a life of fibre

Archive for February, 2018

Armley Mills – Part 10

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

I thought you might be interested in a few photos from my work book for the project  it will go on display at the mill.

The front is cut from a sheet of paper that I printed at the same time as the silk for the main piece.

Samples and more of the paper printing. The fabrics were left over from the nuno felting, silk on the left, silk chiffon on the right.

Images being off the straight really appealed to me and then I went completely the opposite way with the spun samples below where I ruled a line across first to make sure they’d be straight.

The samples are my favourite pages. The yarns don’t hang straight as I ran out of time to wash and dry them and had to use many straight off the spindle, hey ho.  It’s the end of my Armley Mills series, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you haven’t then it’ll be a change of topic tomorrow to look forward to!


Armley Mills – Part 9

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

The wallpaper block was printed onto silk chiffon which I then nuno felted. This piece wasn’t about the process but the pattern and I decided there was sufficient felt to make three pieces.

Originally I planned to hand stitch the first piece, machine stitch the second and use couching on the third.  This is my first piece and probably has the most printed pattern on it.

Stem stitch in embroidery cottons until Rosie (thank you) pointed out that I needed to vary the threads more and gave me some light reflecting, twisted thread.

I also added some beads in pearl white and grey.

This is the piece I intended to machine stitch but after the third broken needle I gave up and decided to hand stitch. I’d tried putting it in a hoop and backing it but my machine just wasn’t coping.

A greater variety of threads was used including perle threads and ones I constructed from various fine threads.

In my stash was a very shiny synthetic thread which fell apart as soon as you cut a length off but it looked lovely so I used it where I could.

I’ve used the couching mixed with stem stitch but added to my work load by spinning a number of threads including, Shetland, Milk Protein and various mixed fibre ones.

It’s hard to remember the last time I used couching, it’s so easy and a great way to use threads that would be difficult to hand stitch with if you tried to pass them through the fabric.

They’re each different and yet so obviously part of a family. All the hand stitching took me a lot more time than I’d banked on but I have throughly enjoyed it and I think they were well worth the effort. They’ve been mounted in box frames and I’ve rather sadly called them ‘Wallpaper 1, 2 and 3’  I know, not very imaginative but the stitching wore me out!

You can see them at Armley Mills  from 14/4 to 22/10. The exhibition is called “Wool Stories – The Felted Mill” and will feature work from more than twenty felt makers.


Armley Mills – Part 8

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

The final reveal. Do I like it? Yes and no. I’m very pleased with the number of processes that it incorporates and the learning journey I experienced to create it. The design is unsophisticated but given this was all about the process  that shouldn’t be a surprise.

To sum up:

Wool used – Blue Faced Leicester, Dorset Horn, Jacob, Whitefaced Woodland.

Processes used – spinning, weaving, felt making, printing and stitching.

Unsurprisingly my title for this piece is ‘Wool’ and you’ll be able to see it on display at Armley Mills  from 14/4 to 22/10. The exhibition is called “Wool Stories – The Felted Mill” and will feature work from more than twenty felt makers.  Remember the printed wallpaper block? I’ll tell you next what happened to that.



Felted vessels workshop

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

I ran a felt pot workshop last Saturday, it was a good day in many respects. the sun shone all day and warmed the room we were working in, the people on the workshop were friendly, eager to work and have a laugh and they made some fabulous pots, especially the newbie felters.

We began by forming felt around a small vase and went on to free form a second vessel afterwards. Both were made from British wool and adorned by various silks, all available from Adelaide Walker (of which I’m a partner). People were encouraged to try a different wool each time. The results were stunning as I’m sure you’ll agree.

You can see bits of hand dyed Swaledale and Blue Faced Leicester adding more colour to the pots. Sadly the silk doesn’t shine too well when wet. Thanks for a great day everyone and for the help in clearing away, I was home in record time!

The next pot workshop is on Tuesday 15th May where we progress to adding lots and lots of texture. I’d love to see you there.

Armley Mills – Part 7

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Finally a finished piece of felt but I didn’t leave it there, I went on to stitch the words of the processes e.g. spun, woven onto the felt with the handspun yarn.

