Thursday 10 December 2015

A Bit of Making at the Harrrogate Knitting & Stitching Show

Summer days are gone
I love the Knitting & Stitching Show - it's an annual highlight.  There's loads of inspiration from a lot of talented people.  Of course there are endless supplies you can stock up with (and no, I have never managed only to buy what was on my list and yes I do still have things I bought years ago that I have yet to do something with!)   

I do like to try out a few workshops when I go - sometimes to learn something new and sometimes for a bit of a rest from looking round.  This year was particularly good.  I have to say my favourite was Alysn Midgelow Marsden's "Time for Tea" which I managed to complete in the time allowed and which I was pleased with (see above - Summer days are gone).  Great fun collaging and stitching with tea bags, fabric, feathers & paper.

Dark blue cabling - almost there, light blue cabling = success

I also learnt how to cable with Monica Russel.  You can see from my efforts that I didn't get it right first time but seemed to have mastered it in the end.  I have even gone on to do a couple of extra pieces as homework so that's a thumbs up! 

Cotton scrim indigo shibori

Vivien Prideaux showed us shibori with indigo which was very interesting not least because I learnt that indigo has antiseptic qualities and that it's a substantive dye (e.g. doesn't need a mordant), that there are some Woad Houses in Toulouse that are worth a visit and that I'd like to try out a smocking machine (must find out if our EG has one to loan out!) 

Velvet indigo shibori

And finally I did some needle felting with Fi Oberon to make a little chick.  It took me a little longer than the hour we had to finish it but Fi gave us lots of helpful tips and info especially about those legs which I particularly wanted to know about and which I still need to work on!  (Last year I made a head - so there's a recommendation as I came back for more!)

Needle felted chick in the rain

So all in all a very enjoyable time!

Friday 4 December 2015

Graduate Showcase etc. at the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show 2015

Helen Sill and her work

Helen Sill was exhibiting this year as the Embroiderers' Guild (EG) Education Scholar.  This is a new project which Helen is involved with which aims to "to reinvigorate the teaching of stitch in the classroom by providing ideas and top quality resources for teachers that will be linked to the new National Curriculum". The EG hope to roll this out in 2016.  Helen's work made quite an impact because it's great and because of her use of a single colour (red).

Julie Heaton - Camera

Julie Heaton's work was fantastic. The detail and precision are amazing.  Very interesting to have a traditionally male subject (car engine) represented through a traditionally female medium (stitch).

Julie Heaton - Car Engine

I also found Sarah Tran's sculptural origami and Holly Hart's 3D assemblages interesting.

Sarah Tran - Sculptural Fabric Origami
Holly Hart - 3D assemblage

And Alice Selwood's cushions were fab (no photos allowed)

The Kingston University & the WI Celebrating 100 Years of Craft Knitwear Project was also on display which I blogged about earlier this year.

Bonnie Gibbons - Kingston University, Karen Griffiths & Audrey Wilson - WI

If you want to read more about this year's Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate then I have some more blogposts about the Textile Gallery:

Click here for the one about the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland "Entwined Memories", Stella Harding or New Zealand Contemporary Textiles

Click here for the one about Michala Gyetvai, Isobel Hall, Amanda Clayton & Vivien Prideaux, Helen Pailing & Festival of Quilts Winners - Catherine Groves & Joy Salvage.

Altogether another great show!

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Textile Gallery at the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show 2015 - Part 2

Michala Gyetvai - Rhapsody of Colour

Michala Gyetvai's colourful "Enchanted Landscapes" were great.  Worked on wool blanket with fleece, machine and hand embroidery her pictures capture the changing seasons and light on the landscape. 

Michala Gyetvai - The Jewel

Michala Gyetvai - Sea of Grass

Isobel Hall's "Adventures with Colour and Texture" were inspiring with beautiful bags and vessels on show.  Her mixed media techniques employ multiple layers of stitch to create shape, texture and structure.
Isobel Hall - Forest Vessel

Isobel Hall - The castle on the hill

Isobel Hall - Briar Rose

Inspired by a poem, The Other, by RS Thomas, Vivien Prideaux and Amanda Clayton's exhibition juxtaposes Vivien's colourful dyed fabrics with Amanda's pale stitched works.

Vivien Prideaux - Dyed Fabric
Vivien Prideaux - Vintage Japanese kimono silk dyed with natural indigo

Amanda Clayton
Amanda Clayton

The Festival of Quilts had a Winners' Gallery.  These were my two favourites ...

