Making pvc yarn from paddling pool

Making pvc yarn from paddling pool

A long time since I last blogged. I think (in hindsight) that this was because I wasn’t too happy with what I was working on, so wasn’t too keen to share. But Now I Have Ditched It (well I think i have – is this post a therapy session to come to terms with this, I ask myself?)

Lets start at the begining….. Our next project is supposed to be about recycling (or at least a nod in the direction of environmentalism). I tried weaving strips of plastic bags and thought they could be a useful garden-type textile. I have tried plastic bag weaving before and not been very enthrawled, so not sure why I grasped this idea. Anyway, I grasped at this straw very strongly and went off running with it. Plastic bags are in short supply at our house (being environmentally minded and having one child still in night-time nappies- OK not disposable) Perhaps using strips of toddlers paddling pools, PVC would be better.
I sourced several punctured paddling pools from all over sheffield – lots of colours. Feeling proud of myself, I was.
Now….. on with artwork. What would make good use of all these bright shiny colours.mmmm. Caterpillars… they are a bit comical, bright and colourful and garden-y.
Io_moth_caterpillarMAX00761More on caterpillar art in my next post.  I think I need to get all this out of my system before I can pick the subject for my next project and time is running out…!


I’m a bit behind with blogging.  this is partly due to holidays (camping in Ireland – a little damp but great holiday) and due to school holidays which means that I have no spare time.  By the time it gets to evening, I’m shattered.  I have also had camera problems that meant I took photos on my mobile phone and mislaid them on my computer.  Anyway………….

IMG_2751I decided not to use display boards for my samples this time.  As I had based my design on a pinecone, it seemed a good idea to use a fir tree (aka xmas tree) to hang the samples on.  I was working on the assumption that we are aiming to present our product in show or similar.

I was happy with it.  Tutor seemed a little bemused but agreed that it was a good idea.  I was a bit rushed this project so it suited me – it was much quicker to do this than attach samples onto boards and do all the artwork.    Tutor thought samples were fairly good – some more than others.  Reminded me that double cloth should be pleasing to look at from both sides.  As I had used double weave in some samples as ‘structural’, the back of some samples weren’t very interesting.  My mood board worked well.  I had used paintshop pro to design a background (blurred a photo of autumn leaves) and overlaid it with other photos suggesting autumn, crisp, outdoorsy.  I got it printed at Staples onto A2.  Not cheap but I was in a rush for this project.  I could well do this again for my final show (apparantly I can use Bradford College print facilities if I get my act together).  It’s a bit expensive to do it for every project.  I also need to ensure that if I am designing Mens scarfs, that all my samples are for men.  Some of mine were a bit feminine.  Everyone liked this sample best.dwsample7b – the most feminine.  As most of the students are female, perhaps that is predictable.









The tutor liked this one – and this is the one that nearly didn’t make it to the final cut – only selected because my husband liked it.  I find after a bit of weaving, tiredness creeps in and I feel the urge to do a really wacky mad sample.  Like  a personal joke.  It’s amazing how often these samples are picked out by other people as good ones. 


The funny thing about the process of producing samples, presenting your work (visually and verbally) and getting feedback  is… by the time you are at the presenting stage, you have mentally moved onto the next project.  Or I have.  My brain works faster than the time I have.   I’m sure I’m not alone.

The next project is on recycling.   I suppose it should have a new heading.  Or should I talk about Ireland next. 

Hmmmm   I’ll sleep on it.

Had a wonderful day on a couple of weeks ago, doing a print taster day at Bradford.  I’d only dabbled in lino cut, and etching before.  This was a fast paced tour of Monoprints, Pigment ink printing, Devore, discharge printing, and foil printing.  I learnt so much and it was great having all the great facilities when all the other students are on their holidays.

There were 10 of us doing it – mainly from our year of the HNC.  We’d asked whether it would be possible to run this day for us especially, it wasn’t anything to do with our Weave/knit course.  However, now I know more, I would love to incorporate print into my textile design.  It’s really exciting – a whole new world.

