Exhibition Visit: New Quilting, Rheged

My friend, Margaret, and I went to see the New Quilting exhibition earlier in the week. It was hosted by the Rheged Centre in Cumbria and runs until Sunday 23 April 2017.

There were a variety of styles of quilting, from art quilts to historical pieces from the Helbeck Hall collection, and some three-dimensional work. As ever, the lighting was rather dim to preserve the textiles, so my photographs have a yellowish tinge to them.

I have been a fan of Elizabeth Brimelow‘s work for a number of years, and was pleased to see that she had several pieces of work in the exhibition. She is interested in landscape, especially nature, history, and the effects of farming on land. Her work begins with drawings, that are then translated into textiles through stitch and fabric manipulation.

Elizabeth Brimelow, Round Meadow, (silk fabric, labels, hand & machine stitch, hand quilting, knotting).

This piece was described by the artist as “… a journey through my sketchbooks …”, and featured plants, ponds, land features etc on a narrow band of fabric, which was coiled into a spiral for display. I would love to have seen it uncoiled to appreciate all the little details. As well as an unusual way of presenting work, it is a wonderful visual diary of all the things the artist has taken the trouble to observe, draw and stitch.

Elizabeth Brimelow, 461 Days – A Slice Of My Life, (fabric, card, stitch)

This long, concertina book had a scrap of fabric and a brief written note to represent each of the 461 days of the diary. Another interesting idea for making a personal journal.

Elizabeth Brimelow, Mellow Yellow (silk, appliqué, reverse appliqué, hand and machine stitch, fused, hand knotted)

I feel that this quilt relates to the coursework that I am doing at the moment: drawing plants (autumn fruit, leaves and berries, in this case) and combining them in a textile; using a variety of techniques and marks to represent the objects.

Sara Impey‘s quilts feature free-motion sewing machine stitched text as an integral part of the design.

Sara Impey, Social Fabric

This quilt told the imagined story of the piece of antique mattress cloth that the artist had found at a car boot sale. Sara ponders on its significance, its previous owner, and what it went through to end up at a car boot sale. She states that the associated memories make our possessions unique. I thought that this gave poignancy to what could have been an overlooked or discarded piece of cloth, and it underlines the way an item’s history can affect the way we see it and feel about it.

It reminded me of Julie Arkell’s French market find of a scrap of ribbon with the word ‘MAMAN’ embroidered on it. It conjures up the image of child carefully making a hand-sewn gift for her mother, which was then treasured for many years before eventually ending up in a house clearance, being sold at a market and finding a new, appreciative owner. It gives this tiny scrap of fabric and thread immense meaning beyond its constituent parts.

julie arkell maman ribbon

Source: Julie Arkell, Home, exhibition catalogue, Ruthin Art Gallery, 2004, p36 (detail).

Kate Dowty is a new artist to me. She has a background in graphic design and her works are all wall hangings with a focus on colour and texture. I loved the colour palette of this quilt, inspired by the music of Miles Davis and the artist’s ‘Winter blues’. I feel that it captures emerging from the dark days of winter, along with the improvisation of jazz music well. The beautiful indigo colour is enlivened by the textures of the different types of fabric patches and the dense stitch. The red lends a sense of electricity and makes me think of ideas fizzing into being.


Kate Dowty, Out of The Blues (fabric collage, machine stitch)

This piece had raw edge patches and was not ‘finished’ at the edges. As a personal preference, I like the image to go all the way to the edge of the quilt without a border, so this appealed to me. I am always interested to see how the quilts are constructed, and another quilt by this artist, Everything Connects, seemed to be made up of small units, which had then been sewn together at the end (much easier to handle under the sewing machine, from a practical point of view!).

Marita Lappalainen was another new (to me) Finnish artist, whose work I found very appealing. She says that her work is based on her own experiences, but she is happy when it resonates with others. She works mainly in appliqué and hand quilting using recycled textiles for ecological and other reasons. These textiles are imbued with meanings, signs, memories and the touch of “… times long gone”. The artist likes the fact that textiles made and owned by others will live on in her work.

Marita Lappalainen, Sweet City (recycled woollen fabrics, knitted garments, crocheted potholders).

