Thursday, February 22, 2007


I have been rather busy lately, so not able to post so much.

Anyway, I went off to a trade fair in Birmingham, UK, with 3 friends. We went to help a friend who has a fabulous shop in our village, Willington, Derbyshire. It's called Rhiannon's and is a wool shop, chock full of lovely Colinette yarns. Rhiannon wants to add to the range, baby wool and a solid palate of colours, so hence we went to Birmingham. More about her new range in a later post.

Rhiannon is an inspiration to us all as she only started knitting just over a year ago, opened her shop in April 2006 and is now on a mission to get the whole of the Midlands knitting! She came to my spinning, weaving and dyeing class in October 2005 with the intention of learning to spin by Christmas that year. She took to it so well, she needed to do something with all that yarn she was producing, so asked her mum to teach her to knit. Now, the internet is a wonderful place and looking up knitting on Google, Rhiannon found that fabulous world of yarn and hasn't looked back. She is now on her third pair of socks!

Go Rhiannon!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Design Excercises with Paper and Paint

Mm, well now, what do I mean by proportions? Most of you choose a picture because it inspires you in some way, whether it's colour, texture, shapes, a combination of one, two or all three elements. Whatever is the trigger, it's very often the picture or section as a whole that is pleasing to the eye.
So if we look at just two of the elements, colour and texture, and work out the proportions of these, and if we stick to those proportions in weaving, knitting, crochet, embroidery, etc. we will have a very pleasing end product, whether we worked in stripes, checks, blocks or pictorally.

Once we've worked out the proportions of texture and colour from out chosen photograph or painting, we can work on producing stripes. A series of stripe sequences can trigger all sorts of ideas in weaving, knitting and crochet, not to mention all the other textile crafts.

This series of stripes can be developed into a collage of stripes with texture as well as colour and even wrapping.

Opposite you will see a page from my sketch book. I have developed a series of stripes from the New York Skyline photograph. By working out the proportions of colour and texture I have produced a series of stripes, the last one has been developed into a yarn wrapping from the yarns (on the right) that I chose to match the colours in the original painting I did.

The yarn wrapping can be used as it is, as a stripe sequence for a piece of weaving or, if turned vertically, as a design for a scarf to knit or crochet, for example.

Those spinners amongst you, could try blending the basic colours, blue, yellow and red with black and white to spin a series of yarns which have much more life than those dyed the exact colour you want! More about this later!

Why not have a go.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Looking at Texture

All seems to be going ok with the Computer Design Study Group, what a relief!

We have been looking at texture over the week-end, using an outline drawing of the original picture we chose and basically "scribbling" with our pencils. It seems so strange at first to scribble, trying different pencil strokes to represent texture, but once you let go, it can throw up all sorts of ideas, especially if you transfer some of the ideas into collage with white or grey paper, only.

The New York Skyline doesn't to appear to have much texture, we aren't close enough to see the texture in the bricks and concrete, but some parts felt like pleats, and the windows gave quite a textured feel.

Mm, quite a bit to be looking at after all!

Friday, February 09, 2007

I couldn't resist this Fibre Geek Questionaire

1. Do you raise fiber, animals or plant, or are a fiber user only? If you raise animals/plants...what do you raise?

I once raised silk worms, great fun, but too stressful as they die!! Also have a long haired cat, whose fur is lovely when spun!

2. What's your favorite fiber & why? Which fiber do you like the least & why?

I love wool, it's warmth in cold weather, it's coolness in the heat, how it shrinks and reacts with other fibres.

Linen is my least favourite fibre, I don't like spinning with wet hands!

3. What's your worst habit relating to your fiber?

MM, now, what can I say, too much fibre or yarn, not enough! Not enough hours in the day, week, year to spin it all! I could go on and on!

4. In what ways does your fiber habit make you a better person?

I would be so grumpy if I didn't have me spinning, weaving or dyeing!

5. How would your life be different if you had to give up fiber?

Oh, dear, oh, dear, I would be so bored, no friends and very, very sad!

6. What tools, yarns, books or gadgets can't you live without?

How long have you got?!! My looms, my spinning wheels, my drop spindles, my dye pots, my complete library, MY CALCULATOR!!

7. What was your first fiber project?

This was when I was eight, I was given a small rigid heddle loom for Christmas and I wove the first piece from the instruction book! And subsequently all the other projects!

8. Do you have any fiber mentors? Who are they and why?

My friend Gill Bourne, if she's not got the answer, no one has! and my friend Jane Deane.

9. Are you a member of any guilds? If so, which one(s)?

Derbyshire Guild of Weaver, Spinners and Dyers and the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers

10. What's the most exciting fiber project you've undertaken?

Late last September I was asked to write a book on Creative Spinning, for Gaia, a division of Octopus Publishing. The dead line was extremely tight so I asked my friend Jane to help. We finished the manuscript and projects by the last day of November and it has had it's technical edit, so we are now waiting for the proofs.

11. How many people have you mentored? In which fiber arts?

I teach a class every Monday evening during school term time, so over the years I have mentored quite a few people. At present I mentor a lady who came to learn to spin, who ended up teaching herself to knit and now runs a wonderful shop on knitting, weaving, etc.

12. Do you consider fiber crafts to be functional or artistic?

Definately both! Just because it's functional, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful and just because it's beautiful, doesn't mean it's not capable of being funcional.

13. What, mainly, do you make? Do you keep, or give away, most of your projects?

I used to give a lot away, to friends and family, but now I am trying to earn a living!

14. Are fiber crafts an avocation or vocation for you?

I have been weaving since I was eight years old and spinning since I was in my mid twenties, so I guess it's a vocation!

15. How many people are you committed to being a mentor for in 2007?

At present, just the one, but who knows!

Computer Design Study Group 2

Well all seems to be going well with the exercises I have posted for the group. There has been some lovely positive feed back for the photographs I chose and those taking part are really happy with the content of the exercises.

Exercise Two was to look at the chosen photograph and using the simple shapes from the last exercise (basic tracing skills!) colour them in with a paint medium they were happy and familiar with.

I took the New York Skyline photograph and using a mask, cropped an area I liked. I then sized it up and drew the basic outline of the image, which you will see on the left.

Here you will see that I have used water colours to "colour in" the picture! The test colours are in the right hand margin of the sketch book. These two exercises are really easy to do and give you a feel for the colours, even if they are not quite accurate. For those who are frightened of paint, they can use coloured pencils or even collage.

I hope this will help anyone who is interested in designing of any sort, not just weave!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Computer Study Group

Hi again.

Well since I last posted, I have been roped in to tutor the first few exercises of the new group, as my poor friend, who was to tutor, has had to drop out this time due to family problems.

Talk about a baptism of fire!!!

It's one thing teaching to students in a classroom, but it's a whole new ball game, tutoring online. Still I have given them 5 pictures to chose from and their first exercise. So keeping my fingers crossed, all will go well.

Here is a sneak preview of the photographs I chose, I done hope there is something to inspire everyone.
Sample 2 Sunset
Sample 1
Fruit and Veg

Sample 4
New York Skyline

Sample 3
Slate Roof

Sample 5

Bye for now.
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