Category Archives: Project 8 – Yarns

Project 8 – Yarns – Stage 2 Experimenting with structures


Exercise 1


For this sample I have used coloured newsprint that I cut in equal width strips.  I used two photographs of faces from a sport supplement that was full of the Olympics so sports fans will most likely be able to identify who they are but I am afraid I don’t know!  I thought the puzzle of two faces might work quite well but the swimmer is not quite in the same alignment so it makes the whole image look a little less cohesive.


For this next sample I have used magazine pages, one of a tiger and one of an apple tree.  I cut the strips of uneven width to give more interest and I like the way you get the impression of the tiger slightly camoflaged in the greenery.  It is amazing how the brain fills in the gaps in this type of image.


In this sample I have used a magazine photograph of boats on water cut into strips of varying widths against some heat treated plastic biscuit wrapping cut into uniform strips.  I thought the shiny bubble shapes would complement the water and I think it works well.


Here I have used a stripey gold and black print wallpaper contrasted against some black dress netting.  It was a fiddle to weave, especially since I had cut all the strips in wavy lines rather than straight and the dress net is difficult to stick with paper glue so I had to use masking tape to fasten it off.  The result is interesting where the net is overlaying the stripes


For this final weaving sample I have used two wallpaper prints, the gold and black stripe again and a floral design in the same range with added mauve and pink.  I cut all the strips in wavy lines and this time wove them with spaces in between to accommodate some pink synthetic raffia on the diagonal.  I have mounted the whole on black card so that the strips show up well and I think it is quite a bold design.  A good starting point for some further development.

Exercise 2

I have made a variety of braids, cords and ropes out of different types of yarn and other materials.


These are some ropes and braids loosely based on a theme of soft.  Chunky chenille yarn features highly and since most knitting yarn is made of lovely soft wool and wool blends it is not too difficult to produce something soft-looking.


This rope comprised of several different yarns is more smooth than some of the others.


These two I classified as shiny.  The first has some lurex mixed in to one of the yarn strands of the plait and the other is a lucet braid made using enamelled copper wire.  It is not too difficult to manipulate this way but it is interesting that the end result looks more like a chain of crochet than a lucet braid.


These two could also be interpreted as hard.  The first one is a loose rope made with twisted newspaper and florist’s wire.  I had in mind the material Lloyd Loom used to make their furniture.  I can imagine the paper is much more precisely prepared than my effort and the wire should be enclosed by the paper.


I thought these two could also be showing a rough quality.  The newspaper rope is very angular and the braid on the right is using some hairy eyelash-type yarn – very textural. icord

This is an i-cord I knitted from written instructions, having not tried this technique before.  I got quite a way along before I realised I was really knitting it inside out (left) so I turned it around and the result looked a lot smoother (right).  Useful for further development though and I like the roughness of the first attempt.

lucet braid

This was an experiment learning how to use my lucet braid tool, a very basic one that my Mum had picked up at a craft fair.  Again, I like the smooth quality of the surface and need to experiment further with different materials.

Exercise 3

For this exercise I looked around my workroom for some inspiration as to what to use for a frame that would be rigid enough to support the wrappings.  My mother gave me some dried American corn cobs some years ago.  My husband doesn’t much like dried food hanging around the place and I must admit that they did become dust catchers so they had been relegated to my windowsill because I still liked the texture and shapes.  I decided to use some of the leaves to make a square frame and bound the corners to secure them together with natural raffia.  Inside the frame I started by wrapping some unravelled beige woollen knitting yarn that has retained it’s kink across one axis and then I looped some handpainted art yarn in aubergine and dark red tones front and back in such a way that it looks roughly like very loose knitting but it was all done freehand without an endpoint in mind.  I added a trio of tassels on the bottom to finish it off.  This makes it easier to see which way up to display the sample.


Exercise 4

For the final exercise in this section I looked around again and initially thought of using some chopsticks for the frame but I decided on bamboo kebab sticks in the end.  I made my job quite difficult by making the grid triangular in shape as this meant I ended up with a lot of small awkward shaped apertures.  I wrapped the whole frame in sari silk ribbon yarn.  This is very useful for this sort of job as the fabric is pre-cut in nice narrow strips but I had to go through pretty much the whole rainbow of the hank to find enough of the same colour strips.  The fabric has a little gold metallic stripe through some of it which makes a nice contrast against the dark red.

Next I used some silk thread that came in short lengths to make a very rough woven area and, because it lacked texture, I tied some shorter pieces on at the intersections of the threads and left the ends so it all looks a bit untidy and shaggy.  Then I took some shot woven upholstery fabric and cut it into two strips with pinking shears to make the edge a bit more interesting and I wove this in and out of some of the framework.  To keep it in place I have used 3 strands of complementary coloured embroidery thread knotted around the frame.

I then filled the other larger area by weaving using some hand-painted ribbon yarn, pulling the weft in a little to cinch the warps.  Lastly I took a few threads together and crocheted a chain which I then fastened to two of the frame ends.  The curves of the crochet soften the whole a little as it was getting a bit too linear.


