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


Coursework Part 4: Exercise 4.5: Collage-Inspired Yarn

Research: Flat Yarns

On an industrial scale, flat yarns are manufactured on machines like this one from Botheven, or see one in action in this YouTube video. Yarns may either be flat or bulk. Flat yarns have continuous filaments running parallel in a flat, smooth profile (no twist), while bulk yarns have fibres that are twisted together and have a roughly circular profile. Manufacturing methods for synthetic continuous filament flat yarns may include:- melt, wet, dry, or gel spinning (Sinclair, 2014 describes these processes). They are used in numerous applications: anything from hosiery (super fine yarns) to carpet making (coarse yarn).

Types of Flat Yarns

Ribbon Yarn (can be flat or, more usually, tubular, consisting of finely knitted textile). They have a soft, shiny, silky look and feel.

Tape Yarn (can be braided, or warp or weft knitted). They can be made from narrow ribbon, narrow tape or slit/split film.

Repurposed Yarn (made from fabric strips, such as strips of t-shirt, cut spirally by hand; or cotton bedsheet, cut or torn into strips; ribbon yarn made from offcuts of sari silk is available commercially).


Ideas that come from this research are:- flattened tubes; slitting or splitting films or other flat media; extruding; cutting or tearing strips from a textile; making flat braids or knitted strips; using ribbon or tape.

Exercise 4.5 Collage-inspired Yarn

The focus of this exercise is on developing yarns (flat yarns, in particular) based on my collages of Exercise 3.4 – here and here.

My initial thoughts are to introduce some constraints, so I will work from this collage, and will select a subset of colours from this rather large palette, to work from.


I drew a mind map (not shown – it was in pencil and didn’t scan well), then sketched ideas. The colour scheme at top right is actually inspired by one of the other collages.


One of my drawn ideas (seen diagonally at bottom right, above), reminded me of a chain we used to make as children, out of chewing gum wrappers. This origami website explains the folding and joining technique.

I made some small samples using (top to bottom): magazine x 2 (varying the length of the strip); tissue paper x 2 (shiny side out/dull side out); wrapping paper/felt pen; cotton textile; miniature version using tissue paper. I decided that I liked the tiny tissue paper version best. I explored some colour palettes for the yarn, and decided to go with the one shown at top right, above (orange, magenta, red, purple).

Materials: tissue paper in four colours

Construction: paper is cut, then folded six times, then interlinked.

Handle and appearance: soft, delicate, colourful, geometric, reversible.

Possible variations: this technique can be scaled up or down, using any fine material that is malleable, but has some stiffness (I believe this technique is similar to one used for basketry using leaves.) Untreated textile did not work easily or well. The individual strands can be interlocked and sewn to other strands to form a structure that can be made into, eg, handbags, bowls, even dresses.

Thoughts and ideas: I thought that this represented the original collage quite well (the bright colours appearing in small patches in that piece). The tissue paper was similar to the magazine paper used for the collage in surface quality. I liked the technique, however, making it on this small scale was a rather intricate and time-consuming process, so I would think twice about using it again. However, on a larger scale it is ideal for recycling plastic and paper packaging, and since it can be joined into sheets of material, is a flexible technique for making fashion accessories, containers, perhaps even larger objects such as room dividers. The material used for the technique could be linked to the subject matter of an artwork: recycling/waste spring to mind as appropriate issues.



Materials: assorted cotton textiles, Bondaweb, plastic tie fasteners

Construction: a double layer of cotton textile was sandwiched with Bondaweb to make a reversible fabric square. Four small samples were made to test possible ways of joining the squares: brads, plastic ties, snaps, and jump rings. I chose the plastic ties as having the least impact visually, but still allowing movement between the joined squares.

Handle and appearance: regular, cheerful, colourful, geometric, reversible.

Possible variations: any shape or mixture of shapes could be joined in this way or in rows to form a textile. Thread ties might be possible if knotted on both sides either incorporating the knotted threads as part of the design, or trimming them close to the knot for a less conspicuous finish. It could be used for other materials, such as plastics, acrylic, sheet metal, etc.

Thoughts and ideas: I liked this yarn. It retained the flexibility of a yarn, while including the squares from the original source material. I reintroduced some surface pattern, much like the images cut from magazines in the collage. I think it would be a good way of making a structure for fashion applications, worn over another layer of textile, as it is flexible and allows the under layer to show. It could also be made in precious metals as a necklace or bracelet.


