Formative Feedback: Part 4, and Reflection

Thank you to Cari for my latest feedback. Lots to take on board and reflect upon!


  • translation of aesthetic, material and structural qualities of samples into yarn concepts
  • range of shape, form, structure and material investigation in 2D and 3D
  • constraints in colour palette worked well for red, black and white drawings
  • strong crafting skills without over-precision
  • exploration of scale, however, delicate/intricate samples most successful
  • exploration of translucency with hints of colour (eg, ice and hair yarns)
  • interesting use of objects to form yarns (eg, jelly beans and coat hanger yarns)
  • some yarns combine materials into something new and interesting
  • construction and interior of yarn book, crisp and well-organised (minimal use of text)
  • thorough discussion of the journey of the project/decisions made and good evaluative summaries
  • strong drawing work (good use of sympathetic media/techniques to capture material, tactile and visual qualities; quality and nature of drawing varied according to role, eg, functional planning drawings, more fully rendered drawings of samples)

Needs Work

  • close up snake yarn sample felt inelegant and heavy (however, it works at a distance when overall pattern becomes clear)
  • some materials feel as if they are fighting each other, not working together
  • photographs: do they successfully capture and communicate samples? (eg, ice yarn – background of trees too busy)
  • cover of the yarn book not successful (too strong and not my own design)
  • too much technical information in learning log
  • ‘Research & Reflection’ sections confusing to navigate

To Do

  • consider how my samples read spatially and how the viewer may interpret them (eg, snake yarn) [ongoing]
  • reflect on how the materials have been transformed by my interventions when evaluating future work, eg, two intertwined materials – are they integrated and transformed into something new? [ongoing]
  • photograph samples sympathetically against a neutral background (show different lighting options and how they may change a piece) [all work now photographed against white backgrounds, eg, images of workbook from Assignment 5]
  • present work in a visually quiet way, or use aesthetic details from the contents to hint at what’s within (redo covers of both yarn book and colour book) [latest book cover can be seen in this photo collage]
  • use neutral grey for presenting light coloured work, rather than black [ongoing]
  • emphasise evaluative commentary over descriptive commentary (ie, more about the aesthetic/visual read of samples) [ongoing]
  • refer to evaluative summaries in learning log when working on Part 5 [Review of coursework and feedback here]
  • integrate research and reflection with the relevant coursework and assignment work in the learning log [all relevant research is now linked both to the coursework and assignment parts and can be reached by clicking on those links on the side bar, as well as through the Research link. The latter link also has other personal research included.]
  • move ‘yarn research file’ to the beginning of the Part 4 Coursework section [it was not possible to insert a blog article at an earlier date, so I have added the yarn research file to the research article for Part 4]
  • use more appropriate drawing media for proposed samples (helps to assess aesthetic qualities of resulting samples) [ongoing, eg, tulip on tracing paper; blossom on tissue paper; chard leaf in melted plastic]
  • more sketchbook work for Part 5 (extensive drawing to capture samples, as well as planning for them; visual/theoretical/contextual research to underpin and inform the sampling) [ongoing – some pages from my latest sketchbook]
  • keep working both inside a sketchbook and on other appropriate grounds outside the sketchbook (small sections of coloured paper can be stuck into the sketchbook)
  • view Cari’s Pinterest boards on sketchbooks, drawing for textiles and design research [my own Pinterest boards for sketchbooks and textiles inspiration have been updated with some of Cari’s suggestions, and some other examples that I find inspiring. I found this website through a link on Pinterest, which has a useful guide to making an art portfolio with some ideas of what to include in sketchbooks. Interestingly, I had just seem some excellent examples at Gracefield Arts Centre‘s exhibition of Advanced Higher Art Selection, such as the work shown below by one of the students.]


Megan Nodwell, development work for, and images of finished wearable art jewellery

Development Notes

A big area for future development for me is use of the sketchbook. I need to show in images (photographs, pictures from magazines, books and the internet, etc) and in sketches, where my inspiration for work originates, and how I have selected and refined my ideas, along with technical notes and experiments, samples, colour palettes etc. Then drawings for planning the projects, using appropriate media, grounds and techniques, and evaluative drawings of samples and finished pieces.

Another area for improvement is to present my work even more simply, with regards to the backgrounds in photographs (neutral and plain), and in the covers for my books (simple and plain, or more appropriate to the contents).

One of my first tasks will be to go back to the beginning of my Learning Log, and add links for the research to the relevant parts of each section of coursework and assignments, and to move the yarn research file.

In future written work, I need reflect evaluatively on the processes I have used and on the work produced, together with weighing its aesthetic appeal, (Rebecca Fairley’s article “How to look at textiles” will come in useful here). I need to write less about the technical aspects of the work: I will keep the majority of these notes in my technical notebook. I have re-read my summaries for Part 4 and made notes to refer to in Part 5.




Accessed 25/03/17 Accessed 25/03/17 Accessed 25/03/17 Accessed 26/03/17


Assignment 4: Self Evaluation: Performance Against Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Materials – use of traditional and unusual materials, eg, toy snakes in Ex 4.3.

Techniques – colour analysis, colour palette selection and reproduction in yarn, abstracting elements from source materials to develop as yarn concepts, selecting, combining and joining a variety of media, designing, laying out and assembling a yarns book (YB).

Observational Skills – used in all of the exercises, eg evaluating paper and stitch samples for colour palettes and textures, to be translated into drawings and developed into yarns.

Visual Awareness – choices made for colour palettes, patterns and textures, eg, the clear plastic tubing cut into rings for Ex 4.4 represented the grey/white colour palette and the circular objects of the glass arrangement.

Design and Compositional Skills – selecting the size, layout, covers, labelling font, content and order of presentation for the YB, and assembling the book.

Quality of outcome

Content – selection of yarn ideas to create, derived from drawings made from source materials; choosing particular samples to pursue and develop (eg, the coiled sample led to a coiled pot and so to a snake vessel).

Application of Knowledgeresearch on basketry techniques and the work of designers fed into my work on this part of the course. Eg, Lucy Brown‘s use of hair in her artwork inspired my hair yarn.

Presentation of Work – the YB presents my work in a simple, clear, logical layout, presenting the created yarns in the order of the exercises, adjacent to the inspirational images.

