C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Knitting Weekend

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in Portsmouth in the company of some of the other students doing the City & Guilds Hand Knitting Course. The C&G hand knitting courses level 2 and level 3 are run by Fiona Morris at Distance Knitting and they are designed to teach practical knitting and design skills and techniques.

I have been stuck on module 5 for quite some time, having come to a standstill with the final activity – designing a fashion accessory. So I was really looking forward to this weekend to be able to get some guidance from Fiona and get back on track (of course I could have contacted Fiona sooner rather than wait for this weekend, but I decided to procrastinate for a bit longer and busy myself with other projects until then!)

The classes started on Friday so I arrived in Portsmouth for the Thursday evening to avoid travelling early morning. The lady who organised the weekend did an amazing job and together with her husband managed the catering for all of us, including evening dinners at their home. We were well and truly looked after! We even had little sheep name badges made by her daughter.

Sheep name badge

A large part of the course is around designing and learning creative techniques to develop patterns, so Friday was ‘design day’. The objective for the day was to make different types of coloured and textured backgrounds for use in future design work. It was like being back at school again – out came the paints, crayons, stencils, tissue paper, card, paper, glue, glitter, inks, pastels – basically anything you could draw or make a mark with! With no final outcome in mind we just played around with the materials and got creative.

Here a couple of my finished ‘pieces’:

Paper backgrounds (2)

In my mind, the doily on the right lifted off and was supposed to reveal a clean white image underneath but the inks had seeped underneath, but it really didn’t matter – the beauty was there were no rules!

Getting creative

These backgrounds are required for module 6 so I am happy that I am one step ahead in that module already 🙂

Saturday was back to the knitting. We spent some of the morning looking through some of Fiona’s design work and the processes used to develop ideas from a visual source to a finished garment. It was so interesting to look through the sketchbooks and see the techniques used to draw and manipulate images, and ways to explore colour combinations to create a final pattern.

We also learnt how to do continental knitting. I found the knitting part was pretty straightforward and can see how it would be much quicker once you get the hang of it…

Continental knitting

…but purling? Ugh. I just couldn’t get it!

It’s a useful one to learn for knitting though and I will probably use (with a bit more practice) it for future projects worked in the round or fairisle work – anything that doesn’t require purling!

After lunch as it was such a lovely day we took a walk to the local yarn shop, Seeded.

Yarn Shop

Check out their amazing crochet clock!

Crochet Clock

I was quite disciplined in the shop and just bought 1 ball of Louisa Harding Pittura. I’m not sure what it will be yet – I was thinking of a shawl but one of the other ladies on the course has made some socks with it already and they look so pretty!

Louisa HardingOnce back at the hall we got on with our modules and Fiona spent time with each person demonstrating different techniques such as picking up stitches for necklines, armhole shaping, buttonholes or looking at our with module work. Whatever we needed help with really.

I was quite happy with my module work up until the designing a fashion accessory part and when the time came to show my design work I was pretty sheepish. I knew what Fiona was going to say and I was right, I had selected an image for my design source and jumped straight into knitting samples without really exploring the design elements first, apart from a few scrappy drawings. So it’s back to the drawing board – but this time I feel a lot happier and determined as I am much more clear on what I need to do. I have found a new image to work from and am just waiting for the photo’s to come through the post so I can crack on 🙂

Sunday came around all too quickly and I was pleased to conquer the vertical buttonhole, which turned out to be no-where near as difficult as I thought it sounded!

Vertical Buttonhole

It’s still a bit of a kerfuffle though as its worked using 2 balls of yarn.

Fiona also brought in some of her knitting stitch books for us to have a look through. I really liked some of the patterns in the Japanese stitch books but these aren’t so easy to come by so are unlikely to hit my bookshelf any time soon.

Japanese Stitch Books

It was such a great weekend and so nice to spend time with Fiona and the other students. There is already talk of another weekend next March in Birmingham. Hopefully I will have finished module 5 by then 😉

Happy knitting! x

 

C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Knitting Weekend

This weekend was spent in the beautiful setting of the Ammerdown Centre in Somerset with Fiona Morris and 4 other students on the City & Guilds Hand Knit Textiles course. And what a brilliant weekend it was!

