Testing a dyeing technique

I went to an exhibition last year at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park of Sean Scully’s work and was blown away by the intensity of the colour he uses and the impact of his bold stripes.  (I have a thing for stripes as I can also lose myself in Bridget Riley’s paintings .)


Anyway, I thought that I would like to try to work with the idea of bands of colour in my woven work. However, I wanted to create the overlapping of colour that Scully produces, where colours are layered and move from one into another. Because the weave process tends to produce distinct bands of colour or calculated Ombre effects, I decided that I needed to work with dying the weft before it is woven to create the blurring that I want to produce.

Dying yarn to produce stripes is something that is used for knitted items and was described in detail in an article by Debbie Tomkies in The Journal for Weavers,  Spinners and Dyers 268, Winter 2018. In ‘Dyeing with Knitted Blanks’, she describes how undyed yarn is machine knitted into tubes and is then dyed, unravelled and knitted up. This technique of dyeing means that the sequence of colour remains the same when it is translated into a knitted or woven item.

As my ambition is to produce sequential stripes that blur into one another, this seemed like a good starting point for dyeing weft yarn that can subsequently be woven without imposing a pattern. So, I produced 3 knitted blanks, all of the same number of rows and in the same yarn (Axminster 90% Wool, 10% Nylon) and dyed them in a variety of stripes using Acid dyes. (Debbie Tomkies’ article gives full and detailed instructions on how to do this.)

The dyed blanks were then unravelled into skeins and then woven into sample sized, weft faced mini rugs. Because I have recorded the number of rows in the blank, I can then calculate how much yarn I will need to produce other sizes in future.

The first sample is a  three-colour piece. It uses yellow, black and blue, which merge in some areas. Although the stripes are not much in evidence, I like the intensity of this piece, which I think is because the blue and the black modify one another and then produce a green which is related to the yellow and is not a separate colour.

The second sample uses blue, grey and brown and also leaves some of the yarn undyed. This produced a subtler effect with more pixellation where the colours intersect one another. I prefer the areas in this sample where there is no undyed yarn I think that the white produces a hazy effect, which was not my objective. (I might use this for other purposes at some point.)

The third sample uses blue, grey and green. Although I am not keen on the green in this piece, I think that this is probably closest to the effect that I was trying to achieve. The stripes are present and merge with one another. I think the order is wrong as the green is centred, but I can forgive this in a sample!

Mark Making Experimentation

Last week, I headed up to Malton to 2ShedStudios to spend a couple of days with my sister and to have a couple of days of experimentation with mark making. She is a surface pattern designer, specialising in print and so I had the opportunity of playing with her printing press and having a go at screen printing. I had decided to do this, not only because she is the best hostess ever and can rustle up a fantastic cake or two as well as being an inspirational teacher, but also because I felt that I needed to break out of my comfort zone and to do something new.

The first day was spent learning how to do block printing and then how to make relief prints and impressions. I liked the way that these could be layered up and collaged and enjoyed the versatility of using the press both with and without ink. This technique is something that I would like to use in future concept work but haven’t figured out (yet) how to bring this to the loom.

The second day was spent learning about screen printing. Although I could see that this was essential in terms of pattern making and surface design, it didn’t offer up much for me and my interest in 3D design.

Day 3 was a morning’s drawing followed by a trip to Dane’s Dyke at Flamborough, which has the most amazing, huge white pebbles on the beach and to Bempton to enjoy the cliffs and bird sanctuary.

I am hoping that this short break in my routine will bring about some interesting changes to my woven work this year.


Baslow Christmas Festival Market

I had a lovely day at the Baslow Christmas Festival market. It was good to see how much the Baslow community pulls together to make these events happen, even on a damp and gloomy December day. And I enjoyed telling interested people about my work and even managed to sell several items. Now it’s time to spend a couple of months developing some new ideas.


In Praise of Shadows

Inspired by Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s ‘In Praise of Shadows’, I was interested in the spaces created by the layering of elements within the traditional Japanese house. The importance of places of darkness and the locating of important objects within these spaces was something that I wanted to explore in my weaving. In order to test these ideas, I wove screens and a throw in linen and paper and silk using weave structures that either create real 3-D space or that produce shadows. A small stool is upholstered in ombre effect silk fabric.




I am interested in the way that film depicts complex spatial, emotional and physical conditions. I began to dissect and analyse film to instigate pieces of weaving. This is a way of generating work that I find exciting. I produced several samples based on deconstructing Tati’s ‘Playtime’.

Some are constructed using Theo Moorman’s inlay technique, some in double cloth, others by mixing metal with yarn.





Another early project looked at the qualities of skin and the textures and contours that could be found under the microscope. This translated into woven pieces that are furrowed and pleated. Conceptually, this project is similar to the previous one in that it translates visual information in one manifestation into woven representation.

Although I was pleased with the resultant work, it doesn’t connect with my aim to produce weaving that is derived from a narrative.

Birch Bark

Every project begins with a concept. My first weaving took silver birch bark as its inspiration and began with a number of drawings. These then developed into woven samples; testing a range of materials in both the warp and weft and also looked at various weave structures to try to suggest the texture of the bark.