Demonstration of creativity

Imagination – eg, using ice to make an ephemeral yarn; including surprise elements of sound, smell and taste in the YB. Using drawing, sampling, mind maps and play with materials to explore ideas. Linking snakes as media to the source image.

Experimentation – eg:- using unusual materials (jelly beans, glass buttons, coat hangers, etc); different scales of work (eg, French knitted linear concept on a large scale, gesso-dipped yarn on a smaller scale); different techniques (net making, binding, machine sewing, knotting, weaving, coilingorigami, etc) have all been explored.

Invention – Altering materials (eg, fraying, cutting, melting, painting, dipping, etc); and combining unusual materials (eg, washers/twigs/yarn, slate/pebbles/thread, wooden snakes/gardening wire, etc) have enabled me to approach the subject from a new direction.

Personal Voice –I feel that my selection of source materials, colour palette choices and combinations of media used, demonstrate an emerging distinctive identity.


Reflection – I have continued to reflect on and evaluate my ideas and work in my learning log. I have carried out more drawing and sampling during this coursework, and have found it helpful in focusing my attention on successful outcomes.

Research – The artist/designer recommendations made by my tutor, have led to research on colour that has felt very exciting in suggesting ways of developing and presenting my work. The research carried out for the coursework also helped to inform my choices, and expand my expectations of what was possible.

Learning Log – I have recorded my research, course and assignment work and reflections in my learning log blog.

Assignment 4: Yarn and Linear Exploration: Written Reflection

What have I learned from observing and developing materials and textiles?

  • yarns can be inspired by numerous source materials
  • drawing and mind maps are useful in generating ideas
  • sampling illuminates successful combinations of media, colour palettes, construction methods, possible developments, etc
  • imposing constraints has again been highlighted as a successful strategy
  • the selected colour palette, scale, and type of ‘line’ all help to define the look and feel of a yarn
  • the importance of ways of joining media
  • colour palette and proportions of colours, media, texture, scale and pattern can all be varied to create numerous ideas for yarns

Strong points of my work

Exploration of varied and unusual media, interesting techniques, and scale in yarn creation. Coherent presentation of yarn samples and inspirations in a yarns book.

Weaker aspects of my work

Although I have done more sampling and drawing for this section, I am sure that I could do even more in future. I had ideas that I did not have time to explore, therefore I must aim to work faster.

New skills

I had an introduction to knotting, basketry techniques and net making. Working with plastic (packaging and tubing), toy snakes, ice, hair and 3-D objects were new experiences for me.

Potential work in future based on this project

I am sure that I will return to a number of these techniques in the future: basketry techniques; combining and joining assorted media; French knitting; knotting and binding; making repeating patterns, to name but a few.

Assignment 4: A Yarn Collection

The brief for this Assignment is to present the work from Coursework Part 4 as a collection.

The course text and my tutor, Cari, have both stressed that the simplest method is usually the best one. I felt that a book format would be the best for presenting the material. Having made a book for Assignment 3, which had four large, loose binding rings, I decided to try a bound version this time. The binding rings, although allowing for future additions to the book, are rather cumbersome to use, and damage the holes drilled in the pages somewhat.

After carrying out some research online, I found this tutorial for a simple, Japanese-style ribbon binding, that looked perfect, if I could scale it up to A3 size. I realised that, with the bulk of the yarns, it would not be a flat book, but rather a ‘fan-shaped’ one.

I decided to use an A3 size card page, as many of the yarns that I had made had larger-sized elements, which would not lend themselves to being wound around a reel or board wrap.

As I only had one page that would be seen in landscape format, I opted to use a portrait orientation.

In order to accommodate the binding, the layout would have a wide margin at the bound edge. I opted to put the ‘inspiration’ images on the left hand page, and the yarns on the right hand page. A few small surprises were included to add a little variety (a sound card on one page; a scent on another; and a ‘flavour’ on a third). Otherwise the layout would be as simple as possible. The deconstruction exercise, also had a small sample of the deconstructed materials for reference.

The majority of pages will be white card, but two will be black as they show off certain of the yarns to best advantage.

The next issue to address, was how to fix the yarns to the page. Some of my yarns were far too large in scale to fit in a book (the coat hanger linear concept, and snake vessel for instance are too large to even send, so will be represented in photographic form only, as will the ephemeral ‘ice yarn’ concept, which no longer exists!). Other pieces which are large-scale, but possible to send will be enclosed in a box, with white labels attached to each. The yarns for inclusion in the book will be trimmed to fit the page size and affixed with a rectangle of card at each end, glued in place with a glue gun. A few elements, required sticky fixing dots instead, and the photographs were attached with a glue stick. The thicker yarns were added towards the outer edge of the page so that they would not impede the binding. The yarns were added, more or less, in the sequence in which they were made, unless they felt more appropriate in other groupings (all the white ones for one exercise, were displayed on a black background, for example).

Labelling will be minimal and consist of page numbers, exercise number and name, and yarn numbers. I chose one of my favourite fonts: Courier New for the labelling throughout.

A brief introductory page and contents page were added at the front, once the pages were all in place and numbered.

I had intended to make the cover white with just the name ‘Yarns’ added, but when I was searching for some nice white paper, I came across some ‘pixellated’ wrapping paper that was very similar to one of my collages used as inspiration for one of the yarn collections, so I chose that more colourful alternative, to be paired with grey ribbon. (I may live to regret that decision, however, as I see that it is showing a few scratches already!).

The board covers were covered with wrapping paper, and had a small section removed at the bound edge, which allows them to open easily. I made a template to mark the punching holes, then used a hammer and hollow punch for the board covers, and an ordinary two-hole punch for the card pages.

The drawings, samples, technical media records and notes will be presented separately in a plastic folder. My written technical notes are so similar to the notes in the learning log, that I will not send them.




Website:- Accessed Feb/Mar 2017

Research and Reflection: Colour

In my feedback for Assignment 3, Cari gave me some suggestions of artists to research to feed into my current coursework for Part 4.

