Lace Textiles

Scottish Lace

I attended an Embroiderers’ Guild Lecture by Brian Hill entitled “The History of Scottish Lace” on 2 March 2017.

Mr Hill outlined the history of lace making in Scotland. Weaving arrived in the area as the end of the 16th Century with Flemish refugees. Alexander Morton introduced lace making in 1876 (his company Morton Young and Borland Ltd was founded in 1900), and the technology of the new power loom was introduced in 1877. The industry declined in the late 1970s due to competition from Europe and Asia.

Darvel, Ayrshire (known as ‘the Lace Town’), at one time made lace for export around the world, particularly to India (a large market for lace, muslin and madras textiles (the latter was originally called Scottish Leno Gauze Weave)). Much of the ‘souvenir’ lace sold in Malta at one time came from his company, but that business has now been taken over by Asian manufacturers. The nearby town of Newmilns was also a centre for lace making and is home to the last remaining lace making company in the Irvine Valley: MYB Textiles.

Products include: lace curtains, lace table cloths, scrim curtains for theatres, cotton baby blankets (a best seller with the US company, Lands’end), yashmaghs, commissioned work etc.

The lace is woven on Nottingham looms, with Jacquard punched cards controlling the patterns, (some dating to 1913, when they were first introduced), then the work is sent elsewhere for finishing. The damp climate of the Irvine Valley is ideally suited to lace weaving as it suits the machinery and improves the strength of the cotton fibres (which can break if too dry, or succumb to mould if too moist). These looms can weave textiles up to 1220 cm in width. Manufacture is slow and controlled, with high levels of quality control. Many of the looms have been modified in recent years, and are connected to CAD computers, allowing for improved production rates, faster turnaround times, and more design options.

Handmade Lace

The Lace Guild has an instructional video showing the basics of making bobbin lace and needlelace.

My friend, Margaret, has shared some of her beautiful handmade lace work.

Margaret Weal, assorted handmade lace textiles

Margaret Weal, sampler showing the stages of making Ruskin linen work (also known as Greek lace), and a completed pouch.

Irish Lace

Niamh McCooey’s article ‘Life-saving Lace’ in Selvedge Issue 75, discusses the importance of lace in providing an income for families stricken by the potato famine, which began in 1845.

Irish lace is formed from crocheted motifs, such as flowers and leaves, which are then combined to make the finished product. This style originated with the published patterns of Mademoiselle Riego de la Blanchardiere dating to 1846, which themselves were influenced by Venetian lace. Venetian lace was made using needle-lace techniques, while the Blanchardiere patterns and Irish lace were made using crochet and cotton thread. French Ursuline nuns travelled to Ireland during the famine years, and shared their knowledge of crochet and helped the Irish lace cottage industry to develop. Both men and women produced the motifs, and local variations developed over time, with individual families’ designs being closely-guarded secrets. Articles such as collars, parasols and bodices were sold worldwide.

Irish lace

Crochet lace border, linen, Ireland 19th, century

Source:- Selvedge Issue 75, Page 49

Contemporary Practice

Lace is no longer just for the wealthiest in society, thanks to machine-made lace, it has become a staple of the fashion industry. A recent example of lace in fashion is Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. A contemporary artist using lace in her practice is Carol Quarini, who uses her background as a biologist and her interest in lace to explore issues such as ‘memory’ or ‘the uncanny’. Her latest commission is to make a modern response to the Battle of Britain lace panel. Her blog, lacethread, has numerous articles about different types of lace, and mentions her exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, that I attended last year. [Edited 15/03/17: I have lately seen the work of Marie-Rose Lortet, whose work includes irregularly-worked, 3-D lace structures in the form of houses, windows or abstract shapes].

Final Thoughts

Although I am not likely to make any lace myself, I can quite easily imagine incorporating it into my work with re-purposed textiles.



McCooey, N “Life-Saving Lace”. Selvedge 75 (2017): 48-49. Print.

