Exercise 4.3: Re-interpret, re-invent

The aims of this exercise are to:

  • employ colour and mood translation in materials and yarn sourcing and yarn development
  • explore, re-invent and re-interpret an approach to building structure are small- and large-scale design concepts
  • research and keep technical notes on your making processes

The brief is to develop a series of yarn designs and simple textile contractions in response to the colour work carried out in Exercise 3.2.

The image I selected in Exercise 3.2 was Diego Velázquez’s The Toilet of Venus as shown below:

In addition to the materials that I collected for the yarn wraps for Exercise 3.2 (shown below) I chose to find more materials that could be used to create a yarn.

The materials I collected in my sketchbook for this exercise can be seen here

Before I embarked upon creating some yarns I decided to attempt some construction techniques using a simple pink acrylic yarn and I created a glossary of techniques in my sketchbook as shown below:

The top row of samples are

  1. 3 strand plait (plaiting)
  2. 4 strand plait (plaiting)
  3. 5 strand plait (plaiting)
  4. Scoubidou
  5. 3 strand braid using a single ply
  6. square knot (macramé)
  7. alternating square knot (macramé)
  8. half hitch knot (macramé)
  9. double half hitch (macramé)
  10. half square knot (macramé) – creates a spiral

The bottom row of samples are

11. finger knit chain
12. chain (crochet)
13. chain with slip stitch row into top loop (crochet)
14. chain with slip stitch row into bottom loop (crochet)
15. chain with slip stitch row into back loop (crochet)

All the tutorials used can be found on my OCA Textiles Pinterest board.

I then moved onto creating concept yarns from the materials I had gathered. The first yarn I created used some cream cording and a single ply of pink and grey acrylic yarn that I deconstructed. The close up image shows how the cream cording catches the light and contrasts with the fluffier yarns used.

The second yarn I created used two cream strands from a 4-ply yarn and a single strand from the pink yarn as the core. I then cut strips from a pink voile and wrapped them around the core to create a layered effect.

For the third yarn, I wanted to start by creating a very delicate yarn that could be made more interesting using one of the construction techniques I had tried previously. This yarn is made from a narrow strip of white voile with a strand of the blue embroidery thread sewn down the centre.

When creating the previous yarn, I decided to explore whether I could use one of my fabric samples to create a yarn that gave the impression of the angel’s wings. I selected a voile that was a grey tone and cut it crossways so that the edges would fray and create a softer look before wrapping a mid slate blue thread around at intervals to alter the silhouette.

For the final concept yarn, I chose to attempt to recreate the opulent mood in the painting. I decided to do this by using strips of a rich velvet material to create bows on the finer core of white voile.

The next stage was to use some of the earlier constructions on the yarns I had created.

I crocheted a simple chain from the first yarn I created as it has a delicate look to it and I didn’t want to overcomplicate the construction. By using this yarn to crochet with, the blending of the three colours has been enhanced and the way that the yarn wraps around itself when crocheted has increased the number of angles that each ply rests at and so the cream cording catches the light and sparkles more giving a soft sense of luxury.

I decided that I liked the appearance of the second yarn and chose not to create a construction with it as it would have only detracted from its light layered look.

For the third yarn sample I decided to create a layered appearance by making a five strand plait. This emphasised the colour of the blue thread that runs through each strand but also an observer commented that it gave the final sample a “lace-like” appearance.

I wanted to exaggerate the fluffy texture of the fourth yarn to give the impression of wings or feathers and so I first used two single strands of grey chunky yarn to macramé an edging to the yarn sample which would encourage the yarn to twist more. I then wove grey feathers that were a similar colour through the macramé so that they were suspended from the sample to give the effect of falling feathers.

For this yarn I chose to use it to create a 3 strand braid using a single ply to exaggerate the loops of the bows and to create a layered effect. I wanted to suggest the abundance of fabric and sense of luxury present in the painting.

Reflective Commentary

How did you build from your successes?

Where possible I tried to exaggerate the qualities of the yarns when I applied a construction technique to them for example I tried to mimic the bow loops by creating a 3-strand braid from the single ply. Using macramé enhanced a twist that the yarn sample was starting to develop and adding matching feathers exaggerated the soft texture. I have enjoyed creating yarn samples with no fixed plan but then enhancing or exaggerating a quality I liked.

What did you learn from any failures?

After learning to spin yarn in Exercise 4.1, I tried to spin deconstructed commercial yarns. I may have plyed these incorrectly as the resulting yarn was less balanced and I gave the resulting yarn more structure by crocheting it. The result was an improvement as it highlighted the different yarns by contrasting the way smooth and fluffy strands caught the light. I probably would avoid spinning commercial singles in the future as I found them harder to work with than the singles I have spun myself.

The aim was to push the techniques towards your own interpretation and re-invention of them. How did you tackle this?

I explored various construction techniques by playing with a commercial yarn. Once comfortable with the different constructions and the effect that they had on a simple yarn I moved onto creating the yarn samples. I tried to match each of the samples to a construction technique and decided not to use one yarn. I felt that any construction technique would detract from the sample created and decided knowing when not to do something was as important as using another technique. For the feathered sample I spread out the macramé knots so that the softer edges would lie around the yarn rather than be covered up. Weaving feathers between the rows further disguised the macramé giving the sample a much softer appearance in keeping with the original image.

How did you re-invent and re-interpret the imagery, colour and yarns from Exercise 3.2?

In Exercise 3.2 I was particularly drawn to the soft tones and the sense of opulence of the Velázquez. These were the characteristics I wanted to portray in my samples and focussed on methods of building visible layers. I used many of the threads from the yarn wraps but added additional materials that were in keeping; primarily sheer fabrics as they added layers without creating bulk which would have been incongruous with the original image.

[All links accessed on 23/05/19]

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