I love the fantasy buildings with their abstract, but “fairy-tale-like” exuberance. The repetition of shape; the variety in textures; the colour palette of pinks, mustard, red, brown and green; the mixture of tones; and the placement of the composition on the ‘canvas’ were all elements that I felt made this piece successful.

This is a small taster of what was on display and it was well worth the visit for those interested in textiles.


What can I learn from these artists?

Elizabeth Brimelow – draw what interests you, and translate those drawings into fabric and stitch. Her ideas for visual journals were something to bear in mind and show new ways of presenting textiles.

Sara Impey – consider using text as an important element of a composition: to tell a story, to make a political point, or social comment, or to add humour to a piece.

Kate Dowty – don’t be afraid to use raw edges in quilts; make a larger piece out of smaller units, which can be joined at the end of sewing. Link the colour palette to ideas and emotions.

Marita Lappaainen – use recycled textiles; concentrate on:- composition and placement; the colour palette used; repeated motifs and tonal distribution.





Julie Arkell, Home, 2004 exhibition catalogue, Ruthin Art Gallery, Wales


http://www.quiltart.eu/elizabethbrimelo.html Accessed 21/04/17

http://www.katedowty.com/index.html Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.maritalappalainen.fi/ Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.quiltart.eu/elizabethbrimelo.html Accessed 20/04/17

https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.saraimpey.com/ Accessed 20/04/17


Denise Zygadlo Lecture

The Dumfries & Galloway Embroiderers’ Guild invited textile artist, Denise Zygadlo to give a talk today. It was very entertaining and was illustrated with images of her work, and examples of actual artworks, exhibition catalogues and sketchbooks for us to examine.

This was the first time that I had seen her artwork and I was struck by the cohesion of the work she produces: all with an interest in cloth and the body. Her work includes drawing, print, performance, artist books, and installation. She has collaborated with various creative people to explore dance, music, movement, and poetry paired with her art works.

Denise said that she had an early interest in textiles – clothing in particular – and remembers dressing up (from a ‘dressing up box’) as a child, and can still recall the feel of some of the clothing. She completed a foundation course followed by an applied arts degree and worked with printed textiles and fashion. After raising her children, she returned to art and began with a collaborative project. She then joined the Society of Scottish Artists and has exhibited many artworks with that group, as well as holding two solo exhibitions.

When searching for ways to express her artistic ideas, she found Image Maker, a product that can be applied to a photocopy, allowing it to be transferred to a textile. (The image is coated with the liquid, applied face down on the textile, allowed to dry, before the paper is moistened and removed leaving the image intact). Before that, she had worked with images printed directly from her body using paint.

The artist chose to make autobiographical portraits of her body, wrapped in muslin, on a photocopier, then reassemble these partial images as a collage onto silk organza. She liked the intimacy achieved by pressing against the glass, giving details of skin and cloth (better than a photograph could achieve). The finished artworks have the feeling of an ancient fresco in their incomplete rendering of the figure.

Denise now uses digital printing, (carried out by the Glasgow School of Art), as a simpler way of transferring the images to silk chiffon textile. The finished art works can be large banner-sized pieces that are suspended from a gallery ceiling to hang down and move in the breeze. The finished artworks have a translucency, and are reproducible and washable, which are further advantages over the original method.

The artist has collaborated with many other artists: one example including projecting images over her hanging art works, and onto the wall behind them. On other occasions performance and music have been included. These collaborations add another layer to the two-dimensional, printed aspect of the artworks. The scale of the work varies from images just a few inches across presented in the artist’s books, to the larger, banner-sized pieces.

This video illustrates the artist’s Wrap exhibition from 2014.

Drawing is a large part of the artist’s practice. Her highly-detailed pencil drawings of lace fabric on a contorted body were very beautiful. The pattern on the textile wrinkling and twisting with the movement of the body beneath. Denise said that the drawing was built up from layers of pencil marks, worked over many hours, and observed from a photograph of the subject.

Denise Zygadlo, Tara VII, Drawing

Source:- http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/gallery.php?cat=drawings

Other artworks include the remaking of her Mother’s jacket, which had been worn and passed down through three generations. The translucent, remade version had images of the three women on it.