Websites:- Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 16/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 (for lace and madras fabric care) Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17 Accessed 08/03/17

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

Side Projects: Potholder/Wall hanging

This is a small ‘slow stitch’ side project that I have been working on sporadically. I wanted to make a functional item (potholder) out of recycled t-shirt and sweatshirt scraps, held together and decorated entirely by hand stitch. I picked out some colours from my collection of cast-off clothing and arranged and re-arranged them until I was happy with the layout. This process is very much like the collage process that I am using in my current coursework. The pieces were pinned in place with a layer of thermal wadding and a backing layer. I wanted the hand stitch to be very apparent on this piece, so selected black quilting thread for the embroidery stitches. I responded to the patterns on the fabrics (stripes) or created my own patterns with tied stitches, running stitch, French knots etc.

I was quite happy with the outcome of this piece: the colour palette, tonal contrast and composition feel balanced, and the stitch adds a layer of interest as well as being functional. I asked myself if my recent work and research into designers’ use of colour had influenced my colour choices in any way? I thought that, in the past, I would probably not have included the beige fabric, but having seen, for example, Paul Smith’s use of muted and bright colours in the same design, I had included one muted colour here for contrast. The lack of precision in the shape (ie, it is not square) and the use of raw edges is also new to me, but the former aspect owes more to my love of the Gees Bend quilters’ work. As a practical crafter, I also ask myself whether this would be a functional item, or purely decorative. I will have to try it out before answering that one!

Textile Samples: Machine & Hand Sewn on Soluble Fabric

I bought some booklets on embroidery techniques, by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn recently and thought I would try one of the exercises in ‘New Dimensions in Hand & Machine Embroidery’: Book 9, p5.

This involved making a machine sewn grid on soluble backing (I used some by Brother, which resembles thick, flexible plastic and is usually used as a temporary backing when making machine embroidered motifs. I also have another type, generously given to me by my friend, Margaret, which handles more like a fabric, but having tried a sample, I find that it really requires a frame to hold it taut, without one it is gathered into a scrunched bundle (below, right), so I have a frame on order as both types of soluble fabric would benefit from being held taut in a frame to avoid distortions).

The fabric is pinned to polystyrene before washing away the soluble backing, then it is dried before removing the pins and it can then be used as it is, or it can be decorated with further stitch. I tried adding a variety of yarns, ribbon and fabric strips.


The resulting fabric is reversible, and could be further oversewn by hand or machine. It resembles a loose weave. A possible texture to add to a wall hanging, or even a three-dimensional piece if it were shaped over an armature. A handy technique to call on, in any case.


Book:- Beaney, J. and Littlejohn, J. (2002) New dimensions. Double Trouble Enterprises, p5.

Textile Samples: Knitted Fabrics

Since I have recently been studying contemporary work in knitting, I decided to look at how knitted fabrics are constructed.

Few early examples of knitted fabrics survive, so its origins are not certain. It is thought to have arrived in Europe from Asia c. AD 711-12. Stockings have been found dating to c.1200-1500 in Egypt, and knitted cushions from the late 13th century in Spain. By the 17th and 18th centuries knitting had become widespread as a suitable pastime for European ladies. Rev William Lee invented a knitting frame used for manufacturing stockings in 1589, but patterns and different shapes using the frame, were not possible for another hundred years. The knitted garment below was made to imitate woven silk.


Knitted Silk Jacket, probably Italian, early 17th Century

Source:- (Harris, 1995), p173

Knitted fabrics can be made by hand or machine, and include jersey (such as tee-shirt fabric), tubular knit fabrics, hand knitted Arran jumpers, sweatshirting, airtex, ribbing etc. Yarn is looped together either along the weft, forming courses, as seen in hand knitting; or in vertical columns known as wales. Warp knitting is similar in structure to woven fabric with long columns of interlocking fibres, which can then be joined in various ways, meaning that the resulting textile is less likely to ‘run’ than weft knitting.

Knitted fabrics are popular for clothing as they have some stretch in them, can be warm and don’t tend to crease easily. But they can easily be damaged by stretching out of shape; shrinking with excess heat; are prone to insect damage if made of animal fibres; and can show piling.

