Exercise 4.1: Yarns Inspired by Stitch and Marks

The aims of this exercise are to:

  • expand my knowledge and application of materials into yarn concepts
  • interpret and experiment with different ideas to translate linear qualities into yarn outcomes.

The brief was to select one or two pieces of work where you feel the qualities of the lines and marks are exciting. I ended up picking three as I couldn’t decide between them and I had ideas for individual yarns that were inspired by more than one of the earlier works and so chose the following:

When I saw that this section was about creating yarns I knew that I wanted to learn to spin my own yarns and so invested in this gorgeous drop spindle made by Debbie Munro at The Lace Knittery which is an artwork in itself.

My first attempt at spinning yarn and plying inspired by the different tones of white in the second image. I included a white ribbon to reference the ribbon-like appearance of the strips of paper.
My first attempt at plying was a bit too loose so in this second yarn sample I kept it to wool only to try to achieve a more balanced yarn. I tied on pieces of yarn every 5cm which have been left to dangle and move freely which were inspired by the curved lines of the third image (based on the straw hat from Worthing archive). On reflection I felt that the mohair type yarn used here was too thick and returned to this idea later.
This yarn was also inspired by the variety of tones present in the second image. Although it isn’t that clear in the image, one ply is white and in the other ply I attempted to blend from black to light brown in a regular manner and although I was aiming for an approximately 5cm repeat it ended up about 10cm.
This yarn has one ply made from white wool and the other is a black thread which has black seed beads tied on every 1cm. This was inspired but the third (hat) sketch as the beads reminded me of the dots and the curves made by the thread were reminiscent of the curved lines.
This yarn was inspired by the same sketch as the one above however I wanted to focus on the more irregular marks at the bottom of the sketch. I tried to spin a more irregular single ply and use the same thread wrapping technique as above but attached the beads in clusters rather than evenly. A close up of this yarn can be seen below.
I found some beads that had white specks on them that reminded me of the negative space on the third sketch and so I created another yarn that had seed beads roughly every 1cm and the larger beads every 5cm.

At this point I realised that there must be other ways I could use the drop spindle and so borrowed Spinning & Dyeing Yarn: The home spinner’s guide to creating traditional & art yarns by Ashley Martineau from the library. This book has excellent explanations and directions for different techniques and read about core spinning.

I chose to try core spinning white wool onto a black yarn. I wanted to leave gaps or parts where the black core yarn could still be seen to suggest flecks of colour.
After my first core spinning attempt I wanted to see what would happen if I used a black thread as the core instead of a wool yarn. This created a much more delicate yarn.
Inspired by the first image I wanted to use some black tights which looking closely (see below) have the regular structure of the background of the first image. I used black threads of different widths woven into it to increase the texture and disrupt the regular structure in a similar manner to weaving the strips of paper. I also wrapped the yarn at irregular intervals to create more interest and sections reminiscent of the thicker satin stitch marks.
I found this herringbone weave yarn and it reminded me of the background of the first image. I wound thin black cotton thread and knotted it to form concentrated dots (known as knops). I left the ends free as they were reminiscent of the thinner marks.
For this yarn sample I attempted to spin strips of the prescription leaflet paper into a yarn. Once I had a length of spun yarn I wrapped black cotton thread in alternating directions, changing every 5cm. The overlapping of the black thread against the snippets of text reminded me of the marks in the second image.
At this point I started to get a bit more experimental and cut thin strips of the prescription leaflets. I cut them up into short lengths and reattached them with hole reinforcers every 1cm and stitched marks reminiscent of those seen in the second image. Although this isn’t a traditional yarn construction the resulting yarn brought to mind connotations of the gaps in thoughts (brain fog) both caused and relieved by medication and the black stitches look vaguely reminiscent of synapses.
I recreated the yarn above by used a 5cm repeat instead and machine stitched the line to help keep it together.
This yarn was more inspired by the art yarns or fun yarns. I had a strip left over from using the hole reinforcers and wanted to use strips of prescription leaflets to “fill in the gaps”. I also wove extra strips through to represent the random placement in image two but also to represent the unexpected outcomes of medications.
This final sample is possibly only very loosely a yarn as it is based on loops similar to a paper chain. When I was considering ways of fastening the loops together I decided to use staples as I felt that the staples were representative of the brutalist method of drug therapy and some of the medical profession’s attempts to repair the body.

When it came to developing three further designs based on the above 30cm explorations I chose to focus on the following samples:

I created 1m long samples based on the yarns above however I wanted to take a bit more time to decide how to develop them and so will return to these samples and refine them later.

This yarn was based upon the first 30cm sample chosen. I decided to space the beads out more than on the original sample. I am considering further altering this sample but want to play around with some other ideas and come back to it later. A close up is shown below.
This yarn was based upon the second sample shown above but I decided to tone down the contrast by choosing roving that was white and grey (Shetland) for the two plys. I then wove strips of prescription leaflets through the resulting yarn.
This is a close up image of the yarn above.
I created a 1m sample of the paper yarn created from the prescription leaflets and was going to add black thread similar to the 30cm sample however I felt that the three yarns would look a bit too similar and so have paused this sample to reconsider how to develop this yarn further.


Martineau, A. (2013) Spinning & Dyeing Yarn: The home spinner’s guide to creating traditional & art yarns London: Jacqui Small

3 thoughts on “Exercise 4.1: Yarns Inspired by Stitch and Marks

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