Project 2: Building a Response – Developing Yarn and Linear Concepts

The aim of this section of “building a response” is to develop yarns and linear concepts whilst working on the textile concepts from the previous blog post which can be found here.

The first few yarns I created were spun on a drop spindle to experiment with how the colours from my scheme could be combined to create different yarns both within a single and when plied together in different colour combinations.

I had been reading through a book called The Art of Manipulating Fabric and noticed a technique to create a ruffled yarn called gathered double-edge ruffle (p55). The ruffles reminded me of the shapes of the petals in my sketches and so I took a satin offcut and used an overlocker with different coloured threads (which matched my colour scheme) to seal the edges and then created the ruffle. I was not keen on how the satin still appeared frayed around the edges however this is probably a good representation of how as a perfectionist I want for all my work to look perfect and yet my health often means that I have to accept a compromise.

Playing with the overlocker made me wonder whether it would be possible to create a yarn from the overlocking threads and after a few failed attempts (placed in my sketchbook) I discovered that if I ran both sides of a piece of white felt through the machine on a wide enough setting a yarn was created. The unexpected bonus to this technique was that the felt naturally would itself into a twist. By installing four different colours into the overlocker I was able to represent the base pairs of DNA GCAT with the colours whilst the twist created was reminiscent of the double helix structure. This is particularly relevant to me as my condition is a genetic defect and I enjoyed playing with the colour combinations to create a textile representation of DNA. Perhaps further work with the technique could be to find ways of creating glitches or defects in the pattern to represent defects in DNA.

After experimenting with the stitches on my sewing machine when developing textile concepts I played around with layering machine stitches in different colours. In the example below, I used colours that mimicked the colour change of the passionflower collaged in Project 1 and found that, when sewn onto a relatively solid base such as this pale green felt, it created an interesting linear concept yarn. This concept yarn is flexible yet stable enough to provide structure perhaps to be incorporated into a bodice design and there is a sketch in my sketchbook that plays with this idea.

Again inspired by experimenting with stitches as part of developing textile concepts I discovered that if I fed different coloured strips of felt into the machine I could create a yarn inspired by the leaf motif. It should be noted that the felt was cut around the stitching afterwards to create a more delicate yarn.

I wanted to see whether the techniques used to create the floral inspired fabric as part of the experiments to develop textile concepts could be used to create a similar yarn. Whilst the yarn had an interesting texture, the fact that the jersey I used was printed rather than dyed meant that as the fabric curled at the edges the white of the reverse became dominant and disguised much of the floral motif created but the stitching.

The yarn sample below was again created from a technique described in The Art of Manipulating Fabric using two ruffle strips with a “snip-fringed edge finish” (p60) and I chose to use a striped voile as it was reminiscent of the barcodes that I had been creating when I was developing the colour palette. I liked how the stripes became “confused” as it reminds me of how although each doctor and specialist has your same NHS number, there can be little cohesion or communication between them and so the result can often feel chaotic for the patient. It would be interesting to create voile fabrics using the encoded barcodes in the future but I haven’t worked out how to practically do this yet.

Another technique outlined in The Art of Manipulating Fabric was “all-sides gathering” to create a “puff” (p21) and the resulting circular design of the fabric reminded me of the shape of many tablets. I decided to use a scrap of fabric that I had left over in orange to see what happened if I used this technique and applied these puffs in pairs to a base fabric. These puffs were applied to a canvas backing which gave the yarn some rigidity and I overlocked the edges in white to stop the canvas from fraying. The final result reminded me of pill packaging.


Wolff, C. (1996) The Art of Manipulating Fabric Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications

[All links were accessed on 8/9/19]

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