We started on Thursday evening and got to know each other over dinner before heading to our work room. Fiona then spent a couple of hours talking about how to put together design submissions for magazines and shared lots of examples of her designs and swatches. Inspiring stuff!

On Friday morning we gathered after breakfast and the exercise set for the morning was all about colour matching. This was perfect for me as my current module is all about colour and yarn wrapping. Fiona introduced us to a couple of websites Design Seeds and Colour Lovers, which offer inspiration and ideas for colour palettes. We were each asked to select an image and recreate the colour palette by mixing up gouache paints. Here are my finished stripes, I was quite pleased with the results although the dark brown / purple colour was the trickiest to achieve.

Colour matching

In the afternoon we all got on with our C&G coursework. For me this involved painting more stripes based on yarn wrappings. Module 4 is more design based than knitting so I was quite envious of those who were able to whip out their needles and work on samples. The good thing was though that one of the other ladies is a module ahead of me so I was able to look at what she had done and also see what was in store for module 5. It definitely gave me the kick I needed to crack on! All in all it was a productive day and it was nice to end it with a knit and a natter over a glass of wine in the evening.

On Saturday we looked at Fair Isle knitting and Fiona showed us lot’s of examples of fair isle swatches and explained how to choose contrasting colours that would work together. We also looked at examples of  Fair Isle ‘purl when you can’ which adds texture to the pattern. The technique is to purl instead of knit a stitch if the colour of the stitch about to be knit is the same as the one below.

Fair isle talk then turned to steeking. A couple of us had never steeked before and I have to admit the thought of taking a pair of scissors to my knitting filled me with horror! However, Fiona had the perfect little mug hug project for us to practice the technique. I neglected to pack my dpn’s but did have a long circular needle so was also able to learn the magic loop method of knitting in the round.

Magic loop

Below shows the crocheted edge that protects the stitches of the line to be cut. Then it was time to take a deep breath….

Crochet edge for steek

….snip, snip and voila – it’s flat!

Fair Isle tension

As someone who has always pulled the fair isle floats too tightly, the handy tip of pulling the stitches in between the floats down the needle before working the contrasting colour stitch worked wonders! It’s not perfect but I am happy 🙂

Sunday came around far too quickly, and whilst a couple of ladies carried on with their C&G work there were a few of us keen to learn the Mobius Strip cast on which used for making a figure of 8 scarf or cowl that knits out from the centre outwards. I really couldn’t get the hang of how to wrap the yarn at first, but finally got there!

Mobius cast on

Over the weekend I had worked a Ribbon lace swatch from one of Barbara Walkers books so before we went for lunch on Sunday we blocked it using a hand steamer. I so need to invest in one of those, it opened up the lace beautifully!

Lace blocking

Before hitting the road on Sunday Fiona was kind enough to help me with a pattern chart for a shawl that I have been stalling on for ages. I wasn’t sure how to split out the different sections to make it clear and she gave me some suggestions so I am hoping to get it finally written up this week.

All in all it was a really inspiring and motivating weekend at Ammerdown. Our group was lovely and it was so nice to spend some time with like minded people who are as mad about knitting as I am! I really do hope we can do it again next year.

knitting

A Marvellous Day at Ally Pally

A lovely day was had yesterday at the annual Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. The show is the largest textiles and craft event in the UK and as well as being a chance to stock up on ‘essential’ supplies, there are many exhibitions, workshops, fashion shows, demonstrations and lectures on offer.

On walking into the main entrance hall you see the ‘PicKnit in the Pergola’, an amazing display of hand knitted flowers, birds, butterflies and a pond! It is a project by the UK Hand Knitting Association and each wildlife item has been made and donated by volunteers. The Pergola is touring the country in order to raise awareness and funding for the Livability Home Design Appeal, a charity that provides support and opportunities for disabled people in the UK.

Picknit in the Pergola

I went through to the main exhibition area to the the knitted Textile Awards exhibition which showcases knitted work in 2 categories – graduate and open.