Materials: assorted cotton textiles, Bondaweb, plastic tie fasteners, pink cotton ribbon.

Construction: as for #2, but squares were joined to a ribbon instead of to each other. A random construction was employed, so that some squares move around an edge; others are attached by a corner; some are fastened at the centre.

Handle and appearance: random, colourful, non-reversible, flexible, geometric.

Possible variations: similarly to #2, any shape or mixture of shapes could be joined in this way, and other materials could be used. All of these squares are joined to a central ribbon, but they could be joined to each other. Different joining methods could be used.

Thoughts and ideas: a further development could be adding press studs or hooks and eyes to different corners or places on each square, they could then be combined in a random or structured way to make a yarn or a textile.


Materials: wool and acrylic felt, pink cotton ribbon, linen embroidery thread.

Construction: three sizes of square (1.5″, 1″ and 0.5″) were cut from felt in colours inspired by the collage. Six colours of felt were used and the squares were stacked in diminishing size order in pleasing (to me!) combinations. The stacked squares were sewn with four large stitches forming another square, to pink cotton ribbon.

Handle and appearance: flat, bold, bright, chunky, some flexibility, but not reversible, matt appearance, soft handle.

Possible variations: other shapes, other scales, different materials and colour palettes.

Thoughts and ideas: this could be joined crosswise with ribbon to make a textile. It has a 1970s vibe and I can imagine fashion accessories made using this technique. I find the repetition of shape with changing colour combinations pleasing and I quite liked this yarn concept.


Materials: synthetic ribbons, polyester thread.

Construction: this yarn was inspired by one of my drawings, although I decided to leave the ends of the ribbons in place rather than trimming them flush to the grey ribbon. Three lengths of grey ribbon were taped to the desk and short lengths of other ribbons woven through and hand sewn in place.

Handle and appearance: flat, colourful, autumnal feel, not reversible, mixture of matt and satin surface qualities (similar to source material), soft/feathery handle.

Possible variations: larger or smaller scale, different materials (plastic strapping, wisps of yarn, or textile strips), other colour palettes.

Thoughts and ideas: quite fiddly to make, but I liked the outcome. It again feels like something that could be adapted for fashion or jewellery. I love these colours together, but feel that other colour palettes would be successful: monotone, or pastels, for example. It makes me think of Lauren DiCioccio’s large, woven sculptures, that I see are no longer on her website, but I have an image in this research. Such weaving could be carried out to cover a 3-D object.


Now to put the yarns from the last five exercises together in a presentation file and box for Assignment 4.

In this exercise, I have learnt:-

  • drawing helps to crystallise ideas, and suggests ways of making objects (yes, I have been reading Kyra Cane’s book Drawing and Making!)
  • constraints can help make a collection feel coherent
  • I need more variety in my palette proportions (I think I stuck with my favoured option of using an even spread of the selected colours for this exercise, looking back at them all)
  • the samples were useful in refining my options for particular techniques/outcomes
  • joining materials was an important aspect of this exercise, and would have relevance in many fields (fashion, interior design, art, etc)



Fangueiro, R. (ed.) (2011) Fibrous and composite materials for civil engineering applications. Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing. (Accessed through Google Books online, 21/02/17).

Cane, K. (2012) Making and drawing. London: A & C Black Publishers.

Sinclair, R. (2014) Textiles and fashion. Materials, design and technologies. Edited by Rose Sinclair. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing. (Accessed through Google Books online, 21/02/17).

Websites:- Accessed 21/02/17 Accessed 23/02/17 Accessed 25/02/17 Accessed 22/02/17 Accessed 21/02/17

Flat Yarn Making Machine on You Tube Accessed 21/02/17

Coursework Part 4: Project 2: Creating Linear Forms: Exercise 4.4 Deconstructing Colour As Yarn

This exercise makes reference to the striped watercolour representations I made for Exercise 3.3, which were derived from a glass still life arrangement.

I studied the five versions I had made, which varied in colour palette from analogous greys to a comparatively ‘dramatic’ peachy red palette, enlivened with yellow.

I made a mind map of ideas to inform this series of yarns:-


I then drew and wrote down some possible interpretations for the yarns.



