Thursday, 28 November 2013

Assignment 4 - Reflective Commentary

Time again to reflective back on the latest projects.

Did you have enough variety in your collection of yarns and other materials?
Yes I did have enough variety of yarns and other materials.  When I looked more closely at the collection of yarn I had, I realised that I had an example of most of the different varieties mentioned in the course material. 

Which kind of yarns, etc did you use most?
I tried to use as many different kinds of yarns as possible.  I haven't done any weaving before so didn't have a preference before hand. I do like working with yarns that have got slubs of unwoven wool followed by stretches that are more tightly woven.  I also really liked the result of using yarn that I had already crochet into a thread with bobbles and loops.

How do their characteristics affect the look and feel of each sample?
I like the way the slub yarn creates a very textured surface.  I don't think I have done enough weaving to analyse the feel of the fabric.  I can still only think of each exercise as a sample and not as a fabric to create something else.  I think the yarn I made by crocheting bobbles and loops made the most interesting surface that could have been worked onto further.

How did you find weaving in comparison to the other techniques you've tried?
I wasn't looking forward to the weaving exercises at all.  I have never done any weaving before and didn't have any equipment and weaving has never appealed to me.  However, I am pleased with the final sample I have created and will probably keep experimenting with different yarns.

Did you find it slow or too limiting?
I found the setting up of the loom quite laborious, but once I started weaving I didn't find it slow.  I didn't find it limiting but I wasn't trying to be too ambitious as this was my first attempt ever!

How do you feel about your finished sample?
I like my finished sample.  I think it has worked really well, there is shape and texture and I think it relates well to my original image inspiration.

Are you happy with the relationship of the textures, proportions, colour and pattern to the finished size?  I like the colours and textures and think the proportions are good.  The colours are not quite right, because I didn't realise at the start that I could really use any yarn, I thought it had to be strong.

Is there any part that you would want to change?
The only thing I would change is the colour.  I would have liked it to be more pink, but I think the colours I have used work well together but are not quite pink enough.  I didn't realise at the start that I could really use any type of yarn for the weaving, I thought it had to be strong and smooth.  I would just look for the colours I wanted to use.

Was there any stage in the whole design process that you felt went wrong?
The only thing I didn't do was make a detailed plan of how I was going to do the weaving.  I just did it as I went along and tried different ideas which seemed to work and look like I wanted them to look.  This was more luck than good planning, but as I didn't know what I could do I couldn't really plan it and had to just go with the flow.

How would you tackle this process differently another time?
The only way to tackle this would be to do a lot more weaving exercises so that I know what effects can be achieved and then know from the start what effects I was trying to create.

Which did you enjoy more - working from the source material or putting colours together intuitively and why?
I enjoyed putting colours together intuitively more, although I am always surprised by the outcomes of the exercises in the source material.  The paper weavings, which I have done plenty of in the past, produces some really good ideas to work from.  I do find that once I have got the colours onto a yarn wrap then I am able to focus better on the colours I am going to use.

Photography #4

Colour, Form, Texture

Sketchbook #4

I do struggle to work in my sketchbook regularly.  I think this is because I can't capture what I see and my drawings don't look like I expect them to.

There was a link on our OCA Facebook page to a series of drawing lessons on the Derwent website and I had a look at these.  I have found them really useful.  I have done two of the exercises on the Derwent website and I think it has improved my drawings.  Shoo Rayner - who teaches drawing and writes and illustrates children's books - is a great teacher.  He makes it really simple and explains things in a very easy to understand way.  

The first exercise was Shading 3D Objects and I produced this sketch following his instruction.

I then used these ideas to create this poppy seed head

and my tack (from a photograph)

The second exercise was Understanding Perspective for which I did this sketch

and then used the same method to sketch this stapler. 

I have also done a series of drawings using a fineline black pen to do the initial drawing and then I added colour using block paints watered right down.  I really like this way of drawing and think it will work well to get down on paper the things that inspire me.  I also like creating the colour blocks which creates an instant colour scheme to work from.

