Is it always healthy to work alone?

I was privileged on Monday to be able to go to work with my friend Paula of Paulafingers Contemporary Ceramics. Paula has a studio in Liverpool and it was interesting to be able to work in a space that wasn’t connected to a house, like mine is.

While Paula’s studio is a space surrounded by other artists, often they work outside normal working hours and so Paula, like me spends hours working alone.


This isn’t always helpful as it can be difficult to keep perspective over the things we produce. Is it any good? How can it be improved? How much time should be spent creating and how much time on social media or networking? Hours of mulling these feelings over can leave you feeling frustrated and short tempered rather than having a sense of achievement.

So it was a real treat to spend time together, bouncing ideas off each other, comparing work practises and techniques.

Paula has created a collection of knitting bowls in pastel shades that hopefully will be ready soon. These slipcasted bowls have a section for your yarn to pull through will move with the ball. Here’s a sneaky peak of what’s on its way.



Creative Textiles class at Knit Wise

Well I see the NHS claiming that the Flu jab program for this year is a success and having had the combined flu and pneumonia jab this week I can only think this is because it’s killing people before they can get the flu!

Anyway, a few days off wasn’t so bad, it certainly got the creative ideas flowing.

As spinners, we end up with lots of fibres knocking about, some we know what they are, some are all mixed together so there is no chance of working it out. As dyers, some of those may have been mistakes, strange shades or partly felted mishaps.

Some of those can be recycled. Monday morning was spent with Jess and Erin, two lovely girls who are taught by their mum. They came along to make felt and dye fibre and before we knew it, three hours had gone by. They worked so hard and their felt balsa, pictures and hand dyed fibre was gorgeous. Now it’s dried, I will pass it on, but I’m very tempted to keep it.


So with some of the other bits and pieces, fibres, threads and handspun experiments I wanted to be able to use those little bits and pieces to create something new. Add in some handspun yarn, bondaweb, sewing machine threads and you end up with an abstract piece


But what do we do with all these experiments? We might love the things we create but how to use them? Well, on the Creative Textiles morning at Knit Wise, we can look at how to use our work. The first item we’ll attempt is abound book cover with our piece on the front.

The beauty of this class is that it’s an ongoing process, we come each week and just add a little bit more to our worK. We can keep sketching for ideas, then put those ideas into work and end up with something we’ve made. Whether it be a book cover, pin cushion, needle case, whatever takes our fancy.

We can mix ‘new’ experimental ways of creating our work, using tyvek, bondaweb and heat tools and mix them with traditional embroidery methods.

The class is £4 and is on every week from 10-4, newbies and experienced members most welcome. Why not come along and join me? Otherwise I’ll be sitting on my own (but at least I won’t be at home doing the ironing)

Sketching for Inspiration

Sketching, I believe is an important part of creating. And because I believe it I usually have a sketchbook or notepad in my bag at all times. Most of them end up something like this


A great place to store a shopping list. If I’m feeling very creative it might end up like this


A holiday list. With bunting.

Sketchbooks scare me, I’m much happier throwing dyes in a pot and spinning or felting to create than actually drawing something that (horror of horrors) someone might see. And yet, when I do attempt to draw and return to those images sometimes years later, they evoke feelings and emotions that don’t come with a photograph.

So I’m trying to do it properly this time and to that end, I’ve got my copy of Creating Sketchbooks by Kate Greenlees out of the cupboard and have been hitting Pinterest by the minutes.


I came across textile which is a great resource for all textile artists. There is an article by Bren Boardman which goes through a mind mapping approach for sketchbooks. I would wholeheartedly recommend reading it

So with that in mind I started with a photo of these seed heads. These were growing outside our local retirement apartments


I found out that they are Rudbeckia or Black Eyed Susan seed heads. These happy little yellow flowers can be used in dyeing, producing a range of browny tan shades which is perhaps something I could think about for a project.


I may not use it at all, but the sketching process certainly got the ideas flowing. It takes time, but I’m going to be making more of an effort to sketch regularly in the future….

I’m hosting a loosely termed Knit’n’Natter at Knit Wise in Ormskirk. It’s a weekly event, Thursday mornings 10-12. I’d like to welcome all kinds of crafters, but one of the things I’ll be encouraging us all to do is keep a sketchbook, then we can discuss inspiration and ideas and try and get some sparks going. It would be great to get a vibrant group together, so if you’d like to attend, I’d be happy to see you. I’ve even baked a fruit cake


In the meantime here’s some links for sketchers