Thinking about frames.

A while ago I read a comment in one of the blogs I follow, that the majority of the textiles, in an exhibition the writer had visited, were not framed, but just ‘pinned to the wall’. This resonated with me because I have always had reservations about framing textile pieces. Partly because it’s expensive and I’m a cheapskate, but more because I think framing rarely does textiles justice. Apart from the problem of reflections, so often the box and the glazing disguise and obscure the tactility and 3D-ness of the textiles. I quite like the technique of attaching them to a box frame, but then you are restricted by the sizes of box frames which are available.

This morning we visited one our favourite galleries with rather nice coffee shops attached. The exhibition included several felt pieces, most of which were framed. Although reflections weren’t a problem in this gallery, I still thought that the few which weren’t framed looked more interesting: the haptic appeal of the felt was more evident, and those pieces didn’t seem confined, as the framed ones did.

I also remembered a tutorial discussion, about framing textiles, with a (non textile) tutor at university. I didn’t take much notice of it at the time, because if you are making giant gloves, you don’t even consider framing them. But one of the questions he raised was whether people who work in textiles frame their work because, traditionally, pictures are framed – and pictures are, in some people’s minds, ‘real art’. So by framing a textile piece we may be trying to position it in the that context.

Thinking back, none of my colleagues in the textile group at university did frame their degree show work – and I don’t think any of the painters did either. And in the gallery this morning, I think the only work which was framed, apart from the textiles, were prints of water colours by Prince Charles, and drawings by Queen Victoria. Make of that what you will. 

So now I’m thinking about revisiting my ‘Year of Stitches’ pieces, and considering what I might need to do to them if they were to be displayed ‘pinned to the wall’ – assuming I found a gallery which would let me do that!

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Adventures in Seeing #3: Welcome the Unexpected?

Unfortunately, sometimes the unexpected is very difficult to welcome. Shortly after I started taking photos for this topic, something very sad happened within the family.  We had, to some extent, seen it coming, but it still arrived very suddenly, with no warning. The dust has not settled yet, but for the foreseeable future we are likely to have significant changes to our lives, and we’ve had to put long term plans on hold. It’s not all bad news though – we will be seeing more of some of our dearest family members, and I think it may be for the best in the long run.

But it has meant that Adventures in Seeing got put on the back burner, and my creative spark is currently out to lunch. 


I have kept up with Creative Sprint, which has been a life saver – I can do as much or as little as I can manage, and it’s about playing  rather than making ‘art’. 

I’ve managed a little bit on the new Year of Stitches sampler, which I started before the news broke. The background is canvas and Bondaweb coloured with Inktense blocks, and then sheers added. Given that these are not at all my usual colours, I’m surprised I have so many threads that work. It needs concentration though, and I don’t have a lot – it took four goes to get the spacing of the bottom line correct. I’m also finding it difficult to make decisions about how to proceed, so it progresses slowly.

The knitting has been the biggest victim: I’ve shelved the sampling, which demands more brain space than I currently have available, but I have a relatively mindless scarf on the needles which I can just about manage, albeit with frequent mistakes. I suspect it will be a scarf I never wear, because of the memories associated with it, but it keeps my hands busy. 

So that’s why I’ve been MIA. Curiously, I’ve been sleeping really well since the bomb dropped, and managing to control any tendency to brood. But last night I had a really bad night – so maybe things are getting back to normal…

Samplers, samples and experiments.

I’m really enjoying this Year of Stitches sampler. I’m much more process than product driven, so I like this sort of piece, where I just get started and follow the ideas that come up as I’m working. It doesn’t always work – it didn’t for the first Year of Stitches sampler, but I’ve realised that it works better if I put down some guidelines when I start, though I am very likely to change my mind later. This one started with wave-like lines across the fabric, but as you can see, they morphed into leaves and petals.

Unfortunately, the Frixion pen I used to draw the lines has left marks on the fabric so it’s a good job I’m not so worried about the product. I’ve had it happen before on coloured paper, but not on fabric. This is hand-dyed with Procion, so maybe Frixion and Procion don’t get on – I know Procion is supposed to discharge with bleach.

The experiments didn’t work. I’ve had some alcohol inks for ages, and never done much with them, so I decided to have a play. They worked OK on various bits of plastic, spread with some felt in a bulldog clip, but I wasn’t wildly excited by the results. I read somewhere that you can drip them into water and marble them, so I gave it a go. 

The results were so awful I didn’t even take photos. I think the ink set as soon as it hit the water. The white just went into clumps,   and the other colours  were reluctant to marble. I did dip sheets of plastic into the mess and some ink was picked up, but as it dried it just flaked off. So I put the results down to experience and in the bin.

The knitted samples aren’t very exciting either. I’ve found when I make my SKO’s that I tend to use the same few base patterns and some of them don’t  lie flat.


So I’m working my way through Nicky Epstein’s ‘Knitting in Circles’. I shan’t try all 100, because:

a) some have seams and I refuse to sew up seams;

b) some of them, like the really lacy ones, are probably unsuitable – although it might be interesting to try one or two;

c) I shall get bored. 

The icord knitting hasn’t gone away. I currently have 4 on the go. The 7 metre blue one is in the process of being coiled into a bowl/basket, but the process is hard on my arthritic hands, so it proceeds slowly. The yellow one has been sewn into a loopy thing (in both senses of the word) and is awaiting the addition of beads and French knots. The shorter blue one will be wired, unless a better idea comes to me. And I have a brown one on the needles, which is progressing slowly for icord. In theory if I slip stitches at regular intervals it should become kinky – although there is no sign of it doing so yet. The problem is that, to ensure the slip stitches come in the right places, I have to chant ‘1 2 3 slip’ as I knit – there are 3 stitches so this means that the slip stitch moves one stitch over each row. Should be easy? It isn’t. It’s a bit like meditating in that my mind wanders, and I find myself just counting ‘1 2 3’. Which does not work.

