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Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”.  I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work.  I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”).   This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.

I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.

In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed.  Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!

The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”.  The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.

“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.

“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”

Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet.
The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.

Sea Shell collection with Sea Urchin “
skeletons”

The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)

The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me.
Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.

She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.

One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images.  This did produce some interesting results.

We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.

Showing the progress from picture strip to felted swatch

Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).

As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.

Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.

Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.

which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design

This is the design I finally ended up with.

There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour.  And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.

The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine

And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work.  Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.

The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”. 

We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world.  (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.)  A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.

I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.

I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.

Recycling, upcycling…..and how one thing leads to another

Recycling, upcycling…..and how one thing leads to another

It’s that time of year when there are lots of Christmas fairs coming up & I need to make some festive items. 

Recently, I picked up some Christmas-themed small wooden blanks (for tree decorations, or maybe gift tags) very cheaply in a charity shop. I started doodling on them with acrylic pens and found I was enjoying myself – it made me think about the recent popularity of adult colouring books.  Good for mindfulness.

Some examples of the painted blanks – there was quite a variety of shapes.

I know these aren’t fibre-related but it set me off thinking about doing something similar with felt. I bought some bauble-shaped wooden blanks online and after colouring a few in (colouring in is a little addictive) …..

 Some of the painted baubles

….. I decided to make a sheet of white felt, decorated with bits of vintage lace, old tatting and shadow-work embroidery, all bought in charity shops. I have a box full of old strips of hand and machine made ‘lace’, old dressing table doilies, bits of fine crochet….anything I think might felt. I thought this was an ideal opportunity to do some creative up-cycling. 

 

As I was making the felt it struck me that I have lots of handmade felt off-cuts, test pieces and samples that I could use in a similar way. A good opportunity to recycle work and release a little studio space. To continue my recycling theme, I even used charity-shop-bought crochet cotton for the hanging strings. 

These were cut from square samples I made during Fiona Duthie’s Ink + Felt class

 

Left, some more ink + cloth samples. Right, samples I made for my ‘hippie’ bag earlier this year

Left photo: Top left a nuno sample I made using recycled linen; the others were off-cuts from other projects

Right photo – the yellow was a coaster I made with coloured yarn; the green and pink are nuno samples, the blue is an example of paper felt with some acrylic pen

Finally, I painted some of the wooden bauble-shapes white, and married them with a broad strip of black vintage lace. 

So, the chance purchase of second-hand wooden blanks led me to upcycling vintage textiles and recycling some of my own felt off-cuts and samples. I love seeking out and using second-hand materials, especially small hand made things, usually made by women, that tend to be disregarded by many people. Often they are from something that has worn out, like a pillow case, or is rarely now used, like dressing table sets or antimacassars.

I have one particular piece of embroidery on fine silk that I couldn’t bring myself to use. The work is so fine I endlessly marvel at the skills of the woman who made it. It’s so intricate and beautiful with such tiny stitches it makes me feel slightly sad.  I bought it in a charity shop for £2. To me it’s a disregarded masterpiece.

Silk and embroidery (hand / finger included for scale)

The silk is starting to disintegrate and I’m really not sure what to do with it. Any suggestions? 

Learning to Crochet

Learning to Crochet

I’ve had tradies in for weeks, so haven’t had a chance to felt. Having a rare bit of quiet time the other day, I thought ‘why not give crocheting another go?’ After about 8 videos, I remembered why! I did manage to make some things you could loosely describe as chains, though:

I thought felt and knitting were hard to photograph, until I tried to photograph crochet! All these photos have been redone at least 3 times. I thought I might have better ‘luck’ if I used some commercial yarn instead of my handspun superwash which spun about as well as it felted. I also looked for a better video, and finally found someone who spoke slowly enough for me to understand and had a really clear explanation:

So with some commercial Aran wool and a new video, I made a neater single chain:

The thing I’d had most trouble with on other videos was their explanation of how to do the next row, which stitch was the ‘second stitch’ etc. Luckily, Lesson 2 was SO clear, I did it first time:

My samples weren’t perfect, but much better than my first chains!