Materials: lightweight cotton and cotton mix textiles, tulle netting

Construction: four textiles were chosen to represent the colour palette. Trials were made for dipping the yarn in wax to give a ‘glassy’ effect (zero to four dips in the wax were tried). I decided that I preferred the undipped textile and proceeded to make a yarn based on deconstructed fragments of textile. One piece was torn frayed and twisted to become the main thread. Smaller pieces of other textiles were torn or cut into pieces that were hand sewn or tied to the main thread.

Handle and appearance: soft, floppy, frayed, scruffy, random appearance, but with some repetition of colour and shape.

Possible variations: heavier or lighter textiles in different colour palettes could be used; could be scaled up (clothes on a washing line?).

Thoughts and ideas: my first attempt focused on matching the colour palette and the light airy feel of the painted palette. It was painted in a slightly irregular manner, with blending colours, and I think that suggested the frayed texture to me. I wondered about adding a wax coating, hence the sampling, but decided that what it gained in translucence, it lost in texture (the frayed areas and the netting filled with wax). The samples also became stiff and unflexible. Possibly using a cooler wax dip and more immersions could lead to an interesting finish, where the surface beneath is barely visible – suggesting artistic links to ‘hidden’ or ‘buried’ subjects; experiences you are trying to forget, etc.



Materials: assorted embroidery threads and yarns, some snipped into short lengths, others coiled; ice cubes

Construction: two lengths of yarn were constructed: one made from short lengths of embroidery thread, with a connecting thread and frozen in an ice cube tray. The second yarn was made from coiled pieces of assorted yarns, again with a connecting thread and frozen in ice.

Handle and appearance: heavy, translucent ‘beads’ with the coloured yarns and threads just visible. As the ice melted the connecting thread uncoiled and made larger gaps between the ice cubes, and the contents of the ice cube were visible on the surface.

Possible variations: anything could be frozen in ice in the same way (eg, flowers, pieces of cloth, messages on paper?). I would have liked to make a time lapse photography version of this, as it would be interesting to see the hidden contents slowly emerging as the ice melts.

Thoughts and ideas: I was looking for something that mimicked the shiny, transparent aspect of both the original glass arrangement, and the watercolour studies. I was surprised to find that this worked quite easily (I had thought that the connecting thread might pull out of the ice when they were released from the ice cube trays, but it stayed firmly in place). The emerging threads as the ice melted were as interesting as the encased versions. Thinking of artistic metaphors: thawing of emotions; hidden aspects revealed; ephemerality of life, etc. I feel that there is a slight connection to the work of land artists, such as Andy Goldsworthy, whose beautiful structures may only exist for a short time, captured in photographs. The short-lived nature of the yarn concepts, I think, fulfilled the coursework brief for deconstruction.



Samples for deconstructing plastic/cellophane packaging tubes.

Materials: plastic or cellophane packaging tubes; Sharpie pens

Construction: after investigating various means of deconstructing the tubes (cutting, piercing, punching holes, crocheting a thin strip, removing sections and melting). I opted to combine the two samples shown in close-up above. One was melted over a flame, the other cut from alternate sides (almost up to, but not through the opposite side). The tube was first coloured with Sharpie pens matching the colour palette, then was melted over a flame, before being wrapped with the cut sample.

Handle and appearance: very light in weight, feathery, glimmering, shiny, reflective and a mixture of irregular (melted area) and regular elements.

Possible variations: this material had great potential for alteration. It was quite durable and could be knitted or crocheted, possibly sewn through or couched to a project, if required. When using melting, it could be almost melted away entirely to leave a skeleton of the original material remaining.

Thoughts and ideas: I felt that this shiny, transparent material took on the colour of the pens well and reflected the light in a ‘glass-like’ manner. Melting the material gave even more planes and facets for the light to bounce off and it concentrated the applied colour as the material shrank. It could form a useful layer to place over another texture, or could be added in small quantities to an artwork where a reflective quality is required.




Samples for combinations of hair and various media.

left: A4 POSCA pen and pencil drawing; centre: strands of hair with paint attached; right: two close-up images of completed yarn concept made from braided strands of hair and paint drops.

Materials: human hair, acrylic paint

Construction: hair was ‘deconstructed’ from my head, then paint dots were applied along the length, as it rested on a non-stick surface; paint dots were loosened from surface with scalpel; hair strands with paint dots attached were braided together.