We started with Monoprints – using Procion Dyes to draw on the screens.  Faced with having to do some spontaneous art, I kept it simple. 

Mono Print using procion dyes Mono Print using procion dyes


I also did a second pass of the squeegee with the binder on and got a softer faded image.

Then we used the images we had brought to put onto screens.   This gave screens that could be reused time and time again with different techniques.  Light sensitive paint was scraped over a screen and then the image put over the screen when it was hardened under UV light.  The non-hardened paint could be washed off, leaving a reverse image of my photo.

  Pigment Ink paints were then squeegeed through the screen.  They only reached the fabric below the screen if the screen design allowed it. 

Pigment ink paint print
Pigment ink paint print

This one was done in 2 stages.  First I screen printed a blank screen with a mixture of yellow and blue for the background.  Then it dried and I superimposed my image using black ink.I was quite happy with this one.



Devore paste printing worked quite well one a white background – in this case a viscose silk.  The Aluminium sulphate eats away at the viscose but not the silk.   
 This has interesting implication for design of warps and wefts by weavers who then want to use devore.  We, as weavers. have a lot more scope for interesting effects.  Have a look at  Holly has explored this technique and explains how to do it. 
Discharge printing (bleaching out) also worked well for my image.  But foil printing (glueing down foil with a hot iron.  The glue having been applied through the screen to get the glue in the correct places for the image).
Foil printing
Foil printing

I loved the way the foil reflected the light as the water on the beach would have done.

By the way, the photo was taken by my brother and shows his wife and dog.
I just touched on printing – brilliant day exploring lots of techniques.  I think there is a real skill in knowing which technique suits which image, whether to reverse the image colours (black where white is, etc), what colour background to use.   Using black background didn’t always work for my image as the original photo was silhouettes on a light reflecting background. 
I’m looking forward to learning more and experimenting. 
 I realise my explanations were a bit rushed.  But hey, we have books for all that stuff!
jane (maybe get round to some weaving this side of Christmas)

Having horrified even myself at the brightness of the last warp colours, I picked brown, brown and more brown for the next warp.

2 shades of linen/cotton for one warp and acrylic boucle for the other warp.  (in hindsight, doing both sides in the same colour misses a bit of an opportunity with doubleweave).  However, as I usually do ‘in your face’ colours, I am determined to be a bit more subtle this time, IF IT KILLS ME.

I found a M & O threading in the Margarite Davidson book that looked quite pineconey.weaving

I reduced the number of ends in the sequence so I would get more repeats.


I tried using an orange yarn to get the waves on the right but there was not much distortion.  The block pattern on the left was good for giving a pine cones scales impression.  I liked this sample where I increased the amount of silver yarn in each block.  I used felting yarn plied several times – I thought this would make the fabric more stable.  I added a bit of padding under some of the ‘scales’ to make it more 3D.  When washed, it all pulled together a bit and the padding (welsh black fleece tops) is safely concealed


Everyone who had seen this one says ‘ooooh  so tactile’ – so a reckon this one is OK.   

I also wanted to experiment with pleats – basically, you use 2 beams for this.  Once you have woven about an inch (or more) of the top layer, loosen off the top layer end beam.  Pin the loosened cloth to the bottom cloth with sewing pins, across the warp.  Very gently tighten up the warp on the top beam, weave a few picks of tie down (tying down the top and bottom layers), tighten the warp again, weave a few more tie down picks and continue.   On a previous college sample, I liked how using lycra on a pleat made it crunch up.  Using cotton/linen and lycra gives a dry Pinecone crunchiness.


I particularly liked the areas next to the pleats/pockets which rippled up. 





