More ideas

5.  Haiku Tins (photo to follow).  I found a good source for tins with aperture lids recently, and have woven several freeform pieces to fit the different sizes.  For the smallest tin (pencil box-sized),  I tried something a bit different.  Using beautiful yarns in graduating variegated shades, I wrapped the yarn, rather than wove.  This is a ridiculously simple thing to do, but because of the blending and shading in these particular yarns, really very effective in the end result.  I think of them as meditations on colour, which led me circuitously round to haiku.  After reading quite a lot of haiku, and being aware of them as a source of strong natural imagery, I decided that they suited these wrapped tins perfectly.  So I have bought some recycled fibre paper, onto which I will print individual haiku, and a little collection of these printed slips of haiku will fill each tin.  (Obviously if someone has an alternative use for the tin, they are welcome to remove the haiku, once they have bought it!)  If you like haiku, can I strongly recommend ‘Clear Light’ by Alan Spence?   The Haiku Tins will contain a mix of traditional and contemporary haiku.

Night swallows dew-damp meadow / casting velvet shadows / that will pass
Spring evening

6.  Meditations.   I’ve woven a few freeform pieces for the craft fair, and while they evolve quite naturally, I also find that after weaving one, I tend to want to go back to basics, back to the basic, essential flow of weaving.  The wrapped Haiku Tins gave me the idea to just weave a very plain block, allowing the colours of the yarn to do all the work for me.  This allows me to really get lost in the rhythmic, soothing process of weaving, and becomes a meditation on both the process and the random evolution of the colours.  The pieces you see to left and right are examples, unframed thus far.

Muddy fields
Muddy fields

My idea is to frame them, individually, in very plain, simple wooden frames.  Within the frame will also be a handwrtten haiku, composed by me, relating to the images evoked by the weaving.  I love the clarity and economy of haiku, the condensed images retaining a simple appreciation of the mysteries of the world around us.  I think they work perfectly with the meditative process involved with the weaving of these pieces.  I’m in no way claiming that my own haiku compare with the masters of the genre; but the pieces are personal to me, and using my own poetry makes them even more so.  I guess it gives the viewer of the work an insight into my own perceptions, whether they agree or not.

Fading autumn sunlight,
glowing
over muddy fields

Night swallows spring evening,
casting shadows
that will pass

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Ideas, continued (expanded, modified, added to etc)

Since my last post about ideas for the craft fair, Gossamer Bookmarks have fallen by the wayside.  They did, however, lay the groundwork for idea number 3:

3.  Patch Pouch.  I have found a good supplier of plain cotton canvas

Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!
Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!

pouches, which I have bought up stock of, for packaging kits and artworks.  It occurred to me that some of the smaller pouches could be decorated with a simple patch of weaving.  The weaving area is smaller and therefore less time-consuming to produce than the bookmarks (I increased the weaving time marginally by weaving an additional square directly onto the first patch).  I used a lower gauge canvas (13ct) and a thicker yarn, resulting in a nice, sturdy little patch which was then ironed onto a canvas pouch.

Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!
Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!

4.  Swirl Pouch.  Although this funky little pouch (just big enough for a mobile phone) will be available to buy at the fair, it is NOT something I will be going into mass production of!  My husband is a jazz musician, and I wove this during a gig he played with Arun Ghosh a couple of weeks ago.  Despite the curvy edges, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  I know I am supposed to strive for even edges in tapestry, but in this case I really think the curves enhance the design.  Although I can’t say I was weaving in response to the music, it is an entirely freeform design (slightly different on both sides) that created itself.  Although I do think people would like these pouches, I don’t think I could charge enough for one to justify the time it took to weave.  Shame, though.

Seems that I can only manage a couple of ideas at a time.  Watch this space – more to follow, shortly…

Ideas

With the craft show looming (sorry) at the end of the month, I’ve been focusing on getting stock together.  But of course, rather than being actually focused, I have simply been stalked by new ideas, which I have then had to try out (some have worked, some not).  So I think it would be fair to say that my merchandise will be a fairly eclectic collection, with not more than a handful of any one concept.  There’s still time, though, so I might be able to increase quantities in some areas, yet (if I manage to keep additional ideas at bay).  I don’t really mind; there’ll always be another craft fair that I will have more time to prepare for.  But the long and the short of it is probably simply that I don’t have the inclination/discipline to create multiples of similar items.  Not consecutively, at least.

