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.


Exercises are under Coursework/Part Four and their number. Assignment tab has the final work and reflections.

Assignment Four: Reflections

I enjoyed this assignment very much. I felt like there was more making involved and that is what I enjoy. I did go off on a bit of a tangent with spinning, which I’ve only just touched on before, and I rediscovered macrame and braiding from my distant past.

Overall I’m finding that this course is demonstrating how you can build a textile work from the ground up. Making every part to suit your intentions. I haven’t thought much about making the materials before, including making yarn, and I can see how this would enhance a project.

I wasn’t very happy with my presentation of the yarns though. It would have been more satisfying for me if I could have found a way of looking at them all at once in a pile of a box. Instead I chose to attach them all to card. I have attempted to leave one part free to allow movement to be demonstrated and to touch the yarn.

I haven’t yet mastered the subtle colour and texture section. My colours remained all too intense despite multiple attempts. I needed to take the time and find the patience to use much smaller amounts of diluted colour for a better result.

I was happy with the paper mache yarns. They were surprisingly strong and despite being stiff and holding there shape, they were also malleable, especially when wet.

The wool spun yarns were fun to experiment with, but here I suspect I was more experimenting with spinning that with yarn construction. They were successful but fairly traditional yarns.

The deconstructed yarns were exciting to work with. I wasn’t sure what result I would get as I deconstructed the materials and I love that uncertainty and potential for surprise.

Starting to construct simple forms was very satisfying. It opened my eyes to the potential of braiding and the possibility of building forms for use in artworks, from the ground up.

I’m pretty happy with this unit and I feel I got a lot out of it, that I can apply to future projects.

Assessment criteria review

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I like to use a wide range of materials and techniques, and believe I am aware of the possibilities detailed observation can bring to a work. I’m not sure how I go really with design and composition. In relation to this assignment I used design elements directly related to the previous works I was observing and they were arranged fairly traditionally.

Quality of outcome

I was happy with the yarns, but as I mentioned above, I was not very happy with the presentation of the final collection. I would rather it had sat together as a single coherent work, rather than mounted on the the thin board and arranged in a concertina book that was floppy and distracting to manage.

Demonstration of creativity

I love to experiment and explore and this is always a feature of my work. I would have to say that my personal voice seems to be about process and surprise, and the final works are somewhat lacking in finish, coherence and concept.


A weak point of mine. I research techniques but probably don’t research artists enough. I take my information from all sorts of sources and continue to not be aware of where I best fit.

Collage inspired yarn (4.5)

I have chosen to work from just one collage for this segment. This collage has contrasting textures and simple but interesting colours.

Button yarn was fun to do but pretty time consuming. The flower motif was not the most relevant but it was all I had in that colour. Woven yarn was tricky because of the delicacy of the ribbon and is fairly uninteresting. The glued collage tape on the right references collage more clearly and I was able to also incorporate the shape in the original collage.

On the left is rug hooked elastic. I consider this successful as a technique but to be honest it doesn’t link back to the original collage very well.

Finally I have a multilayered glued yarn. I was trying to reference the layering in the base of the collage with the blue sitting on top. It doesn’t do it for me. I would have been better using tissue paper as in the original collage for a better layered effect but I didn’t have those papers available at the time.

Deconstructing colour as yarn. (4.4)

The watercolour line paintings were used to guide the colours and translucency of the materials I have chosen to deconstruct and create yarn.

Rope is deconstructed progressively until I discover it it’s made of a monofilament of nylon fused with a softer fluffy nylon thread. I have manipulated the photograph here to highlight the finer threads which didn’t show well on their original white background.

Cotton yarn is unplyed and then the single is further drafted out and reknotted as it was too delicate to stay together.

Loosely woven teatowel is pulled apart and partially unpicked. I did try to remove whole threads to simply open the weave more but that proved too difficult to hold together so I had to make a few cuts to facilitate removal of some of the thread. If I had done it with a larger piece of fabric and then cut the loose weave out later it may have worked.

Even though I cut this seemingly holey sponge as thin as I could it doesn’t really give the airy look that I am going for.

I considered these deconstructed straws some of the more successful. It is helped by the translucency being evident even in the original straws.

Again this starting solid material isn’t too solid already and the deconstruction here is pretty basic but the resulting yarn is a successful light airy yarn.

