Coursework Part 4: Project 1: Exploring Lines: Exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns and Concepts: 3: Texture and Tonal Qualities

I chose to work from the painted extension of the neutral sample from Exercise 3.1 Part 3.


I made a mind map to stimulate some ideas about colour, tone and texture.



I made some drawings, which explored the diamond or squares pattern seen in the source textile, also the folded nature of the fabric.


Materials: white wool mix felt, grey linen thread, amber/gold glass beads, tea dye

Construction: squares of white felt were sewn diagonally onto grey linen thread, with interspersed glass beads held in place with a knot either side. The completed yarn was given a quick ‘tea bath’, rinsed in clean water, then dried.

Handle and appearance: lightweight, soft, slightly ‘furry’. It has an ‘antique’ appearance thanks to the tea dye, but the diamond shapes and glass beads make me think of Art Nouveau style.

Possible variations: this simple construction could be adapted with numerous shapes; different sizes of shapes; three-dimensional shapes (eg pom poms); overlapping shapes; etc.

Thoughts and ideas: I chose felt as being matt like the source material, and abstracted the square/diamond shape from the original. In my drawing I had imagined metal jump rings connecting the shapes, but opted for thread and beads as being more in keeping with the source textile. I quite liked this yarn but felt that the colour was a bit too pink-brown rather than cream coloured. For possible applications: hanging room dividers, jewellery, an over-skirt of vertical rows of this yarn.


Materials: cream curtain lining (re-purposed fabric), peach cotton cord, grey ?silk embroidery thread, lilac cotton embroidery thread.

Construction: the textile was torn into roughly 3 cm strips and then into squares. The edges were frayed (resulting in some squares being larger than others). The textile squares were placed in an overlapping pattern and the cotton cord was laid on top and couched to it with a single strand each of grey and lilac embroidery thread.

Handle and appearance: lightweight, soft, feathery texture and look.

Possible variations: other textiles or media (?leaves) could be used; different shapes and colours of textile, frayed or unfrayed fabric.

Thoughts and ideas: I was happier with the colour of this yarn: the creamy colour with touches of grey, lilac and peach that I had seen in the original textile. The fluffy, frayed edge came from thoughts of the original textile being a ‘worn out’ duvet cover. This yarn brought to mind ephemeral sea creatures, as well as feathers. It can be twisted into a spiral as well as being used flat. It made me think of millinery uses – decorating a hat for a wedding or a fascinator for a bride. It had a 1920s feel to it, so maybe decorating a flapper dress.

Visual evaluation drawing, in mixed media, of a close-up area of the ‘feather’ yarn.


Materials: cream curtain lining (re-purposed fabric), cream cotton crochet thread, Japanese matt glass beads.

Construction: the textile was torn into a 2 cm strip and was pleated and oversewn with two rows of straight stitches. A further row of straight stitch incorporating the glass beads was sewn along the centre.

Handle and appearance: lightweight, soft, slightly ribbed feel, with the rough, gritty feel of the beads. Appearance – well one word came to both my husband and I on seeing this: tapeworm – ugh!

Possible variations: other textiles could be used; wider or narrower strips of fabric, frayed or unfrayed fabric, different or no embellishments could be used (the reverse, without beads, is shown above, at bottom right).

Thoughts and ideas: In this yarn I was exploring an all-cream palette, concentrating on the pleated nature of the source textile. If I ever want to re-create the verisimilitude of a tapeworm, this will be my ‘go-to’ technique. In other colours and scales, I can imagine that this could be used in the fashion arena, or for embellishment of home furnishings.


Materials: cream cotton crochet thread.

Construction: I watched three You Tube videos about making nets and followed the advice in two of them, (links below). The third used a different technique involving a specialist tool. You basically knot alternate pairs of cord (or in my case, thread) as it hangs down from a horizontal thread. It is quite time-consuming to make, but a simple process.


Handle and appearance: lightweight, delicate, lacy, semi transparent, with a repeated pattern of knots and diamonds. Can be stretched flat or twisted, or coiled into a cord.

