Friday, 15 May 2009

New links to my weaving pages

I had an e-mail last week from a weaving friend asking where I had written about lashing-on. I couldn't find it myself straight off, in fact I had to use Google to find an entry in my own blog!

So now, for my own use and for the benefit of anyone else who can't find old entries, I have made a page to index my blogs about loom set up and weaving. See top left.

Yes, I've done a couple of other pages with links as well, UK weaving blogs and the web pages of professional handweavers in the UK.

I've also been writing a few book reviews for Amazon and joined Ravelry (Dot-knits).

But no weaving...

Why? I've got 'flu. Don't tell me swine flu is contained, I don't believe it!!

This one is more persistent than severe, but bad enough to stop me doing much - it's very limiting if you can't get your brain to concentrate on anything for more than 10 mins before needing to rest - but on the other hand it's surprising what you can do with odd ten minutes here and there.

I've found I can do a bit of long draw spinning, a bit of patchwork sewing (a quilt entirely handsewn that I started 8 years ago, maybe I'll finish it this year) a bit of reading, and hunting out and ordering some more books(!). This little stint has tired me out again, excuse me while a shut my eyes a bit.

Z z z z

Friday, 8 May 2009

Knitwear design

Surprise, surprise, another new book..(?) o.k. you already know, I collect books like nothing else...

This is a good one. The best bit is that having bought this book, there's a long list of other books I thought I might want that I can now say I don't need. I might borrow them from the library instead(!) but I have got myself a reference book that covers many different knitting techniques.

This book is splendid. Lots in it. Not too expensive, in fact, cheap for the range of knowledge and the beautiful clear instruction and photos. I am reading it steadily and it is giving me all sorts of ideas about things I could do in knitting. It's a book for anyone who wants to design any knitting, and the subject is colour. It probably says all you really need to know about colour and knitting.

It's very good on choosing colours to use together, knitting with different coloured yarns and multi-colour yarns and the effect stitch choices have, creating pattern effects in the colour, or random effects, and then special techniques: stranded knitting, intarsia, helix knitting, shadow knitting, mosaic knitting, twined knitting, double knitting (two layers at once), designing with modules (a.k.a patchwork knitting), entrelac. There's a nice "design workshop" section with basic garment design and most appropriately it ends up with finishing touches.

It is:

The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques, by Margaret Radcliffe, pub. Storey Publishing in the U.S., 2008, ISBN 978-1-60342-040-2

Sunday, 3 May 2009


I have been thinking about sketchbooks, prompted by Nigel and Peg who are both interested in approaching weaving from the angle of new design. Peg is now keeping a sketchbook on her computer - this link will give you a glimpse into Peg's e-sketchbook.

Nigel and Peg both like the book Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiders and Textile Artists, by Kay Greenlees, pub. Batsford, 2005, ISBN 0-7134-8957-X. I was able to order this from the Derbyshire Library Service - I can't say often enough how wonderful our local libraries are, they got this book in for an 80 pence request fee.

However, when I got home to read the eagerly awaited book, I was disappointed. It was so simple and basic. It tells you what a sketchbook is and what to do with it... well of course it does! What did I expect?

I forgot that we all come from different backgrounds. Our type script looks so similar on our blogs, but we are different people with different experiences of life. I read this book from the light of my own world view.

I had a really good and thorough art education at school, and have 30 years of all kinds of art & design experience. I could actually write a book like the one I was hoping for. I expected some sort of magic, but found something plain, practical and for me very elementary. I re-read the title - this book is, as it says, for embroiders and textile artists, it assumes nothing more. If you didn't do art at school, if you never used sketchbooks and learnt formal design processes, then do give this book a read, I'm sure it will be helpful.

One corner of my studio is already piled high with sketchbooks. In another, I have a large collection of photos organised in envelopes by subject matter. I am surrounded by books on art and design.

So, I still didn't answer this - what did I expect? I was looking for an explanation of how to work through from an image or idea to a finished design. Do I actually need a book that tells me that? Well, no I don't, and I found that this book is aimed at people who have not used sketchbooks. It is a book to encourage you to get yourself a sketchbook, to collect material, to make all sorts of little sketches from just playing with colour to actually drawing things around you. In fact, to draw anything and everything, and to collect scraps of this and that. It is a good book - it does exactly what it sets out to do. I don't like the pictures, but that's me being fussy, there's nothing wrong with them, I'd just like to re-do them - they could be better!! Ah ha! now you see it has got through to me after all....

However, my favourite books on design and sketching are:

Sketching Made Easy: a complete beginners guide, by Helen Douglas-Cooper, pub. Paragon Book Service Ltd, Great Britain, 1995, ISBN 0-7525-1092-4

Design in Embroidery, by Kathleen Whyte, B.T. Batsford Limited, Great Britain, 1969, ISBN 7134 2633 0

Ideas for Machine Embroidery, by Enid Mason, Mills & Boon, Great Britain, 1961,

designs for machine embroidery, by Ira Lillow, B T Batsford Ltd. Great Britain, 1975, ISBN 0 7134 3023 0

Don't be put off by "embroidery" in the titles of some of these - they are about looking at things, drawing sketches and developing designs.

Having read through the Kay Greenless book from the library, I picked up my camera and set off to spend 10 minutes collecting "sketches" that could help for design. First, for colour and texture, I love the bricks in this wall which is waiting to be replastered:

This wall is alongside the new staircase where I photographed my linen yarns recently. Looking down, here's my booted foot on the sycamore wood stairs. What an odd photo! Yes, but we are looking for design ideas. I like the colours in this photo, the indigo blue with soft tan and gold shades, the dark and light tones:

This next photo is for the rich green shades, but also the form of the leaves, and the way the stems of leaves relate to each other. It is close to being something you could easily lift and develop into an embroidery design, or a logo. The range of green shades with just a little of soft brown and deep brown in the background could be nice in a woven cloth:

I think the rich, bold colours in these next two photographs of wall flowers just speak for themselves, this is luxury, time for a silk stole, or fabric for a stunning jacket?

And here for the contrast a favourite thyme plant, against a piece of gritstone (bottom right). As you look at this, do you see slight pinky tones in the greys? Is it my imagination? I love those greens, the light and dark contrasts, the leaves with slightly rounded edges but pointy tips. How very different the more olive / yellow green of the moss on the stone.

Will I use any of these photos, develop any ideas from them? I don't think so. But it's good to have the habit of looking and thinking, there's a different way to looking at things when you are thinking of art & design and it's good to develop skills for seeing and learning from what you see.

So where am I at with sketchbooks? I have piles of sketches that never went anywhere. The really useful ones for me have been where I spent time exploring colours and those where I have taken a sketchbook to specifically research a choosen subject. Just filling notebooks with this and that is to me a good way to waste time. Sketches, for me, need a purpose, they need to be going somewhere, a means to an end. As you can see they are for Nigel and Peg!