Some less successful attempts. The left hand cotton interlock tape has not deconstructed at this point to be light and airy. If I continued the process and went over it again with scissors I could probably open it up a bit more.

In the centre is a piece of hand dyed silk/hemp. The surrounding yarn is actually just tangled yarn retrieved from the dryer. I tried to emulate this on the right by washing, manipulating and drying a piece of the silk/hemp but it has not unwound enough in the washing. Again if I had worked with a large piece and then just pulled my “yarn” off the edge at the end I may have had more success.

Exercise 4.3 Re-interpret, re-invent

I have started this section by looking at my materials from the yarn wraps in response to the old masters painting, which was of a girl sewing by Vermeer.

I’ve tried to include the essential colours across all the five yarns but haven’t included too many colour ways in the one yarn for fear of muddying the colours. I have utilised the sumptuous textures in the painting by including lacy, shiny and velvety materials.

Now I need to create small structures with a technique such as macrame or crochet. I think that the mood of the painting most suggests braiding to me but I’m not sure that I will achieve the firm contour associated with braiding using my yarns.

When I was in Vietnam a couple of years ago I learnt a braiding technique from a lady who ran a craft shop there. I’m going to see if I can remember that and maybe research a bit more around braiding. I can do Kumihumo braiding but I am looking for a more simple flat structure braid here to best display these yarns.

I’ve had a look at a you tube video to remind me of the macrame. I’ve last done macrame maybe 40 years ago and I was excited to try it again. It’s deceptively simple with just a few basic knots as elucidated by Andy Newcombe in this appealing video with its giant macrame ropes 🙂

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5wgGSCIOXk0 Viewed 25 March 2017

I’ve also tried to remember the braiding I did in Vietnam but it turned out a bit rough and irregular.

My braiding on left and spiral macrame on the right.

I think a flat braid best shows the yarn. Here I have done a flat macrame, then I tried a simple braid which was a plait, and finally and six thread flat braid. I was really enthused by that. It’s like off loom weaving where the threads are both warp and weft. I’ve never actually tried that before and I would love to try a much wider one. I’m really attracted to simple techniques that just use simple equipment and limited set up.

Had some fun making simple structures with my yarns.

Had to ad lib a bit because of various problems. Understand the braiding now, just take the outside thread and weave across to the middle, then back to the other side. That’s what I’ve done for the first two and it was good for the ric rac because it allowed me to keep it flat. I decided to use macrame for the second two (from left to right) because I only had short lengths and I used an extra central ribbon to knot my yarn around.

Finally the right hand one would have unravelled if I cut it, so I used a very simple hand built crochet chain instead. I would have liked to try braiding it but next time I’ll need to plan ahead for that.

Reflective commentary

I really enjoyed this section. It felt good to be actually making something even if it was only a little useless form. I had forgotten about macrame and have never understood braiding. I’ve only touched on a couple of braiding techniques but I like to just learn the basics and then just run with it rather than follow patterns. I was happy with my hemp samples and tried to move towards which technique would most suit my yarn samples.

I encountered a few problems along the way. I found that when I had cut my materials to make the yarn that there was a lot of fraying that took away from the smooth lush appearance I had hoped to achieve to resonate with my Vermeer painting with its lush painted textures. I also found that the sparkly materials shed a lot which contaminated other yarns and was unpleasant to work with. I had to have a few attempts and getting my structures to lay flat and unpick the ones that just looked like a tangle. I also hadn’t thought ahead to the technique when I made the yarn. The crocheted yarn could not be cut without unravelling and was therefore not suitable for braiding. As a result the final form was not as dense as I intended as I had to devise a structure from a single thread.

I feel like I have gained the ability to braid any number of threads in at least one pattern and think that I would be able to change up that pattern and explore other configurations of braiding. I am quite excited by this new skill as I love to learn new things and especially love simple techniques that don’t use lots of equipment and are also longstanding, ancient crafts. I love to take a new craft and see how I can make it my own by not learning too many rules and rather trying out things for myself.

I felt that the imagery and mood of the Vermeer painting was one of lush domesticity. I tried to include materials of the colours in the painting and combined them in groups of two or three to save muddying the original colours. I also chose textural materials to emphasis the lush velvets and materials present in the painting. Finally I have used braiding as my main technique as I feel it references the decor and techniques of the time. Also in keeping with the past I have not used the machine for any sewing but have included some hand stitch where necessary.

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.