Another piece showed bundles of linen, or blankets, or finery mounted on plinths, relating to textiles owned by most people, but also having a resonance with the refugee crises and the belongings the displaced people choose to take with them.

More recent artworks combine classical art (such as images of one of Michaelangelo’s statues) collaged with photocopies of the artist’s body, and again, digitally printed onto textile.

Many of the images felt rather poignant, referencing cloth as a ‘second skin’, that ages and wrinkles in the same way as our own skin. I particularly liked the images transferred to old canvases that had been removed from stretchers, and still bear the marks of staples and age discolouration. These appear like abstract images, maybe landscapes, before one can discern a body part and crumpled textile. Denise cited a connection with ‘bog people‘: those whose bodies have ended up being preserved in peat, in extremely good condition, allowing a glimpse into their lives and deaths. Other people have felt a religious resonance when viewing the artworks.

The artworks feel open to interpretation: are they autobiographical? or making some wider point about the importance of cloth in our lives? The wrapping gives a timeless feel to the pieces, since they make no reference to fashion; and the use of a black and white colour palette gives them an ‘antique’ look. There feels to me to be a link to birth, life and death – the swaddling of a child, through a lifetime of wearing clothes and using textiles, to the final shrouding of the dead. The artist herself discusses the feelings of comfort, security and the holding of memories encapsulated in cloth. I feel there is a connection to the work of Louise Bourgeois in the exploration of textiles imbued with autobiographical memories and stories.

What can I learn from this artist?

Thinking of how this might inspire my own studies: re-purposing my clothing in artwork could be linked to an autobiographical narrative, or one related to associations with textiles, clothing, fashion or the body. Using the body to present images that create resonances with many viewers and are open to various interpretations is a powerful idea.

I was struck by the focus and constraints that the artist had used: photocopying; black and white images; cloth and the body. As yet, I don’t feel that I know which art form or topics of interest I wish to pursue, but hopefully, that will emerge as I progress through the course.

Digital printing seems to offer an exciting way of reproducing art work on textiles that could be used in a variety of ways: from art works, to household textiles, to fashion.

Pairing the written word with art is a combination that I may explore in the future.

Denise re-entered the art world by joining an artists’ society that allowed her to network with other artists and exhibit her work. Well, maybe one day I will take on such a challenge!



http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/ Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.dylon.co.uk/other-products/craft/image-maker/image-maker/#.WOZ7S9Lyubg Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.s-s-a.org/ Accessed 06/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body Accessed 06/04/17

Research for Coursework Part 4 including my Yarn Research File

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

Yarn Research File

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

Yarn Design

Sources for Fibres

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

Issues and Considerations for Yarn Design and Manufacture

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

Yarn Manufacture

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

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

Yarn Marketing

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

Source: http://www.woolmark.com/globalassets/woolmark/inspiration/the-wool-lab/view-thepreview/ss1718/twl-preview-ss1718_landscape.jpg

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

Uses in Industry

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

Uses in the Arts and Crafts

Links to my research on:-

contemporary knitting

knitted textiles research

contemporary embroidery

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

textile artists (Part 2 Research)

textile artists (Part 3 Research)

drawing (including fibre work) (Assignment 1 Research)

Making Space Exhibition, Macclesfield 2016

Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show, 2016

textile art at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

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

artists and designers using luminous textiles

American quilts (two book reviews)

textile jewellery

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

Louise Bourgeois (Coursework Part 2 Research)

textile artist: Alison King lecture

performance costume: Alex Rigg exhibition

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

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



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


https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/research/document_uploads/134380.pdf Accessed 06/01/17

http://10times.com/unitedkingdom/textiles-fabrics/tradeshows Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/design/textiles/fibresrev1.shtml Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.campaignforwool.org Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.cottoninc.com Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/research-faculties-and-institutes/art-design-humanities/team/textile-engineering-and-materials-team.aspx Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.gaddumandgaddum.co.uk/silk/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.georgeweil.com/Materials/Fibres/Fibres.aspx?Ref=3,66,-1,-1 Accessed 06/01/17

