Category Archives: Books

Assignment 4 – recommended reading and an interesting film


To anyone who borrows from the Libraries West consortium, I apologise for hogging the following books recommended from the course reading list for a long time.  Sorry, but they were too good not to get the most out of before I took them back.

Structure and Surface – Contemporary Japanese Textiles, McCarty & McQuaid is a beautiful book published to complement the exhibition of textiles jointly arranged by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Saint Louis Art Museum in 1999.  I had requested this book from the library whilst I was making samples for Assignment 3 but it didn’t arrive until after I had finished that section but it is definitely worth a look.  It is full of photographs of contemporary Japanese textiles that use novel and innovative processes, combining modern industrial techniques with handwork.  The designer Issey Miyake is featured, alongside the Nuno Corporation and many others.  There is a history of textile production in Japan and information on the designer’s inspiration.  The book cover itself is made of a very beautiful dyed and heat-treated fabric which has been creased and pressed to look like golden bamboo or willow leaves on a brown background.  Inspirational.

The Yarn Book – how to understand, design and use yarn by Penny Walsh is a really well thought out and detailed text book for textile artists.  I was impressed by the amount of information in this little book.  There are lots of colour photographs and line diagrams to illustrate each section.  The book covers everthing from the history of textile production, materials, techniques, fabrics and yarns, including a useful glossary of types of fabric and details of suppliers and places of interest at the back.  The book does go in to a good deal of detail on spinning – s-twist and z-twist, etc which would be very useful to anyone beginning to spin yarn seriously.  Highly recommended.

Tapestry Weaving – a Comprehensive Study Guide by Nancy Harvey is a classic text book for the practical study of weaving that would be ideal for the beginner weaver.  I have to admit that I did not get beyond the first couple of chapters as I felt that it would probably be more useful if I were required to go in to weaving in more detail at a later stage.  The samples we have been asked to make for Assignment 4 were using very simple equipment and techniques so I wanted to make the most of my time and left this book to one side.

Three-dimensional Textiles with coils, loops, knots and nets by Ruth Lee is a fabulous book crammed full of ideas for creating textiles with form and body using a range of materials and techniques gleaned from traditional basketry, knotting and net-making.  Again, this book is full of colour photography and good explanantions of how to reproduce the techniques used.  This is a book I would like to get for my own shelf as it is brimmiing with inspiration.  I still haven’t tried making cords using yarn and a zig-zag stitch in a complementary or contrasting thread.  So simple and yet so effective.

Finally, I requested Kim Tittichai’s book Experimental Textiles – a journey through design, interpretation and inspiration while I was working on the last assignment and it also arrived late.  It is not on the suggested book list but I think it should be.  Kim taught a popular course, Experimental Textiles, in the south of England for many years, offering students all the basic skills and encouragement to develop and work independently as textile artists.  The book goes through the stages of developing ideas and designs, colour and dimension, through interpretation and where to find inspiration.  The book is full of photographs of other artists’s work and how they developed their designs which is very useful.

I visited Coldharbour Mill in Uffculme, Devon a couple of years ago with the West of England Costume Society.  There is now a really useful video on their YouTube channel which complements The Yarn Book showing spinning at the mill on an industrial scale.


Stitches: New Approaches (Jan Beaney)


The local library service pulled this book out of their “Reserve Store” for me (last borrowed 17 Nov 2000).  Most of the photographic plates are in black and white but I think this is the best way to show stitches that are used to impart texture and movement.  The line drawings detailing the steps to achieve each embroidery stitch are also, on the whole, very easy to interpret.

This book was published in 1985 and, as such, is a snap-shot of decorative stitchery of that time.  I did find some of the combinations of thread and fabric slightly cringe-worthy, especially since many of the embroidery samples seem to have been made up of hairy hemp stitched on some kind of linen scrim or wholemeal hessian.  Perhaps that is one of the side-effects of using black and white photography, in that you are forced on focus on the backbones of the image, rather than be distracted by pretty colours.  I have since discovered (thanks to Amazon) that there has been a new edition published in 2004 and I will be back to the library service for this version asap!

There were a few images of embroideries from historical textiles and more from other countries.  I would like to do some more research on textiles from other cultures and hope to find some more reference works detailing these.

Drawn to Stitch


I have started reading Drawn to Stitch – Gwen Hedley.  This is a great book, full of fantastic images of mark making and techniques to promote ideas for stitching.

I also sketched a little, but I was in the office and it was difficult to find viewpoints that I wanted to reproduce.  I was trying to do detailed work, but perhaps I should have had a go at something less obvious, less laboured, a wider viewpoint.   I did like the effect of the rollerball pen to visualize the wires on the notebook but I perhaps that would have been better with a wider fibre-tip pen.

Reading about changing the surface of papers gave me some ideas about experimenting with distressing papers by crushing and rubbing.  I want to see what happens when you soak it in water for a while and then crumple it up, flatten it out and leave it to dry and also twist it up and perhaps ply it and the leave it to dry.  Lloyd loom furniture is made from paper twisted around a wire core which is why it ages in that way that makes it so attractive – worn/used.


[photo coming]



I am reading Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists by Kay Greenlees.  It is really helpful to see examples of how other people put down their thoughts in the form of notes, sketches, collage and other techniques.  I still feel this is unfamiliar territory for me.  I think I just need to break things down into manageable tasks and not worry too much about how things look to start with.  I am going to have a break and go outside to poke around in the garden and find some more monster courgettes …