Before biting the bullet

When I first retired from publishing it was knitting which attracted me as a possible activity.  I had long been a hand knitter, but for some reason I decided to learn to use a knitting machine and designed a range of garments.  For a few years I attended craft fairs, and some people loved my work – but not enough.  I enjoyed the designing of the garments, the designing of the knit patterns, the choosing of the glorious yarns, … but I did not at all enjoy the selling, and the knitting itself was becoming boring.  So I stopped.

img_2617I gave away the many cones of beautiful Shetland wool, but have not yet been able to part with the bits of garments with which I was left.  I felted a lot of them, thinking that surely I must think of something satisfying to do with them.  I have a tub full which I look at from time to time, but have until now not thought of anything I even wanted to try.


Then I decided to try cutting out familiar figure shapes from my work.  I took my much-loved woman with fish on a dish, and was relatively pleased with the result so far.  They also have the advantage of working in either direction – there is no fixed front or back.


I cut out another previously used shape – and I rather liked using the rib as the base in both cases.  I also came up with a design to incorporate the felt shape(s) with cotton and hand stitching so that it much more resembles a piece of my work.  I’m going to see if I can come up with more designs like the one on the right before I decide that this is a good idea, and before I finally decide whether to ditch the felt – with a sigh.

7 thoughts on “Before biting the bullet

  1. I’m really loving these Olga, they have a quality that is quite different from your usual pieces, (they are also great too though!) The colours are subtle, yet rich, and very pleasing to the eye.


    • Thanks Cath. I am attracted by the fascination of how the same design can appear so different when using alternative materials and/or colours – how the mood can change. It is a challenge using the limited palette of the knitwear – the colours we choose to wear are not necessarily the same as those we think of using for pieces to put on a wall as decoration. I usually start with the idea, but for the felt the colour forms its own restrictions. It is an interesting exercise, even if it might not go anywhere much.


      • I like this idea for utilizing leftovers from this part of your textile past and agree with what you’ve said in your response to Cath. I’ve saved really good quality dressmaker wool from my clothing construction days, finding it as difficult to part with it as you find parting with yours. I’ve thought to try felting some of it but just haven’t gotten around to it. I’m thinking of it more as a background to applique rather than cutting it into shapes itself, but I really fined the sculptural quality you achieved with the woman and the fish quite compelling. don’t let the neutral palette deter you!


  2. Cath is right. The thickness and texture of the wool really does project a different feel to the images that you do not get with printing or even appliqueing on cotton. Worth continuing the experiment I’d say.


    • Sheila, I agree that the experiment is worth continuing, and the subdued colours don’t deter me – that’s the least of the ‘problems’. I’m wrestling with the question of how to keep the sculptural quality of the felt figure on a surface. The composition, the presentation, the idea has to be right. I’m pleased with how it has turned out for the completed square where I’ve appliqued the central figure plus the border smaller figures round a circle. And the stitching/quilting fits with the idea and enhances the composition/look of the whole.
      But somehow I don’t think that the quilt/art quilt is the right solution generally. The small square 12″x12″ works, but I think that a larger piece would have to bear uneven weight carefully in mind.
      Lots of things to think about – but yes, it’s a conundrum which still intrigues and interests me.


      • Mary Stori has worked with wool for some time now, adding carachons and other beading detail as well as felt motifs and so has had to deal with this issue of weight (although her pieces remain relatively small). She talks of using a nonfusible lightweight interfacing basted to the back of her wool background before starting her stitching. I believe she fuses a backing on as her final step, to hide the messy underside and add a bit more stability. Some pieces she mounts on board, wrapping and stapling to the back like one would a canvas to a frame. Again, relatively small pieces. You are so right – once one veers off into the somewhat unconventional, then these technical issues must be addressed.


  3. Sheila, thank you for the information about Mary Stori’s work. You have helped me to consider seriously a large can of worms – where exactly I want to go with any work.


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