Handle and appearance: light, but with a slight weight from the paint drops – feels like a finely beaded necklace. Appearance is cute and bright, like confetti – until you notice that it is mounted on hair – yeuch!

Possible variations: I tried to make the dots smaller and more globular by having the hair raised off the surface when the paint or varnish was applied, but it would not stick like that. However, my samples show that beads or a number of other substances could be used instead of paint. A very fine ‘yarn’ can be achieved by using a single strand of hair (see strands before they were braided, centre image, above). Hair alone can be braided or used in cut lengths as decoration, (as seen in Victorian mourning jewellery – examples on this Pinterest board).

Thoughts and ideas: I chose to use hair because I was looking for something light, fine and strong with translucent qualities. I had seen  Lucy Brown‘s Ladies Companions at the Making Space exhibition last August, and appreciate the many reactions the use of human hair can generate from the viewer. During the discussion after the study visit, the majority of the group found the artwork so repellent that some people couldn’t even look at it. I find this an interesting reaction when we see it every day on people’s heads, but there must be some innate repulsion reaction to it when found detached! The associations are with remembrance of the dead – keeping ‘a piece of them’ close to you in jewellery.

Lucy Brown, I Serve Only You …, 2012

This sculpture explores the relationship between a lady and her maid over 60 years of service (repetitive tasks such as hair brushing). In this case, the hair refers directly to the tasks performed by the servant; hints at the intimacy, trust and care required for such tasks; but also has a shock value. The collected hair changes colour with the passing years reinforcing the length of time these women were together.

Well, I thought I would try using hair for this exercise, since it seemed to fit the requirements and associations with light, fine, airy, reflectiveness and transparency of the watercolours, but I, too, find it rather disgusting, so will probably not repeat the experience.



Materials: plastic tubing, invisible thread

Construction: plastic tubing was cut into fine rings, that were connected randomly using invisible sewing thread.

Handle and appearance: quite stiff, but light. The appearance presents a repeated element with variation and feels transparent, reflective and ‘glassy’.

Possible variations: I initially tried longer tubes stuffed with yarn, threads or textile, which might be another approach. Any tube-like or cylindrical form could be treated in the same way (copper pipe, loo roll cardboard centres, wood, rolled textiles, etc.) My joining is not very neat: maybe welding the loops together with heat, or gluing them together might be better if no flexibility is required. Or joining the elements with jump rings or wire. A visible thread or yarn for joining would give a secondary pattern to the ‘yarn concept’.

Thoughts and ideas: As mentioned above, I had considered adding more colour and texture to this, with other materials, or paint, but after exploring various options, I decided to keep this yarn simple with the light reflections providing the white and grey palette. This was one of my favourite yarns. I liked its simplicity and the effect of the overlapping ovals/circles. I can imagine the technique being transferable to fashion and accessories, jewellery, or interior decor, and pattern for art or craft applications, such as decorating ceramics.

Visual evaluation drawing – ‘pattern’, printed with masking fluid (removed), watercolour

Visual evaluation drawing – ‘surface quality’, PVA glue


I have done my best to stick to my resolution of trying something on a smaller scale than my previous efforts, as befits the source material.

I have learnt that:-

  • exploring a material with small trial samples can give a variety of options to choose from
  • keeping an outcome simple is often a better option than overcomplicating a design, ie ‘less is more’ constraint
  • created work does not have to be long-lasting to be interesting
  • working with and manipulating the actual materials is a good way to provoke new ideas and find solutions to problems (such as ways of joining materials)


Websites:- Accessed 19/02/17 Accessed 20/02/17

Coursework Part 4: Project 2: Creating Linear Forms: Exercise 4.3 Re-interpret, Re-invent

The aim of this exercise to re-work my Old Master image using representative media, conveying the texture and colour palette of my yarn wraps.

I have made six initial explorations using a few of the actual yarns, and some other media (ribbon, twigs) that I may use in the later pieces.


Materials: chenille yarn

Construction: a looping, type of button hole stitch was worked in interconnecting rows over a form made from grain in a plastic bag, taped into shape with masking tape.

Handle and appearance: soft, lacy, insubstantial, floppy. A fragile appearance with matt finish thanks to the yarn type.

Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns; different media (eg, wire, fishing line, thread). The structure could be sprayed with a stiffener to give it more body.

