Crochet and Stitch

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This week I have been experimenting with different ways of combining hand-stitch with crochet.  The cotton yarn I used above was crocheted freestyle, varying the size of hook and there is a contrast of texture between the firmer, tighter stitches which have been worked with smaller hooks, and the loose, droopy, more bedraggled feel of the stitches formed with huge crochet hooks.  One of the attractive features of using crochet as a foundation to add other materials or stitches to, is that it has an appearance of a net which has debris caught up and entangled in it.

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The crochet in this sample has been worked using a much finer cotton thread and therefore creating a more delicate result.

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In this sample the idea was to trap the crochet with transparent fabrics secured with small stitches around it, on a foundation of fabric patches which have been sewn together.  I quite like the idea of different elements being trapped and enclosed within a garment so I decided to look at this idea more closely.

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The crochet flower has been enclosed in an envelope of organza and is free to move about.  A few wisps of Angelina fibre has been added to suggest a hint of faery magic.  This idea suggests things which are collected perhaps on a walk through a forest, on the beach or in a meadow and it brings to mind childhood, where shells, flowers and pebbles are pieces of treasure and in fact for anyone who loves textiles and sees the world of nature as their main source of inspiration, the scavenging for a natural jewel of some kind, continues.  Pockets, pouches also play a part as vessels for collecting, enclosing, protecting and trapping.

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I made some crocheted flowers with a variety of yarns, deliberately aiming for an uneven appearance by using thick and thin handspun yarn and varying the length and size of the petals.

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I ironed the flowers to create the impression of pressed flowers.  I like the fact that the irregular appearance of the flowers suggests that they may have been drawn by a child.  My next step is to explore ways of combining these floral shapes with fabric and looking at ways to enclose them.

Lourdes x

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Crochet Tendrils

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I must say that I have really enjoyed working on these samples.  Initially I intended to combine crochet pieces with fabric by using appliqué and experimenting with both machine-stitched and hand-stitched methods of application.  However once I started to play around with the materials, other possibilities presented themselves.  As I am researching different ways of contorting fabric, loosely-worked crochet is ideal to experiment with as it can easily be pulled into different shapes and when the yarn used contains wool, it has elastic qualities.  After stretching and stitching on to fabric, it springs back to close to it’s original size taking the fabric with it and forming ripples and puckers. It’s quite subtle, but it is most obvious on the white satin in the following photo.  The more elastic the yarn, the more pronounced the effect would be.

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During these experiments, I have been most intrigued by the potential created by attaching crochet to fabric using the zigzag-covered tucks I have been using on my bias-stitched samples.  The crochet adds another dimension in terms of pattern and texture and a pleasing corded lace appearance is created when the crochet is left in areas without fabric underneath.

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Another way I experimented with zigzag stitch and crochet was to use open-worked crochet as a support for fabric patches and threads to be machine-stitched on.  The result was reminiscent of debris caught in a net, which is an idea I really like.  Zigzag-stitched tucks along both the crochet and the fabric pieces were then added. Very interesting contrasts were formed between the zigzagged crochet and the unstitched areas, and I feel excited about the many ways this idea could be experimented with and developed further.  Somehow, I also feel that this look is suggestive of insect wings too,  dare I add yet another influence to this project?

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For this final sample, I stitched strips of fabric to a long piece of crochet before adding some zigzag stitched tucks.

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The pale blue organza had been melted with a heat gun, which created more texture and also affects the translucency of the fabric, although this is quite hard to show through a photo.

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Now I would like to try incorporating some hand-stitching into combinations of crochet and fabric, probably by treating crochet pieces as patches to repair damaged fabric and using darning to further explore the idea of repair and symbolically that of healing.  Until next week!

Lourdes x

Crochet and Fabric Manipulation

I remember the time I first encountered freeform crochet and knitting and how liberating and dare I say it? exhilirating it was!  I reprimanded myself for not thinking of it myself as really it’s a simple idea to crochet, making up the shapes and textures as you go along.

I particularly like the feeling of being very much in control of how it evolves, but also that there is a surprise element when something new is tried.  Freeform crochet and knitting is an excellent method for producing textiles with a distinctly organic character.

