Coursework Part 4: Project 1: Exploring Lines: Exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns and Concepts: 1: Colour Placement and Composition

Looking back at my work for Exercise 3.1, I selected the following colour palette and the painted textile extension exercise as inspiration.

Part 1. Colour placement and composition

I made a visual analysis, annotated drawing inspired by the colour palette, the fabric pattern and my painting of it.


I also made a mind map to stimulate ideas on pattern, materials, structure, colour and the overall impression given by the source textile.


#1 – 4

Two small and two larger samples, exploring wrapping/binding and inspired by the two drawings at left, above.

Materials: #1: wool rug yarn/linen thread; #2: wool rug yarn/polyester thread; #3: wool rug yarn/2 colours of polyester thread; #4: 2 colours of wool rug yarn/mixed fibre yarn/2 colours of polyester thread.

Construction: #1: grey wool rug yarn was bound in a regular pattern with grey linen thread. #2: dark teal yarn hand bound irregularly with polyester thread. #3: dark teal rug yarn was mounted on a water soluble stabiliser, then machine sewn with free motion embroidery in two colours of polyester thread (grey and rust). The backing was then dissolved in water. #4: two lengths of rug yarn in grey and dark teal and one length of fancy, mixed fibre, space-dyed yarn were mounted onto soluble backing and machine sewn and freed from backing, as for #3.

Handle and appearance: the hand-bound samples were the most flexible, and the machine-sewn slightly less so: stiffness seems to be linked to stitch density. The soluble fabric residue needed thorough washing out, or it also left a stiffness to the yarn.  The rug yarn has a hairy appearance when seen close-up.

Possible variations: use a zig zag stitch on the machine (could not get this to work with either of mine!); add further stitch and embellishment after wrapping; apply the stitch to only certain parts of the yarn; use a thicker yarn/thread or wire for wrapping; sew in fragments of textile or other yarns.

Thoughts and ideas: a simple technique (although I spent an incredibly frustrating hour or so to get it right on the sewing machine!) that could form the basis for further development. I preferred a stronger contrast in colour between the main yarn and the wrapping yarn, but using different yarns with different sheens or textures would be interesting. The fourth sample was most representative of the pattern of the source textile. On its own, it could provide interesting yarns; be adapted for jewellery-making; form unique yarns for making both 2-D and 3-D pieces of artwork. It reminded me of the work of textile artist, Cos Ahmet, whose work I had seen at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show. It could be made to link to themes of constriction or imprisonment, lack of control (over one’s life), lack of a voice, etc, in art work.


Materials: grey and dark teal wool rug yarns, ?cotton chenille yarn, mixed fibre fancy yarn, linen thread, Czechoslovakian matt glass beads in dark teal and rust.

Construction: the beads were threaded in alternate colours onto the linen thread, with an extra loop to hold each bead in place at approximately 1 cm intervals. The yarns and thread were divided into three groups and were plaited.

Handle and appearance: flexible, soft with a knobbly texture (the beads). The appearance is complex, but with a pattern of different textures, colours and shapes interacting.

Possible variations: use different yarns/threads/materials; different colours (eg an analagous selection for a ‘calmer’ mood); use larger and/or different embellishments; play with scale.

Thoughts and ideas: I was aiming to use a mixture of colours from the original palette and this does remind me somewhat of the source textile with its overlapping strands. It has the potential to be used in any number of applications: coiled into vessels; made into jewellery; used in household decor (curtain tie-backs, for example); embellishment on clothing, etc.


Materials: grey wool rug yarns; ochre/tan flat, chenille yarn; grey cotton textile strip (torn and frayed); light grey cotton embroidery thread.

Construction: the two yarns and the fabric strip were tightly bound every 5 cm for approx 1.2 cm with the embroidery thread. In between the bound areas, the embroidery thread is plied with the grey rug yarn. The chenille yarn and textile strip are left a bit loose at the unbound sections.

Handle and appearance: the unbound sections are flexible and soft: the bound areas are stiff. The appearance is simple, but interesting with the strong contrasts in texture forming a regular pattern, with the looping/frayed areas providing some variation.

Possible variations: use different yarns/threads/materials (eg wire for the binding); different colours (eg, a black and white version would be quite striking); vary the length and frequency of the bound areas; scale up or down.

Thoughts and ideas: I wanted a pleasing and simple colour palette for this yarn, using just the pale and dark grey with ochre/tan from the original palette. I liked this yarn and thought it could be interesting if joined in a net-like grid to make a screen like the ones I had seen in my research for this part of the coursework, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. It could also be made into a haute couture skirt with a different colour of fabric beneath, which would show through.


Materials: grey and dark teal wool rug yarns; rust chenille yarn; ochre and white synthetic furnishing cord; light grey cotton embroidery thread.

Construction: the cord was disassembled to remove the white cord, which was replaced with plied grey embroidery thread. 6 lengths each of grey and dark teal rug yarn were laid around the cord. The chenille yarn was used to bind the yarn bundle at 8 cm intervals. The ends of the chenille were knotted and trimmed, but left loose. The rug yarns were cut at the midway points between the bound areas.

Handle and appearance: soft, flexible and fluffy. The appearance is fun, hippyish, a bit wild with nice contrasts in sheen and texture.

Possible variations: use different yarns/threads/materials; different colours (eg, a pastel version would be very sweet); vary the length and frequency of the bound areas; scale up or down; vary the length of the cut threads: short and tufty or long and dangly.

