I include in this section felting with wool (which our German friend, Sabine Bruns, taught me), sewing, weaving, knitting and rug-making – as well as ‘painting’ with textiles, the latest technique I have learned.
‘PAINTING’ WITH TEXTILES
I attended a day’s online Zoom workshop in March 2022 with North Yorkshire artist Justine Warner who has developed a way of using a wide range of recycled fabrics (especially ties!) and threads to mix and overlay colours to produce lovely landscapes. This is the picture (of Broad Haven beach in Pembrokeshire) which I started in the workshop and completed over the next few days. I loved the freedom, unpredictability and surprising effects and textures of the medium.
Below: details from the picture which show the hundreds of lines of machine-stitching
I have knitted on and off all my adult life. My first big project was knitting a cardigan for Roger when we were students in the mid 1960s which he still has. I have knitted various children’s sweaters and identical cot blankets for the first baby each of our children had although sadly I have only poor photos of two of them.
In the expectation of having great-grandchildren over the next 20+ years, I have started knitting a baby blanket (using the same pattern) for each of our ten grandchildren’s first babies on the grounds that I may not still be here for all of the first babies! I am lining them all this time, to make them last longer, and doing some outline embroidery to fix the lining to the blanket at all the intersections of the little knitted squares. Here are the first few – with matching soft toys.
I made the first blanket from un-dyed natural alpaca wool handspun using simple wooden tops by women and girls in Peru whom we visited in their villages in 2013. They spin even whilst walking! It is the women and girls who spin and weave, but it’s the older men who knit.
Below: the first baby blanket, made with natural, and quite roughly spun, alpaca wool
I made the second blanket from UK alpaca wool mixed with 25% sheep’s wool. Alpaca wool is very strong and doesn’t shrink or felt whereas untreated sheep’s wool does!
It took me six years to knit 88 large squares for a blanket for our bed!
I followed a pattern, using a cream colour and three shades of mauve/purple. I was left with only few scraps of wool! The last 10cm of the border (which was not in the original pattern) had to be knitted in one of the darker wools as I ran out of the mauve colour! We started using it on our bed about four years ago, when it was about two thirds finished, and then had a long break before getting going on it again. Sadly, the colours of the blanket faded badly during that time, so the part I have knitted in the last year is much brighter!
I lined it with a brushed cotton floral print, hand-stitching it round the edges and along all the seams between each of the 88 large squares, to give it more strength. It is now safe to wash in a machine. I stitched strips of the fabric to the pillow and duvet covers and hand-stitched a label. (Finished size: 190cm x 147cm)
While we were saving up as students to get married in 1967, instead of going out, we bought a Ryagarn kit and made this shaggy rug together, working at opposite ends. A few years later, we made a second rug to our own design using left-over wool. They are made by looping and knotting lengths of wool through the holes of special rug canvases.
The process of felting takes a long time and is quite hard work! Other threads and fabrics can be incorporated or stitched on at the end.
Felting pictures on the walls in our craft room
This felting picture was inspired by Kandinsky and is a combination of one felting piece done by each of the grandchildren as well as me and Roger in 2015. I stitched them together and backed them before framing.
For an explanation of this piece of felting, click on this LINK.
In March 2020, along with millions of others around the country at the beginning of the Coronavirus Lockdown, I made a rainbow to stick in the front window. Instead of painting, I felted it and then stitched the words “Promise for a Better Future for the Whole World” in the appropriate colours so that they don’t stand out but can only be seen by those who look more closely.
I used my felting machine for the first time to make a wedding card for Becky and Rob who got married on 11th June 2021. I felted the wool onto some of the material from the bridesmaids dresses (two of which I had to shorten) and then embroidered and embellished it before sticking it onto a card.
Over the years, I have made countless clothes for all the family, as well as a number of bridesmaids’ dresses, most of which I don’t have photos of. I also made a set of Winnie the Pooh soft toys for the children, but only three remain.
I made these dresses and hairbands for Christmas 2006 for all five granddaughters (and the floral one below for Maggie, my Goddaughter in Teso, Uganda). I also made fleece gilets and hats for Sam and Adam.
‘SCRIBBLING’ with my sewing machine
I have discovered the fun of using embroidery fabric stabiliser to scribble with my sewing machine, using different stitches and decorative threads, to create lacy numbers Libby’s 18th birthday and Tessa and Matt’s 30th wedding anniversary.
The family gave Roger an 8-shaft weaving loom for his 60th birthday in 2005.
NB: These rugs are Roger’s work, not mine! But I wanted to show them off.
Roger and I went to a short weaving course at Loughborough University run by Emily Whitesmith and were then inspired to get going again on the 8-shaft loom which the family gave Roger for his 60th birthday.
Samples of weaving I did on the short course
We have been taking it in turns to weave enough fabric each to make cushion covers, experimenting with different patterns. Warping up was a somewhat complicated, very long and tedious task which required threading 600 very long fine strands through individual holes whilst keeping them untangled and all under the same tension!
Finally, having worked out our idividual patterns and which levers to lift for every row, weaving can get underway!
We still haven’t finished all the individual lengths so there are no cushions to show yet!