Sanne Schuurman  is a Swedish designer, working from her studio in Eindhoven. Her interests lie in devising unusual and unexpected combinations of materials and colours that highlight the technique she is using and the “…essence of an object…” (by which I think she means, echoing the functionality and properties of an object, such as lightness or rigidity, transparency or opaqueness). Her playful explorations seem to be her way of finding out what works well, and for sparking new ideas: a great way of working as I am finding out on this course!

The designer has a section on her website about her use of and inspiration for colour palettes in her design work. Her work with plastic has been inspired by the animal kingdom. An example of a translation of colour and form is given below. In this example she has selected just three colours for her palette from the image. Her piece has a large proportion of the background colour (light brown), with black stripes and tiny highlights of the mint green. The sample has translated some of the mood of the original image in Sanne’s lines and spots of colour, which still have an insect-like feel about them.

Sanne Schuurman, colour use: plastic research, 2013


She also has a colour magazine  where inspirational images and resulting colour palettes are shown and some are translated into abstract objects/collections of materials, made from mixed media, drawings and exploratory samples, which may go on to be used in one of a number of applications (window treatments, lighting options, textiles, interior design features etc).

Sanne Schuurman, colour magazine, 2013


In the example above, Sanne has used Google Earth to focus in and out on regions of the Earth’s surface, and has picked specific areas to make her colour palettes from. I like this as an idea for finding colour inspiration, and I have begun to make colour palettes from specific localities (analysing photographs and observed colour on site).

What can I learn from this designer?

  • inspiration for colour palettes can come from anything and anywhere
  • one inspiration may provide a number of different possible colour palettes
  • use playful experimentation to inspire new colour and material combinations
  • associations can be made between the source material and intended end use (eg insects -> plastics)

Margrethe Odgaard is a Danish textile designer working in Copenhagen. Her main interest is in the colour, pattern, and feel of the created textiles.

Her process is described in images on her website, including collage, paint samples on ‘lolly sticks’, which can then be placed next to each other and interwoven to help with decision making about the final colour choices for the woven textiles. Small bundles of yarn in many hues, values and saturations are on hand for informing choices.


Margrethe Odgaard, selecting colours


Margrethe toured Japan and observed and recorded manmade colour combinations from buildings and objects that interested her.

She made an artist’s book out of a selection of her colour palettes to use for future inspiration. The colours in the book were recorded on location. She chose three colours for each of the palettes to equate to the harmonious musical chord where three notes are heard at one time, however she also notes that some palettes have “dynamic asymmetries”.


Margrethe Odgaard, Artist book, 2016 (crayons, markers, cotton paper, cardboard)


I really love this idea, and the beautifully simple layout of the book. The placement of the colours on the page, so that they can all be seen next to each other is perfect. The designer has used both markers and pencil crayons, allowing her to translate something of the texture she is observing (smooth or grainy, for example), as well as the colour. It has inspired me to take some colours and a sketchbook in my bag with me to have a go at something similar. The brief descriptive labels showing whence the colour was derived are a nice feature, adding to the feeling that this is also a personal travel journal.

Margrethe muses on the question of cultural preferences and traditions in colour choices. Looking through her book, I can see palettes that I would think of as typically Japanese (browns, indigo blues, greys, teal and dark pinkish reds). There are other palettes where, for example, a dark burgundy and muted pink are enlivened by a coral. Some palettes are all dark or mid toned, others have a pale tone with two dark toned colours. Muted and pure hues jostle for attention. She plans to make similar ‘diaries’ for Brazil and Rwanda, and I’m sure that the palettes will be quite different in tone and saturation, with more bright, pure colours in both of those countries.

See this article on the Selvedge website about Margrethe Odgaard. As well as her solo designs, she also works with furniture designer Chris Halstrøm  of Included Middle producing functional and beautifully designed furniture and interior decoration, such as hanging embroideries.

[Edited 03/04/17:- thanks to Inger for finding this link to Margrethe Odgaard talking about her colour palette gathering activity.]

What can I learn from this designer?

  • abstract colour palettes from your environment (manmade as well as natural)
  • keep an ‘on-the-spot’ record of observed colours with a notebook and coloured pencils/markers
  • keep presentation and labelling simple, yet descriptive
  • think about ways of subdividing the palettes (natural versus manmade, for example)

Raw Color is a design company, owned by Daniera ter Haar & Christoph Brach, based in The Netherlands. They take an experimental approach to their work, focusing on materials and colour, and take their influences from graphic design and photography.

Raw Color, Graphic Time, 2016


The designers have made clocks with kinetic parts rather than moving hands. Sometimes a series of three faces, one each for hours, minutes and seconds; sometimes three moving, perforated parts that allow for patterns to form, interact and change as the timepiece moves. The designers have chosen very different colour palettes for each clock: one with black and white stripes on each of the three sections; another a series of three overlapping grid like forms with varying sizes of holes; a third has an analogous selection of turquoise/sea greens in layered rings. Each of these designs and colour palettes creates a different mood: fun, office-like, arty, sophisticated etc. The pattern can have meaning too: the dense pattern grids representing seconds; the medium density, minutes and the low density, hours. These clues allow the viewer to read the time without the need for numbers.


Raw Color, Mixology, created for Heimtextil Colour Trends 2015/2016


Heimtextil’s trend forecasting team commissioned Raw Colour to make four videos and some still images to illustrate their colour palette predictions for 2015/16. (Heimtextil is a trade fair for textiles.) They use the simple device of sheets of coloured paper and stop-motion animation to create interesting movement and interplay of colour.

The Mixology palette above contains clashing colours and muted shades, which I must admit to finding rather unpleasant. I don’t like muted colours such as the flesh tone pink near pure hues like the red and blue. However, having researched a number of designers’ use of colour, I see that it is common for them to include these seemingly disparate colour selections. I think it is because they create unexpected combinations that jar like dissonant musical chords, and perhaps grab more of the viewer’s attention than a harmonious, analogous palette.

What can I learn from these designers?

  • patterns can communicate information as well as looking decorative/interesting
  • movement allows layers of patterns to form new and changing interactions
  • experimentation and imagination can transform everyday objects into something original and engaging

The 1692 Colour Book is a hand painted and handwritten book called Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, although the text is in Dutch. It runs to c.800 pages. It was created by an artist called A Boogert in the year mentioned, and is thought to have been made as an educational resource, although only one copy is known to exist. It contains all the hues, (with different values), tones and tints that the maker could produce from the watercolour paint pigments available at that time, with notes on how to reproduce them. What a wonderful object! The online version of the book is not currently available, sadly. The modern versions are the Pantone colour guides.


