Welcome to my OCA learning log:

This is the learning log for Susan Lacey 516733 for the unit ‘A Textiles Vocabulary’.


Photos of all my works are included in the blog. The drop down heading Coursework/Part One will display all the coursework for this section, but each exercise is also individually categorised with its number in a list down the side of all posts. Research can be viewed by highlighting the Research and Reflection tab, but is also categorised into books and exhibitions, and internet. For Assignment One the Assignment tab contains only an overview and reflection.


Again the drop down menu Coursework/Part Two should display all the work for this section but each individual exercise is also categorised by number. The Assignment Two tab contains all work pertaining to the final three textile works for this. Reflection on Part Two will be found in the Research and Reflection drop down menu.


Exercises are again categorised by their number and the dropdown menu Coursework/Part Three should include all the work. The dropdown menu item Assignment Three contains a documentation of the Colour Communication book once assembled. Work that didn’t make the cut into the book is documented as part of each exercise in coursework. Research and Reflections are under the drop down menu item and the reflection on Assignment Three can also be found under the Assignment Three tab.

Review point: Demonstration of creativity

I think I’ve been a bit limited in my creativity around the yarn making to date. I have only used a limited number of techniques to produce yarn and in the last section I have focussed entirely on trying to spin yarn. I find that I get engrossed in trying to improve a particular technique if I enjoy it and don’t really spend enough time considering other possible solutions. Having said that I think I am quite good at pulling in techniques and ideas from a variety of disciplines in order to adapt and create a technique suited to my current project.

I try to keep my eyes out for ideas from all sources and find that some of the best ideas come when I’m not trying to concentrate on problem solving but have just kept my current project in mind as I go about my day. As far as personal voice goes, I’m not really sure I understand what this means. I can see there are aspects of image making that I gravitate towards, namely serendipity, complexity and colour, but I don’t seem to keep my interests narrow. I have a tendency to leap from one technique to another without fully developing a single one. I’m not sure if this is working for me or against me. It is useful to have a range of techniques to consider when looking at the best way to develop an image, but then perhaps I do end up as “master of none”.

And just because I don’t like to have a post without an image, here is a photo of a textile work from a couple of years ago where I have stitched back into a piece of wax resisted fabric. 😀

Experimental yarns and concepts (4.2)

1. Colour placement and exploration

I think I’ll use the Mexican looking bandana fabric to work from to inspire yarn. It has three or four colours and black. I think I’ll start by using four embroidery threads and spinning them together.

I also have some little elastic bands in an appropriate colour that I could use. Perhaps i could link loops of yarn in the right colour with elastic bands and form a yarn by knotting them.

Another thought is painting yarn. Or dyeing. Or spinning the right colour yarns by blending fleece. As I’m now considering using this fabric for the next segment I might use my flower fabric instead. I could dye silk gauze to cut in strips and spin to make yarns.

I could use a traditional yarn and make a few skeins of yarn that were dyed in the skein in various colour proportions. Or simply spin in the pre blended or dyed fibre.

Actually as I’m using the bandana for the next segment I’ll use my floral liberty fabric for this segment instead. It has lots of small dots of colour that I could combine equally or I could play around with the proportions a bit.

2. Materials Exploration

I’m struggling a bit here with thinking of unusual materials suggested by my fabrics or gouache studies. As above the pattern on the fabric mentioned above reminds of Mexico or South America. Mexican hats and Piñatas use raffia or paper, so it’s a bit of a stretch but I might use crepe paper to make a yarn. I could include molded paper shapes to include harking back to Joomchi or paper mache.

Little motifs to include could also be colour blended and baked from poly clay.

Trying to make a link between this bandana and materials I remember that it was a bandana sold at the petrol station for fundraising for the cancer council. I’ve nicked some clear oxygen tubing from work that references sickness. I was really thinking of IV tubing but I suspect that might be more expensive. Thinking of chemo here. I’m considering filling the tubing with colour in some fashion. Not sure how. Maybe inject paint in??? Has got me thinking about other hollow materials that could be used. Maybe like a i cord knitted in a range of colours or clear filament and stuffed as you go. I could blend fleece and insert as I went. Or a tiny knitting Nancy. Maybe I’ll get one tomorrow.