One of my favourite showcases was of mounted dogs heads, a playful take on taxidermy by Nicky Barfoot. Here is ‘Pickle’.

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And here is ‘Willoughby Brown’ by Heather Drage – a knitting shop owner from Salisbury.

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I also managed to catch one of the fashion shows and fell in love with this orange ladies cable coat by Patons. Isn’t it stunning!

Patons ladies cable coat

Moving on from the exhibitions to the stalls…and here is a selection of the days purchases…

Ally Pally purchases

Top left – Copperfield Yarns, hand dyed by Oliver Twists, silk and baby camel. My most extravagant purchase of the day but if you felt the softness you would totally understand

Middle left – Scrumptious 4 ply / sport superwash by Fyberspates. I had to buy this as I have a handbag and gloves in the same colour. This is going to be a matching scarf.

Right – a selection of buttons by Cool Crafting – just look at them, need I say anything more?!

Bottom – Rowan Creative Linen. A beautiful colour for Halloween

I also purchased a 10 ball bag of Rowan Pure wool, in a dusky pink shade. No idea what I will make from it yet though…

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And finally, a book – ‘A Handknit Romance’ by Jennie Atkinson. A gorgeous book full of vintage inspired knitting patterns. I can’t wait to have a proper look through this but what immediately struck me when browsing though it at the stand was the beautiful photography and presentation of this book. Each pattern is accompanied by a note about where the inspiration for the design came from. And I was lucky enough to have Jennie sign it for me too!

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Speaking of autographs, guess who else I met – none other than the textile queen Zhandra Rhodes! What a lovely way to end the day 🙂

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C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Hand Knit Textiles – Module 3

Module 3 of the course has been marked and returned and aside from my dippy mistake of joining my slip stitch seaming sample the wrong way up the rest was ok. Here is a summary of the work I presented.

Activity 1: Shaping in Knitting

This activity called for a number of samples to demonstrate different methods of increasing and decreasing.

Increase samples (left to right)

  • Yarn Over Increase (eyelet)
  • Make 1 Increase (M1)
  • Bar Increase
  • Row below increase

Increase Samples

Decrease samples (left to right)

  • Knit decrease (ssk & k2tog)
  • Slip decrease
  • Knit 2 together through back loop (K2tog-tbl)
  • Bias decrease

Decrease samples

Double Decrease samples (left to right)

  • K3tog
  • SS1-K2tog-psso (Slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over)
  • S2tog-k1-psso (Slip 2 together, knit 1, pass slipped stitches over)

Double decreases

Activity 2 – Joining Seams

Sample 1 – 3 needle cast off (front and back)

3 needle bind off

Sample 2 – Mattress Stitch (selvedge to selvedge)

Mattress Stitch

Sample 3 – Mattress Stitch (top edge to top edge)#

Mattress St top edge

Sample 4 – Backstitch

Backstitch f&b

Sample 5 – Grafting

Grafting f&b

I struggled to get to grips with this one and need to practice it a bit more. You can see on the back on the sample where I went a bit wrong, although it didn’t show on the front.

Sample 6 – 3 needle i-cord bind off

Icord Bind Off

(Not sure why the photos make it look like 2 completely different colours!)

Activity 3 – Knit & Purl Patterns

Knit and Purl samples (left to right)

  • Broken Rib pattern
  • Ridged rib pattern
  • Checkerboard
  • Inverness Diamonds
  • Oblique Rib
  • 1 x 1 Rib
  • 2 x 2 rib
  • Coloured stripes
  • Moss diamonds
  • Mistake rib
  • Garter / reverse stockinette stitch
  • Moss st / stockinette stitch

Knit & Purls 1Knit & Purls 2

Activity 4 – Crossed / Travelling Stitch Patterns

The first sample I worked was taken from the ‘Tree of Life  Afghan’ by Nicky Epstein

Travelling x st patterns

The second was a traditional lattice pattern.

Activity 5 – Cables

I do love a good cable!