Festival of Quilts - Catherine Groves
Festival of Quilts - Joy Salvage
Joy Salvage - Detail

Helen Pailing's exhibition "Glass Stitch" recrafts waste borosilicate glass from the lampworking process into new work incorporating wool paraphernalia. 

Helen Pailing - Glass Stitch
Helen Pailing - Glass Stitch

Jill Denton and Sue Dove "Our Artful Selves" was also a great exhibition but no photography was allowed.  I also liked the Sophie Digard exhibiton - beautiful scarves!  And there was lots more.

Coming up soon - a quick tour of the Knitting & Stitching Show Graduate Showcase.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Textile Gallery at the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show 2015 - Part 1

Sandi Sexton - Collo Libro

I really liked the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland - Entwined Memories exhibition in the Textile Gallery.  The description of the exhibition stated that "Entwined Memories evokes a myriad of responses and inspirations from distant memories, nostalgic tales and stories of life; revealing fragments of time interwoven into a collection of lasting impressions and reflections on the past ..."

Here are a some of my favourites... 

Lesley Stothers - Composing a life
Liz Sheridan - Enduring magic
Marika O'Sullivan - Dream, listen, love
Rose Mary Cullen - Dress code
Anne Harte - Memory boxes
Anne Kiely

I also really enjoyed Stella Harding's exhibition - Second Nature.  Stella weaves complex and abstract structures using both natural and discarded manufactured material in her work.  She uses 3D construction techniques from basketry and juxtaposes the natural with the urban.

Stella Harding
Stella Harding - Crucible 1
Stella Harding - Flow

Stella Harding - Another Star
Stella Harding

The New Zealand Contemporary Textiles exhibition also had some interesting pieces.  Clare Smith's piece was inspired by pictures from Google Earth of dye from a denim jeans factory in China pouring into a river.

Clare Smith - Watermark
Joyce Stalker - Heartfelt: Excerpts from the publications of a washed up feminist academic

Here Joyce Stalker uses excerpts from publications printed onto tea towels (reinforcing the concept of "washed up") to offer us a glimpse of her academic career.
Joyce Stalker - Heartfelt: Excerpts from the publications of a washed up feminist academic
Leah Wald - Doily Series: Legal Alien
Sherril Jennings - Connections (detail)

Sandra Hall - La Fileuse -The Spinner

La Fileuse is the pianola roll into which Sandra Hall has added her stitching, knitting and weaving.

The Knitting & Stitching Show is still on in Harrogate today and tomorrow - go see!

Monday 23 November 2015

Making My Own Walnut Ink

Walnut husks after boiling

Earlier in the autumn I was lucky enough to be given a bag of walnut husks.  Although keen to explore the possibilities, I'm ashamed to say they sat in the kitchen in a plastic bag getting a bit mouldy and smelly for quite a number of weeks until I finally took action.  The aim was to make some walnut ink. I put them in an aluminium jam pan (one I only use for dyeing and such like - my actual jam making has been spectacularly unsuccessful - see below!)

Plum concrete - my first and only attempt at jam!

I was following a method in Alice Fox's book "Natural Processes in Textile Art".  The walnut husks were covered with water and boiled with the lid on the pan for a couple of hours.  I then strained the contents through some muslin.  This turned out to be quite a messy process (probably more so than it needed to be - involving several pans, lots of spills and walnut detritus everywhere!)
Walnut husk detritus after being strained through muslin

After straining, the remaining walnut liquid was boiled for two and a half hours to reduce it down.  I tested the colour and consistency at regular intervals.  After two and a half hours I let the liquid cool, then strained it through a sieve and bottled it.

Walnut ink tested for colour and consistency at regular intervals

Whilst boiling the liquid I also added some fabric to the pan.  In fact after washing out the muslin used for straining, I tore it in half and put half back in the pan with the walnut liquid.  Half way through the next stage of boiling I added some more fabric - which I think was polycotton.  Here are the results from the fabric dyeing after washing out.

Original muslin colour, colour after straining only, colour after boiling for 2 and a half hours

Polycotton fabric showing darker areas

The polycotton fabric turned out a similar shade to the muslin that had been used for straining but it did have patches that were darker.   I suspect this was a result of some deposit on the fabric causing the dye to be taken up much more in those places.  Also, I expect the fabric would have gone a darker shade if it had been 100% cotton.

Although the total time taken was as I have said, I kept having to stop and restart as daily life got in the way and it was a couple of days before I finally got to the end of the process and managed to bottle my ink:

Walnut ink - bottled and ready to use

I think I could have stopped sooner.  The ink I bottled was too thick to write with and needs diluting for use with pens.  Having established this - I added some water and began having a go with my new ink.

Now I just need to practise my writing skills!