3. Texture and Tonal Qualities

I’ll probably use the diamond textures Japanese silk as my neutral to explore texture and tone. Possibilities would be to use the neutral colour and then deepen the tone by core spinning black thread over. Could use white to add the highlights.

I could reference the stitched texture by making bobbles in a loose soft yarn by winding thread tightly to crest segments.

Extensive overspinning could also create bobbles.

I’m not sure how to best represent the muted colour palette I can see of olive green blush of pink and lemon yellow. Using fibre would be fun but pretty traditional. Combination of paper and thread would also be good.

Stitching on water soluble vilene may be a way of creating a fine net like yarn that may show subtle colour and tone dependent on the density of stitch. Especially when presented on white. And I might be able to work in stitch bobbly texture too. Could try using the preprogrammed machine stitches.

This is all just brainstorming for the next segment. I’ll add the yarns to this post once made.

Colour placement and exploration:

For this section I have used my own yarns spun from dyed wool fibre, which I have then blending to try and achieve the main colours in my fabric. Here are the yarns that resulted.

Fabric with colour chips and blended fibre

Fabric swatch and colour chips with blended fibre

Equal segments of the main colours spun and Navajo plyed into a yarn

Three colours and black spun and plyed together

Felted bobbles of orange and pink with a smaller proportion of the peacock blue

Black background with discrete short segments of colour

Peacock blue background with short segments of orange and pink. No black

I was interested to see how the inclusion of black dramatically changes the feel of the yarn. To my mind the black adds much more of a harshness or boldness to the yarn, even when used in equal proportion to the other colours. In contrast to this the yarns with no black look softer and less dominant. I wasn’t happy with the yellow in any of the yarns. It was actually meant to be a blended orange from yellow and magenta, but if any yellow escaped into the yarn it stood out very prominently and inappropriately for the fabric swatch. A lot more time needed to be spent blending the fibre for a better result, but I got impatient.

Materials exploration:

I have used the Mexican/South American Cancer Council bandana to inspire me in three ways. Firstly I have linked the origin of the bandana as a fundraiser for the Cancer Council to suggest sickness to me. To reference this I have tried to use tubing or tube like structures, as for IV tubing or oxygen tubing. Secondly the Mexican reference suggests Mexican hats or coloured piñatas, so I have used coloured paper for some of my experimental yarns. The third is a bit of a stretch but looking at the brick like pattern I have considered the stone steps of Mexican pyramids. This has led me to use my new fancy stone paper for one of the yarns.

Red watercolour paint was messily suctioned into oxygen tubing and sealed with knots and superglue for this yarn. It’s a bit stiff and rope like but it can be manipulated as evidenced by the knots, because there is a certain amount of stretch in the plastic.

A red straw has been cut into sections here and threaded over a bright white cellulose yarn, again referencing the tube nature of medical equipment.

Yarn has been twisted from tissue paper and glue to create “piñata” yarns.

Stone paper cut into brick like shapes and twisted to create a more rounded yarn.

Texture and Tonal Qualities:

In the photo the pink tint shows up strongly and whilst it is there to some extent there is a yellow hue to the background that is not evident in this photo. I used flecks of pink and yellow on a background of white/cream to try and reflect this colour scheme but I find it very hard to blend colour in this very gentle range. I idea was that shadow in the yarn would give me the darker tone but this didn’t happen. I may edit this photo to better match colour if I can.

Again the white background appears pink in this photo. Not really this appearance in the edited photo but I’ll check on other monitors and may try and correct. Here I have made a chunky yarn made of hand dyed one plys wound together. The strength of the colours is much too strong even though I watered the dye down a lot and tried to mute it with complementary. Not very successful.