Samples (clockwise)

  • Honeycomb
  • Triple twist cable
  • Ornamental cable

Cables

Activity 6 – Raised & Embossed Patterns

Raised Pattern Samples (clockwise)

  • Popcorn
  • Diagonal bobble
  • Nosegay

Raised Patterns

Embossed Patterns (top to bottom)

  • Puff stitch
  • Leaf pattern

Embossed Patterns

Activity 7 – Yarn File Continued

Following from module 1 this activity explored some of the more unusual yarns available. Samples and information on how the fibre is produced, properties, care etc were required.

Sample 1 – Alpaca

Alpaca

Sample 2 – Angora (responsibly sourced of course)

Angora

Sample 3 – Cashmere

Cashmere

Sample 4 – Camel

Camel

Sample 5 – Yak

Yak

Sample 6 – Possum

I found it impossible to get 100% possum fibre. The yarn I used was 60% merino, 40% possum.

Possum

Activity 8 – Designer Makers

Again, continuing on the underpinning knowledge started in module 1, this activity was to research another designer maker and write a report including samples of their work. I chose to write my report on Kate Davies, one of my favourite designers.

Activity 9 – Storage, Care and Use of Knitting Resources

The final activity was to imagine setting up a knitwear design studio and image what kind of requirements and equipment you would need.

So that was module 3! Now to get cracking on with module 4…

 

knitting

A Post About Knitting!

I realised that whilst I created this blog to talk about knitting, I haven’t actually talked about it for a good few months! So here is an update on what has been occupying my time and my needles of late.

The 3rd module of my C&G course has been marked and returned, all ok apart from one sample in the joining seams activity. I had seamed 2 pieces of garter stitch but I had joined one side upside down – DOH! So I need to re-do that and send it back off with the next module.

In a recent post I mentioned some yarn that I had bought in America, well the skein on the left (Ella Rae Lace Merino) just wouldn’t leave me in peace until I had made something beautiful from it.

Lovely Yarn

I did a Ravelry search for a pattern that would do it justice and came across Holden by Mindy Wilkes. This is a beautiful shawl pattern with the right balance of stockinette to show off the yarn and a lovely lace edging for some fanciness. Here is the result:

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So pleased with it 🙂

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Just look at the pretty stitches…the picot bind off just makes it!

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Whilst making the shawl I signed up for a Craftsy class ‘Lace Shawl Design‘ with Miriam Felton. I found this course really useful in understanding the different ways of constructing shawls, how to chart the patterns and getting to grips with the maths. I have another skein of yarn in my stash – Jilly Bean’s Knot Another Granny Yarn in the Misty Moor colourway which I really want to use to try a fast increasing point up triangular shawl. I don’t think I will have enough for a regular shawl as I only bought 1 skein..anyway, this will be my next project in between the C&G course.

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And in other news, I have finished a pattern design! Ages ago I posted about a design I was working on inspired by a trip to Paris. Well it took many hours of knitting, frogging, re-working, changing design ideas completely and battling with maths to eventually knitting the sample and being happy with it. I have just sent the pattern off for tech editing and then will put a call out on Ravelry for it to be test knit. Here is a sneaky peak!

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It will be available as a Ravelry download once tested so do check back for links to the pattern or follow me on Ravelry – jemarrowsmith

Art

Quilts and Colour Exhibition

During our recent trip to Boston I visited the Quilts and Color exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition was especially useful for me as it ties in very nicely with my current knitting course module which looks at the use of colour.

The exhibition showcases around 60 quilts from the collectors and artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy and looks at both the craft of quilting and colour theories used in the design of the pieces.

The collection ranges from early 19th century to the 1940’s, a time when women’s environments were very labour intensive. The collector Gerald Roy quotes: “That first sentence that I use in my collector’s preface—I make my quilts as fast as I can so my children won’t freeze, and as beautiful as I can so my heart won’t break —I think that is the epitome of what quilt making provided for women throughout the history of the nineteenth century. Their worlds were very much labor intensive, and to be able to escape and to produce something by way of producing it for utility, for the family, for warmth, but also having that other very, very special part was extremely important.”

The first quilt we saw was the Carpenters Wheel Quilt by Mrs. Miller made around 1890.

