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.

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