The thickness of the textile can be varied depending on the type of stitch used, the size of needle, the thickness, or ‘count’ of the yarn. The finish can be altered by softening the fabric; felting; or brushing.

Pattern can be added by using decorative stitches, or alternating colours of yarn using a slip or float stitch (the yarn not appearing in a particular part of the pattern is carried across the reverse of the fabric, for example, Fair Isle knitting). This method makes the resulting textile less stretchy and thicker. Intarsia knitting uses colour changes which do not carry the unused yarns across the back of the fabric. This is a better technique when larger areas of one colour are required, as opposed to an all-over small pattern.

Bubbled, indented or puckered effects can be achieved by knitting some stitches and holding others on the needle. Holes can be controlled in the knit by transferring stitches to another needle, thus producing lacy effects or button holes, for example. In cable knitting groups of stitches are transferred during the knitting process to produce twists and patterns in the textile. Other techniques include weaving or laying a yarn onto the knitted fabric so that it is caught by the stitches into the design. Designs in a contrasting colour can be hand stitched over the knitted fabric.

Hand Knitting – carried out on needles of varying sizes, allows the individual maker to customise their knitted work regarding colour, texture, size, thickness, pattern and design.

Machine Knitting – yarn can be knitted to produce flat textiles or tubular ones. Both domestic and industrial knitting machines are available. Many use pre-programmed cards for selecting needles in the machine to produce particular patterns. Jacquard and knitting machines can produce detailed patterns from images, using computer technology. Machines use beds of horizontal needles, each producing a wale in the fabric. Single-bed machines produce stocking stitch (knit on one side, purl on the other), while double or V-bed machines (with two sets of needles) can produce double-knit or rib fabrics. Ribs are often used to finish necks, cuffs, and lower edges of garments to aid better fitting with their extra stretchy quality, but can be used to make a whole garment.

Warp knits are usually made on flat knitting machines: the best known makes being Tricot for use with fine yarns; and Raschel for textured work with thicker yarns. The latter can also produce open work used in net and lace textiles.

At Linton Falls in Yorkshire, a maker called R A Horner sells socks (tubes without soles) made using an antique sock knitting machine, using mixed recycled yarns. The fabric feels a little scratchy, but they are useful as a second pair in walking boots.

R A Horner, socks knitted from mixed recycled yarns, 2015

Source:- photographed by J K Walton

Designing Knit Fabrics


This image shows a student’s presentation board with inspirational photograph, knit textile samples and resulting garment.

Source:- (Stevenson and Steed, 2012), p70

Sandra Backlund is a Swedish fashion designer, who often works with knitted fabrics to produce dramatic and unique garments.

Sandra Backlund, piece from current collection


Tata-Naka is the company run by Georgian-born twins, now living and working in London. Their new collection features knitted pieces, like this skirt and jumper, together with hand-embellished accessories such as beanie hats.

Tata-Naka, High Neck Ribbed Jumper


Knitwear can be knitted in one three-dimensional piece, or can be cut from lengths of knitted fabric, or constructed from individually knitted, shaped pieces.

High performance wool textiles are now being created, which can be crease resistant, or water resistant, “surface hardened” to survive outdoor wear and tear, stain resistant or light reflecting to maintain a cool temperature in hot conditions. Even without treatment, wool is durable, and has flame-resistance.

Deirdre Hoguet in an article for The Guardian praises wool for its environmentally friendly properties: “… it is rapidly renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, and can be produced organically. There are also new wool traceability standards and animal welfare standards to track its production.”


This research into knitted textiles has encouraged me to practise a bit of hand knitting and I managed to make two samples: stocking stitch on the left and plain knitting or garter stitch on the right.


I’m not sure if I would want to specialise in knitted textiles, but they are certainly an interesting area for experimentation, with great potential for fashion, jewellery, household textiles, art and soft sculpture.



Harris, J. (1995) Five Thousand years of textiles. Edited by Jennifer Harris. 2nd edn. London: British Museum Press in association with the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Stevenson, F. and Steed, J. (2012) Basics textile design: Sourcing ideas: Researching textures, colors, structures, surfaces and patterns. Lausanne: AVA Publishing SA.

