variety of yarns and threads: tapestry yarn, embroidery silks and cottons, woollen and synthetic knitting yarns, strips of lurex fabric and stockings. I also appliquéd on some vintage fabric which has a gold thread weft and some of the plastic yarn. I used blanket and fly stitch, chain stitch, running and seed stitches, herringbone stitch and some french and bullion knots. I also found some upholstery braid in a similar shade and added that because of the texture – perhaps I should have ripped it and used the threads to embroider with!
I am very pleased with the resulting sample, although, again I feel I got distracted from trying to reproduce the textures accurately. The colours sing and the overall effect is of a very rich and dense piece.