Part 4: Project 2 – Exercise 4.3 Re-interpret, re-invent

I have used youtube videos to teach myself macrame. I enjoyed learning and sicovering the techniques – seemed to help ‘anchor’ the explorations and inspired me to revisit some of the earlier techniques (for instance working from the neutral fabric)

I briefly investigated knotting and braiding and plaiting. I made one braiding experiment which was very effective. I used very fine yarns, however because of this the knots/braid was very fine so it didn’t become a large (long) sample yarn design.

I didn’t want to purse French knitting or crochet as I liked the idea of not using another instrument or tools.

I was really resistant to the initial exercises in Project 1 of the assignment but things finally clicked in to place moving on to Project 2 when I started working on responses to the colour work from the Old Masters got me much more interested.

Rubens – The Annunciation


I realise I haven’t taken enough photos of my processes here, but will reflect on what I learnt with this exercise:

From the original braiding techniques, I found that different outcomes could be achieved by changing the texture and fineness of the yarn I chose. For instance in my macrame research, it is more common to use thick rope, jute etc. The technique and look took on a very different outcome when I applied using wool and a finer cotton.

I found that the knotting and braiding and macrame work suited the Rubens’ painting as it highlighted an intricate quality that resonated with the painting itself.

I aimed to accentuate the richness and warmth of the colours and the fluidity of the robes by using the strong colour combination of the wools.

The process was time consuming. There is a lot of room for further experimentation. For instance I began to ad-hoc one of the macrame knots by adding touches of finer yarns, knotting them into the braid.

I would like to have investigated further different possible combinations of colour and yarn with more knot techniques.

I would have liked to have used ribbons and cut up pieces of fabric and investigated the plastic bag further too.

Following my investigation into these techniques, particularly macrame, I returned to the earlier exercise in Project 1, using my neutral palette to inspire some macrame work.

I used my own spun wool again, plus some raffia I had picked up in a charity shop.

The Art of Spinning and Dyeing

A while ago, I joined my local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. And so grateful that I did. I have so far attended one meeting, where I felt a bit out of place and very much a novice. All the women there had their looms and spinning wheels and were confidently working and chatting away at the same time.

I finally plucked up the courage to approach a lady with her spinning wheel and asked her if she would be happy to teach me how to use a drop spindle. And before I knew it, I was sat down and part of a circle, spinning away. And what was lovely was that everyone was so encouraging, despite me spinning a very uneven yarn. I really enjoy the process. I’d like to spin more and create 2 ply, 3 ply maybe even 4 ply yarn.


A couple of weeks ago, I went to the annual dyeing day. I had to prepare by getting some undyed wool and create skeins (I used the back of a chair), and then washed them and put them in a pot with mordant – alum and cream of tartar. The following day was spent with a  a number of women from the guild, all bunging their skeins in to vats of onion skin, chamomile, daffodil heads, fustic chips, brazil wood and indigo. It was fun, intense and lots of quick decision making on the spot. As a complete beginner I did have any agenda other than to experiment. I learnt that next time, it would be a good idea to somehow tag or label my skeins after bringing them out of the dye pot, because by the end of the day I couldn’t remember which skein had been dyed with what, especially when it came to me mixing things up, creating greens by putting the yellow skeins in to the indigo, and viva-versa.

I don’t know what I’ll do with these yarns as yet. Maybe the next step is for me to rent a loom from the guild and learn to weave?!