Notes on Project 8

* Did you enjoy inventing constructed surfaces?  Were you surprised at the results?  Can you see a connection between your choice of materials and the types of structures you made – regular, irregular, small or large scale?  Which samples worked best – and why?

I have really enjoyed this section so far.  I have always preferred constructing textiles over pure embroidery or other embellishment techniques.  Using paper to weave images produces a lot of useful work that will be invaluable for further design development.  I can’t say I was particularly surprised by any of my samples, although the last weaving sample with the diagonal elements was quite interesting but I could do some more work with other materials.  Obviously the more bulky the material the less neat the result.  Both my frame and grid samples were not large, being around 10 and 12 inches wide each.  Perhaps I should try to do some more ambitious pieces on a larger scale but I was pleased with the results I got this time.  The grid sample was challenging.  The triangle shape meant that there were fewer opportunities to fill larger spaces than there might have been if I had tried something more regular like a square or rectangle with evenly distributed cross pieces.

I was happy with all the samples, particularly the final woven paper sample where I opened it out to show the background.  Also, I was pleased to try some cording techniques I hadn’t had a go at before, the knitted i-cord and the lucet cord, particularly using wire.  I have knitted with wire, both with a knitting machine and by hand so this was a fun additional skill to learn.

* How accurate were you in matching all the colours in your postcard:

– with paints?

– with yarns/other materials?

I am not sure which exercise this refers to.  I am presuming it was the exercise at the beginning of the section using an image and analysing the colours.  I spent quite a long time on this, especially trying to reproduce the colours using oil pastels.  I am pleased with the results but I found that the longer I looked at the image, the more colours I could see.  I also found the yarn wrap worked very well, although it can be very time consuming deliberating over which colours to use and finding which yarns and other materials can help to convey the textures best.


Project 8 – Yarns – Stage 1 Exploring the qualities of yarns


DSC_0001I spent a good deal of time – probably should have been doing more coursework – on tidying and sorting my collection of yarns.  Actually this was a very useful exercise because it meant everything was to hand for the next stage of the project and, even though I still can’t move around my workroom easily for plastic crates full of stuff, I do feel like I have made a bit more sense of the general chaos in here.

I have found some lovely hand spun and dyed art yarns I had forgotten about and all sorts of little bits of silk and other luxury fibres that my mother passed on to me when she realised that they would be useful for my studies.  I have also hoarded bits of string, rafia, paper string and cord handles from fancy paper bags, along with old tights, vegetable and fruit nets and wire from old calendars.  I am looking forward to using them in some of the exercises in this project.

One of the books on the course list for this section is The Yarn Book by Penny Walsh.  I found this a very useful, well organised and simply explained handbook on all you might want to know about the history and production of yarn and fabric.  There are plenty of diagrams and colour photos and a handy glossary of fabrics at the back.  Well recommended.

Part 4 – Textile Structures – Analysing colour, texture and proportion


The image I have chosen for this exercise is a homes and gardens magazine clipping I kept from years back that caught my eye mainly because of the colours and the vintagey gardenalia. (Click on the photos for a bigger image.)

Part 4 image part 4 colour analysis

To reproduce the colours in the original image as small patches of colour I have used oil pastels.  This was definitely a good daylight exercise, as was the yarn wrapping.  For the yarn wrap I have used a mixture of woollen knitting and tapestry yarn, natural and synthetic rafia, cotton tape and ribbon, fancy gift wrapping woven ribbon, cotton and acrylic knitting yarns.  I think I did quite well matching the yarns for colour but when it came to texture this was a little more difficult.  I like the effect given by a two ply terracotta and beige yarn I found and I mixed this with a darker orange yarn that varied in thickness which worked well to reproduce the idea of the old, peeled painted bricks on the wall.  I also like the way the dark green cotton tape with it’s herringbone twill weave works well to give some depth to imitate the ivy leaves and shadows up the wall.

3rd wrap

For the second wrap my original image is a colourfully printed brown paper bag that I have kept because it looks so jolly and retro.  I have used more knitting and some specially space dyed velour art yarn for this wrap where I first covered the whole card with the beige wool so that the lines would give the impression of the lines on the paper bag base which look like a watermark.  The slubby purple yarn is quite good for showing the curves of the grapes and one of the art yarns (a handspun, handpainted merino blend called Festive from Maine Woods Yarn – had pretty much all of the colours in already but that would have been cheating!  This photo is a bit blurry as I was nearly out of daylight again – roll on the summer …

2nd wrap

For the third wrap I used a photograph of plants in my parent’s garden that I must have taken many years ago.  I love the pop of colour the nasturtiums make against the green and white of the big leaved plant.  Again I have used a mixture of yarns and to give more texture to the green and white area I have overlaid that area of the wrap with a portion of plastic net from a pack of garlic.