I thought I’d try it with the pencil roving I was using for knitting:

But, what now? I don’t know what the next part is called so couldn’t find a video for it. How do you do a 3rd row? Turn it over and do the same thing? It didn’t look the same, but I gave it a go:

Is that right, how it’s meant to look? If you have any tips for what I need to know next, I’d be grateful! So, wanting to keep practising my new ‘skill’, but not having a clue, I thought I’d freestyle it:

Yeah, that is some kind of small crochet bowl! I wondered if I might be better at bigger crocheting, like I am with chunky knitting. So yesterday, I made myself a chunky hook, here it is next to the size 4 one I was using:

It needs a bit more sanding and maybe a bit of beeswax or something, but I had a go and made a chunky sample:

I am now going to enjoy the first peace and quiet for weeks, by clearing a space to do some felting! Any crochet tips greatly appreciated!!

The Tale of the Stubborn Crocheted Bowl

The Tale of the Stubborn Crocheted Bowl

Remember the floppy crocheted bowl I made?  I posted about it here:

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/05/28/more-crochet-adventures/

Lyn suggested I full it to make it sturdier.  So I tried and no change other than being fuzzier. I checked the label on the yarn ball, but I was pretty sure I didn’t buy superwash.  No, 100% wool.

 

So, I thought I would try boiling it. No change.

Lyn also suggested I decorate it.  I tried  using a thin wool, but didn’t like it.  So, I used beads in little clusters around the bowl.  But it was even more floppy.

The next step was to bring out the GAC 400 stiffener.  I had bought it, but never used it. Why not give it a try?  I used an empty mayonnaise jar for the shape, then painted on the GAC and let it dry.

When it dried it was perfectly solid and clear.

Now I had to decide what to use it for.  There are a million things I could put in there, but it  wasn’t too hard to decide.

My favorite treat close at hand.

What projects have you saved lately?

 

 

 

Working Small

Working Small

I’ve been trying some new things to work on that I could do easily and fairly quick. Right, haha.

I had seen some crochet and bead earrings online I wanted to try.  I used the same Aunt Lydia’s variegated cotton thread that I used on one of the scrubbies  I posted about recently.

 

It turned out out to be a little fiddly, but I got the hang of it and was pleased with the results. I especially like the variegated thread since it makes it easy to wear with several colors. My favorite ocean like colorway.  Here they are lying flat.

 

But then I thought they would nice hanging. So I scoured my house for something to hang them on.

Can you see the beading?

I keep pulling out my felt scraps and wonder what I can do with them.  I had some prefelt leftover from making business cards covered with throwsters waste to add a little bling and just enough to make two earrings.  I cut out two squares and played around with how to use them.  I like dangling earrings but not too big.  Since it was prefelt I didn’t want to add beads on it and weigh it down.

So, I used a head pin put a few beads on it then attached the prefelt around it just sewing it closed in the back. And finally attached the hooks.  They aren’t perfect but they are handmade.

I started another round pair with beads, but got frustrated and put it aside for another time.

I still have piles of scraps.  I’ll have to play with them some more and figure out what else I can use them for. Unfortunately, many pieces are too small to match and are odd shaped.  What have you done with your scraps lately?

 

Beach Bowl and Scrubbies

Beach Bowl and Scrubbies

Since I started crocheting, I’m constantly seeing projects I’d like to try.  Although, I’ve had to take a break to give my hands a vacation especially after this project.

Crocheting over wire looked interesting in the form of a bowl. I bought a Caron Sweet Roll because I liked the ocean colors, but I had a little bit of trouble finding plastic covered wire cording.  I ended up with plastic clothesline in white.

It was a bit fiddly to begin with.  I think if I had gotten the wire I would have had a bit more control.  But I managed to get the bowl shape with a little heavy hand and forming it over a bowl.

The pattern I had seen had a flat brim on the bowl, but when I followed their instructions it was a mass of curls.  So, I tore it out and made my own brim which is a little wavy but not curly.  I didn’t take a picture of the curly brim since I decided on impulse to rip it out.

From the top:

 

Side:Bottom: Now that I was done, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  It reminded me of the beach, so I decided to give it some shells.  I’ll have to find more shells to fill it some more.

Perhaps I should have left the curls to look like waves. Too late.

I also found some fun new yarn called Scrubbie cotton yarn by Red Heart Lion.  So, I made some cloths and and brillo like pads with several colors.  The pad is made using a combination of cotton thread and the scrubbie yarn.

Here are closeups of the pad then the washcloth:

I made a couple in turquoise.

Then another set in more neutral colors.

They were quick and easy to make and work well for the face or dishes.

What new projects have you done lately?