Next I’ll try to introduce a tiny trace of colour into the yarn by using a thin woolly nylon thread. I will wind the nylon tightly to great exaggerated bobbles to reflect the texture in the sample.

This photo is a better colour representation than the one above. I have tried to be be more subtle with colour and more exaggerated with texture in these ones. Probably that one on the left is the most successful but sadly none are great. I have to move on though or I will not get through the work.

Yarns inspired by stitch and marks (4.1) The long threads

Next I need to move on to three longer threads. I’m going to try and combine techniques or extend the most successful elements of the short threads to create new more complex threads in 1 m lengths.

For this thread I plan to try and incorporate the embossed and red square elements. I’m looking at using the polar fleece and laying that under some water soluble paper and then stitching the red squares by machine over that. Or I might use some cotton batting actually because that would hold the thread better and also be in keeping with the natural background colour. I want to used enough batting around the stitching this time to give the full effect of embossing into batting. I could make all the squares first I guess and then link together by machine again or I could kept the whole thread a bit wide.

I wasn’t very happy with the results for the ink drawing. I’d like to get the viscous, drippy, layered and slightly shiny feel of the drawing.

Ideas are to spin thick and thin black wool yarn and then use that as a core for a shinier surface thread. Maybe an embroidery thread. I’m not sure. I think the wool does give a dense look but I want to avoid fluffy hairy bits. Another option would be to coat in a glue or paint to give the shine. Black printing ink might work in that it would retain some flexibility. I might be able to make a wool thread and then work the printing ink inside and outside to some extent.

These threads were fun and successful. With one exception they were achieved by machining on watersoluble vilene. I would like to have a yarn that showed the parallels of different colour in the drawing but also the fuzzy and irregular appearances also in the drawing. Thinking of distinct parallel threads machine couched down to a couple of layers of stiff net like tulle. This time I’ll likely couch the threads separately so I don’t see so much of the joining machine thread. Or I could use invisible thread to couch. I have my new free motion couching feet for the sweet sixteen so I’ll probably use them. That will guarantee some irregularity to the thread too 😀

The cling wrap yarn was not fun to work with and not overly successful. It’s too shiny and doesn’t have the shadows of texture that the paper yarn does. I’d like to try again with the paper yarn and make a longer segment and work it for longer to see if I can get real softness into it. I will need to get some more fibre paper from somewhere and I’m thinking of incorporating a long fibre thread through the middle to stabilise it and allow me to work it harder. So much fun but I wish I had more time.

I’ll come back and add the yarns to this post once they are done.

This yarn is created by spinning a thick and thin black wool yarn and then over spinning it again and then finally rubbing it with black screen printing. Ink. Interesting most of the ink has absorbed into the wool and the yarn has retained seemingly all it’s flexibility. The ink has provided areas of shine though and controlled the fuzziness to some extent.

Here I have taken a white batting (why I didn’t use neutral like I had planned I don’t know) and used the machine to sew a square linear embroidery pattern on the batting. I was trying to press some batting down so the other would pop up like the embossing. That is happening on a very small scale that is not evident in the photo. If I free machined the red squares I could flatten them much more but to do that on a little scale like this for a yarn would be very tedious.

Here I have attempted to incorporate the parallel lines of colour and the fuzzy appearance into one yarn. It is two lines of thread machine couched down on to a piece of net. I would have preferred that the yarn sat flat instead of twisting to better highlight the parallel lines. I’m not sure if this is a function of the net background or if it’s machine stitch that stretches and shrinks areas. Possibly if I did this by hand it may lie flatter.

I ended up having three goes at creating a long yarn to resonate with the crinkly nature of this work. First I did a machine stitch only yarn just because I could. I wanted to see if I could build up areas of texture. I can see that it may be possible but I would need to continue longer with this or use a thicker thread in the bobbin.

Then I have twisted two different weights of rusted fabric on itself and fixed the twist with machine stitching and then washed the yarns. This was an extension of the joomchi paper yarn I made but I wanted to incorporate more resilience by using fabric. I think the light weight fabric in the top left was the most successful as it retains more of the flexibility of yarn and shows crinkles well.