The openness photographs have fallen by the wayside a bit, but I hope to find a few more before I move on the next topic in the middle of the week. There is this one, though. Guess which book this is?

Procrastinating, yet again.

Over the last few days I’ve allowed myself to be distracted from both my year of stitches and my knitting sampling. I’ve done a little embroidery, just enough to keep to the rules. But after I tried to knit letters into the sample and made a hash of it, somehow I found myself procrastinating about the procrastination that the sampling is.

The major consumer of time has being going through the ring binders full of stuff which I have collected – tear sheets from magazines, print outs, course notes etc. I have had purges in the past – it often seems to happen about this time of the year, probably the nearest I get to spring cleaning. However, this time I have been more than usually determined: I realised that if I want to look something up, I Google it rather than trying to find the information on my overcrowded shelves.


So this is what I’ve got left. Yes, this is the ‘after’ photo – there was probably twice as much before. Obviously there is still a lot I ought to get rid of – perhaps next year… I did enjoy arranging the rainbow, although it means there is no logical sense to the arrangement, and it takes ages to find the file I want. But at least I know where to put it back.

In the middle of all this, I found instructions for making a crochet cord out of odds and ends of embroidery floss. I can’t imagine why I kept it, because I’m not an enthusiastic crocheter, and why would I want a crochet cord? However I do like knitting Icord – it’s so mindless and relaxing. And I have a lot of tapestry wool, most of it inherited from my mother, which means it’s at least 25 years old. I shall never use it for canvaswork, so why not knit it?


I used three ends together, on 10 mm needles – and in about an hour I’d used up 9 skeins. The colour isn’t very exciting, I started with the least interesting one. Of course I had to put it in the washing machine:  before’ on the left,  after’ on the right. It shrank by about 50% in length, and 25% in diameter. I like the way the colours blend after felting.

And I know what it looks like – let’s be charitable and say a Cumberland sausage. I have no idea what I’ll do with it, it’s ‘just a sample’.


This one, however, will not be felted and will become a scarf. 

The next one (this is would be a lengthy procrastination if they weren’t so quick to knit) will be in Appleton’s wool, so thinner, and will be felted. No idea what I’ll do with that one either – there are several suggestions on the internet, including knitting and weaving with them, and making a model brain. Those obviously need a lot of Icord, but I do like the weaving idea… and then maybe I can try crocheting cords with thread?

Time for some embroidery, I think.

It’s been a long time…

during which I went round in circles like a headless chicken, trying to decide where my muse was taking me, apart from up shit creek without a paddle. Most of the good intentions I wrote about in my last post came to nothing. I did some playing around with marks, but it didn’t really lead anywhere. I think I did do some mindless knitting, although I cannot remember what it was.* Nothing much happened in November, December was hectic, and our very quiet Christmas allowed much needed R&R. 

But somewhere in the middle of all that, I restarted  my own knitting, and managed to produce some things which varied from satisfactory to quite exciting.


Which woke the muse up and got me going again. 

So here are my next group of Strange Knitted Objects. 


The top row is a collection of samples, waiting to be felted tomorrow – if I finish the WIP on the left in time. The one below is a prospective resolved SKO, although I’ve had to pull it back once as the shaping didn’t work out. The yarn is a blend of Hebridean wool and ‘Yorkshire’ alpaca, bought – I kid you not – from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Strange the things you come across on on Etsy, when you’re looking for something else. It’s lovely to knit with, we’ll see how it felts.

I’ve also signed up for One Year of Stitches. I’ve realised that my hands are not really up to a lot of embroidery any more, but a little bit every day is doable, no pressure, low stress and fun. So much fun that I started a second hoop. You will notice that a hand crept in there, which I rather like. There be another one, or more.

 My aim is to fill each hoop completely by the end of the year, if not sooner, and to use up as much stash as possible. This is 10 days worth. Disappointingly little stash reduction has taken place.


* I think it was a pair of socks.

I have resumed…

Making Something Every Day Week Occasionally. Above is number 44, below is number 47. (I jump around depending on mood and inspiration.) As usual, I haven’t stuck precisely to the brief, preferring to use up stash when I can.


The mandala was also influenced by Esté MacLeod’s ‘Creative Leap’ on-line course, which is great if, like me, you lack confidence in drawing.

In other news, I have resumed my exploration of strange knitted objects.  I have been trying out different ways of knitting a circle, starting from the middle, which is my preference.  The method I used for this one gives you concentric rings separated by multiple increases, so I worked alternating circles in DK wool and a much finer slub cotton. It’s small because I only had a little bit of wool left, so I knitted till it ran out. Then I washed it, and it went all lumpy and bumpy – I think the cotton may have shrunk a bit as well. 


I blocked it over the top of a jar, and Wensleydale suggested I made colour coded jar covers. He was joking. I think. I hope.

Despite its strangeness, I like it. Now to try out how big I can make one before it turns into a pancake.

This is also strange but likeable, despite looking like a decorative plant pot cover. Grey and white because I think the colour detracts from it, and it’s incredibly difficult to photograph – this was my third attempt. I have proved to my own satisfaction that you can felt knitted lace, even if it’s not very lacy. Now to find out how tall and how holey I can make one before it falls down – and how to get bigger holes.