Project 9 - Woven Structures

I have never really done any weaving; it has never appealed to me, so I haven't got any equipment to work with.  I used a piece of stiff card and made a very simple loom to make a start.

Using the very basic loom I warped up using a strong linen.  I tried weaving with all types of yarn just to see what sort of effect I was able to achieve with very little equipment.

I think this has been really successful.  I like all of the textures that have been created with the different yarns.  The row of bobbles and loops was created by crocheting the yarn first and then using the resulting yarn to weave with.  I like the effect of the variegated slub yarn and the wool roving.  The only thing I would change about using this very basic cardboard loom would be to wind the warp yarn around instead of up and down.  I didn't really leave enough warp thread to knot the ends together when I had finished the piece.

I had wanted to try weaving with different fabrics, I first cut strips of fabric and wrapped them tightly in yarn.  I then used the pieces to weave onto the loom.

Sample 1
I used one of the images from Analysing Colour, Texture and Proportion from an earlier exercise in Project 8 as a starting point for my sample. 

I chose yarn that I thought represented the colours in the image and made a yarn wrap, any yarn that was too fine I doubled or tripled up.  I had bought a loom, I warped up using a fine, very strong linen yarn making sure there was an even number so that I could knot them together when I cut the piece off the frame, and used this strong yarn to make the heading cord to provide a firm base to start weaving from.  I cut lengths of my chosen yarns and made butterflies with them ready to weave.  I didn't make a graph paper chart, I just worked by referring back to the image.

Curved or Eccentric Wefts
I used curved wefts to create shapes in my sample.

I used the Soumak technique to create texture in my sample and to accentuate the curves created above.

Ghiordes Knot
I created these using some pieces of unspun, hand dyed wool.

I am pleased with my final piece.  I have never done any weaving before so it is a very basic sample, but I think it has worked well.

Project 8 - Yarns

I have got a large stash of knitting yarns because I have been knitting and crocheting for years and I can never resist buying yarn.  I looked through all my yarns and picked out a selection in all the categories from 100% wool and silk to nylon, polyester and acrylic mixes. The range of yarns available today is vast and ranges from the very cheap to the very expensive.  I like working with the more expensive yarns but they aren't without their problems, I find a lot of the Debbie Bliss yarns split when knitting with them.  For baby clothes and blankets that are in the wash all the time, I find the cheaper yarns with acrylic in them wash much better and keep their shape better.  Modern acrylics can also be soft and keep the softness through many washes. 

I have also looked at the more unusual yarns - video and cassette ribbon, wool roving, old tights, t-shirt yarn and plastic bag yarn.

Exercise 1
I made a series of paper weavings. I used an old sketch and gold foil, then tried a piece of striped scrapbook paper with the addition of thinner green strips.  I then used a patterned plastic and metallic foil.  I especially like this example with the foil strips woven through at an angle.  I then tried weaving with ripped strips of fabric adding a few embroidery stitches to hold it together.  I like how all of these examples have turned out. 

I also tried the same technique using fabric strips.  I like the way this has turned out.  A very quick way to get a patchwork effect.
Exercise 2

Stick Weaving
1. Using DK in 6 colours
2. Using DK acrylic in single colour
3. Using a mix of yarns and a stripe of a bobbly yarn
Woven (Hard)
4. Black and White plastic cord woven around in a square shape to produce a cord.
Plaiting (Rough)
5. Plaited zips
Twisted Cord
6. Same slub yarn as 7
Plaiting (Soft)
7. Slub yarn
8. Wool roving
Crochet (Rough)
9. Multi-coloured DK acrylic, crocheted into a chain, and then the chain crocheted again into a chain
10. Aran acrylic
11. Crofter DK - Acrylic/Cotton/Wool mix
French Knitting (Soft)
12. A long piece of French knitting in DK Acrylic, plaited together

Exercise 3
I started collecting ideas onto my Weaving Ideas Board board on Pinterest.  For my first piece I used a piece of chicken wire as the base. Using plarn (a strip of plastic cut from a bag) I first knitted a small piece and attached this to the base with short pieces of plarn knotted through the knit and the wire.  I then knotted the plarn round the chicken wire.  I also wrapped any bare wire with the plarn.  I like the way this piece has worked I like the different textures and the open pieces with the bare wire covered in fabric.  