A Boogert, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692, currently owned by Bibliothèque Méjanes, Aix-en-Provence, France


What can I learn from this artist/writer?

  • the importance of keeping technical records
  • the usefulness of building a library of colour inspiration to refer to
  • a simple, but beautiful method of presentation

David Adey is an American artist, who lives and works in San Diego. His artwork are formed by setting himself constraints, as a metaphor for human life. He uses deconstruction and reconstruction techniques. (These techniques are relevant to an exercise in an upcoming part of my coursework).

David Adey, Swarm, 2007 (skin coloured sections punched from magazines, pinned to a foam panel)


This beautiful artwork is made from the found palette of human skin colours (he now works with google images in a similar way). I find this a very interesting idea, as I like to use ‘found’ colours in my own artwork. This says something more in its deliberate use of one source of material, taken together with the title of the piece, it points to overpopulation, mixing of races, and perhaps the harmony that could be found if there were no racism. Therefore, the linking of the source materials to a narrative gives added impact to an artwork. (Incidentally, I found skin tones very useful when constructing my recent pixelated collage).

The aforementioned collage prompted my tutor, Cari, to recommend the following artwork, in particular, to me.

David Adey, Anatomic Particulars (detail), 2007


This artwork is formed from 1 inch square, urethane plastic cubes, coloured with pigment and glitter, and configured into partial blocks up to 5 inches square. The colour palette, viewed with the hollows and protrusions, and the translucent character of the materials have the visceral quality of human flesh, suggesting both internal and external body parts. I like this piece a lot, with its abstract quality, self-imposed constraints, and considered use of colour, texture and media. Something to bear in mind when I am selecting colour palettes and media for my own work. David has now embraced the new technology of 3-D printing in more recent artworks, such as Hide, in which his body was subjected to a 3-D imaging device, the resulting information was converted into triangulated 2-D pieces (like a macabre jigsaw puzzle). These sections were split in half and reformed into a diptych of 2-D artwork, like a split human hide. Although in this case the artist has chosen a single creamy white colour to represent the skin, perhaps to focus attention on the Rorschach test-like, non-human look to the piece.

Sophie Smallhorn is an artist and consultant working in London. She “… explores the relationships between colour, volume and proportion.” The ‘Making‘ section of her website, shows her process: working with small colour chips/sticks/dots and colour samples in different media (yarns, vinyl, paint, printing pigments etc), and exploring different colour combinations and proportions, before translating these into her chosen media (eg, screenprints, or sculptures, or architectural features such as a coloured glass roof in London Victoria Station).

New work for Galerie Wenger 1

Sophie Smallhorn, work for Galerie Wenger, Cube 64/5, 2014


In this series of work, the artist has constrained her medium to small cubes measuring approximately 36 mm cubed. These have been coloured, using different colour palettes in each sculpture. Sometimes the side is obscured, so you are left to wonder at what is hidden from view. The colours go from combinations of muted, analogous hues to bright contrasts. These mixtures of hues, values and saturation confuse the viewers’ eyes and minds, with the pure, saturated colours advancing and the muted, and darker value colours receding (compare the orange and dark blue-green in the example above, although placed next to each  other, the orange leaps forward, while the darker hue recedes). These optical illusions are further enhanced by the fact that the cube is incomplete in places.

ColourWare 1

Sophie Smallhorn, collaboration with Sebastian Bergne, Colourware, 2011 (Corian, wood, bronze, felt)


The artist’s Colourware collection shows an interesting colour palette and use of pattern and surface qualities. The pale wood with its natural lines, knots and rings contrasts with the bright pops of colour from the felt and Corian. There are tiny injections of black and white marbled Corian; and shine from the smooth, reflective metal, creating an impression of cohesion with contrasts, in the repeated shapes (circles/rings/cylinders), and repeated and varied colour combinations.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • experiment with different colour palettes (actual colour chips) using different proportions, and materials with different surface qualities
  • consider repetition and variation in art and design work
  • saturation, value and hue can appear to change, depending on the placement of colours next to each other
  • a small injection of colour can enliven an otherwise ‘quiet’ and harmonious palette


To put my new knowledge into practice, I have begun to take photographs when I am out and about, such as the ones below of a walk at Talkin Tarn. I make collages of the colours that interest me and import them into Adobe Color CC software to highlight some possible colour palettes.



The three palettes shown at the top of this screenshot are derived from the photo collage above, focusing on different aspects of the images. The resulting palettes are certainly more subtle than my usual high contrast ones: lots of chromatic greys and muted pinks, purples and greens. These might have potential as inspiration for interior decor such as rugs, furnishing textiles, fashion accessories etc.

Here are two pages from my sketchbook showing the observed colours from two locations: a hospital waiting room and a lakeside walk. Using a limited selection of coloured pencils (I may start to include felt markers to give more contrast) means that I have to try my best to recreate the colour I’m seeing, with blends of colours optically mixing to produce an approximation of the correct colour. When I have enough samples to choose from, I will make a book like that of Margrethe Odgaard, shown earlier in this article. And to follow that artist’s example, I took some images of manmade colour palettes at IKEA today.



I have learnt:-

  • Colour palettes can be derived from numerous sources.
  • A variety of palettes (bright, muted, analogous etc) can be inspired by one source: by varying proportions, selections and combinations of hues, values and saturations.
  • Including jarring colours (such as muted values) in a palette can make a more exciting combination than gentle, analogous or purely contrasting, complementary combinations. However, selections will depend on the mood you wish to convey.
  • A technical record is a useful educational and inspirational resource for future work, and can be a beautiful object in its own right.
  • To link the narrative or meaning of an artwork to the media used, or to the source of the palette selections.