http://heimtextil.messefrankfurt.com/frankfurt/en/besucher/willkommen.html?nc Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.innovationintextiles.com/textiles-in-architecture-materials-suppliers-for-building-and-construction/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.invista.com/en/index.html Accessed 05/01/17

http://joyofhandspinning.com/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.kochind.com/ Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.lurex.com Accessed 05/01/17

https://ntuadvancedtextiles.wordpress.com/ Accessed 06/01/17

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OliverTwistsFibres Accessed 06/01/17

https://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/textile-science-engineering.php Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.pittimmagine.com/en/corporate/fairs/filati.html Accessed 05/01/17

https://qz.com/708298/synthetic-spider-silk-could-be-the-biggest-technological-advance-in-clothing-since-nylon/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.scottishfibres.co.uk/acatalog/Fibres.html Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.spinexpo.com/ Accessed 05/01/17

http://www.theweaveshed.org/suppliers-services/yarn-suppliers-spinners/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://www.woolmark.com/inspiration/the-wool-lab/ Accessed 04/01/17

http://www.worldofwool.co.uk/ Accessed 06/01/17

http://yandfdhaka.com/ Accessed 05/01/17


Artist and Designer Research for Coursework Part 4

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

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


Source: Draper, 2013 pp 32-38

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

What can I learn from this artist? 

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

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

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

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

Source:- http://ellarobinson.com/galleries/decorative%20objects.html

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

Source:- http://ellarobinson.com/galleries/sculpture.html

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

What can I learn from this artist?

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

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

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

Source:- http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/Be-brilliant

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

Source:- http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/07-1

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

What can I learn from this artist?

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

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

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

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

Source:- http://antonalvarez.com/The-Craft-of-Thread-Wrapping

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

Source:- http://antonalvarez.com/Thread-Wrapping-Architecture

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

What can I learn from this artist?

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

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

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

Source:- http://www.raw-edges.com/#/coilingcollection/

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

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

Source:- http://louisewells.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Honouring-Good-Men.jpg

 What can I learn from these designers?

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

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

Wasn't born to follow

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

Source:- http://brennand-wood.com/michael.html

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

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

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

Source:- http://brennand-wood.com/pics/063.html

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

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

What can I learn from this artist?

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

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

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

Source:- http://www.vadisturner.com/#mpf-popup@http://www.vadisturner.com/wptest/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/precipitation_sized.jpg|1448|54e663d44c373

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

Source:- http://www.vadisturner.com/#mpf-popup@http://www.vadisturner.com/wptest/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Turner_V_01.jpg|54|54e663d44c373

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

What can I learn from this artist?

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

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

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/13

Source:- http://www.janebowler.co.uk/pages/aw-13

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

Jane Bowler, from Collection AW/16

Source:- http://www.janebowler.co.uk/pages/aw16

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

What can I learn from this designer?

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

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

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

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


Hannah Camp, Trail of Yarn, from the werkstof collection

Source:- http://hannahcamp.com/collection/#/werkstof/


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

Source:- http://hannahcamp.com/collection/#/the-554/

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

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

What can I learn from this designer?

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

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

Studio Bouroullec, one of Seventeen Screens, 2016

Source:- http://www.bouroullec.com/?p=296

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

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

Source:- http://www.bouroullec.com/?p=296

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

What can I learn from these designers?

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


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



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

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


http://www.antonalvarez.com Accessed 11/01/17

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-anton-alvarez-brings-his-giant-thread-wrapping-machine Accessed 11/01/17

http://brennand-wood.com Accessed 13/01/17

http://ellarobinson.com Accessed 09/01/17

http://www.frankie.com.au/blogs/art/artist-interview-maria-aparicio-puentes-photo-embroidery Accessed 10/01/17

http://www.jackson-pollock.org/ Accessed 11/01/17

http://www.janebowler.co.uk Accessed 15/01/17

http://louisewells.com/ Accessed 12/01/17

http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/ Accessed 10/01/17

http://www.raw-edges.com/ Accessed 12/01/17

https://en-gb.facebook.com/Standingwoolrugs/?ref=page_internal Accessed 12/01/17

http://hannahcamp.com Accessed 15/01/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/andy-warhol-2121 Accessed 11/01/17

