Wednesday 28 June 2017

Brilliant Birds Fly into Rowntree Park

Who's that ready to fly into Rowntree Park, York?

The car was packed, the weather was cloudy but it looked like the rain might hold off.  I set off optimistically to meet Deborah New to install the Brilliant Birds Yarnstorm in Rowntree Park, York.

Base Camp

Needless to say the rain didn't hold off.  It was a horrid wet day but the Brilliant Birds Installation is now in place.  Deborah and I elicited help from Lily and Cath and together we managed to put it up. 
Lily & Deborah hard at work

We were also helped by hot drinks and scones from Rowntree Park Cafe - without which we would certainly have flagged!  (No scone pics - they were demolished far too quickly for that.)
Making a start


And then it was up

and finished

So if you're passing don't forget to post your pics of the #BrilliantBirds - we'd love to see them.  The birds will be in place for about a month, coming down towards the end of July 2017.

and even the tree was in place

And most importantly, the Brilliant Birds are supporting St Leonard's Hospice which is an independent charity, providing specialist palliative care and support for local people with life limiting illnesses. Whilst their care is free of charge to patients and their families it is not free to provide. So, after the birds come down, they will be sold in the St Leonard's Hospice shop at 5 Scarcroft Rd, York, YO23 1ND.  The birds will go on sale on Saturday 26 August 2017.  Do go along and buy some.  Alternatively, you can donate online here and please mention Brilliant Birds in your reason for donating.

and finally!

If you want to read more about the project, the details are here.  Click on the links for information about the workshops we held at Olive's Nest, Rowntree Park Cafe, The Golden Ball and The Winning Post. Or if you want to see our mention in Craft & Design Magazine click here.  However if your interest is more craft based you may want to check out the Brilliant Bird Patterns, read about the hula hoop woven birds, the big knitted owl or even extreme knitting a tree. And finally you may be inclined to read about the exploits of the Fairfax Court Yarnstormers - they have been great supporters or our yarnstorming projects since we began! 

Deborah & I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made birds for us, whether in the workshops or at home.  We had over 80 people taking part, making 600 really brilliant birds!  Thanks also go to the workshop venues for having us, to the Friends of Rowntree Park for sponsoring us and to Boyes, who also supported us.  Hope you all love the #BrilliantBirds.  Go see!

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Extreme Knitting & A Tree

Extreme Knitting - A Tree in Progress

If anyone asks what I've been doing recently I'll say,"Knitting a tree," which will no doubt confirm their worst fears that I am in fact completely bonkers! And I expect if they saw the size of my extreme needles they'd be certain of it. 

First batch of extreme yarn - 2.8kg

It's not quite that simple however as such big needles (50mm diameter) require extreme yarn!  So the first task is always to prepare some yarn.  First I gathered together some suitable materials - curtains (a lifesaver from the charity shop as they were already the right colour!), an old brown tablecloth, a dark brown fabric remnant, then an old sheet, the curtain linings from the charity shop curtains and some blankets, all of which I dyed.  They ended up various shades from terracotta to brown to grey.  Next I cut them all up into long strips, 3.5cm to 5cm wide (1.5 to 2 inches).  I rolled them up into balls and knitted them into a tree using 2-3 balls at a time.

More yarn - 1.5kg
That sounds all very straightforward but I kept running out of yarn and having to either cut up more or dye and cut up more.  In the end I used almost 400 metres of yarn weighing about 4.3 kilos.  And, funnily enough, the resulting tree is uniquely coloured!

Knitting (detail)

I did manage to finish the tree but couldn't lay it out anywhere inside to see how it looked - so I took it into the garden....

Tree knitting

I only have a small garden and it took up most of it!  Once down, I added a few leaves and the odd bird and took another look...

Tree with leaves and birds

It'll be in Rowntree Park, York in June as part of the Brilliant Birds Installation supporting St Leonard's Hospice (#BrilliantBirds).  You can read about the Brilliant Birds Yarnstorm here.  My tree still needs stabilising which will be quite a job so I hope the weather stays nice for it.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Tree, birds and person!