The second sample is a piece of open worked crochet that I used as a grid and through which I then wove other yarns and knotted them on all sides.  I like how this piece looks but wish I had used some different colours.

Exercise 4
Inspired by beach finds ...

... I started the grid with four pieces of driftwood which I constructed into a square with string wrapping at each corner.  The same string forms the grid in the centre.  I have used a variegated blue dk and an eyelash yarn with beads and shells threaded onto them before weaving a section.  I added a string of shells, woven in and left to cascade down.  I hoped it looked like it had been washed up on the shore with  a collection of flotsam and jetsam caught in its net.

Reflective Commentary
Weaving has never really appealed to me before.  However after constructing these experimental pieces I have realised that it can produce some surprising results in even in its most simplistic form.  I have enjoyed working on these exercises and think the paper weavings have worked out well. I like the way the stripes are formed when the same colour is used for the warp and the weft.  I also like the metallic foil added on the diagonal.  I like the fabric weaving, a very quick way to produce a patchwork effect. 

In analysing the colour, texture and proportion the use of felt pens to match the colours in the images was not accurate at all.  I had more success with using acrylic paints in earlier exercises, but I wanted to try using felt pens.  I had more success matching the colours on the yarn wraps.  I like doing the yarn wraps, I think they are a good starting point and really create a good colour scheme.

Analysing Colour, Texture And Proportion

For this exercise I chose three images to work with.  The first is just a fragment of a larger picture.  This is just a strip of flamingo's legs.  I really like the colours.  I used felt pens and graph paper to analyse the colour because I thought that I would be using one of these starting points as the basis for my weaving in the next project. The felt pens didn't have a large enough range to match the colours in the images exactly, but I decided that it would give a simpler more stylized version.  I thought the yarn wraps were a more accurate impression of the colours and proportions.  I used the third image to create a striped pattern. 

It always surprises me when I upload photographs to the website how much it changes the way something looks.  I can see from the image above that the felt pen colour matching has not been successful at all in the left and middle examples however the yarn wraps are much more accurate.

Research Point - Textile Art

For this last piece of research I decided to look at the work of Jennifer Collier and Tracey Emin. 

Both these women use traditional craft methods but the outcomes couldn’t be more different.  Jennifer Collier produces whimsy, sometimes a bit twee, items that provoke loving memories of the past and nostalgic feelings for times gone by; whereas Tracey Emin is brutal in the retrospective look at her life. 

Tracey Emin is an English artist.  She was born in 1963, studied art in Maidstone and at the Royal College of Art; where she obtained an MA in painting. 

A lot of her work is textile based (using fabric that she has collected that hold an emotional attachment for her) which she uses to create large scale appliqué, patchwork and embroidery work.  Although a lot of her pieces are brutally honest, there is also a lot of poetry in her words; “DRUNK TO THE BOTTOM OF MY SOUL” “YOU FORGOT TO KISS MY SOUL” “EVERY PART OF ME IS BLEEDING”. 

When I look at her work, I can never really come to a decision about liking it or not.  Her controversial piece “Everyone I Have Every Slept With 1963-1995” (an erected two-man tent , appliquéd with many names) was often talked about as a “… shameless exhibition of sexual conquests...” and does indeed include the names of many of her sexual partners; but it also contains the names of anyone she has every slept next to - family members, school friends, her twin brother and her aborted babies - and it is this that makes the piece very intimate and always makes me feel very sad.  A life counted by people she has laid down next too. 

I can’t make my mind up about her work.  I don’t know whether she produces work as a cathartic release for her troubled past (do what you know); or whether she uses it as a defence mechanism (this is me, wart’s and all; take it or leave it); or whether she is pushing the boundaries of poor taste and quietly laughing up her sleeve when it sells for tens of thousands of pounds; or is that what makes it art - pushing the boundaries and making people question the outcome.