Christopher Jobson, 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book, on, 5 May 2014,

Nickie Shobeiry, Margrethe Odgaard, 12 January 2017, on Accessed 20/01/17


Hornung, D. and James, M. (2012) Colour: A workshop for artists and designers: A workshop for artists and designers. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Websites:- Accessed 13/04/17 Accessed 20/01/17 Accessed (in vain!) 20/01/17 Accessed 22/01/17 Accessed 25/01/17 Accessed 18/01/17 Accessed 20/01/17 Accessed 19/01/17 Accessed 18/01/17 Accessed 20/01/17 Accessed 19/01/17 Accessed 22/01/17 Accessed 17/01/17 Accessed 25/01/17

Research for Coursework Part 4 including my Yarn Research File

[Edited 26/03/17 following tutor feedback. Now includes the Yarn Research File here instead of as a separate page. Please see the end of the article for the artist/designer research].

Yarn Research File

Yarn’s role within the textiles discipline is to provide spun fibres to knit, weave or felt into textiles, which may be used in diverse sectors of business and industry. The type of yarn must be appropriate and suited to its end use, for example:- colour, thickness, texture, strength, water-resistance, performance, ease of care, handle, and special properties may all be important factors.

Yarn Design

Sources for Fibres

  • Derived from Plants (Minimal Processing):-
    • Abaca
    • Cotton
    • Flax
    • Hemp
    • Kapok
    • Nettle
    • Ramie
    • Sisal
  • Derived from Plants (Chemical Processing):-
    • Bamboo
    • Ingeo
    • Rayon
    • Soy silk
  • Derived from Animals/Insects
    • Silk
    • Sheep
    • Alpaca
    • Llama
    • Camel
    • Mohair
    • Angora
    • Cashmere
    • Other, less frequently used fibres are obtained from: qiviut, guanaco, buffalo, pygora, vicuna, dog and cat
  • Synthetic/Other
    • Acrylic
    • Fibre Blends: any mixture of two or more types of fibre
    • Elastane: my previous research on this fibre.
    • Lurex® is the registered name of a fibre owned by the Lurex Company Limited. It licences the use of its product and name to manufacturers to use in their products. The product is very adaptable and new innovations include  fluorescent, glow in the dark, reflective, holographic, translucent and iridescent yarns. A video about the product can be found here.LUREX RAINBOW LIGHTSource:-
    • Microfibres (very fine fibres, used alone or in blends with other fibres)
    • Mylar
    • Nylon
    • Polyester
    • Synthetic Spider Silk
  • Protein/Cellulose-based Synthetic Fibres
    • Tencel (cellulose derived from wood pulp)
    • Viscose (can be from petro-chemicals or pine trees)
  • Suppliers of fibre/yarn for individual use

Issues and Considerations for Yarn Design and Manufacture

  • Ethical and Sustainability Issues (origin of the fibres, animal welfare, processing effects on the environment (pollution, water use, chemical use and disposal, deforestation etc), workers’ conditions, transportation, end of life recycling or disposal)
  • Properties/Capabilities (absorbent, breathable, durable or non-durable, conductive, insulating, waterproof, water repellent, coloured, drapable, easy to care for, colour-changing, recyclable, light- or heavy-weight)
  • Aesthetics (colour(s), method of combining, texture, repetition of pattern)
  • Application (surface decoration, knitted, woven, constructed textile)
  • Handle and Performance (softness, fullness, drape, movement, resillience – spring-back, affected by construction methods and finishes/treatments)
  • New Innovations (combinations of fibre with new technology, eg, electronics – sound, light, monitoring, communication, social interaction etc)

Yarn Manufacture

Fibres are cleaned and processed for spinning into yarns, then knitted or woven into textiles. Finishes (such as printing or water-proofing) can then be applied.

  • Spinners (link to article about the industrial spinning process, and its history) Link to further articles about industrial spinning. Link to hand spinning information and videos.
  • Worsted process – to make yarns with a smooth appearance, used for clothing such as suits, underwear, sportswear, etc. Long wool fibres from the back and sides of the sheep are used.
  • Woollen process – this system uses shorter fibres than the Worsted process, resulting in ‘hairier’ yarns, used in knitting wool and garments such as tweed jackets, fabrics for coats and Shetland jumpers.
  • New Innovations Nottingham Trent University (NTU) have an Advanced Textiles Research Group, whose aim is to “… improve knowledge and innovate in the science and engineering of fibre materials …”, which can then be marketed to industry. They have textile manufacturing and testing facilities and can call on a number of disciplines to inform their research. Increasingly, the integration of electronics is an important aspect of fibre technology. De Montfort University in Leicester has a similar department. Innovation in Textiles has up-to-date reporting about fibres and textiles.

Yarn Marketing

  • Cotton Incorporated is an organisation funded by US growers and importers of cotton and cotton textile products. Their aim is to increase demand for and profitability of cotton, through research and marketing activities. Their main areas of focus are:- cotton farming practices; fibre management (research into spinning, dyeing and finishing processes and product quality); testing raw materials and end products; developing ‘on trend’ products and communicating their knowledge and advice to mills, manufacturers and retailers in the cotton industry. They are aiming for “environmentally sustainable production” and have launched a program called “cotton LEADS™”to achieve this aspiration. It has some useful pages to consult about different types of textiles containing cotton and the benefits of using cotton.
  • INVISTA™ is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc. (The parent company also sells beef, fertilizers, building materials, electronic components, fuel etc). It operates in 20+ countries throughout The Americas, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. It promotes the use of man-made fibres and end products, such as those made from nylon, spandex, polyester and other speciality materials. The full range of products can be found on this webpage. (Koch’s own products include: COOLMAX®, CORDURA® and THERMOLITE®).
  • The Campaign for Wool launched in London in October 2010, and now has events worldwide. It’s aim is to raise the profile of the variety of wool products available, with both retailers and the public, and to educate young designers about the benefits of using wool. The Prince of Wales is the patron. Their ‘About Wool‘ page lists the reasons why wool is such a versatile product: including:- its sustainability, biodegradability, insulating properties, resilience, etc. They also have a link to guidelines for wool-producing sheep welfare.
  • The Wool Lab This is a bi-annual brochure featuring a selection of the latest wool fabrics and yarns available. It presents samples of fabrics that tie into seasonal themes. The themes are informed by fashion, lifestyle requirements, pop culture trends, etc. A ‘mood board’ feel is created with colour charts and interesting images. The brochure is aimed at the textile industry (spinners, weavers, manufacturers), fashion professionals (designers) and retailers.The Woolmark Company which produces the publication is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, which represents the interests of sheep farmers in Australia. They promote Australian Merino wool.