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/design/103342/anton-alvarezs-alphabet-aerobics-exhibtion-opens.html Accessed 11/01/17

http://www.textileartist.org/jean-draper-interview-hand-stitched-landscapes/ Accessed 08/01/17

http://textilestudygroup.co.uk/members/jean-draper/ Accessed 08/01/17

http://www.vadisturner.com/ Accessed 15/01/17

Sketchbook Scans: New Pens

I joyfully received a couple of new sets of pens for Christmas: uni Posca pens, which are thick water-based paint markers that are very opaque and colourful, and they don’t smell strongly of ‘chemicals’. The other set contains varying thicknesses of Sakura Pigma Micron pens – some of them are very fine, so will be useful for making delicate marks.

Here are some pages from my sketchbook exploring the new media.

Following my work on Assignment 3, I took one of my photographs showing fishing crates on a dock side, and made some drawings of it – coming up with a colour palette that I was happy with, and sourcing some threads and felt fabrics to make a miniature sample picture inspired by the image.

I feel that there is further mileage in this piece and will probably return to it, using paint or mixed media.

One of the books I received for Christmas (Keay, 2009) is about jewellery made using textile techniques, which is another interest of mine. I have been building a Pinterest Board on the subject for some time. I think that small areas, patterns or textures could be abstracted from the sample above to make interesting jewellery.

Keay’s book illustrates some fine examples of contemporary jewellery, together with projects highlighting different techniques.

Source:- (Keay, 2009) page numbers marked in captions to pictures

Jeehyun Chung is inspired by repeated structures (such as those found in scaffolding), and traditional Korean accessories and flower patterns.

Laila Smith focuses on the textile processes using fragments of domestic textiles combined with precious metals. Her more recent work appears to be in metal alone.

Sarah Keay here uses spun newsprint coated with acrylic varnish.

Lina Peterson enjoys the combinations and material qualities of her pieces and uses colour in a playful way. She is interested in the relationship of her jewellery to the wearers’ clothing.

The book explores traditional ways of working with textiles such as felting, crocheting, binding, knitting, weaving etc using traditional textiles and yarns, and unusual materials like wire. There is also an inspirational gallery of work from which the images above are taken.

The mixing of materials, textures and techniques is very interesting. It reminded me of fellow student, Inger’s, recent samples joining different materials. (Something I have to look forward to in a future part of the course). I like the way simple materials and processes are given value by the time taken over their construction; the thoughts and ideas that go into the finished piece; and the presentation of the work (eg mounting in precious metals).

I have felt slightly nervous of using textiles in jewellery because of their delicate nature, the possibility of water damage, leaking colours etc, but I think it is probably more the case that they can be thought of as miniature art works that would be displayed, and perhaps only worn occasionally, so it is best to use whatever materials you are inspired to work with and not worry too much about the practicalities.




Keay, S. (2009) Jewellery using textiles techniques: Methods and techniques. London: A & C Black Publishers.








Research & Reflection: Collage

Two artists whose work I admire greatly are Picasso and Matisse. I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of the latter’s work in Newcastle a year or so ago: Henri Matisse: Drawing With Scissors

Henri Matisse, The Snail 1953

Source:- http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/matisse-the-snail-t00540

For me this colour palette and arrangement of shapes is uplifting and very pleasing to the eye. The complementary colour scheme with a wide variation in tone from cream to black is perfectly balanced, yet appears at first glance to be a quick and simple picture.



Henri Matisse Nu Bleu II 1952 Lithographic reproduction (from original paper cut out)

Source:- http://www.newcastlegateshead.com/whats-on/henri-matisse-drawing-with-scissors-p790241

The piece above is so restrained, yet its subject is completely recognisable, using only simple forms and two colours. The artist has abstracted the most recognisable aspects of the figure and has captured an expressive pose. It suggests to me that I do not need to use a complicated colour palette to make an arresting image: coming back to the idea of introducing constraints.

On the HenriMatisse.net website, I see that his method of making the paper cut outs began by cutting shapes freehand with small scissors, before pinning them to the wall and considering the eventual composition for a long time before arriving at the finished artwork. This reminds me of my Tutor’s advice to stand back and take an overview of work in progress, to see the ‘whole picture’.