Udale, J. (2014) Textiles and fashion: Exploring printed textiles, knitwear, embroidery, menswear and Womenswear. Lausanne: Distributed in the USA & Canada by Watson-Guptill Publications.

Websites:- Accessed 21/11/16 Accessed 21/11/16 Accessed 21/11/16


Contemporary Knitting

My Tutor, Cari, suggested, in my last feedback, a book by Francoise Tellier-Loumagne, called “The Art of Knitting” as a book to study.

The book has inspirational photographs showing what is possible using knitted techniques. Starting with the basics: knitting is a textile with …”fabrics structured from a series of loops, such as weft knitting and warp knitting”.  Weft knitting is formed from a single yarn, linked in courses. Warp knitting is formed by lengthways fibres fitted to a beam (as in weaving). Chains of loops are formed along the length of the fabric and can be linked crosswise using various techniques.

Fine mesh nets; Jacquard layers of different fibres; puckered surfaces; fur effects; ripples, ridges; voids and more, are possible using either hand tools or knitting machines. (There is a Guild of Machine Knitters, whose website has advice on buying knitting machines.)


Examples of ripple variations

Source:- (Tellier-Loumagne, Black, and Black, 2005), p235

This opens up a vast area that I know very little about (I was taught to knit plain and purl stitches by my Mum, and was briefly a member of a ‘knitting club’ at primary school – my sole output from the latter being a pink and white striped beanie hat, with quite a lot of help from my teacher). However, it may be an area that I return to in the future. In the meantime, prompted by this book recommendation and Rebecca Fairley’s article on the OCA website, I decided to take a look at some contemporary practice in knitting in the art world.

Emilie Zanon is the designer behind Capouche: a French company making one of a kind hats, that can be worn in a number of ways. She uses vintage fabrics and trims, sculptural forms and individual embellishments to ensure that each hat or garment is unique, and suited to its owner.

In her Vert de Gris Collection, she made a knitted garment with a strange and unsettling silhouette. Some parts of the garment hide and distort the shape of the body, while in other areas, it is closely fitted and revealing. The over-sized, knitted area on the back resembles pebbles and appears to be made from a fine stretchy tube textile (?stocking material) that has been stuffed and knitted. Knitting needles are part of the piece, giving the impression that the wearer is knitting their own costume. This is a fascinating mixture of textures. I can imagine performance costumes and soft sculptures made using these techniques.


Emilie Zanon, garment from Vert de Gris Collection


Australian performance artist, Casey Jenkins‘ Casting Off My Womb, involved the artist knitting from wool lodged in her vagina for the 28 days of her menstrual cycle. Her blood colours the white wool in places, and is knitted into the work providing a record or journal of her 28 days’ knitting and of her menstrual cycle. She describes the process in a YouTube video as “natural and uneventful” and of being “intimate with my own body”. Casey draws a link between a warm, fuzzy, “boring” pastime and the negative associations and fears that people have about the female body. I can see that her worst fears about how people react to the female body, and a natural process of the female body, were borne out by the overwhelmingly negative public reaction to the piece. The less of a taboo there is around menstruation, the better, in my opinion, so good for her!

Casey knitting vagina

Casey Jenkins, Casting Off My Womb (detail), 2013


Freddie Robins is a British artist, who questions the viewer’s ideas about the gentle craft of knitting by using her, sometimes humorous, work to explore themes such as violence and fear. She describes her method of making art as an evolving process (rather than working to a pre-conceived design), most recently incorporating samples and found or re-purposed items. In an article for The Guardian by Tamsin Blanchard, her home/’museum’ (shared with partner, Ben) is described as being filled with their numerous collections, which have influenced their art work.