Possible variations: this technique can be scaled up or down; different cords, yarns or threads can be used singly or in combination. Embellishments such as beads could be added at each knot or on the sides of the ‘diamonds’. Irregularly sized holes could be formed by varying the knotting pattern.

I was generously given a beautiful handmade scarf constructed with a similar technique involving two delicately-coloured yarns: one with a bouclé finish and the other with a feathery effect. This shows the sort of texture combination that could be achieved.


Sarah Beattie, Scarf 4 (detail), 1999

Thoughts and ideas: I opted to simplify the colour palette and construction, being influenced by the words ‘grid’ and ‘net’ in my mind map. I was pleased with this miniature ‘net’ and could see that the technique had a lot of potential in a number of areas: fishing (nets for catching and holding fish); fashion (the scarf shown above is an example, I can also imagine a garment for layering over other textiles); survival (for making hammocks, or textiles for carrying loads, as a base layer for a brush-covered tent, for example). I like the appearance of my net yarn, whether stretched flat or as a cord, with the knots appearing in suspension along the length. It may be useful for artistic constructs where themes of capture, imprisonment or struggle are involved.

White gel pen drawing of a section of the net yarn.


Materials: card, gouache paint, Czechoslovakian matt glass beads in mauve.

Construction: the card was cut into diamond shapes. Some were painted in cream, and others in lilac with a grey stripe. The latter diamonds were cut in half and glued to the cream ones. Glass beads were knotted onto linen thread with two diamonds glued together around the thread in between the beads.

Handle and appearance: medium weight, stiff, spiky, semi-flexible, flat, but reversible.

Possible variations: the diamonds could be made from textiles using English paper piecing technique; different shapes, colours and scale could be used. Different media such as metals, plastics, air-drying clay could be used. The pieces could be joined by metal jump rings instead of thread.

Thoughts and ideas: I think Jane Bowler‘s influence was felt in this exaggeration of the yarn, as were memories of Mary Katrantzou‘s chain mail fashion, from earlier research on the course. Shapes that tessellate are ideal for joining into two-dimensional textiles, with joins at the points. I think that jump rings would have worked better, as the thread kept the two pieces of card from joining perfectly. I increased the proportion of grey and lilac in this piece, as seen in my paint extension of the textile source. I think the colour palette works well together and could be used in fashion (in knitwear, or on a silk blouse, for example); or for interior decor, such as wallpaper, or paint colours. It creates a soft, gentle, calm appearance.


Materials: wool (mix) and acrylic felts, linen thread.

Construction: three colours of felt were cut into wave-shaped sections (example shown at bottom right, above), which were concertinaed and sewn onto linen thread.

Handle and appearance: medium weight, springy, soft, rippled. The appearance is festive and fun and can be varied by twisting the shapes to give a more three-dimensional effect.

Possible variations: different shapes could be used, or strips of felt or other materials; larger or smaller folds could be made in the fabric; matching or contrasting thread could be used.

Thoughts and ideas: Ideas of ‘ridges’, ‘folds’ and ‘waves’ came up in my mind map and influenced this exaggerated yarn. The colour palette I chose, was a more saturated version of the cream, grey and lilac of the painted textile extension. I used three different weights of felt, which means that the purple dominates as it has the most ‘body’. I thought that this was quite a successful experiment and had potential for fashion (scarves, jewellery, accessories, etc); and in art (creating lots of texture and variation from a flat material, maybe suggesting the texture of bark or water).


What have I learnt?

  • a simple, neutral textile can generate numerous ideas for yarn concepts (colour palettes, textures and patterns)
  • a mind-map suggests associated ideas that can lead to new avenues to explore in yarn design
  • how to make a simple net structure



Websites:- Accessed 02/02/17 Accessed 02/02/17

One thought on “Coursework Part 4: Project 1: Exploring Lines: Exercise 4.2 Experimental Yarns and Concepts: 3: Texture and Tonal Qualities”

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