You can see how much the weaving has closed up during the felting process even though I’d been careful not to overwork it. I didn’t want the weaving to lose all definition but I did completely full some sections to use on the top as hanging mechanisms.

At the bottom is my washed Blue Faced Leicester fleece. It starts with fleece at the bottom up to woven and fulled wool at the top. It’s 100% British wool.

Armley Mills – Part 6

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

I have the spun yarn, the weaving and the printing so it’s time for felting.

Silk down first then two layers of wool over the top. I sandwiched the edge of the weaving between the layers of wool to hold it in place and make it part of the final picece.

My chosen shape for the wallhanging was triangular with the fringed weaving on one side.

You can see the printing worked out well on the silk paj. Paj is a smooth, closely woven silk, ideal for printing. Next … the finished piece.

Armley Mills – Part 5

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Words weren’t the only items I wanted to print. On our visit to the archives I’d spotted some wallpaper blocks and with agreement from the museum we rummaged through to find one that might be used for printing.

Many of them weren’t suitable because they had felt on the wood which would have been stained by the oil based ink I was using. Eventually we found a felt free candidate.

Those of you who know me well know I can’t resist a curve.

The plan was to print this onto silk chiffon to create a new piece of felt,  this was for a second piece I intended to create.

The floor was the only flat space large enough to work on. Paper down first and then the silk, all taped into position.

It was quite nerve racking inking it up for the first time, I wonder how many years since it was last used? Of course, when this was in use it would have been one of a set, with each block printing a different section of the pattern.

Each time I printed with the block I tried to change the orientation so that there would be areas of overlap in the print. It was such fun to do, one day I intend to do more printing in this manner, one day. More of what happened to this later.

Photography by Charlie Battersby

Armley Mills – Part 4

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Last May I shared with you my experimentation using the museum press to print onto fabric which I then later felted to gauge how usable it would be in my final piece. The experiments worked very well and thanks to our IFA co-ordinator,  Linda Hulme, and museum curator, Chris Sharp, I was amongst a group that returned to the mill for a printing session.

I notified Chris in advance that I wanted to print the word wool in as many fonts and sizes of lettering as was possible from the equipment in the archives.

There was a great selection to choose from.

I wanted to mix up the sizes and the fonts as much as possible.

The trick with printing of course is to have the word back to front, NOT like I’ve set them out above. Once they were the correct way round I was ready to ink and position them for printing.

On with silk, followed by a sheet of paper, a felt cover and then ready to go.

This took far more force then I expected and was a real workout. So, feet sliding on the floor, I managed to do one or two before Chris came to my rescue and printed the rest. Either the men using these in the heyday were well muscled or the machines ran more eaily. Perhaps it was a combination of the two.

Photography by Charlie Battersby


Be Creative with Workbox magazine

Friday, February 9th, 2018

You’ll have heard me mention Metaphor Textile Group of which I’m a member and that we exhibit our work from time to time but this month, we’re featured in Be Creative with Workbox magazine Issue 166.

There are five members – Rosie Jackson, Linda Gumery, Heather Randall, Moraig Hewitt and yours truly creating pieces using embroidery in a wide range of styles and techniques, quilting, felt making and mixed media.

Armley Mills – Part 3

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Having spun my wool for the Armley Mills project I next needed to weave it. I really wanted to undertake this on a loom at the mill but the only one available was in pieces and was too complicated for me.

I retreated to home and my Ashford knitters loom. the concern I had was if my yarn would stand up to the tension of the warping but I needn’t have worried. The bad news was that I warped it wrong, had to cut it off and start again. I saved all the cut pieces for the weft as I’d only spun a limited amount and couldn’t afford to waste anything.

The fact that this wasn’t the best spun yarn didn’t help with the weaving plus it was the first time I’d woven with handspun yarn. It kept sticking, it was thick and thin, I couldn’t seem to get my edges right but I didn’t worry overmuch as I knew at least one edge would be hidden by the felt.

I ensured all the ends of the cut pieces I’d used for the weft were all on the right hand side and instead of weaving them in at the end I left them hanging like a fringe. It’s not the best weaving I’ve done but I knew it would work for the final piece. Now onto printing.