  • Pitti Immagine Filati, Florence is a ‘trade only’ fair. Yarns are exhibited to fashion designers and buyers. Fashion At Work showcases exhibitors’ latest innovations in the fashion world (areas such as manufacturing, dyeing, finishing, notions and embellishments, style and trend consulting, etc). Knitclub features high quality knitting mills, where contacts can be made with firms for bespoke manufacturing. A short video gives a taste of what was on offer at the 2016 Show.
  • Yarn and Fabrics Sourcing Fair, Dhaka allows international manufacturers of yarn and clothing textiles to showcase their collections to the Bangladesh garment manufacturing trade.
  • Heimtextil International Trade Fair for Home and Contract Textiles, Frankfurt showcases the latest trends and products for interior textiles, interior design and interior trends. The exhibition halls are divided into sections for home textiles, household textiles products, and related services.
  • Spinexpo is a trade fair which will be exhibiting in shows in Paris, New York and Shanghai. This brochure features the latest collections of innovative yarns and shows an exciting way of presenting the products: with inspirational images, colour palettes with Pantone numbers, and close-up shots of the yarns and garments made from them, revealing the latest textures, colours and fibre blends.spinexplore_mag_september_2016-pdf-google-chrome-05012017-210350Source:-

Uses in Industry

  • Aerospace industry (uniforms, protective clothing, aeroplane furnishing/carpeting; safety belts, in development: electronic textiles that can monitor structural integrity of aircraft)
  • Agriculture/Gardening (specialist weed-suppressant/mulching textiles; anti-bird netting; sacks for protecting and transporting plants, string/twine)
  • Architecture (fibres and textiles with electronic capabilites to monitor structures; “Buildtech” textiles: strong textiles (incorporating fibres made from carbon, glass and resin) are building components (in place of wood, steel, concrete etc). Such textiles are strong, flexible and light. Specially coated textiles may used for sunlight deflection).
  • Automotive Industry (safety belts, carpeting, seating covers; also future developments where textiles are integral to the bodywork where structure monitoring can take place).
  • Engineering (link to the Journal of Textiles Science and Engineering).
  • Fashion and Accessories (sportswear, outdoor wear, fashion clothing, luminous textiles, headwear, footwear, bags, jewellery)
  • Fishing (nets, lines, protective clothing, rope, sails, ship and boat furnishing/accessories, safety equipment such as life jackets).
  • Interior Decoration and Furnishings (Design inspiration research, seating covers, cushions, decorative accessories and art, room dividers, curtains and blinds, carpets and rugs, lampshades, bed linen, table linen, household linen, storage containers, protective covers).
  • IT/Technical (wearable computers, and communications devices, electronic components are increasingly being integrated with fibres and textiles).
  • Medical (surgical uses, bandages, support garments, gauzes, mosquito netting, protective clothing, clothing which can monitor vital signs, heated gloves for people with Raynaud’s disease, synthetic spider silk that can have medicine particles attached to it for precise delivery).
  • Military (embroidered fabric antenna that can be integrated into clothing to monitor staff location – also useful for search and rescue teams; potential for vital sign monitoring, detection of harmful gases and radiation, communications etc).
  • Sport (sportswear, clothing which can monitor performance, heated gloves).

Uses in the Arts and Crafts

Links to my research on:-

contemporary knitting

knitted textiles research

contemporary embroidery

designer research (furnishing, home goods, audio tape clothing)

textile artists (Part 2 Research)

textile artists (Part 3 Research)

drawing (including fibre work) (Assignment 1 Research)

Making Space Exhibition, Macclesfield 2016

Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show, 2016

textile art at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

historical textiles and decorative arts at the National Museum of Scotland 2016

artists and designers using luminous textiles

American quilts (two book reviews)

textile jewellery

needlelace, felt pictures, performance costume (Embroiderers’ Guild talks)

Louise Bourgeois (Coursework Part 2 Research)

textile artist: Alison King lecture

performance costume: Alex Rigg exhibition

Pam Ducker exhibition (work of the late textile artist, working in patchwork, quilting and embroidery)

textile samples library (ongoing personal research into types of textiles)



Claydon, J. (2009) Spin, dye, stitch: How to create and use your own yarns. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books.

Websites:- Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17,66,-1,-1 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 04/01/17 Accessed 06/01/17 Accessed 05/01/17


Artist and Designer Research for Coursework Part 4

I visited Carlisle Library to see what I could find there on yarns and yarn manufacture. The following two books were available: Claydon, 2009 and Draper, 2013. Jennifer Claydon’s book focuses on traditional methods of spinning and dyeing different types of fibres, which will be useful if I decide to spin my own yarns in the future.

Jean Draper‘s book has some fine examples of linear media, showing knotting, binding, threading, dipping and embellishment.


Source: Draper, 2013 pp 32-38

Her textile art is mostly hand stitched and its method of creation involves forming structures and textures from linear media. Art work may be further developed by using earth to dye fabrics, and using clay slip, sanding and paint to emulate natural erosion. She is influenced by landscapes, plant life and the craft of people from SW America and Western Australia. Jean says, “My stitching is a form of drawing, an intensely physical activity; the actual process being as meaningful as the finished work.” I find that her process is very relevant to the work for this part of the course: drawing things that inspire and interest her, and translating those marks into stitch and both 2-D and 3-D forms. She discusses her work and process in more detail in an interview at, where photographs of her some of her art work can be seen.

What can I learn from this artist? 

  • draw whatever interests you
  • study traditional techniques for inspiration
  • take an experimental approach

Ella Robinson is an artist working with mixed media including linear media. She makes decorative objects and sculpture; collections of found and arranged objects; altered furniture (mixing embroidery stitch with wood); and overlapping, patterned pieces, featuring repeating shapes cut from fabric, cork and other materials.