Carpenters Wheel Quilt

I found this combination of colours really interesting – the photo doesn’t really do it justice though as the orange was much brighter, but the complementary colors of dark red and green seemed to reign it in. What you also don’t get from the photo is the detail in the stitching, if you look really closely in the orange squares you can just about see the flower pattern.

This next piece is ‘The Star of Bethlehem’, there aren’t any details to say who it was made by other than it was made in new England in the 1920’s.

Quilt Star of Bethlehem

Here is a close up of the centre, the amount of work that must have gone in to produce something like this is incredible:

Star of Bethlehem Quilt

We spent ages in front of this next quilt ‘A Thousand Pyramids’ (1930), trying to work out of there was any pattern  or logic to the placement of the triangles or whether they had been placed randomly.

Thousand Pyramids quilt

We never reached a conclusion on that one!

Pamela Parmal the exhibition curator states:  Traditionally, most quilt makers used a high contrast, usually white with a dark color, to create their patterns, which could easily be seen. A lot of the quilts in this exhibition do just the opposite; they’ll use similar colors together, or will have no white whatsoever. In fact the majority of the quilts in the show do not have white in them.”

‘Touching Sunbursts’, made in Pennsylvania in 1854 was one of the few quilts on display that used white.

Touching Sunbursts quilt

Again, this was one when viewed close up you could see intricate stitching patterns in the white squares, details which get lost when viewed from afar. This is what made the pieces so interesting as on first glance you are drawn in by the colorful and bold overall pattern,  but when you get closer you can see the patterns on each individual piece of fabric as well as the stitches that piece it all together.

I didn’t make a note of the origins of this one unfortunately but I was totally captivated by it. It’s almost as if the dark pattern has been printed on top of the finished quilt.

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Here is a close up – just look at the number of different individual fabrics that were used to make it!

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Another of my favourites was this one – it reminded me of spinning records.

Quilt

Quilt 2

If you look in the red squares you can see the stitching patterns a bit clearer in this one.

Speaking of the collection Gerald Roy quotes “…can you imagine what these women, if they were alive today, would think about their work appearing on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? I mean that would be mind-blowing to those ladies. And what a compliment.”

If only the family of Mrs. Ephraim Scott has known her ‘Sunburst Quilt’ (1856) would one day be on display – it was dubbed by them as the ‘ugly quilt’!

Sunburst quilt

This is one of the best exhibitions I have been to for a long time. Each quilt is so intricate and beautifully made it’s impossible not to stop and appreciate the detail in each one. The amount of thought, work and love that went into each one is truly inspirational.

The Diamond Field Quilt

The Diamond Field (1860) – picture taken from https://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/quilts-and-color

C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Hand Knit Textiles – Module 2 – The Knitting Bit

Following my previous post on Module 2 of the Hand Knit Textiles course, here are the samples I produced for activity 5. The brief was to produce 3 or 4 samples based on visual sources of line, but I got a bit carried away and did a few more 🙂

Activity 5 – Interpreting Line in Knitting

Sample 1 – Green Vase

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This vase is in the V&A Museum in London and I like the thin white lines painted on the ridges and the way they reflect the light.

The sample is knit in plain green stockinette  and then in first purl row I used a fair isle patterned yarn which sat on the stitches below and above each ridge to give the highlight effect.

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Sample 2 – Grille

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Knit in striped stockinette but the diagonal lines were picked up using purl stitches so at the end I could draw a line of yarn through these and finish with a button for the centre.

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Sample 3 – Egg Dish

Another V&A find – the sample couldn’t be anything else but entrelac!

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Sample 4 – Hexagonal Box

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Sample 5 – V&A Floor

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It was the interlocking squares that I liked about this pattern – originally tried working this one in colour but it got beyond complicated trying to keep track of the intarsia bobbins! So it became knit and purl instead and duplicate stitch over the black squares – but I wasn’t keen on the result,  it works better in one plain colour.

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(By the way, see if you can spot the mistake in the floor mosaic photo!)

Sample’s 6 and 7 – 3D Blocks

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After failing to recreate the V&A floor sample in colour I wanted to try again with a different pattern, this design was on the back of a greetings card.