Similarly spinning and other textile crafts can be approached in a more unconventional way and I find it very exciting to break the rules and try something unexpected.  I am particularly intrigued with how conformity and rebellion can be contrasted in textiles. For example, perhaps something very formal like counted cross stitch could be combined with something unpredictable like wet felting or melting fabric.  Or a highly-textured handspun yarn could be used in a perfectly balanced Fair Isle knitting pattern.

I think that it was during my foundation course in Art and Design that I first learned to question the application of materials and to push back the supposed boundaries when possible.  So, why not stitch through clay or knit barbed wire – ouch! Through experimenting with what at first may seem impossible, new opportunities definitely open up.  Perhaps the barbed wire does prove too inflexible, so a more supple wire is used and then maybe it is left outside for a few weeks to rust and you have a whole new approach to knitting and ‘yarns’ to investigate.  This is the sort of thing I love and I guess it encourages a childlike mentality of play and experimentation which I think is healthy for the soul and it’s happiness!

To return to my project which is inspired amongst other things by the idea of a secret garden and the effect time has on nature and other materials, I am now at the point where I need to find ways to combine freeform crochet with fabric manipulated by stitch.

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Although I was pleased with my freeform crochet results so far, I think that I need to make them more delicate and perhaps lace-like as I am aiming for an ethereal and fey quality.  I would like to at least partly use handspun yarn as it is easy to create an irregular thickness and also use a combination of different fibres.

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One of the reasons why freeform crochet is so suitable for the theme I’m working around is that a very irregular and organic shape can be created very spontaneously.

The blue fibre in this photo is silk noil that has been handspun and has a weather worn and fragile appearance.

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Although this is knitting here, I have included it because after being washed on a hot wash in the washing machine, it has distorted and looks worn.  I was really pleased with the result which is a very weathered look as I suppose it has literally been exposed to the elements! I think that it may be worth experimenting with different ways to achieve an aged look for applying to crochet.

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Ready made crochet cotton looks good juxtaposed with thick wool fibres as the wool has a floaty, cloudy quality whereas the cotton has more definition.

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I particularly like the way this combines with the twisting fabric shapes.

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The next step to be explored in next week’s blog is methods of attaching crochet to fabric;  it may be best to leave the crochet sections to hang freely or perhaps they could be appliquéd on with hand stitches? As always there are so many, maybe too many possibilities to explore 🙂

Lourdes x

Crocheted Snippets

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I decided to organise my fabric box with the hope of making space for new fabrics, however when I discovered the tangled-up mess at the bottom of the tub, I found myself tempted into the challenge of doing something with it!  After all, ‘waste not, want not! ‘ So, in line with my current desire to upcycle and reuse old materials, I set myself the task of finding ways to use this heap of textile chaos!

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If I had a spinning wheel, I would have been very inclined to take handfuls of the knotted together mess to see what happened when it was spun.  Instead I cut up the material into smaller snippets and used hand carders to distribute them through some merino fibres.  I then used a hand spindle to spin quite a nice ‘raggedy’ yarn.

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The next step was to try crocheting this yarn.

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I also used the combined snippets and fibre to create some handmade felt which relied on a relatively small amount of bondable fibre in order to felt; the result was a very precariously held-together fabric.  Stitches could be used to add substance and to support the incorporated fabric pieces.

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Another way of combining the materials was to use a sewing machine to stitch through the various materials.  I quite liked the texture created by this method as different thicknesses are achieved, is’s also exciting to do as the colour and texture combinations are created before your eyes.

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Cut up fabrics have been freeform crocheted to form a thick and lumpy fabric and stitches have been added giving cohesion.

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Frayed muslin strips have been freeform crocheted with a large 15mm crochet hook and then hand stitched.  I find this crocheted fabric to be pleasingly soft, but bulky.  I think that the contrast of tiny stitches with large crochet stitches is interesting.

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 I feel that there is loads of  potential in combining fabric scraps with crochet or felting and stitching to create distressed looking fabrics, however I need to look at creating more delicate methods of using crochet to achieve a more compatible texture to use with the rippled bias- stitched fabrics I have been working on.

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Next week I will show my experiments to discover ways to make crochet and the bias-stitched fabric work well together.

Lourdes x