I saw some of Picasso’s collage work at the Musée Picasso in Paris, many years ago.

Pablo Picasso Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper, 1913

Source:- http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-bottle-of-vieux-marc-glass-guitar-and-newspaper-t00414

The artist has used a simple palette, appearing to use materials at hand. An interesting aspect of this piece is the way objects have been depicted at their most recognisable angles: the guitar from above and the wine bottle from the side. A small amount of drawing adds clues for the eye to complete the image: the frets on the guitar and the label on the wine bottle, for example.

In a completely different style: I found a book by Gloria Vanderbilt in a second-hand bookshop yesterday. Unfortunately, the book was in too poor a condition to keep, but I managed to salvage some images from it. I like her bright naif style and simple ‘icon’-like shapes. All the images in the book are black and white, but her signature seems to be to use gingham checks and lace in a number of her pieces. She also intermingles these with old photographs, commercially-produced scrapbook images (flowers, butterflies etc), and found objects such as paper doilies, food packaging and greetings cards. Sometimes she adds drawn elements, such as a face, or squiggles representing wallpaper. I can see Matisse’s influence in some of her plant shapes. I like her simple approach, with an emphasis on making an arrangement that is pleasing to the maker’s eye.


Gloria Vanderbilt Fishes and Objects, Table Setting (scanned black and white print versions)

Source:- (Vanderbilt, and Lewis, 1981)


These three collage makers appeal to me because of the simplicity of their images; their methods of making recognisable shapes that represent the objects depicted at their most recognisable angles (a technique that the Egyptians also used). The edge of a table or a fish tank is represented by a simple edge, drawn line, or shape. The forms are often abstracted and require the viewer to pause and interpret them, which I believe adds to the pleasure of viewing an artwork.



Vanderbilt, G, and Lewis, A A (1981) Gloria Vanderbilt’s Book of Collage. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Inc.,U.S.






Research & Reflection: The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

Two friends, Margaret and Sarah, and I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate yesterday. It was the first time I had been to such an event, and was overwhelmed with the number of exhibitors and visitors in the 4 or 5 enormous halls. There were exhibition spaces featuring the work of single artists, or groups of textile artists.

These pieces were made by members of the unFOLD group of textile artists.

I liked the use of locational found objects in Christina Ellcock’s work inspired by the coast. The artworks displayed lots of three-dimensional textures and forms. Her sketchbook had strong patterns and graphical elements. Sally Skaife employs a subtle colour palette to explore her chosen subject through repetition of lines and marks. Both of these artists had produced a series of works on their chosen themes, which gave the viewer the chance to enjoy the similarities and variances between the individual pieces. We went back towards the end of our visit, to hand sew two small pieces of calico together. These were labelled with our names and the number of stitches used, and will make their way into a future unFOLD project.

I was pleased to revisit the work of Debbie Lyddon, whose art I had first seen at the 62 Group’s Making Space exhibition in Macclesfield earlier this year.


Debbie Lyddon, Liminal Objects: Sea Purses 4, 2016 (linen, wire, saltwater).

I love the colour palette of blues and browns, natural rust and white salt that this artist uses in her work. The rust and salt give an element of unpredictability to the outcome, but are eminently suited to the subject matter. The simple repeated shapes suggest, but do not closely copy, the forms of sea creatures.

Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is exhibiting some beautiful historical textiles, alongside the work of modern artists who have responded to works in the collection.

The exquisite cushion cover (above, left) was embroidered with floral and grid decorations by Annie Eastwood in 1923. The stitch is in fine wool and silk thread. The stitches were so tiny and numerous that it was hard to imagine how long this must have taken to make.

The fragment of miniature hexagonal patchwork with beading (above, right) still had the basting stitches in place. It was precisely executed and must have been made by someone with very nimble fingers.

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have a huge exhibition space filled with their art works, books, DVDs and, fascinating for me to see: their sketchbooks and samples. This is particularly relevant for me to think about, as my tutor has recommended more sketchbook and sampling work. Their sketchbooks were filled with life drawings, colourful paintings of landscapes, observed details, project development drawings and written notes. I purchased four of their teaching books containing different techniques for textile artists, so will enjoy trying some of those out in the near future.