And in case you needed an idea of scale, there's a small person in the above pic to help you visualise it.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Significance at Gawthorpe Hall

Alice Kettle - Lost Limb (detail)

On at Gawthorpe Hall, Significance is a textile exhibition of work by staff and students from the Manchester School of Art, inspired by the Gawthorpe Textile Collection. The Textile Collection was amassed by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, the last member of the Shuttleworth family to live at Gawthorpe Hall.  'Miss Rachel' was passionate about textiles and collected lace, costume, fabrics and textile pieces from around the world and used them as a teaching resource and to inspire people to craft and create.   

Georgia Heaton
Hermione Crowe
Tabitha Muggeridge
Gawthorpe Textiles Collection Pieces

In the exhibition, as well as Alice Kettle, Georgia Heaton, Hermione Crowe & Tabitha Muggeridge, don't miss Lisa Baraona, Nigel Hurlstone, Lynn Setterington, Jane McKeating and more.  On until 25 June 2017, you still have time to catch the Significance exhibition.

(Thanks to Rachel Pilling for the photos after my own camera ran out of charge!)

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Fairfax Court Yarnstormers Make Brilliant Birds

Fairfax Court Yarnstormers - Jean, Hazel, Edna & Doreen

Stalwarts of the yarnstorming scene in York, the Fairfax Court Yarnstomers - Jose Smith, Edna Shilleto, Doreen Feetenby, Jean Elliott & Hazel Laws, never fail to impress and today was no exception.  Over the last 5 years, the Fairfax Court Knit & Natter Group have participated in all my community yarnstorming projects, coming up trumps every time.  Having been to see them earlier in the year to tell them about the Brilliant Birds Yarnstorm, I went along recently to pick up their offerings and was frankly blown away.

A Truly Enormous Partliament of Owls

A Very Cute Flock of Robins, Blue Tits & Other Round Birds

Lovely Stitched Birds from Hazel

Fab Birds Knitted to the Sue Stratford Blackbird Pattern

Doreen's Sue Stratford Pattern Hummingbirds Roosting in the Outdoors

In all, there were over 250 additions to the #BrilliantBirds flock.  Jose, who made a large number of the above and couldn't be with us for the handover, is the team leader and keeps everyone on track and upto date with all the news.


What can I say except thank you so much ladies, you're amazing!

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Lasting Impressions: Cloth Taxonomies at Salts Mill, Saltaire

You may remember that last year on a trip to the Saltaire Arts Trail, I took part in textile artists, Hannah Lamb & Claire Wellesley-Smith's Lasting Impressions project which you can read about here. To put you in the picture, we were asked to leave imprints of our clothing on small porcelain tiles and in doing so, to consider the value of cloth and clothing and to complete an information tag about the garment.  One year on, the artists were back in the Spinning Room at Salt's Mill, so I went to see how the project was developing.

The Lasting Impressions project laid out

The imprinted tiles had all been fired... 

Imprinted fired tiles

My tile, 234, bearing an imprint of my cardigan, was there too...

My tile is no. 234

The garment information collected on the tags last year, was being used to create a series of weavings.

Finished woven strips

The fibres identifed as making up the garments were selected and woven into fabric strips incorporating the information tag.
Table showing various fibres


Fibres on cones to be selected for weaving

I worked on no. 27 and was given the tile and the tag in a cardboard box.  I had to weave a section of the fabric strip using the information on the tag.  It said that garment was made of viscose and polyester.  From the cones hanging above one of the tables I chose two strands of fibre - one viscose, one polyester, each about 2 metres long.  Next I threaded the tag onto the fibres so that it was in the middle of the length of fibres.

Tag 27

Table loom

Under instruction, I operated the table loom so the fibres and tag were incorporated into the woven strip of fabric.  A piece of red thread identified the start and end of my weaving.  Once my weaving was completed, the associated tile was stored away such that the tiles moved from drawers at one end of the display to the other end as their information was catalogued through the weaving process.  The loom was now ready for sometime to carry on and catalogue no. 28.

My completed weaving for garment no. 27 lies between the two lines of red thread

It was interesting to see the project develop and to be involved in this new stage.  Fibre content was the aspect Clare and Hannah had concentrated on, and the chosen method of development leant itself well to audience participation, also to exploring what the different textile fibres look and feel like and how woven fabric is made.  

What might be next?  They could explore the garments' country of origin, age or what people like about them.  Or perhaps they could scan the tiles and print out the textures on fabric and make some composite textural piece or country of origin based piece?  Who knows, we'll have to wait and see.