Friday, 23 November 2012

Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show

What a fabulous day out!  Today has been a heavenly day of textiles and shopping. I met up with some other students and a further bonus was spotting my Textiles tutor manning the OCA stall. I was able to get some face-to-face advice on how to present my sketchbooks and notebooks and see some good examples. I need to imagine what impression an assessor, who knows nothing about me or the work I've been doing, will have when they open my pack of work.  How will I label and reference everything so that it doesn't frustrate them?  I've jotted down some good tips and particularly like the idea of attaching my small scruffy notebooks in an envelope style folder at the back and using string to attach items so they can be pulled out to look at, but don't drop out or get out of order.  

I'm sure I could go back for the next three days of the show and still not get to see everything. Here come some of my highlights of the day.

Two of 20 finalists in the UK Hand Knitting Association's Knitted Textile Awards. I was attracted by the bright colours that reminded me of oranges, limes, blackcurrants and fruity Starburst sweets in this dress by Amanda Hardy.  In contrast, I loved the delicate monochrome sculptural knitting in Cecilia Ajayi's collection.

Jonathan Korejko demonstrates paper making.
Jonathan showed me how to make paper that's ideal to stitch into using pulp made from just cotton bed sheets shredded up and put in an electric blender with water. He also chopped up and blended cotton embroidery floss to make dyed pulp.  He spooned it into plastic cookie cutters over a screen (picture frame with nylon mesh stretched over) to make coloured shapes to layer and embellish the white background. I picked up some great tips from him, like using a slightly curved bed made from towels to make it easier to remove the paper from the frame.  Also pressing the paper once, then mopping excess moisture from the back with a sponge before pressing again for a better finish.  He also had some lovely papers for sale with trapped denim.  I definitely want to have a go at making paper to stitch on and really enjoyed seeing a demonstration, rather than just reading instructions.

My tutor had her own tips for paper making, such as colouring cotton linters with procion dyes. Leave them to dry and rinse after a couple of days (they will lose a little colour). They need to cure either by time or steam and can then be liquidised and stored in plastic bags. She also adds a little cellulose glue to the pulp which she says holds the fibres beautifully in suspension.  

'Midday Sun' (above left) was inspired by hot summer days in Cornwall. This carpet is 100% silk. Compared to the other carpets in this collection by textile artist John Allen, which is inspired by British landscapes, this one really reflects the light and glistens. (I've just noticed that the colours that attracted me are similar to the fruity, tropical palette in Amanda Hardy's knitted dress above.) I was drawn to 'Mam Tor', the carpet on the right, recognising immediately the Derbyshire landscape, where we enjoyed an Autumn break last month. Below is 'Tin Mine Winter Night' and 'Tin Mine Winter Day'.  I like how the artist has discreetly woven his initials into each piece in the bottom right corner.

Jane McKeating's 'Flash fractions' have narrative. These images will be going in my Family History Theme Book. I am starting to look at various ways artists visually record their personal memories, stories and roots and incorporate them into their work.

Below is an Embroiderer's Guild Project 'Welcoming Athletes of the World'. Three thousand postcard-sized images were stitched by members to represent and welcome over 200 sporting nations to the London 2012 Olympics. We have been set some challenges at our branch of the Embroiderer's Guild for 2013 so I was interested to see the standards I was aiming for! There was some inspiring work by the North East Region in 'Mining a Golden Seam', an exhibition representing the mining heritage of the region in stitch.


Of course, with all the shopping opportunites, my purse was soon empty, as was the cashpoint when I got there.  Obviously I wasn't the only one overpending.  I was trying to contain myself and buy what I can't get locally. The dilemma was whether to buy something when I saw it, or to fight my way back through the crowds at the end, hoping I could remember where the stall was and whatever I wanted had not been sold out.  I hadn't planned a particular route and when I thought I was all done, I discovered a further two exhibition halls.  It's a good job we grow vegetables because it's soup for the rest of the month in our house!

I loved the bright colours and rummaging through the fabric at The African Fabric Shop stall. I bought a fat quarter of Kenyan indigo dyed fabric (below).  Ever since seeing Aboubakar Fofana's work at Cotton:Global Threads, an OCA Textile Study Day, I've been interested in indigo dyeing.  I also bought some dye to have a go myself plus the chemicals I need to create fabric sun prints. I enjoyed experimenting with photograms and sun prints a couple of months back and it would be great to explore the technique further and have a surface to stitch into.

My other buys included some scraps of Japanese kimono fabric and lots of new products to try including an intriguing 'Ultra-Punch' needle which is a gadget that is held like a pen but punches stitches into fabric. Watch this space! 

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