Jennifer Collier is a British textile artist who studied at Manchester Metropolitan University graduating with a BA (Hons) in Textiles in 1999.  She has a studio on her parent’s farm in Staffordshire and is self-employed.  

I met her at a workshop that was run in her studios and she seemed to be a very generous, friendly, open person - happy in her skin - which comes across in her work.  She seems to work very hard to make a living being a textile artist; running her studio/exhibitions, selling work and taking commissions, running workshops and renting out studio space to other artists and mentoring up and coming textile artists.  Her work is nostalgic.  She creates shoes, dresses, tea cups and teapots using found papers, stamps, vintage paper, books and maps.  Combining elements to create new fabric to work with.  Her recent work is creating items from found papers - typewriters, telephones, lampshades and cameras.  Nothing about her work is offensive, it is very pretty and delicate.

Textiles - Part 4 Textile Structures

Introduction - Fabrics in the Home As this could be such a wide ranging subject I decided to just focus on a few of my favourites. 

Scarves I have got a lot of scarves in many different fabrics, from ones that I have made myself to 100% silk ones.  I usually remove the label as soon as I get them so I can’t always remember what some of the fabrics consist of but I choose them for the drape, texture and colour.  I have got beautiful velvet ones where the colour changes in the light and silk ones that drape beautifully.  The grey cotton is lovely to twist and tie.  I have got two that have got fabulous texture and a per una one that has an open base with various different yarns woven through, creating a fringe at both ends[ this is an acrylic/polymide/wool mix.  The stripe one is 100% acrylic, but it is lovely and soft and I love the mix of colours.  

This is my favourite jacket for travelling.  It is from Dash and is a 98% wool 2% elastine, it is reversible and doesn't crease at all, so can be folded and stuffed into a bag and still come out looking great. 

My favourite jacket for riding is this purple one.  It is a really good design; the back has a double vent which makes it sit nicely when mounted on a horse.  There is a quilted liner that zips inside to make it warmer for the winter.  The liner can be worn as a separate jacket, or with the sleeves zipped out as a body warmer.  There is an interior pocket on both jacket and liner for a mobile phone.  The only thing I don’t like about this jacket is that the fabric is a bit noisy and makes a bit of a rustling sound when the arm rubs against the body. The inner jacket outer and lining and the outer jacket lining is 100% polyester, and the outer jacket is 100% waterproof nylon.

This is a rag rug that I have made.  I used to help at primary school when my children were small.  An elderly lady also came in to help and teach rag rugging to the children.  This held many memories for her and she didn’t want the practice to be forgotten.  Her and her mum would make a rag rug from old worn out clothes and this new rug would then take pride of place in front of the fire in the best room.  The old rug from this room would then be moved into the kitchen and the rug from the kitchen would be moved to the scullery.  I made my rug from an old hessian sack, which I unpicked, washed and then hemmed by hand around the edge.  For the rags I used old t-shirts, leggings and PJ’s.  I can see bits of fabric that we all used to wear (including my mum) and it brings back lots of memories.  The proddy was a split dolly peg sharpened at the end.  I use my rug in front of our log-burner, it saves the carpet from stray embers.  I wash it in the washing machine and just hang it on the line to dry.  The pile is no-where-near worn out, but the hessian sack is starting to fray (will have to relegate it to the kitchen soon)! 

My favourite evening bag is made by local textile artist Daphne Bursell.  She lives locally in Shropshire and is inspired by the countryside around her.  The bag is a very basic shape and fastens with a small magnetic closure, the fabric is felted crochet.  I think the looped fringe is possibly Giotto Yarn from the local Collinette store.  This is an Aran weight, plant/manmade fibre yarn possible in the Gauguin colour way.  The bag is a very versatile colour and seems to go with anything that I wear in the evening. The other bag is a beach bag from American Eagle Outfitters which my son brought back for me from New York.  It is a very heavy striped cotton fabric with a strong handle made of the same fabric stitched along its length five times.  It has a drawstring closure at the top.