Thoughts and ideas: I had varied the size of the stitches when making this, and that could be an area for further exploration. It was a bit tedious to make as the yarn kept getting caught around the pins, but I think it created an interesting structure, that reminds me of coral structures, or veins in a petal. It could be made into a complete vessel form, like those of Jean Draper.


Materials: chenille yarn, rug yarn, embroidery thread.

Construction: another ‘made-up’ stitch here (I was trying to work out the one used by Jean Draper in one of her diagrams, without success!), worked across two warp threads, then moving one thread down and repeating the process.

Handle and appearance: as a 2-D sample, it has a knotty feel.

Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media; other connecting stitches. I can imagine that it would work as a method for covering a 3-D form, with quite a lot of body if a thick yarn or cord was used.

Thoughts and ideas: I think that this method would form a fairly sturdy structure, but it was a bit ‘random’. Mastering some basketry techniques might work better. I will check out the library for a book on the subject, next time I’m there.


Materials: chenille yarn, rug yarn, embroidery thread.

Construction: based on a technique described in Draper, 2013: a random grid of rug yarn is bound in some areas with the other yarn and thread.

Handle and appearance: as a 2-D sample, it has a ridged, net-like feel. The yarn makes it quite chunky and three-dimensional in places. The little touch of contrasting red gives added interest.

Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media. This would work well for covering a 3-D form. It could be manipulated further, depending on which structural threads you choose to bind together into the covering yarn.

Thoughts and ideas: this was one of my favourite of the six samples I made. I liked the random structures that formed where the structural threads crossed. The secondary pattern formed by the binding yarn/thread gives an interesting texture and seemingly suspended abstract shapes and lines.


Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, embroidery thread, dogwood twigs.

Construction: inspired by Lizzie Farey‘s willow sculptures, I took some dogwood twigs and twisted them into a circle (if I was making this as a 3-D object, I would work it as a ball shape). It was then bound or stitched with assorted yarns and embroidery thread.

Handle and appearance: this feels rigid and heavier than the other samples. The twigs contrast texturally with the yarns in an interesting way.

Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media (other natural materials such as willow, bramble stems and other flexible plant material; or manmade materials such as plastic strapping, or paper rolls).

Thoughts and ideas: I think that this would work well as a 3-D form. If the twig structure had larger gaps between the twigs, then more irregular stitch could be added, as well as binding. The thick needle with the yarn would not penetrate the structure shown here. The less heavily bound area is more successful, as the beauty and texture of the twigs is more visible.


Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, embroidery thread, cotton calico fabric.

Construction: inspired by Margaret Raine‘s coiled vessels, as seen in my recent research, I tore the calico textile into a 3 cm wide strip, then coiled it up while stitching in place with first, embroidery thread, then chenille yarn, then rug yarn. The thicker yarns overlapped two rows of coiled textile each time, the first section in the centre had stitches penetrating the cloth.

Handle and appearance: this has quite a rigid structure, but there is some flexibility (the centre can be pushed upward or downwards forming a convex or concave form). The feel of the stitch dominates this sample.

Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads; different media (the stitch could be worked over any core, such as piping for a more regular appearance; or plastic or rubber tubing, for example). It will work as a 3-D structure. The stitch could be varied (eg, lengthened by passing over more rounds of base material); or could be more irregularly placed.

Thoughts and ideas: this sample does look a bit like a placemat or coaster, but I’m sure that using different base material and making a 3-D form will change the appearance. I liked making this and felt that it was a simple and flexible way of making a vessel.


Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, fine synthetic ribbon.

Construction: I made a warp thread over card and then wove the ribbon and blue yarn through in a simple, ‘over one, under one’ pattern. The red yarn was stitched over in a random pattern.

Handle and appearance: the red, erratic stitch contrasts well with the woven structure. In this sample there is a mixture of textures: rough/hairy, soft and smooth.

Possible variations: different thicknesses of yarns/threads for warp and weft; different colour palettes; different media (plastics, fabric strips, plant materials, etc.

Thoughts and ideas: I’m not sure how this will act as a 3-D object, but hope it will hold its shape. It may require more stitch or denser weaving to achieve this. I thought this was a bit dull until I added the red stitch, then it came alive for me, and, I felt, represented the source material well.


A5 size, POSCA pen drawing of sample #6

I will carry forward samples 3, 5 and 6 to the next stage and try them in a more 3-D format.


Materials: chenille yarns, rug yarn, braid, fancy yarn, embroidery threads, sheeps’ wool balls.