 

Lace and Stars

Lace and Stars

After trying a few lace crochet samples, I finally graduated from making crochet samples to actually making things.  But first the lace.  This lilac one is Marielle lace which would be ideal for an airy scarf.

The Duchess lace is a little denser and looks slightly different on each side.

 

 

 

 

 

The Picot Trellis lace is a more traditional pattern made with cotton thread instead of yarn.  This was challenging from the standpoint of using a much smaller hook which my joints weren’t really happy about.

The Star stitch was the basis of making a crochet hook case. You can clearly see on one side the holes in the stars.

The second side is where the hooks are inserted.

Unfortunately, my new ergonomic hooks didn’t fit.  But it does make a nice roll or it can be folded over to lay flat.

Finished with a chain tie.

I was a little bummed that my hooks didn’t fit, but I found another use for it.  I’m thinking of mounting it and hanging it.  I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

My next project was really challenging.  I saw this online and wanted to try it but had difficulty understanding the written instructions.  Of course, I turned to You Tube and found a couple of videos that got me through it.  It’s called a Starburst Hot Pad created by Loretta Schepp.

It started out making four  squares like these.

Then adding more of a design.

Now came the tricky part crocheting them all together.

Then folding part of the design inward to create the starburst.

 

A closeup.Here it is after being flattened out a bit. 

I used a variegated Caron Sweet Roll for this and was pleased how well the yarn worked with the design.

Needless to say I’m not using for a hot pad.  I will find a spot to hang it.

 

More Crochet Adventures

More Crochet Adventures

I took up Lyn’s challenge to crochet a wool bowl then felt it.  I got as far as making a small bowl.  I haven’t had time to felt it yet, but will show you the results when I do.  It’s a little floppy now, but should be firmer after felting.

Then I’ve continued to try new stitches.  Here is the Box stitch which is alike on both sides.

The Crocodile Scale stitch was a bit of a challenge but  definitely has interesting dimension.  It looks like little tongues or leaves, too.

Of course, I had to try a hexagon, this one has a flower center.

Spring is finally here in the Midwest, so I couldn’t resist the Tulip stitch.  Here it is in one color.

 

Then I tried another Tulip stitch and learned how to change colors. It looks entirely different. I decided to finish it with the same stitching as the bottom.

 

Here is the back.

The front really looks like like mini tulips.

My sister Carol’s ewe Dusty recently had a new lamb.  13 lbs. 12 oz!

Happy Spring! (For those of you that are experiencing it now.)

So What Have I Made Lately?

So What Have I Made Lately?

I know I’ve been a little crochet sample crazy lately.  But I have actually made some crochet beanies.

On April 11, our newest Grandson Ken arrived about 8 weeks early.  So, I was inspired to make some little hats.

Not knowing what size his head was, I made several different ones. And of course, I had to make a couple for my Granddaughter Lisa. I didn’t know her size either, but as it turned out a couple fit her.

Unfortunately,  because he was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) they would not allow him to wear anything from outside.

The first one I made was blue.  It entailed crocheting in the round and using a couple of different stitches.

Then I made a  green one with basically one stitch.

I figured if it was too big the bottom could be folded up.

Then I made a bigger lightweight yellow which is Lisa’s favorite color at the moment.

 

I thought these last two might fit Lisa so I put a flower on each.

Without upturned brim.

So, I shipped them all off. And here is the real model.

Ken came home this week. I don’t know if they have tried the hats yet, but here is our new bundle of joy.  Fortunately, now all the tubes are gone, but he really looks happy.

Here you can see the size differences.  It will be interesting to see which one, if any fit him.

More Crochet Textures

More Crochet Textures

I continue to be fascinated with the variety of textures that be created with crochet.

While some look similar there are subtle variations that make them unique.

This is the Crunch stitch.  It is a tight pattern that looks similar on both sides. I especially like it with the shiny yarn.

The next two are the Spider stitch. Both were made with the same hook, but because of the difference in yarn, look slightly different.

The Raised Treble Diagonal stitch.  I completed this sample with the same first row just to give it a finished look.  The back of this one is plain.

 

Another favorite is the Primrose stitch or maybe its the color.

 

The Aligned Cobble stitch has two different sides. Its been overcast here, so the photos aren’t the greatest.  The second one on the dark background is the back.

 

The Textured Combo stitch has an interesting texture and is the same both front and back.

 

So, my crochet adventure continues.

 

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