I always keep a cotton handkerchief in my evening bag. It is usually one of these two.  The left one is from Portugal, it is made of white cotton and measures about 20cm square. The hem is machine-finished and edged with a crochet border in a variegated peach and green thread.  One corner of the hanky has been cut off and has a large crocheted butterfly appliquéd over it. 

The other is again white cotton about 21cm square.  It has a rolled hem and is machine embroidered and appliquéd with a small amount of cut work in the flowers.


My grandmother was an extremely accomplished needlewoman.  She made many items of embroidery for her home, for both her daughter-in-laws and also as prizes for local whist drives and raffles.  I only have two pieces of her embroidery - 4 panels (possible for a bed cover) and a very small picture that would probably have been a prize.  These are all hand worked.  The large panels are heavy linen and have been hemmed by hand and edged with blanket stitch so that they can be easily sewn together to form a much larger piece. As you can see in the photograph below the reverse side of the piece (on the right of the image) is almost as neat as the front (on the left of the image). The small picture is worked on a small piece of satin and placed in a small silver frame.

The other piece of embroidery I have got is a tablecloth made by my mum. This has been well used and is worn out really but a lot of work has gone into it so I still use it.  Here again the reverse side is almost as neat as the front. 

It is a very simple design of circles with daisies and forget-me-knots and purple bows, I love the way the lazy daisy stitch is worked in white, with the small stitch holding it firm, worked in pink.  I think this was a trick passed on by my grandmother.  The napkins are from Debenhams and are 100% cotton.  They are machine hemmed and edged with small gold beads.  The tablecloth underneath is from Marks and Spencer and is also 100% cotton.  I love the colours and the woven detail along the checks.

Horse Product 
My horse is allergic to midges so she has to wear a nose-to-tail rug from March to October.  I have tried different types of rugs in the past, but by far the best is the Boett Sweet Itch Rug.  The close-knit, manmade fabric is unique to Boett; designed to be water and grease repellent, non-fray and quite strong.  It is also breathable and quick drying.  If it does get ripped the fabric is light enough to be patched with a domestic sewing machine so that repairs can be carried out quickly (although the dirt and grease don’t do too much for the sewing machine!).  The rug is also machine washable.  

Assignment 3 - Tutor Report

Overall Comments
The project work you have completed shows the extent to which you are beginning to recognize that you have a personal style and a particular way of working. There is a clear link between work in your sketchbook and the identification and development of possible starting points for your design ideas. Your visual awareness as well as an increasing fluency with design based work is becoming increasingly evident as shown in stage two and this is backed up by the connections you make with wider artistic and intellectual concerns. Your technical skills continue to develop and the work you have completed shows a concern for the presentation of outcomes in an accessible way. In your next assignment, try to maintain the documentation of your working practices and to continue to reflect on more specific aspects of your progress.

Feedback on Assignment
Project 6 Manipulating Fabric: Creating Shapes and 3D Forms 
  • To explore how work from your sketchbook can be used a starting point for the development and realization of your ideas
  • To explore different ways in which stitch can be used to assemble fabrics and hold structures together
  • To experiment with a range of 2D and 3D fabric manipulation techniques and processes
  • To gain an understanding of the diversity of style and design in textiles
  • To consider why craft produced textiles maintain a place in our society

Stage 2: Exploring Ideas
I liked the way in which you focused your experimentation on just two images here. You took a focused approach with each in that the horseshoe photo led you to work directly with materials to hand and to use their qualities to explore the surfaces seen in the photo. By contrast, the barnacle image led you to explore further possibilities by digitally manipulating imagery. Did you have a preference here in terms of preferred ways of working? A further extension of this preliminary work could have been some smaller focused drawings or collages in your sketchbook. This would have been a good reference point for further experimentation with applied fabric techniques. There are close links here in terms of how you work with shape and line in compositional terms. There was also some interesting sampling based on word and colour association and the results showed a good understanding of the extent to which your choice of fabric and colour can create a particular mood or feeling.