The artist is influenced by the British coast, graffiti and street art. Her style is strikingly graphic, with a focus on colour, pattern and texture. In the art work below, Ella highlights the contrasts between the dull, eroded wooden surface (?masculine) and the ‘feminine’, colourful, shiny threads. The wood is drilled to add repeated elements to the design, and the threads follow the natural contours of the wood.

Ella Robinson Canoe Cocktail, 2009. Stranded cotton and driftwood. 15 x 8 x 2.5cm.


Ella Roinson Death By Jumbrella (detail), 2011. Five 2m poles wrapped with plastic lacing and tubing


Death By Jumbrella is a set of five decorated poles that can be displayed in a variety of ways, in a garden or park. The artist has played with the direction of wrapping, proportions of colour, placement of colour and a bright colour palette. The straight bands of colour stand out as manmade in a garden setting where more natural colours and organic shapes form a contrast. The use of colourful, smooth and shiny plastic materials contrasts with the texture of the wood, and is also appropriate to its end use of being displayed outdoors. To me, it evokes memories of deck chairs and the brightly coloured sweets I ate as a child – linking back to the seaside theme, although the title also suggests umbrellas. Not quite sure where the ‘death’ element comes in, unless it is in excess.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • use of contrasting materials
  • use of unusual materials (found objects, plastic, cork, wood etc)
  • use of a wide and varied colour palette
  • attention to direction of lines, proportions of colour and placement of colours

María Aparicio Puentes was born in, and works in Santiago, Chile. Her artwork involves stitching over images such as photographs after analysing them for “… geometries, rhythms, tensions … everything”. In an interview for Frankie Magazine, the artist describes using thread in this way as being very forgiving, as she can change her mind or overlay threads until she has the outcome she is aiming for, playing with the thickness of thread and density of stitch. She describes her interest in depicting:- “People and their relationship with the environment. Also working on the microscale of an object or clothing.”

Maria Aparicio Puentes, from the “Be Brilliant” series 2014, photographic paper and threads


Maria Aparicio Puentes, Collaboration for Stage Fashion Magazine. Paris, France.
Model: Jakub Nowocien. The Right Stuff Agency.
Photographs: Alessandra d’Urso.


The stitch gives a new dimension and layers of new meaning to the photographic image. In the image above, one can read the stitch as thoughts, music, aura, maybe even personality or actions.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • altering an existing object to give new depth and meaning
  • reacting to the qualities (such as pattern or form) of an image or object to be altered
  • sparing and focused use of stitch drawing attention to one area of interest in an image

Anton Alvarez is a Swedish-Chilean artist, currently based in Stockholm. His art is concerned with “… the design of systems and the creation of tools and processes for producing products, objects and architecture.”

This interview and video of his artistic process (including an amazing thread wrapping machine!) on Artsy show him and his assistant wrapping objects such as stools with brightly coloured bands of thread for his exhibition, Wrapsody. Visitors could view the creation of the objects, as well as the completed pieces. They could also contribute objects for wrapping. The machine adds glue with paint mixed in, as it wraps the pieces with thread.

Anton Alvarez, One of a series of objects illustrating ‘The Craft of Thread Wrapping


Anton Alvarez, The latest version of the thread wrapping machine, working on larger scale pieces


The artist seems to be particularly interested in the making process. The finished objects are visually interesting with their mixture of paint and thread on a 3-D object, sometimes these are recognisable pieces such as chairs, at other times, forms such as arches or blocks. In a Telegraph article he says: “I forced myself not to think about the outcome… It was important to me to maintain a level of abstraction, to not get too distracted by elements of functionality, beauty or tradition.” His interest, seems to me, to be questioning the need for a human hand in the making of art, and exploring the creation process as performance, as did the abstract expressionist work of Jackson Pollock. Anton’s more recent work is in ceramics, made automatically by an unattended machine that slowly extrudes clay through a template with holes in the shapes of letters. Although I don’t have a machine as exciting as these, I do have a new (second-hand) sewing machine that might be brought to use in the current coursework of making linear media. These are exciting art works to contemplate, but if the process eventually becomes fully automated, where is the hand of the artist? Having the idea, that is then manufactured harks back to Andy Warhol’s “Factory” method of production.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • experiment with scale
  • focus on the process as much as the final outcome
  • create an interesting story that will engage viewers and journalists

Raw Edges is a design company run by Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay. The pair met in Israel, studied at the Royal College of Art and now work in London. They have produced an interesting furniture line (amongst many other designs), The Coiling Collection out of thick felt, which has been coiled and telescoped to produce a bowl-like structure, which is mounted on wood, or has a wooden surface in the case of the tables. The felt is coated with silicone in places (adding strength, structure, cohesion and decoration). The rug consists of strips of felt placed in coiling parallel rows and set into silicone.

Raw Edges, The Coiling Collection, 100% wool felt, wood, silicone.


The designers have a good sense of humour and inquisitiveness that shows in their work. The colour palette they have chosen for this collection includes bright, fun hues, in solid blocks or stripes, paired with the natural wood or the white of the silicone, this echoes the feeling of playfulness. These pieces remind me strongly of the standing wool rugs I have seen, and in fact have made some small versions as trivets and wall hangings. Also a technique that Australian textile artist, Louise Wells used in her piece made from coiled neck ties, Honouring Good Men. The materials used are appropriate to the meaning behind the art work.

Louise Wells, Honouring Good Men, 2014, 165 re-purposed neck ties


 What can I learn from these designers?

  • combining materials for functional and aesthetic reasons
  • playing with materials to come up with new forms
  • experimenting with scale

Michael Brennand-Wood is an artist working in textiles, with a particular focus on fusing inspiration from both historical and contemporary spheres, in particular 3-D line, structure and pattern. He has worked in areas often eschewed by contemporary textile artists, such as embroidery, lace and floral artworks, such as the piece below.

Wasn't born to follow

Michael Brennand-Wood, Wasn’t Born To Follow, 2004


Michael’s artworks such as the one above may include mixed media, eg, machine embroidery, acrylic paint, wood, glass and collage. Viewing the image one thinks of abundance, gardens, kaleidoscopic images (except that the image has variations rather than being perfectly symmetrical), spinning and twirling, perhaps with a link to childhood games and the remembered summers of youth.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Michael Brennand-Wood, Flower Head – Narcissistic Butterfly 60 dia x 40 cm, 2005


In this artwork, the artist has given fairly 2-D floral images a 3-D aspect by mounting them on ?wires above a bejewelled mirror. The pattern of arrangement echoing the form of a flower or seed head. I presume that anyone leaning over to examine the piece will find themselves reflected in the mirror, thus becoming the ‘narcissistic butterfly’ of the title.