Anyway, here are some of the ideas I’ve been working on (pictures to be added shortly; sorry):

Oddballs1.  Oddballs.  These are little creatures (approx. 2-3″ tall) woven and stuffed with the leftover oddments of yarn, so every one is different.   I guess they will appeal to kids, and to those drawn to amigurumi.  My husband thinks they’re the best thing I’ve ever done, which is lucky, as all of the prototypes appear to have congregated on his desk…  The principle behind them for me is that I would rather use than discard short lengths of yarn, and they are quick to make.  But they are cute.  Feature-wise, I have given them blank expressions deliberately, because the marketing feature is that they are, essentially, an afterthought.  Oddballs will come in individual little cotton drawstring pouches, with the label: “I am an Oddball.  I just want to be loved.” (Currently superimposed on the picture above left.)   Emotionally manipulative?  Me?  😉

2.  Gossamer bookmarks.  The Oddballs are one of those little extras I think people will pick up because they’re cute and comparatively cheap.  But other people will find Oddballs a little whimsical, so the Gossamer Bookmark is the alternative quick-to-make souvenir item for those who don’t want to splash out.  The bookmarks are woven on 18ct tapestry canvas strengthened by a piece of card (glued to the canvas so that only a single row of holes are visible around the edge of the card).  The canvas is warped from end to end, by passing the needle through every other hole along the shortest edges.  Then using the same length of thread (I used a fine spun silk) I wove over and under the warp threads from side to side.  At each side, the needle passes through the canvas and back to the right side 2 holes along.  Once the bookmark is woven from top to bottom, I withdraw the outer thread of the tapestry canvas along each side of the ‘loom’.  All the edge loops can then be easily (carefully) slid from the loom, releasing the finished bookmark.  Because of stitching through the canvas at the sides thoughout the weaving process, the sides consist of even loops from top to bottom, and there is no danger of ‘drawing-in’.  The resulting bookmark is very delicate, though, and needs something extra to substantiate/protect it.  I thought about laminating, so that it would look like the bookmark is floating, but it’s not a very eco-friendly solution.  I think it would look nice mounted on a piece of textured, handmade paper or card, so that people could still touch the actual threads and textures.  Or in a world I have not yet investigated, I know there are stabilisers for delicate fabrics and clever disolving things, so perhaps I can do something with that.  (Any advice, or websites you can direct me to?)

The woven bookmark precipitated another idea that is still in the germination stages; but the process does create a very evenly spaced fabric (unlike densely packed tapestry) that is crying out to be embroidered…

There are more ideas, but the next two are related, and I’m running out of time, so I will post again, shortly…

Gorgeous, creative needlepoint to inspire

I came across this design whilst browsing. I don’t think it’s especially new, but I think it is gorgeous, with a really innovative use of different canvaswork stitches for texture, and wonderfully vivid depth of colour.  I beieve the designer is Rose Swalwell of Derwentwater Designs, who (if I’m correct) studied at the Royal School of Needlework.

Red Poppy Canvas Work Kit by Derwentwater Designs
Red Poppy Canvas Work Kit by Derwentwater Designs

At only £13.50 for a complete kit it’s an absolute bargain, and a wonderful way to get started with more creative needlepoint.  (You can buy online here & probably lots of other places, too!)

Colours and crafts

Colours are a hugely personal experience, and while in design terms there are rules and reasoning why some combinations work and others don’t, it’s still true that two people can experience the same colours in entirely different ways.  I found the poem below on a website called Plant Dyed Wool which runs courses on dyeing wools with natural dyes, as well as weaving and felting the results.

I’ve tried dyeing my own embroidery threads before and loved the results, but found it too time consuming to keep up (if I wanted to do any stitching/designing, too).  There’s somehing very appealing about natural dyeing, though, and I’m going to get around to trying it out one day.  I love tapestry weaving (my header above is an extract from one of my small pieces) but have just in the last couple of days started hankering to go back to basics with some ‘pure’, solid, traditional weaving on an old-fashioned peg loom – nothing fancy, just simple, cleansing ‘zen’ weaving, for its own sake.

