Exercise 4.5 Collage-inspired yarn

The aims of this exercise are to:

  • further explore and refine colour, composition and making techniques in yarn design
  • find ways to translate making techniques and approaches used in collage work into yarn concepts, with a focus on flat yarns
  • master and refine strong development and making techniques and approaches that I’ve already tackled.

The brief of this exercise is to work in ways that echo the collage techniques employed in Exercise 3.4 but now with the focus on yarn design.

The collages from Exercise 3.4 that I found most inspiring for this exercise are shown below

It was suggested that we start by focusing on the following forms of yarn construction:

  • flat yarns – most often nylon or polyester yarns that are spun and processed in such a manner as to give a silky texture whilst retaining strength. Often used in applications such as sports wear or automotive (eg seatbelt) textiles eg Schill + Seilacher
  • flat braids – according to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica braiding is defined as the interlacing of three or more yarns or bias-cut strips to create a diagonal formation resulting in a narrow flat strip. This was a technique I used in Exercise 4.3 for one of my yarn samples but also is seen often in textiles as trims.
  • ribbons – traditionally used as decoration and trims. Ribbons are traditionally woven on looms with a warp and weft.
  • slit or slit-film yarns – made from materials such as polypropylene where a film of the plastic is slit or extruded through a slit to produce tapes or yarns. [source]
  • rag yarns – yarn made from strips of fabric and a good way of recycling old clothes or using leftover strips.
  • tape yarns – are also often referred to as ribbon yarns as they are flat. Knitting or weaving with these yarns is said to give a different texture than traditional yarns with a round profile [source]. These yarns are therefore popular in the fashion industry to create unusual knitwear.

I created the following flat yarns inspired by the first collage:

The first flat yarn is created from deconstructed fabrics and spiral shapes cut freehand from a faux leather fabric sample salvaged from a skip (brand & composition is unknown but the the colour is called Praline)

The second flat yarn was created from spirals cut from acrylic felt and the faux leather freehand. I then used a spiral pattern created by my sewing machine to join the spirals together.

The following yarns were inspired by the “Blue sky thinking” collage:

In these flat yarns I used remnants of the papers present in the original collage in different configurations to create three completely different samples that I found interesting.

The first one I created by cutting strips the same width and weaving them together in a repeating pattern. The shorter strips were organised to change from light to dark and back again to mimic the overall effect of the original collage which moves from generally darker at the bottom to lighter at the top. The longer strips had a subtle wave pattern on them which helps to generate a sense of movement echoed by the change in tone of the shorter strips. To me this is reminiscent of the way the light changes on waves.

The second flat yarn was intended to be more graphic and is reminiscent of a chain. Most likely this was influenced by a beginners jewellery making course that I took at a local college last term. I wanted the pattern to be random but found it more visually appealing if I ensured there was a contrast in tone touching rectangles.

When creating the collages and yarns I had a few offcuts that consisted of the insignia and symbols that are recognisably from envelopes and I wanted to make use of these. Much of my work with Purple Iris involves reusing and upcycling materials that would otherwise be discarded and whilst many of these projects aim to disguise their preloved origins, there is something appealing about creating items that respect the heritage and previous incarnation of objects. I wanted to embrace the paper offcuts’ source and create a yarn that made this link more obvious visually.

[All links accessed on 8/6/19]

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