Another piece by this artist, Little Black Egg, was illustrated in the coursework and shows a black and white striped cord (which reminds me of an old-fashioned electrical cord, such as those found on irons), arranged into a fairly 2-D, rough egg shape on a pedestal. The cord loops, overlaps, and changes direction like a fast scribble on a page, and I can imagine that this piece may have started life as such a drawing.

What can I learn from this artist?

  • study traditional techniques, but include modern advances and media in your artwork
  • pattern with variation is more visually arresting than pure repetition
  • consider secondary and tertiary levels of pattern within a design, ie, layers of interest

Vadis Turner is an American artist working with re-used textiles in a painterly fashion. Her artworks reference gender roles and what was traditionally women’s work from a modern angle.

Vadis Turner, Precipitation, 2013, 60in x 84in x 4in, (ribbon, dyed textiles, acrylic paint and mixed media)


Vadis Turner, Swamp, 2013, 7ft x 6ft x 6in, (fabric, ribbon, mixed media)


I admire the artist’s use of colour and descriptive line direction, with varied sizes of ‘mark’ in these artworks. The recycling of materials is also a pleasing aspect, that I try to include in my own work. With respect to my current coursework, her manipulation of media is relevant (eg, using paint or bleach to change the colour and texture of the textiles). Other pieces by Vadis include textiles combined with resin, ash and/or twigs to create different textures and effects).

What can I learn from this artist?

  • vary the lines (thickness, direction, type) to add movement and visual interest to a piece
  • alter materials to fit your requirements
  • combine unusual media with textiles

If you want something a bit different, Jane Bowler is the go-to designer for bridal wear. The bridal collection includes pieces in a traditional colour palette of white, but combined with gold and flesh tones. The dresses and headpieces again combine tradition (net tulle, macramé knotted textiles, lace) with contemporary materials and geometric grids of ‘chain mail’, metal connectors, PVC shapes, chains etc.

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/13


The ‘armour’ of this headpiece is constructed from silver jumprings connecting soft PVC triangles. The connections allow the material to drape and move with the wearer. The effect is like a space-age warrior princess.

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/16


This dress combines the flexible grid of PVC shapes with a macramé skirt featuring fringing and beads.

What can I learn from this designer?

  • a simple colour palette can be brought to life by using a mixture of textures
  • connect pieces of harder material together with connectors that allow drape and movement
  • combine different scales of pattern within one piece
  • mix traditional media and techniques with modern ones

Working from Edinburgh, Hannah Camp‘s company, Trail of Yarn, produces simple, functional, contemporary Scottish textile designs.

Her werkstof collection of woven textiles designed for interiors was derived from a ‘library of textures’ inspired by art from Japan, Scandinavia, and from Bauhaus style. The colour palette is simple: blues, greys, and yellow.

The created sketches and images of textures are imported into software, where the designer can explore different colour arrangements, scales and pattern repeats before sending the finalised designs to a Jacquard loom for manufacture.


Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the werkstof collection



Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the 554 Collection, bow tie with inspirational drawings


The 554 is a collection of hand woven accessories in a palette of blues, greys and yellow to “…capture the urban textures of transport”.

I like the way in which the designer has displayed the finished piece with the inspirational images, and this will feed into the way I present my yarn samples for this coursework and assignment. I also admire her simplicity of design, enlivened by texture and touches of vibrant colour.

What can I learn from this designer?

  • take inspiration from everything and anything around you, including the work of other artists and other cultures
  • derive expressive and simple palettes from your inspirations
  • keep a library of inspirational images to inform artwork colour palettes and textures

French designers (and brothers), Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec design:- small objects, such as jewellery; make designs for interiors; architecture; drawings; videos; and photography. They stress the importance of experimental research and development for informing their work.

Studio Bouroullec, one of Seventeen Screens, 2016


The Seventeen Screens are made in a wide range of media encompassing:- textiles, ceramics, metal, wood, elastic etc. The screen shown in the image above is a simple grid, enlivened by repeated pattern in a striking, but limited, colour palette. Other pieces are made from embroidered textile or strung ceramic forms. Some screens are a single sheet of material, others are formed from many individual pieces hanging freely like a bead curtain; yet others are joined with cross pieces of cord or elastic to form a flexible grid; or metal dowels which allow for a geometric construction which could be configured in a number of ways. All of them form a functional room divider, with opaque and transparent areas.

Paul Tahon and R & E Bouroullec, Vegetal chair: Blooming, 2008


These gorgeous chairs show an updated tradition of basing chair designs on natural plant forms. Similar to the screens shown above, the formation of a structure from linear elements is of interest to me in part of the coursework. The chair seat is formed from a functional grid of lines of polyamide: they appear to cross and diverge like the branches of a tree.

What can I learn from these designers?

  • experiment with materials, combinations of materials, and configurations
  • pay attention to ways of joining materials – the join can be a design feature adding to the pattern
  • bring a contemporary slant to your work


This research highlights the importance in design of exploring:- contrasts; colour palettes; ways of joining different media; direction and ‘movement’ of line within the work; methods for altering materials; creating and layering patterns; scale; presentation; and the narrative behind the work.



Claydon, J. (2009) Spin, dye, stitch: How to create and use your own yarns. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books.

Draper, J. (2013) Stitch and structure: Design and technique in two and three-dimensional textiles. London: Batsford.

Websites:- Accessed 11/01/17 Accessed 11/01/17 Accessed 13/01/17 Accessed 09/01/17 Accessed 10/01/17 Accessed 11/01/17 Accessed 15/01/17 Accessed 12/01/17 Accessed 10/01/17 Accessed 12/01/17 Accessed 12/01/17 Accessed 15/01/17 Accessed 11/01/17 Accessed 11/01/17 Accessed 08/01/17 Accessed 08/01/17 Accessed 15/01/17