Construction: I made an apple-shaped mould from quinoa grain in a plastic bag, shaped with masking tape. A warp thread was wound around the apple shape, from top to bottom overlapping at each end, and then I wove the cream, green and gold threads, braid and ribbon in an ‘over one, under one’ pattern. The blue yarn and blue ribbon were stitched over the top in fairly horizontal stitches, and then the red yarn was stitched over in a random pattern. The warp threads were cut and tied to each other at the top and the mould was removed. The top of the ‘apple’ was gathered and the form was stuffed with wool balls. A ‘stalk’ was bound at the top.

Handle and appearance: the sample is somewhat apple-like and resembles the source material and yarn wrap, as many of the yarns/threads used were the same or similar. On half of the ‘apple’ red dominates, and on the other half, blue. There is quite a lot going on in terms of colour and texture.

Possible variations: the scale and colour palette could be varied. I feel that a more realistic green apple would have worked better. The method would also work on a 2-D wall hanging.

Thoughts and ideas: My idea for this was to make an Adam and Eve’s apple (seen in the Old Master image), (as a metaphor for the earth), on which the forces of good (blue) and evil (red) were fighting it out. I felt that this was not a successful sample, as, although the colour palette matched the source material, it was too busy for the small surface area of the ‘apple’. Another problem was that apples are usually red or green, so having red as the ‘bad’ part didn’t really work. If I was making it again, I would make the apple red or green (and that in itself would stand for the ‘good’), and the corruption or ‘evil’ would be brown.


Materials: cotton shirt textile, crochet cotton, glass beads, eyelash yarn, polyester thread.

Construction: Inspired by Margaret Raine’s lovely ‘pods‘ seen in my research, I made a coiled pot ‘in the hand’, with twisted strips of shirt textile, sewn in place with crochet thread and topped with a circle of beads and a ring of eyelash yarn.

Handle and appearance: this small piece fits easily in your hand and is quite light in weight. There is some flexibility to the sides of the ‘pot’ and it has a delicate appearance.

Possible variations: the scale, media and colour palette could be varied. The form could be anything from two-dimensional, neatly circular, to a randomly formed, three-dimensional sculpture.

Thoughts and ideas: following on from the apple idea of the last sample, I decided to make a small, apple-ish vessel with a simple colour palette reflecting the background colours of my source image: greens, teals and beige/brown. The eyelash yarn reminded me of the texture of the yarn I had used in the original yarn wrap. There was no ‘message’ hidden in this piece: I simply was inspired by the colour palette in the source material. The red beads were added after exploring a number of other colour options, but I felt that they gave this piece the lift that it needed to enliven the otherwise analogous palette. I liked this sample and feel that this ancient technique has a great deal of potential for variation and I think I will return to in future.


Watercolour/POSCA pen drawing of coiled vessel.



Drawings of some ideas for making a coiled or bound structure from wooden articulating snakes.

Materials: 19 wooden toy snakes, plastic coated wire.

Construction: The snakes were held in place over a mould made from florists’ foam with elastic bands, then the wire was looped and knotted in three rows near the top of the structure. At a lower point, three rows of twining were put in place. The bottom of the structure was wired to a wooden ring and glued where the ‘tails’ met the wooden ring.

Handle and appearance: the loose part of the snakes can move about; the object can be stood the other way up, too. The colour on the back of the snakes appears when viewed from one direction: from the other, the plain undersides are visible.

Possible variations:  All sorts of long, thin, flexible objects and materials could be combined in this way. In fact, in a library book (mentioned below), I saw pencils used to make a pot and short sections of twigs, so, as long as they can be joined successfully, almost anything is fair game. Obvious alternatives are strips of plastic, such as parcel strapping or carrier bags, as well as the many natural vine-like sticks and plant materials, such as bramble stems, willow, clematis etc.

