I feel like I am in a bit of a rut?
You keep using the same colours?
Using the same techniques?
Wondering about new yarn options?
Everything is getting a bit 'samey'?
How can I disrupt my design approach?
How can I move toward creating something different?
The above questions cropped up for me a few months ago when I thought that I was selecting and purchasing all the same colours, textures and fibres; but wasn't trying many new options. I had plans and projects and these all seemed okay but I had a craving to challenge myself with something different, especially when it came to colour. Disruption can have a positive impact on your creative practice by helping to introduce new patterns and approaches. However, it isn't an easy option, it requires a bit more thinking and, most importantly, the willingness to react positively to change and the unexpected.
My method of disruption started by ordering a selection of advent fibres and joining a fibre club. By allowing someone else (the fibre maker in this case) to make the decisions on fibre and colour I was taking a chance on what would arrive at my door. Spinning these fibres is first decision I made in the process. I started by spinning one fibre in a variety of ways (straight, fractal, etc.). I also began to combine different tops together to add variation, spinning them in different sequences to create different colour variations when plying. I tried not to think about it too much but just spin by instinct. Once I had a complete skein I then moved on to using my digital skills to identify key colours and palettes (see the image above). This technique was adopted after viewing a SweetGeorgia session by Felicia Lo, I took her suggestions to follow through with the use of digital technology to help me identify colours and palettes to aid my design development once the colours were spun. Using Adobe Capture I was able to highlight the key palette and identify the main colours. Then I was able to create a design using the colours. An example of this is seen in the images below associated with a tapestry weaving design.
I have found that this has been a good method of disruption and has worked well to develop ideas for a series of works both for knitting and weaving. Taking me in directions that I may not have travelled naturally but all the while developing greater breadth and depth to my personal development.
A year ago during the May holiday week my mum was here to visit from Canada and we were off seeking out new fabrics, ideas and inspiration for knitting, quilting and decorating. As part of this time I decided it was going to be the month to conquer the 'brioche' technique that I had been pondering since the winter holidays. I had originally been drawn to this techniques because of the ability to combine two different colours while also creating a piece that had dual perspectives, reversible. This was different from
all the colour work I have been knitting in the past months.
It wasn't an easy task, trying to teach myself from the books was daunting at first. I couldn't get the sequence of the stitches, which ones went together and what seemed like a complex set of written instructions and charts. I sought out someone who might understand the process for advice in person but there were none in my immediate circle. So on I went, persisting with the books, charts and some advice from YouTube. However, both books and YouTube are similar in that if you cannot relate directly to the positioning of the hands and the placement of the yarn then it can be frustrating.
Try and try again I did and eventually after a few weeks of working and reworking stitches, trying different yarns and tension ... there was success!
A year on, I have fallen for brioche. It is as I expected, which is a great match to displaying my handspun yarns with solid colour. An now, I am working toward designing my own ideas using brioche. I will continue to be inspired by the work of Nancy Marchant (www.briochestitch.com) and to seek out designers who are incorporating brioche techniques alongside other stitches to create unique designs that are innovative and reversible!
As always it feels as if it has been a long winter but I love the idea that in winter everything is still alive underground waiting for the signs of spring warmth to surface. This is exactly what happens each winter with my creativity. During the grey murky months of winter here in Wales, it seems like we barely see the sun some winter months but inside my little 'ty' (house) I am often spinning in the evenings to try and resist the constant urge to hibernate. This winter there was a clear theme to my selection of fleece. I source my dyed fleeces from indie dyers across the UK and abroad. A couple of my favourites are Hilltop Cloud (mid-Wales) and Wildcraft (Dorset). While collecting last autumn it seems that there were lots of violet, green and pink selections with a bit of yellow here and there. This was not intentional but I would just collect a few at events and online based on what attracted me. Much of this fleece was collected with the original intention of spinning to knit; however, throughout the winter I have been gradually working up my confidence with my digital drawing and tapestry weaving and the selection of greens above have been highlighted for a new tapestry weaving based on some digital inspiration collected from my weekly beach walks at Dinas Dinlle. Much of my confidence and digital development was the result of a strategy of creating with my fibre advent calendar from Wonderful Wool (Wales). This will be the topic one of my upcoming blog post ... so keep an eye on my instagram account @blethu.wales for updates or drop by again soon!
#spinning #weaving #wool #hilltopcloud #wildcraft #wonderfulwool #northwales