Stage 3: Applied Fabric Techniques
The first two samples based on your horseshoe photo were lively and well considered. There was a robustness and crustiness about them which you achieved by carefully building up the layers of fabric. It was a good example of where the addition of braids etc. is fully justified in achieving your intentions. You might like to have a look at Lez Brotherstone’s costumes for Sleeping Beauty. Look at how he uses layering and combining different fabrics. See link below and click on View the Gallery to see the gothic fairy costumes

It was also interesting to see what happened when you began to manipulate the barnacle photo further. The structure became very lace like and delicate. Could this lead you to further research? You might like to look at Michael Brennand Wood’s Material Evidence, Improvisations on a historical theme based on the Whitworth Art Gallery’s collection of lace. It might lead you to further experimentation with materials and techniques. There is also a good link here between this and the crochet work you undertook for Alice Kettle.

You are becoming increasingly aware of how subtle changes in your images can be used to create very different outcomes. I’m thinking here of the contrast you achieved when selecting hard contrast imagery as opposed to a softer focus. In all your samples, you relied very much on fabric quality to achieve the overall effect. It was interesting see that by contrast, you used only very basic utility stitches to assemble fabrics and hold structures together. Was this a conscious decision on your part?

The diversion into stained glass allowed you to capitalize on the use of semi-transparent fabrics and the sample in which you combined the printed background with overlaid shapes worked very well indeed. The reference to Klimt’s work was very self-evident but you might also like to look at Frederich Hundertwasser for his use of rich pattern and simplified, distorted shapes.

Final Sample
This piece was technically very well executed, showing pleasing evidence of your ability to apply what you had learned through developing your design ideas and subsequent sampling. However, I thought it had a heavy solidness about it which didn’t really reflect the qualities of your starting point. It seemed a little overworked and this was exaggerated by the very solid circled shapes, firmly enclosed and held down with the blanket stitch. Compare this with some of your freer more delicate sample where you used a lighter machined stitch to secure your shapes. The background by contrast was rather more sensitively handled with some good layering and the use of running stitch which served to secure the layers as well as create additional surface texture. You might like to re consider this piece in terms of alternative approaches. Could you for example, insert some of the shapes underneath the top background layer? Would further consideration of varying the scale of the shapes in terms of larger and smaller circles help you to re consider the overall composition and the relationship between positive and negative shape?

Stage 4: Surface Manipulation
You produced some very interesting samples for this stage. I particularly liked the slashing and the way in which you varied the distance between the rows of stitching. This allowed a denser buildup of frayed, coloured threads to emerge on the surface. You could take this experimentation further by trying the same techniques but with different fabrics. You might also like to look at Elizabeth Brimelow’s work. She used slashing very effectively in her quilts but cuts on the bias of the fabric within an enclosed stitch area. This effectively prevents the fabric from fraying at all but reveals slashes of pure colour reminiscent of Elizabethan costume.

The moulded samples were highly successful too. I felt as though the beige hairy sample was actually growing whilst I was looking at it!

Final Sample
This was a really good choice of technique to re-create your barnacle photo. I liked the way in which you create different surface heights by using French knots as an intermediary level. My only reservation was again in relation to the overall composition. You could maybe re consider more carefully the spaces created in-between the barnacles. Would less be more? You can exaggerate elements within the original photo to suit your purpose rather than trying to achieve a direct copy. Could you introduce some darker tones with your French knots in order to create an illusion of greater depth and tonal contrast?

Preparation for Project 7: Theme Book 
Your theme of ‘Gardens’ is a good one with lots of potential but you need to focus in more closely on a particular aspect otherwise, it will become unmanageable. Also, think very carefully about everything you have learned so far in terms of materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness design and compositional skills and try to demonstrate how you intend to build on this. Don’t be overambitious. Often a simple design well executed can work much better than something which is overcomplicated and maybe beyond your current level of expertise. Remember, it’s a level 1 module. Again, reference to Elizabeth Brimelow’s work in terms of subject matter might help you here.

Learning Logs/Critical Essays 
References to artists’ work and exhibitions are thoughtfully considered. Try to link this more loosely to the development of your own ideas e.g. you clearly loved Gillian Bates’ work. What elements might you consider developing in your own work?