Freddie Robins, Collection of Knitted Folk Objects – Pocky, 2014, machine knitted wool, reclaimed knitting needles, 700 × 400 × 120 mm


Isabel Berglunds is a Danish artist who uses knitting to make art such as the installation below, as well as art objects. Members of the public can explore and interact with the work, including garments that you can wear, that are part of the artwork. She seems to have a very imaginative and joyful approach to art, taking knitting from its usual, utilitarian place in the world, and turning it into an unlimited medium to explore different forms, scales, textures and functions.

Isabel Berglunds,  Monument of Stitches – A Social Art Project, 2016 Assembled at Trapholt Museum of Modern Art


The Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands had a recent knitting exhibition that included work by Isabel Berglunds, as well as Sarah Lund’s jumper from The Killing!

Wang Lei is a Chinese artist who uses different types of paper to meticulously knit his artworks. He is interested in how history and society changes over time. In the piece below he has used the paper from a Chinese bible to knit a traditional garment. In this way he is questioning the use of the language, culture and tradition, and of how people may forge new identities.

Wang Lei, The Chinese Bible , 2015, Paper Art with Frame, 84 x 8 x 99cm


Magda Sayeg is said to be the first ‘yarn-bomber’. Her website explains that she is now exploring new materials, such as lights with knit. She enjoys transforming hard, everyday objects with soft wool, which still allows them to remain functional and recognisable. She works to challenge the limitations of her chosen medium.

Magda Sayeg, knitted/crocheted covered bus in Mexico City



What can I learn from these artists and designers?

Emilie Zanon – use unexpected materials with traditional techniques. Exaggerate and combine different scales of stitch and forms.

Casey Jenkins – a simple craft can be subverted to ask wider questions of society.

Freddie Robins – use knitting as an artistic medium like any other. The juxtaposition of a craft that is traditionally performed by women, with an important point can add to the meaning of the piece. Be inspired by what interests you.

Isabel Berglunds – ‘limited only by your imagination’ is a phrase that springs to mind! Large scale and interactive pieces are possible.

Wang Lei – use of unusual and meaningful raw materials. Recreating traditional pieces in new materials.

Magda Sayeg – use wool to transform objects and change the viewer’s perception.


Articles:- Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 26/10/16 and 18/11/16


Tellier-Loumagne, F., Black, S. and Black, Y. (2005) The art of knitting: Inspirational stitches, textures and surfaces. London: Thames & Hudson.

Websites:- Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16 Accessed 18/11/16

Assignment 2: Response to Formative Feedback

Following my feedback from Cari, I have returned to my work from Assignment 2 to make some follow-up, visual evaluation drawings of Pieces 2 and 3.

Piece 2

Cari suggested that I make a repeat design and a simpler design by focusing on selected elements of the original.

The top circle on the original piece featured a layer with seeds on it and a damaged, blackened layer above, which had holes in it revealing the layer below.

For the first drawing, I decided to make a simpler, all white paper manipulation concentrating on repeating those elements, and to make three sample ‘repairs’, which were shown in the second circle of the original piece.

The top layer of paper was crumpled and torn. The underneath layer had holes pierced to represent the ‘seeds’ in the original piece (piercing from the front gave a clean, smooth hole; piercing from the reverse gave each hole a raised, ragged edge, which I preferred for its tactile quality). The three samples were made using Swedish pattern paper strips:

1 A rectangle of holes was punched and a darning/woven pattern used. Ends were taped to the reverse.

2 A ring of holes was punched and a random repair stitch, with knots on the surface, was used.

3 No holes were punched, paper strips were sewn through needle holes in a star pattern; knots on the reverse. The paper strip became more cord-like as it was pulled through the narrow openings.

I preferred option 3 of the sample areas. The smaller holes and more rounded profile of the paper ‘thread’ made it feel more like traditional sewing. I felt that overall, the drawing made a simple statement about ‘damage and repair’ that could be about the environment; or an analogy for the human condition: ‘hurt and healing’, or ‘wounding words/actions and forgiveness’, ‘war and reconcilliation’.

The second area of Piece 2 that I found interesting and ripe for further investigation, was in the third circle where I had needle punched white wool yarn through the background fabric, using different densities and different lengths of stitch. I used white ink, pastel and coloured pencil for the following drawing.