I’m really enjoying this yarn exploration and am excited to move on to the next section.

Yarns inspired by stitch and marks (4.1) Four more

From left to right:

Hand made felt cut into squares and linked together by white machine stitch. Inspired by the red square embossed image.

Knotted hand dyed silk – looking for something with shine to reference the black ink drawing but the knots poke out too much for the drips really.

Sari silk and Perle cotton thread couched together on the machine. This was another attempt at a yarn with parallel lines. Would have been better if I hadn’t used red to machine it together but I was being lazy. Might try a hand stitched version with “invisible” thread.

And one final 30 cm segment:

I was quite pleased with this one which was silk thread stitched through a thin strip of tulle and then the tulle was trimmed close to the thread.

I was going for a central core with hairiness around the outside that had a degree of stiffness to it. A pleasing irregularity also developed fortuitously that added to the connection with the drawing but also suggested further uses for this net sewn thread. I could pull a core together much more tightly with machine stitch and possibly use multiple layers of tulle. Maybe machine couch a core.

Yarns inspired by stitch and marks (4.1) First yarns


These are my first attempts at short segments of yarn.

From left to right:

Paper yarn – used a Joomchi paper felting process but just with a strip of yarn. Delicate at first but with increased manipulation becomes stronger and softer. This idea was sourced from the Joomchi paper work where a small bit had come off the edge and was gently  twisting suggesting yarn.

Machine couched perle cotton type thread using machine poly cotton thread and couched on to water soluble vilene which was subsequently washed away. This one was trying to reference the image with parallel linear marks of different colours.

Needle and wet felted wool fibre and sheer silk. Thinking of the linear drips of ink on the black source image and trying to suggest this with thicker and thinner areas. The fuzz halo doesn’t fit with this though.

Machine stitched square pattern and thread on to watersoluble vilene again. Thinking of the woven red square appearance in the embossed work.

Strip of hand dyed tulle and machine thread with multiple cuts and repairs to create a spiky fuzz as is the linear work.

Strip of polar fleece and heavy machine stitching. Experimenting with ways of creating an embossed look yarn.

Finally spun cling wrap then heated over the stove top to set twist – again thinking of the Joomchi source image and its crinkly texture. It is stiff and not that attractive. The paper version is definitely more successful.

Definitely having fun playing with making yarn. One thing I am getting out of this course is learning how to create inspiration. We are still working with imagery that came out of original textile drawings from last year and I love how it’s easy to think of a variety of possible yarns just by looking at those images. Much easier than simply plucking something out of your imagination.

Yarns inspired by stitch and marks. (4.1) Source materials

This exercise involves starting to create lengths of yarn using the stitched samples from Part Two and the drawings that inspired these.

I’ve been dying to use this drawing but it wasn’t included in the final part two stitched works so I’m going to use it now. The things that I’m drawn to are the thick dimensional drips of ink and the shaded and textured appearance behind.

This is one of the stitched samples that took some inspiration from the above drawing. Here the dimension is represented by the layers of paper. That bit that hangs off the side is also interesting in the context of yarn creation.

Words that might be useful in translating these two into yarns:

Thick, layered, viscous, stiff, rough, gloss, reflective, smooth, lumpy

This drawing is from the detail section of Part One. It didn’t get used even for the stitched samples but it clearly lends itself to yarn creation with a few challenges so I am going to include it.

Words about this drawing:

Hairy, wiggly, parallel lines, holey, irregular, broken

Finally I love this so I want to use it yet again.

Words for this:

Recessed, embossed, woven, contrast, red, moulded, holes, square.

So the plan is to look at these works and the words and come up with a variety of lengths of yarn. I’m excited by this because I have flirted with the idea of constructing my own yarn in the past from unusual materials but never actually got motivated to do it. And putting together unusual yarns in weaving or knitting plays into my love for the unexpected or unimagined too.