Thoughts and ideas: I picked some strong contrasts from the original colour palette: pale grey, ochre, rust and dark teal. The proportions of the grey, ochre and teal were fairly equal, with just bright points of colour where the rust ties appear. The drawing I made was inspired by the painted extension seen at the top right of this article. I tried to capture the wayward, ‘escaping’ quality of the lines in that painting. I think that this yarn has both fashion and interior design potential: a whole fabric made from this, or embellished with lines of it,  would make a great knitted jacket, or throw. Thinking of potential uses in an artistic context: struggle/imprisonment and escape come to mind.


Materials: two shades of grey and one ‘old gold’ in three sizes of vintage Czechoslovakian glass buttons; rayon embroidery thread in a green/gold colour and rose gold colour; mixed fibre, space-dyed yarn (grey/brown); grey linen thread; teal quilting thread.

Construction: the buttons were threaded onto the linen thread in a pattern of two gold, two dark grey, one light grey in random sizes. The embroidery thread and mixed fibre yarn were plied with the linen thread. The teal thread was used to bind the buttons in place and to add a touch of contrasting colour, in a randomly wrapped pattern.

Handle and appearance: heavy; pleasant, clinking noise as the buttons touch; flexible with a luxurious look and feel. The high sheen of the rayon threads contrasts with the matt finish of the buttons.

Possible variations: use different yarns/threads/materials; different colours (eg, a single colour in different values of hue); choose an evenly-sized embellishment and regular wrapping for a more uniform appearance; change the scale.

Thoughts and ideas: The two shades of grey and the taupe and teal were the starting point for this colour combination. I wanted some contrasting textures and forms in this yarn. The link to the source material comes from the use of multiple threads/yarns and bound areas, which mimic the pattern of the source textile. I liked the variety of surface textures in this yarn and felt that the metallic finishes leant it a touch of luxury. It would have potential in fashion (hair accessories or millinery, perhaps) and interior decoration as an added embellishment, for example on lighting options such as a chandelier. Something about the yarn reminds me of the sea: pebbles? or seaweed? In fact, it might work well with sea glass or drilled pebbles.


Materials: Grey and dark teal rug yarn, grey cotton textile strip (torn and frayed); rust chenille yarn; water soluble stabiliser; grey and rust polyester threads.

Construction: the yarns and textile strip were sandwiched between two layers of stabiliser, then were oversewn by sewing machine with free motion embroidery, adding stitch to the outer yarns and crosswise at 3 cm intervals. The stabiliser was dissolved, then alternate squares of threads were removed, leaving the outer yarns, like a ladder.

Handle and appearance: soft, hairy, textured. Has an appearance of lightness thanks to the cut-away areas.

Possible variations: use different yarns/threads/materials; different colours; vary the density of the filled squares (eg use voile, or translucent plastic); vary the size of the filled and open areas; change the scale; might work with ‘invisible’ thread to give a look of suspension to the filled areas.

Thoughts and ideas: This yarn was inspired by the square of source textile with its irregular rows of colour. While I was not that wild about it, I can see that it has potential for forming a textile if joined side to side. This would allow open areas to reveal the layer behind it: useful in fashion or, in a larger scale, as a window blind or room divider. It could be made in gold or silver wire to make jewellery. In an artistic narrative, it suggests something partially hidden and revealed, or a ladder to climb or descend.


Materials: 8 or so different yarns and embroidery threads in the grey/brown palette (rayon, cotton, wool, and mixed fibre included).

Construction: the yarns and textile strip were sandwiched between two layers of stabiliser, then were oversewn by sewing machine with free motion embroidery, adding stitch to the outer yarns and crosswise at 5 cm intervals. The stabiliser was dissolved, then alternate squares of threads were cut at the half way point, leaving the outer yarns, but with the cut threads providing movement and texture.

Handle and appearance: soft, fuzzy, textured. The mainly brown-toned palette gives it an organic, natural appearance; somewhat delicate and lacy with lots of variation in sheen, and texture.

Possible variations: use different yarns/threads/materials; different colours; vary the density of the threads and yarns; alter the scale; use faux leathers and suedes.

Thoughts and ideas: I was looking at the painted extension to the source textile when I drew this idea. I chose a fairly analagous, muted palette to allude to colours seen in the landscape, which I felt were present in the source material. The width of this yarn means that it would probably best be joined edge to edge, forming a textile which could be used in fashion for accessories such as scarves or decorative cuffs; or for a ‘feature’ wall covering. I think it would be a good way of representing tree bark or water (and other surfaces with texture and movement) in textile art. Although I laundered this in a gentle machine wash before cutting into it; I doubt that it would be very robust unless gently cared for.


This section of the exercise concentrated on colour and placement. I have experimented with different proportions of colour in the yarns (an analagous, muted palette in #10, for example); a more representative full colour palette in yarns #5, 7 and 9. I have also played with the sheen and texture of the materials selected: hairy, dull yarns contrasting with shiny rayon threads or metallic-look buttons. I have tried to capture the feeling of lines and binding seen in the original textile, and the wayward lines of the painted textile extension.

I have learnt that:-

  • a colour palette derived from a textile can be represented in linear media;
  • different textures and colour combinations can give a different ‘mood’ to a yarn, which then suggests further potential uses.



Websites:- Accessed 23/01/17


2 thoughts on “Coursework Part 4: Project 1: Exploring Lines: Exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns and Concepts: 1: Colour Placement and Composition”

  1. Lovely detailed work, so imaginative and I really admire your careful consideration of colour. Also like the way you structure these posts with sub-headings – not only clearer for the reader but I guess it helps you to organise your thoughts and focus too. I might borrow that idea at some point if that’s OK.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s