Mixed media textiles inspired by rebellion and the natural world
Yesterday I worked on this piece of freestyle crochet for a necklace. ‘Freestyle’ crochet differs from conventional crochet in that a pattern is not followed and it is worked spontaneously. Therefore it often has an irregular appearance. I choose to use this approach as I want these pieces to look organic, almost as if ‘growth’ is taking place in the work. It is an amazing way to explore with crochet as it is experimental and hence exciting and unpredictable. I found it very liberating when I fell upon this way of working, as I had never considered breaking the ‘rules’! It also fosters an understanding of crochet and how it is used to create shapes and patterns.
I selected some fabrics to use with the crochet lace. I will cut these pieces up and fray them before stitching the fragments together and attaching the lace. I will then decide whether to add more ornamentation. The crochet is quite elaborate so it may not need anything else.
I have added the crochet strip to the frayed fabric tatters and fibres I wrote about in my last post. This will be made into a choker but I have to source some appropriate clasps.
I would usually add further ornamentation to my designs with organza petals, small crocheted flowers and semi-precious beads, but I am tempted in this instance to keep it ‘purer’ and leave it as it is.
I started making a choker today. I already had the length of crochet lace made and I was playing around with ideas for a suitable background. I decided to use small frayed pieces as I liked the feathery effect and felt that if layered, would create a pleasing contrast for the crochet.
I cut up lots of pieces of lightweight and transparent fabrics, mainly along the bias, as the irregular edge formed was appealing. I then frayed each piece, I wanted to include the loose threads as they reminded me of the fluffy material in flower heads. I felt that the best way to do this was to add some wool fibres to the threads and then to needlefelt them with some of the frayed pieces of fabric. Needlefelting is achieved by using a purpose-made barbed needle which tangles wool fibres together, when used to repeatedly stab them. This creates a felted fabric and the more it is worked, the denser it becomes.
These are some of the pieces of fibres needlefelted with frayed fabric. They are possibly a little thick, so I will use them sparingly, combined with the layered, frayed pieces and attach the crochet strip on top. I will include the finished result in a coming post.
I worked some free form crochet while stitching it to the heart as decoration. I think that the addition of beads and sequins could be nice too.
I am obsessed with hearts at the moment and experimenting with ways of using my explorations into free form crochet with pre-loved fabrics to discover ways to make and decorate them.
Freeform crocheted lace heart
These are my most recent experiments where I have been playing around with more ways of combining very loosely-worked crochet with fabrics and stitching. The work above was also melted with a heat gun to add a distressed quality.
These are samples exploring ways of combining small scraps of fabric with crochet and stitching. I think that the lines created by the crochet contrasted with the coloured fabric is similar to the pattern and veining found on the wings of insects. I also think that the use of black thread gives the samples a gothic look.
Thanks so much for visiting! All the best
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am at the point in my project where I am having to consider how to bring my visual research and development to some point of culmination. I have been looking through all of my samples to see what jumps out for more in-depth exploration and potential for some kind of eventual conclusion.
I have also been thinking about concept and how my visual work could suggest ideas, as these I have found are always interwoven with my visual sources of inspiration and chosen route of investigation. I don’t want to be too definite in describing the ideas I have, as I know how these grow and change, but I would say that I am interested in analysing the relationship we can cultivate with nature through acknowledgment of it’s cycles.
In addition I am also interested in the meaning of beauty and what happens to many of our ideas of what constitutes beauty as we get older.
I began this project with the idea of a secret garden where unexpected treasures can be found and would now extend that to include inner secrets and mysteries particularly as relates to femininity and how they can be revealed. So, in summary I am curious about nature, cycles, beauty and feminine mysteries and possibly how our awareness of these things could be improved.
Healing is always of fascination to me and I am also curious about how healing can take place. The challenge is how to incorporate these ideas and questions into the physical act of constructing textiles and clothing.
In terms of textile work I have decided to focus on freeform crochet which is very effective at describing an organic, but also pretty quality.
When a really large crochet hook is used with a fine thread, a very loose and ‘irregular’ fabric is formed, which is great for distorting as well as creating a very open work material like a net. It is even reminiscent of the veining on the wing of an insect.
I love using tiny hand stitching and when combined with fabric scraps and patchwork suggest repair, patience and healing as well as also having an organic feel. I will also continue to explore ways to create form and texture with bias-stitched tucks which are perfect for creating again very pretty flounces, ripples and ruffles.
After looking through all my samples so far I have decided to look again at this idea of combining crochet with fabrics and stitching the crochet in places to create a corded lace effect.
At this stage I am thinking that this could work well as a detail on a corset or bra top. I have begun by looking at different threads and yarn and how they look when covered with machine zigzag stitch, I need to research ready-made cords too.
Here, torn satin strips have been handspun and then covered in zigzag stitch and crocheted. Although an ‘open’ material has been formed, it is rather bulky and stiff.
Tags: Art, Craft, Crochet, Design, Embroidery, Fabric, Fabric Manipulation, Fabrics, Freeform Crochet, Garment Design, Handspinning, Inspiration, Sewing on the Bias, stitching, Textile Design, Textiles
I haven’t posted for weeks and I have missed blogging, which I really enjoy. The truth is that I lost my rhythm as I went away from home for a week and I also changed my focus from creating experimental samples, without too much thought given to how these could be applied to finished pieces, to experimenting with applications in clothing design. Somehow this changed my orientation, possibly because I felt very nervous about producing finished pieces and I felt little energy for anything else. However I feel very pleased to return to blogging and I will try to fill you in on everything I have been up to. I’ve just looked back over my last blog to remind myself of where I was and I was in the process of experimenting with crochet and stitch. So in the next few blogs I will describe how I progressed to where I am now, which is working out ways to make clothes while incorporating some of the ideas I have been experimenting with.
As well as trying out ways of using stitch combined with crochet, I also wanted to explore ways of trapping crochet flowers, as I like the idea of collecting beautiful natural objects while outside and I like the fact that this is reminiscent of childhood and the curiosity which we can all too easily loose in adulthood.
The transparent quality of the purple organza in the above photo allows the crocheted flower to be seen and I think that the many small stitches suggest that the flower is treasured enough to be preserved in this way.
This is another example of where a crochet flower has been trapped or ‘preserved’ in layers of fabric and secured with surrounding stitches.
This crochet flower has been trapped with a line of stitching which describes the outline of the shape.
The experiment shown in the second photo above has been heated with a heat gun to melt the organza and create a distressed look.
Thank you for reading my blog and hope you have a great week!
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.
The crochet in this sample has been worked using a much finer cotton thread and therefore creating a more delicate result.
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.
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.
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.
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.