Exercise 4.2: Experimental Yarns and Concepts

The aims of this exercise are to:

  • explore colour translation and development in yarn design and making
  • explore textured and unexpected materials in the creation of yarn concepts and designs

Colour placement and composition

The aim of this section is to develop a series of yarn designs that push the colours in the chosen palette: how they appear and sit next to each other and how they can combine together in yarn developments.

The first full-colour palette inspired by a print design from Exercise 3.1 that I chose was Lewis & Irene’s Hann’s Tree on Blue.

A selection of materials I gathered inspired by this colour palette can be seen below.

  1. Robin 4-ply acrylic wool pink (shade 4068)
  2. Sportimo 100% acrylic 4-ply white yarn (shade 5805)
  3. Double knit blue acrylic yarn (brand unknown purchased from Poundland)
  4. Double knit blue yarn (brand unknown)
  5. Coats Drima Spun Nylon-Special for linking (N171m)
  6. Sylko Fast Dye Mercerised Cotton Dk. Gobelin (D244)
  7. Unknown brand embroidery thread remnant
  8. Unknown brand embroidery thread remnant
  9. Hayfield Haze Bonus Aran Tweed 20% wool blend (Sourced Hobbycraft)
  10. Poundland 7lb fishing line
  11. Gingham ribbon
  12. Kravet pattern: 21774 Bamboo Basket colour: 50 Indigo 62% cellulose 38% cotton (Upholstery fabric sample rescued from a skip – the bulk of the rescued fabric is being used by Purple Iris)
  13. Kravet pattern: 21776 Raffia Basket colour: 50 Indigo 98% cellulose 2% cotton (Upholstery fabric sample rescued from a skip – the bulk of the rescued fabric is being used by Purple Iris)
  14. Acrylic felt pink (Hobbycraft)
  15. Regency fringing white 10 (Upholstery fabric sample rescued from a skip – the bulk of the rescued fabric is being used by Purple Iris)
  16. Ribbon remnant
  17. Acrylic fleece remnant
  18. Mother of pearl bead – originally from Primark bracelet

The first three yarn designs inspired by this colour palette can be seen below. In the first yarn I wanted to play with the proportions of the colours in the design and so used a pink core for the yarn rather than blue. In this case although the blue is still the dominant colour the pink unifies the yarn visually.

The Aran yarn (no. 9) has been used as the core of this yarn. Two different shades of embroidery thread (no. 7 & 8) have been wound around the core to create slightly leaf shaped knops along the yarn. Inspired by the strong dark blue stems on the tree design, I deconstructed fabric sample no. 12 and inserted short lengths into the yarn.

The first yarn reminded me of seaweed an association that was heightened by the mother of pearl beads I found. This second design was inspired by the colour scheme of the fabric as well as media reports of ocean pollution. In this yarn I played with the proportions further with the dark blue and light pink now dominating the colour scheme rather than the mid blue as I found that putting the light and dark next to one another exaggerated the colour difference.

The core is raffia strips from the deconstructed fabric sample no. 13 (fabric that would otherwise be in landfill) and I wove threads and fishing wire around it to represent the presence of micro plastics in the oceans, many of which come from washing clothing containing synthetic fibres.
This close up shows how I attempted to give the impression of the mother of pearl beads being tangled in the threads and fishing line.

For my third yarn I used more traditional materials but wanted to try to incorporate the leaf shape from the print and felt that using a strong linear core (trying to minimise width variation) gives the impression of the tree from the fabric sample.

The third yarn design incorporates the leaf shapes of the tree in the printed fabric and catches them in the twist. The yarn is a made up of a length of blue yarn (no. 4) and white fringing (no. 15). The leaf shapes are made up of pink acrylic (no. 14) and blue fleece (no.17)

Materials Exploration

The aim of this section is to develop a series of yarn designs that push the material and physical qualities of the yarns. We were encouraged to use unusual materials or surfaces that we might not usually associate with yarns.

The first yarn I developed was based up Fabric Freedom’s Head in the Clouds which can be seen below

For the first yarn I wanted to give the impression of hot air balloons hovering in a fairly literal way. I used the fishing line to suspend round beads above a smaller square bead. I also threaded irregular shaped pieces of metallic silver fabric to give the impression of clouds and the weave behind the metallic pieces was reminiscent of the weave print on the clouds in the fabric (seen more clearly in the close up photo on the right). I chose to focus on the shapes and kept the colour scheme the same throughout and it can be seen that the grey metallic pieces I used reflect the colours of the nearby objects which adds interest.

For the second yarn I tried to create a yarn from some round and square sequins that I found in red and silver. Although this would probably not make a useable yarn I connected them using a line of PVA glue to suspend them as though they were floating.

I am currently having building work done and there was a fair amount of wood shavings this week. On closer inspection the curls of the shavings were reminiscent of the shapes in the background of Craft Cotton Co.’s Give Me the Sea Boats as can be seen in the close up below.

Although the wood shavings are currently a different shade from the background however I have a feeling that if I was to let the wood weather naturally it would become less vibrant and closer to the shade of the wave motif. I glued them into a strip using PVA glue and sewed a strand of Dewhurst’s Sylko Machine Twist Mercerised Cotton in Deep Brown (D. 217) through the shavings once they were set. I managed to catch them around shavings in such a way as to suggest the diamond shapes on the dark sail. To contrast with this I wrapped Dewhurst’s Sylko Machine Twist Mercerised Cotton in Marina Green (D. 347) in wider bands to suggest the green sail. The final concept yarn is shown below.

Texture and tonal qualities

The focus of this section was the neutral colour explorations from Exercise 3.1. Although the instructions were to collect a range of materials to help explore the tonal and textural quality of the fabric into yarn, the first thing I wanted to explore was deconstructing the fabric itself and translating the warp and weft into yarn. The different elements in the fabric can be seen below the photograph of the original fabric.

I found it interesting to play around with the proportions of each thread used to create three different yarns which can be seen below.

The first yarn is based on a loosely wound 2-ply yarn where one ply is based on the darkest thread and the other on the lightest, fluffy thread. I tied the shorter lengths together using the other two threads from the fabric but attaching the darker of the pair to the lightest thread and vice versa. The threads lie at roughly right angles to reference the weave of the original fabric. Overall this experiment looks like a darker yarn overall than those below due to optical mixing.

For the second yarn I wanted to emphasise the bumpiness of the fluffy yarn and so wrapped and tied each of the darker threads to the core light thread. The dark sections on this yarn are more concentrated and exaggerates the fluffiness of the light yarn whilst retaining some of the perpendicular linear elements that suggest the original fabric.

I wanted to get a more blended effect for the final yarn and aimed to create slightly more irregular flashes of the dark thread. I created this by plaiting two strands of the light coloured thread with the thickest dark thread. Where each of the light strands end and are woven with the next they create little clouds of fluff which are reminiscent of the bigger bumps in the original fabric.


Carrington, D. (2018) ‘Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists’ In: The Guardian 12 March 2018 At: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/12/microplastic-pollution-in-oceans-is-far-greater-than-thought-say-scientists (Accessed on 17/04/2019)

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