My favourite sample is my next one – pleats again – subtle (yes, I’m getting the hang of this) colour gradation over the pleat.  I used the lifting plan that gave me blocks like sample 1.  This meant that when I came to pin down the pleats, there were sections of the bottom cloth that weren’t as stable (the blocks with the longer floats in).  I could only pin down the pleat intermittently across the warp.  I added a bit of slip, when I was doing the tye down, so that there were quite long warp floats on the back of the cloth.  These oval gaps showed the front colours through – fab effect.  I might use this later on.

dwsample5 (2)


Front side pleats








Reverse showing the oval reveal sections – love it!!  




Happy accidents – where would weaving be without them. 

Off to Bradford this coming week to present all this stuff.  I have to catch up with the paperwork (now ….. what was it I did???.  shh.  Don’t tell my tutor.)

Hope everyone’s weaving’s going well.  Jane

It’s hard to pin-point the ideas I have at one time because, by the time I’ve finished the sample that was my way of exploring them,  my ideas have moved on.  

I will try and explain the thinking behind my first set of samples (even though some of my ideas have changed now).

Pinecones    – blocks of dark and light ( the scales being light andthe shadows in between being dark),  generally brown (oh… I know… I will add a contrast…play around with photoshop for a while…)

brightened image of pinecone scales

brightened image of pinecone scales

OK – so orange, yellow and red.  Pinecones symbolise rebirth, and winter so maybe fire colours are a good idea.  Or so the thought went at the time.

I wonder what would happen if I developed the spaced twill scarf idea, (see pinecones pinecones pinecones post for photo) using 2 warps.  I put a brown felting wool on one beam and multcoloured cotton/linen warp on the other 2nd beam.  I wanted the 2 warps to loop over each other – you know, blocks of colour and blocks of shade..

looping the warps from the 2 different beams

looping the warps from the 2 different beams


I was being driven by my aim of making mens’ winter scarves.  But I really wasn’t very happy with the result.  The fabric wasn’t very stable (maybe might have improved with a bit more rigorous washing.).   The colours and texture looked less than sophisticated.

The rest of the same warp yielded one interesting sample.  Where I had done pleats in the warp, (need the 2 beams), interesting little pockets appeared on the reverse. 

Pockets on reverse of double weave pleats.
Pockets on reverse of double weave pleats.

But all in all, I was not happy with the warp or choice of colours.  The way the warp had different stripes of colour meant that it was not easy to hide the colour, so all the samples looked similar.  The colours were too strong.  I was hoping for more subtlety in this this project (all my other projects had been described as having  ‘strong use of colour’ – not bad in itself but I wanted to prove I could do ‘subtle’ too. ) I mentally started on the design of warp 2.

my original post from yesterday gave a least one reader the impression that the Bitesize course would only run for one year and then stop.  As far as I am aware, they plan to continue it.   It has one year’s duration.  Oohh the dangers of Semantics. 

Jane (lesson learnt)

Yesterday I went to a course meeting at Bradford college as course rep for our year.  Amongst other things, progression after the HNC was discussed and their plans for Bradford HNC.

As you probably know, funding changes have meant that the HNC cannot continue in its present form.  It is likely to be replaced by 2 things.  A programme of short courses and a Foundation Degree. 

The short course would be over a one-year duration.    The idea is that people could buy into the entire year or just  one short course.  The first session would be 7 or 8 days in one stretch which would cover drawing skills, some design development and learning the basics ie, warping etc.  Over the course of the year there would be 3 lots of 3day courses- each with a different theme or technique explored.  There would also be summer school of about 5 days which would explore a more advanced technique. 

The Foundation Degree details were a little fuzzier.  It is going to be aimed at those who had already done the HNC. (and presumably those who had done the ‘bitesize’ course.).  They were looking into it being over 2 years  and although the format wasn’t really decided, they were looking at distance learning.   Modules will have Credits.  It seems probable that this won’t start until sept 2010.

 There did seem to be a bit of uncertainty about things, but the ripples from funding changes take a while to settle.