Research Point 
This was a very interesting choice and one which resonated with your own personal interest. You mad some pertinent references to the ways in which the craft of crochet has been incorporated into the work of current designers and the general revival of the craft through retro and vintage revivals.

More work is need here but I think you know that from your comments in your learning log. The work you have undertaken for your art class has clearly had a beneficial effect on your OCA work but remember that you cannot submit it as part of your assessed course work. It might be better to keep it in another sketchbook unless the techniques you have acquired feed specifically into the development of new ideas for your OCA course.

Suggested reading/viewing 
See above in report

Pointers for the next assignment 
The next assignment is concerned with the construction of textiles. Some of the weaving techniques can be quite time consuming and the intention is to familiarize you with the techniques and processes. My advice would be to keep your samples quite small and when asked to identify possible starting points, don’t be tempted to go down a very literal or representational route. It is very challenging to do this because of the structure of the weave which favours a geometric or linear approach. Also, consider what other non-traditional textile materials you could weave with and in what ways you might combine their use.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Research Point - Why Do Craft-Produced Textiles Maintain a Place In Our Society

I love to crochet.  I taught myself, from a book, when I was about 11 and, at the age of 17, I made my first granny square blanket and have made lots of them since then.  My eldest daughter (late 30’s) does not like them at all - won’t even have the brightly coloured cot or pram versions - she thinks they are old fashioned and “granny-ish”; but my younger daughter (early 20’s) can’t get enough of them.  When she recently moved into her first home, she requested a turquoise/brown/cream retro style one for her sofa and then a purple/red/cream one for her bed.  Having just had a baby, she is now on the receiving end of pram/cot/mini versions and she loves them all.  She doesn’t think they are “grannyish”; just retro, funky, fashionable and unique.

I crochet because it is very relaxing.  It also grows very quickly and is very portable.  If the project is granny squares then it is the perfect project for the long winter evenings – because you can snuggle up under the developing blanket whilst you are crocheting it – FAB!

The interest in crochet is definitely on the increase and it does seem to be quite fashionable at the moment - although this could probably be because of the popularity of vintage/retro designs.  In the current economic climate our spending has been squeezed to be almost non-existent, so people are turning to do-it-yourself and taking up traditional crafts to create unique items for themselves and their homes. 

In recent years crochet has been seen on the catwalks of Missoni, Paul Smith, Kenzo and Dolce & Gabbana, to name but a few and looking on the internet produces a vast array of crochet items for sale, or patterns to buy, or free patterns to make your own in any possible choice you could wish for; but really, unless you are at the top of the market - with a Dolce & Gabbana crochet handbag retailing for around $2900! - the intense work involved in producing a crochet item (and the cost of the yarn) doesn’t make it very profitable.  The best idea probably is to write a book.

I think there will always be a place in the market for hand crafted products of any description.  People will always want individual, unique items – whether clothing or items for the home – and certainly hand-made for babies cannot be bettered.  For my grandson I make all kinds of cardigans (both knitted and crocheted) – that aren't found in the shops – little granddad cardi’s with shawl collars and vintage leather buttons.  I don’t think they would be particularly profitable, but I am convinced there would be a market for them. 

I think in this day and age of instant, disposable excess the need to get back to a much simpler past appeals to a lot of people.

Assignment 3 - Reflective Commentary

It is again time to reflective on my progress so far.  I have enjoyed working on this assignment, but once again life seems to encroach on my time and it has taken me far longer than I anticipated.

I have worked on samples using techniques that I have never tried before - smoking and furrowing.  I preferred doing the smoking on the check fabric so that I didn't have to mark the grid on the reverse of the fabric.  

I have decided that I am not a very neat person, but am definitely a colour and texture person.  I love creating texture and colour - with layers of sheer fabric and with lots of stitching.  I think the running stitch background on both of the final sample pieces has worked really well.  This is something I will be using again.

I have found drawing in a sketchbook very difficult this time and I am really going to have to concentrate on doing more drawing for the next assignment.  

I am really looking forward to starting Project 7.  It has been difficult to settle on a final topic, but I think now that I have decided to use my garden as inspiration.