Thoughts and ideas: Following on from sample #8 and a thought I had in the middle of the night about coiling, led to thoughts of using snakes, (one of which was in the Old Master image of Eden), I came up with the idea of using toy snakes to make a coiled vessel structure, but when I was drawing ideas, I thought of joining them side by side. This was quite a challenge to make – much harder than I had anticipated. Getting the snakes into the correct position for joining was tricky. I had hoped to make an amphora shape with the tails joined at the base, but the wire would not stay in place, so I used a wooden ring instead. (I may alter it again if I can find tiny tacks to hold the wire in place). It is rather a wonky effort, but I was quite pleased with it. It was not until I had the snakes to study, that I realised that they articulated side to side rather than up and down, so I had to bind them sideways on to make them rear outwards (I left a lot more loose than in my drawing as I felt it added to the writhing snake effect). Each one varied from the next in flexibility and somewhat in size, which means that the base is rather uneven. The shape of the individual components dictates the shape of the ‘vessel’. It was only by trying out ideas on the actual materials that I was able to come up with a method that worked. I tried out a number of different materials for joining the snakes, but ended up with wire for its colour, strength and flexibility. The potential for this technique is large: the twining method worked well for binding the separate units into a fairly sturdy object, so would presumably work with other similar units. If it was carried out with more skill, I think it could make an interesting art object.


Drawn idea and trial layouts for snake structure.

Chosen structure.

Materials: toy rubber snakes, glue, thread.

Construction: after experimenting with different layouts the snakes were glued at the places where they cross. They will be mounted on card by sewing in place with black thread.

Handle and appearance: the toy snakes are very rubbery and jelly-like, so do not make the sort of structure you can hang from the wall. They have a random appearance, with repetitions of elements such as heads, tails and the general shape.

Possible variations:  I think that this might also work well with a coiled technique, similar to that used above. The scale could be larger, and the colour palette varied: black snakes with white binding, or spray painting the whole arrangement another colour, for example.

Thoughts and ideas: I found a book in the library about basketry techniques: (Harding and Waltener, 2012) and thought that the section on interlacing and random basketry held promise. Taking that on board along with sample #3 above, and the coathanger ‘DIY’ yarn concept from an earlier exercise, I came up with the idea of using a grid of snakes glued together in a random pattern. As with the last experiment, I used the found colour of the materials, so it varies from the source material. This idea could be used to create fashion items, such as a dress, or room dividers, wall art, lamp shades/light fittings, a textile design, etc.


Tiled version of the snakes with apples grid.

Summary: Reflective Commentary

The processes I adopted for this exercise, were weaving, coiling, twining and making a random structure, based on basketry techniques.

I discovered that these ancient techniques can be updated by using new materials and intentions (making artwork instead of functional objects).

I felt that the small coiled textile vessel, #8, worked well and stimulated further ideas for developing the theme of coiling, leading to the use of ‘snakes’.

The woven structure of #7 was tricky to finish, because I had not left spare warp: something which I will bear in mind for the future. The colour palette of that sample was too complex, and inappropriate for my chosen theme of good versus evil. I learnt that it was better to plan the colour palette in advance through drawing and trying materials together before making the finished sample.

Sample #7 was a 3-D re-interpretation of a woven structure, combined with hand stitch. Basketry and coiling were re-invented by using unusual materials (toy snakes).

I chose to re-interpret and re-invent the colour palettes from Exercise 3.2 by combining them in a 3-D form (#7), and then by simplifying them and being more selective for sample #8, then using ‘found colour’ for #9 and #10. The imagery, which depicted the departure of Adam and Eve from Eden, complete with snake, God and Devil, was re-interpreted as ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. Initially, as red and blue stitch on an apple (the world). In the later pieces, the snake alone dominates the imagery, which stands for temptation. The yarns were initially copied from the yarn wrap, then were developed to become a simple palette of green, golden-beige, and red. Finally, a snake structure, and a 2-D snake grid were made using wooden and rubber snakes in purely the found hues of those items.





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

Harding, S. and Waltener, S. (2012) Practical basketry techniques. London: Bloomsbury USA Academic.

Websites:- Accessed 08/02/17



Coursework Part 4: Project 2: Creating Linear Forms: Exercise 4.3 Re-interpret, Re-invent: Research

I tried out French knitting on two of my yarn concepts for Exercise 4.1, and plaiting on two others, so I decided to have a look at knotting/macramé, which I had touched on with my net yarn concept for Exercise 4.2.  I found a book on the subject at Carlisle Library, (Williams and Mann, 2011).