[I find that I go through phases of stitching then switching back to weaving, then back to stitching again.  They’re very different crafts, but have the reassuring familiarity of working with threads, fibres, wools etc.  There’s a project coming that will combine weaving, needlework, music, and possibly some fiction, too, once I’ve completed this exploration of bargello.  There’ll be a break for a while from the appearance of new designs, but I am looking forward to putting my time and energies into it, and I think the results will be worth it.]

It was on the search for a peg loom that I stumbled across the Plant Dyed Wool site.  Theirs are the only peg looms I have found with character (click here to see what I mean), made out of gorgeous grained, knotted natural wood, rather than wood with the life planed out of it.  Anyway, to return to the point, it was on this site that I discovered the poem below, written by Skye, the daughter of the dyeing-weaving-felting lady, Jane Meredith.  I love the vivid colours that streaks through it, and found it very evocative.

Blue fingers planted this garden

Where there is gold in the petals and leaves

Where green breathes

Then turns blue

Blue softly turns pink

As it dies by the river

And wool white as a swan

Is dipped

Kingfisher red

Bobbin Along – another freeform bargello experiment

Bobbin Along Bargello (freeform) (c) TangleCrafts 2008
Bobbin Along Bargello (freeform) (c) TangleCrafts 2008

It’s another WIP, as (once more!) I have run out of the thread I need to complete the border…  I am also still at the mercy of a temperamental printer/scanner but I’m trying to work around it!

This design posed some interesting challenges for me, although I had learned from ‘Marble Waves’.  I was careful to stretch the bobbin ‘thread’ to fill the first triangular quadrant of the design, so that there would be fewer issues where the mitred corners of the 4-way design meet.  It is still by no means a smooth transition but I think the ‘swooping’ nature of the curves disguises the inconsistency reasonably well, and (by default) actually creates a nice, almost overlapping 4-way pattern when viewed from a slight distance.

Stitching this design prompted various ideas for variations, which I will hopefully have time to explore at a another time.  I like the way a ‘sheet’ of bargello appears to drop behind another bargello wave that crosses in front of it, a result of the ‘thread’ twisting over and around itself.   I think this effect would be emphasised if I worked it on a bigger cut of canvas, increasing the size of the ‘thread’ swirls.  I think it would also be interesting, if working the piece to a larger scale, to make the bargello following the contours of the ‘thread’ into a ribbon of bargello, rather than continuing downwards o fill the quadrant, as it currently does.  This would leave more of the plain, geometrically striped background visible, and add emphasis to the curves contrasting against it.

I also wondered about using a different colour scheme either for the bargello or the plain background.  Again, I think this would only really work if the piece were larger, and more of the background visible.  But the bargello could be in shades of pink-to-plum, to match the bobbin ‘thread’, against a background of contrasting moss-green shades.  I think this would work best combined with the bargello-as-ribbon idea.

Stitching this design has also kick-started the idea for my next design project.  I added the whipped backstitch ‘thread’ in pink as the last step of the central panels, so before it was added, I could just see the green curves against green curves.  Perhaps largely because they were in green (!) this made me think of rolling hills, which prompted me in the direction of a bargello landscape.  This is not exactly a new idea – one of my very first bargello projects was ‘High Desert Stars’ by Iona Dettelbach (shown right), a chart distributed by Rainbow Gallery (click here for my review of Iona Dettelbach’s latest bargello book) – but it set me to thinking about it, and I have something semi-visualised in my head that I am looking forward to realising in stitch.  I’m not sure yet if it will be a 4-way design, like the others (so far) in this series of freeform bargello experimentation.  I’m considering a panelled piece.  But we’ll see how it develops…  Watch this space!

Freeform Bargello – ideas & inspiration

Thanks to Janet Perry & her blog for alerting me to this very cool concept in freeform bargello, designed and stitched by Terry Dryden: Pear design.

Lots of bargello patterns create a 3D optical illusion, but it had never occurred to me until seeing this WIP to use freeform bargello in terms of shading for a pictorial design.  It would work for 3 dimensions in less fluid, geometric patterns, too, if you wanted to stick with a more formal bargello filling.

I really love this idea.  I feel some experimentation coming on…!