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I then tried the same design in a linear pattern and used contrasting yarn to pick out other patterns within it. The shapes aren’t very clear from the photo below but they are in yellow, pink and green.

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Sample 8 – Ironworks

I wanted to have a go at creating something using raised stitches and cables and was inspired by this picture of an iron railing.

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This is my least favourite sample and probably would have been a lot more effective in just knit and purl stitches. It just looks a bit messy and not really the result I was after. But hey ho – it was a good lesson in what doesn’t work!

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Sample 9 – Llama

I found this little fellow in the Birmingham museum – isn’t he sweet!

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The sample was a combination of knit, purl, stripes and eyelets for the markings.

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So that was all of the knitted samples based on line – I absolutely loved this activity and could have quite easily carried on making more!

The final part of the module was to produce a ‘resolved piece’. Using the techniques previously explored the aim was to experiment with line patterns and work through a range of ideas to create a decorative design that could be applied to a craft item. The end design could be used as a print on a scarf, indentations around a ceramic pot, an embroidered or stitch pattern on a wall hanging or quilt etc.

Resolved Piece

My resolved piece started life as ripped up pieces of cardboard and thick paper which were then glued onto an A4 piece of card. I overlaid a piece of tracing paper and took a rubbing using a white wax crayon. This rubbing was turned upside down and put back on top of the original with glued on bits of string to mark out some of the lines.

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I took a rubbing and scanned it into the computer.

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Then was the fun bit of matching up the lines and picking out repeat patterns.

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Here are a couple of ideas that were developed further

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But in the end I went with this shape as it made me think of butterflies!

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Once the main pattern was decided on I experimented with colours using watercolours and tissue paper.

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This is the final design in colour.

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Which was scanned and repeated to produce the pattern below.

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The course then requires you to demonstrate how you saw the design being used. I saw this pattern as being a pretty print on a dress, forgive the rubbish drawing, but you get the idea!

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And that was Module 2!

If anyone is interested in doing this course it is run by Fiona Morris at ‘Distance Knitting’ and you can find more details here.

 

 

 

C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Hand Knit Textiles – Module 2 – The Design Bit

I have received module 2 back now so thought I would share an overview of what activities it included and some of the samples I produced for it. This module focused on design and creating patterns from lines and I am going to do this post in 2 parts as there is quite a lot of work in this module. Here is the design bit.

Activity 1 – A collection of images to reflect the theme ‘line’.

I had great fun collecting images and taking photo’s for my file, here are a few of my favourites.

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These panels are part of a public installation by Dale Devereux Barker at Cloister’s Walk, St. Katherine’s Dock, London. You can check out more of his work here. His use of line and colour are really inspiring!

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This one was taken in Greece and is a reflection of ferry lights in the water.

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This pretty skylight is at the Birmingham museum.

Activity 2 – Mark Making

It was back to school with this activity – out came the felt tip’s, poster paints, crayons and anything else I could lay my hands on! The aim was to experiment with different mediums and papers to create lines and markings.

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Activity 3 – Doodle Sheets and Repeat Patterns

You are provided with a blank grid of boxes, each one to be filled with a doodle or pattern.  You then take 4 photocopies of the sheet and cut them up so you have 4 repeats of each pattern which you can then play around with to make repeat patterns.

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Activity 4 – Layered Landscapes and Repeat Patterns

In this activity to have to select a landscape image that has a number of horizontal divisions.

I chose this one.

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Using tracing paper, a scalpel and some card you make a tracing of each horizontal line. For each line you cut out the shape from a new piece of card and stick them on top of each other to build a layered picture from which you can take a rubbing. From the cut outs you can create 2 images – a positive and a negative image.

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As with the doodle sheet before you then take copies of the image or scan into the computer so you can play around with repeat patterns.

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I like this image as it has clearly defined horizontal lines but the pencil markings also make a chevron pattern.

I interpreted this in a knitted sample using red and orange yarn to create the stripes on a chevron background.

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Activity 5 continues this theme and looks at interpreting line through knitting and you can use images that were collected in activity 1. I will share my knitted samples in the next post.