I tried some of the techniques in the book:-


Knotting Samples

Lark’s Head Knot / synthetic mix yarn (top left)
(uses: anchoring knot, net making)

Ring Hitching / vintage linen embroidery thread over washers & nut (bottom left)
(uses: (traditionally) covering metal rings bolted to ship’s deck; earrings, jewellery)

Half Knot (macramé knot) / dyed raffia cord (second from left)
(uses: necklace cord, bracelet, macramé projects)

Double Flat Button Knot / gardening string (second from right)
(uses: closure with a large loop, focal point for necklace)

Button Knot / synthetic cord (right)
(uses: buttons, cuff links, spacer knot in jewellery making)

I have to say that I was not ‘grabbed’ by any of these samples, although they all might have their place in different types of project (the Lark’s Head Knot had been used to anchor the threads when making my net yarn, for example). I enjoyed making the Half Knot macramé strand, although I think a more regular cord would lead to a better outcome (I had tried it with natural raffia cord). The sample was further distressed by our cat. However, it is quite a rhythmic and soothing activity to make and I’m sure it would become more regular with practise.

One idea that occurred to me was to make some sort of vessel. I had seen such forms in Jean Draper’s book, (Draper, 2013).

Jean Draper, and Margaret Raine, assorted vessels

Source:- Draper, 2013

Jean Draper works the vessels seen at left, above, over a rice bag mould using a knotted buttonhole stitch to make the sides; the vessels seen on the right hand side, above, are randomly hand stitched over a mould.

Margaret Raine’s vessels (centre, above) are coiled, using an ancient basketry technique, wherein a firm, but flexible core is spiralled around and held in place with a finer thread. The resulting form can be flat or three-dimensional. Margaret’s vessels are delicate, hand-sized pieces made from cotton embroidery thread over a silk core.

I found a tutorial on coiled rope vessels, decorated with embroidery thread by Lisa Tilse, which is similar to that used by Margaret Raine, mentioned above.

I made a Pinterest board which includes images from artists working with vessels and similar forms.

Shannon Weber is an artist living and working in the US. She makes three-dimensional woven objects and sculptures from unusual materials, such as found natural materials (seaweed, wood, etc), and manmade items likes pieces from table games.

Shannon Weber, Dizzie


Both the colour palette and materials used by the artist are noteworthy. The lines of the coated wires or cords appear like a spinning top in motion in this swirling mass of vibrant colour.

Lizzie Farey is an artist whose work I saw at last year’s Spring Fling event in Dumfries & Galloway. She uses willow and other natural materials to make organic forms such as bowls, balls or nests, wall-mounted art works and sculpture.

Back to previous page

Lizzie Farey, Pussy Willow Bowl, 2005


This bowl appears to be quite loosely coiled without the regularity of normal basketwork. The interwoven coils that weave in and out of the structure diagonally are, I think, what holds the piece together. As well as the slightly ‘random’ look to this piece, I like the imaginative use of the pussy willow as decoration.

There seem to be numerous tutorials about weaving or coiling bowls: some use paper; some use flat grasses or fibres; others use willow or more traditional materials; and some use textiles, including braided textiles. I will try a number of samples first before embarking on a completed piece.

What can I learn from these artists?

  • there are numerous ways of connecting linear media to form a 2-D or 3-D form (stitch, weaving, coiling)
  • the media and colour palette chosen can give a very different feel to a piece (compare Shannon Weber’s Dizzie with Lizzie Farey’s Pussy Willow Bowl, for example)



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

Williams, L. and Mann, E. (2011) 75 decorative knots: A directory of knots and knotting techniques plus exquisite jewellery projects to make and wear. United Kingdom: Search Press.

Websites:- Accessed 08/02/17 Accessed 07/02/17 Accessed 06/02/17

Coursework Part 4: Project 2: Creating Linear Forms: Review of Yarn Samples

This introduction to Project 2 asks me to review the yarn samples I have made so far in Part 4, and to see if any sort of theme has emerged.

Looking at them, all laid out, it seemed initially that there was very little similar about the yarn samples, as I had made an effort to try a variety of techniques and media in their creation. There seemed to be a mixture of both simple and complex forms and colour palettes.

The two techniques that I had used several times, however, were knotting and binding of some description (these were chosen as being representative of the source materials). Quite a number of the yarns were ‘robust’, or large in scale (although there were some more delicate ones as well).

To consider a different approach: I can try to make smaller scale, more delicate yarns with simpler construction techniques, avoiding knotting and binding. I’m not sure that I can avoid binding all together as there has to be some form of attachment between components. Perhaps plying might work in some cases, or using jump rings or other connectors?

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