I thought of three methods/variations of representing the design:-

1 Needle-punched yarn: sparsely punched yarn centre, with red, wiry inserts (either tied stitches or wired beads); densely punched and longer, uncut loops surrounding the centre, getting longer the further away the stitches are from the centre.

2 Similar to 1, but with cut loops and no red additions.

3 This I imagined being hooked from fabric strips: sparsely in the centre, tightly in the surrounding area, then prodded, long strips in all other areas.

I liked the potential of the third option. The areas could also be reversed, so that the centres were the long, prodded areas and the surrounding areas were the sparsely hooked ones. In fact that would probably work just as well, and would be faster to make. I may return to this idea in future.

Piece 3

There were quite a lot of variations that I could imagine arising from this piece. The first I considered was a repeat design, with the stitch repeated in small areas over the surface (rather than as just three areas in the original).

The drawing on the left above is a multi-media drawing, based on the original colours. I thought that the areas could be separate and randomly spaced and positioned, or overlapping (drawing 2 above), or could be precisely spaced and grid-like. They could also be any shape…

This drawing looks at using ‘island’ or organic shapes with a more naturalistic colour scheme. The centres have different marks to represent the concrete/barren areas, and the same for the surrounding borders, with a mixture of paints and felt pens for the ‘wild’ areas. I liked the idea of random shapes and this idea could be stitched or hooked/needle punched. Again, the textured areas could be reversed.

Next, I considered a very simplified version that would consist entirely of stitch on something like a grey linen textile. I used some lovely Khadi paper with white gel pen and ink.

I liked the small organic patches of marks, that reminded my of lichen or bacteria growing on a petri dish, but was not happy with the ‘wild area’, bolder marks. The heart shapes were meant to represent two leaves and the whole effect is too cartoony compared with the more delicate areas. Probably simpler, bolder straight lines or crossed lines or twisting, root-like lines, perhaps over a wash of white paint, would have been more in keeping. The background could be prepared first then have the small, delicate areas cut out and glued over the top, or cut and inserted in the case of a textile piece.

Having been reading up on textile history lately in the following books:- (Dupont-Auberville, Harris, and Auberville, 1989) and (Harris, 1993) and on knitted textiles in (Tellier-Loumagne, Black, and Black, 2005), and fabrics by Rubelli in Issue 73 of Selvedge, I have seen many inspiring textures created in luxurious textiles past and present. A small sample below.

This fed into the idea of a repeated textile pattern inspired by the Pieces I had made for Assignment 2. There are, of course, endless variations of shape colour, design, fibres used, which areas are raised/translucent/flat/shiny etc etc. I imagined the drawing below turned into a fabric with sheer golden-beige background with raised velvet areas with differing heights of pile for the different areas of the shapes and dots. Or perhaps as a knitted textile with raised areas, all in one colour (see examples above, bottom right).



This revision and extension of my work for Assignment 2 has been useful in eliciting some new ideas, and has opened up possible areas for future work. It seems a very useful approach for assessing existing work and developing new work. I will try to form the habit of drawing and sample making for new work.

Regarding the drawings above: I felt that the drawing for further hooked/prodded pieces was interesting. I also like the simplified, pure white stitch on a grey textile idea, and the use of a more naturalistic colour scheme with organic shapes.



Dupont-Auberville, M., Harris, J. and Auberville, M.. (1989) Classic textile designs: Fifty plates, in gold, silver and colours comprising upwards of 1, 000 various styles of ancient, mediæval and modern designs of textile fabrics with explanatory descriptions and a general introduction. London: Bracken Books.

Harris, J. (1993) Five Thousand years of textiles. Edited by Jennifer Harris. 2nd edn. London: British Museum Press in association with the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Tellier-Loumagne, F., Black, S. and Black, Y. (2005) The art of knitting: Inspirational stitches, textures and surfaces. London: Thames & Hudson.


Mann, P. (2016) ‘Reflected Glory: The Shimmering Fabrics of Rubelli’, Selvedge (November) Issue 73, pp. 56–61.

Websites:- Accessed 11/11/16