Cos Ahmet, Memory Threads I (hand-felted cords bound in wool, cotton chenille, wax cast of the artist)

Cos Ahmet works in a variety of media with textiles (weaving, tapestry etc) and his art explores the ‘self’. I thought that the piece above was interesting in its use of mixed media and self portraits in the form of wax masks taken from the artist’s own face. The cord coming from the mouth suggests to me that he is exploring the stories that we tell about our past; how memories are formed; the ‘tangled’ web of memories. The wrapped cords perhaps also suggest viscera or the folds of the brain. A thought-provoking piece.

I also enjoyed the work of Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, who includes metallic elements in her work; and Dionne Swift who makes densely, machine-stitched landscapes, and paintings, which I very much liked, for their observation of local colour and simplified forms. Some artists prefer not to have their work photographed, so I have linked to their websites.

The Graduate Showcase exhibition had many interesting student pieces: including those below. Josey Florence Mendez displayed innovative plastic textiles embellished with threads and other materials. Hannah Christina Sims made flat textiles into cut, folded, sewn and coloured, three-dimensional surfaces. Some pieces were framed, others were formed into objects like the lampshade below.

Sam Hussain Designs exhibited exuberant pieces, such as this vest, which is decorated with painting, embroidery and embellishment.

The Embroiderers’ Guild had an exhibition of work inspired by Capability Brown.

There were so many inspiring pieces, but these three caught my eye: Diana Springall’s beautiful, textured piece showed two very different scales of texture and had a pleasing composition. Janet Edmonds’ charming work had an unusual texture, that looked like couched rows of textile or thread. It reminded me of a small version of a North American hooked rug. Annette Collinge’s colourful art work featured abstract depictions of land, sea and sky with a variety of shapes, raw edges and large hand stitches.

Another major feature of The Show is the huge variety of stands selling everything textile-related: yarns, threads, tools, antique textiles, books. I really could have spent a fortune on beautiful supplies ‘just-in-case’, but managed to limit myself to some sashiko thread and needles and a piece of Japanese fabric in dark indigo, from Japan Crafts plus a bag of colourful thread ends from Oliver Twists. For the rest that I longed for, I kept a note of the company names for future reference.



This was an inspiring day and gave me an insight into the world of a textile artist, allowed me to survey the vast array of materials available, and to experience a variety of styles of work, from historical to contemporary. I felt very drawn to the art works that interpret land and seascapes in an abstract or simplified form. In terms of the supplies I saw, I returned several times to the two stands selling Japanese textiles and threads, and to Sallie Ead’s Antique Textiles, where there were all sorts of linen, cotton, old and worn textiles of all types. The brightly coloured silk and cotton threads, hand dyed felts, yarns and textiles were also very beguiling. Working with found items, recycled textiles, and bright colour palettes feels comfortable to me, and although I enjoy experimenting with new techniques and media, I think I will always return to those themes and materials.



https://en-gb.facebook.com/AlysnMidgelowMarsdenArtTextiles/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.capabilitybrown.org/ Accessed 25/11/16

https://debbielyddon.wordpress.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://dionneswift.co.uk/ Accessed 25/11/16

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn’s website http://doubletrouble-ent.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

https://embroiderersguild.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://hannahcsims.wix.com/mysite Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.japancrafts.co.uk/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://josey-mendez.wix.com/joseymendez Accessed 25/11/16

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OliverTwistsFibres Accessed 25/11/16

https://www.facebook.com/sallie.ead Accessed 25/11/16

https://www.instagram.com/samhussaindesigns/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/harrogate/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://unfoldtextiles.christinechester.com/ Accessed 25/11/16


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

Source:- http://sandrabacklund.com/current-collection.php?page=51

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

Source:- http://shop.tatanaka.com/index.php?id_product=273&controller=product

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.


http://sandrabacklund.com Accessed 21/11/16

https://voormi.com/ Accessed 21/11/16

http://www.zegnagroup.com/lanificio/tessuti/high_performance Accessed 21/11/16