Friday, 11 October 2013

Shetland Wool Week 5

After the Wild Wool workshop it was a quick dash back into Lerwick for the Many Strands Make Interesting Yarns lecture from Felicity Ford and Tom van Deijnen about their collaborative work, followed by a workshop with the most intriguing title of Aleatoric Fair Isle.  
 Aleatoricism is the creation of art by chance, exploiting the principle of randomness.

Here are some of the samples Tom and Felicity have produced using their aleatoric method.

Now I have so say some of them work very well as examples of Fair Isle, and some of them contain combinations of colour and pattern that wouldn't appear in any book on designing Fair Isle.  Although it was clear to see that unexpected combinations of colour together, that I would never have thought of creating, did actually look rather interesting.

So after the fun of looking at the samples it was time to turn on logical minds in a big way as Tom and Felicity explained how their aleatoric method was applied to the creation of Fair Isle and what the rules were.

I have to be completely honest and say that, at that hour of the evening, my powers of logic and understanding left a lot to be desired.  Fortunately Tom and Felicity were more than willing to go over things and they were so lovely about it that I felt completely comfortable asking for help.

So the group I was in set to with rolling the dice and working out the colours we were each to use, and in what order.
It was lovely to spend the evening chatting to people doing the workshop whom I'd not met before and once we got down to it, the knitting was rather fun - until the rules required you to add in colours that wouldn't otherwise have been chosen.  The acid yellow became notorious - it may be some time before I'm comfortable using that colour again.

However, despite the chatting sometimes slowing down the knitting, I did manage to knit the first half of a large star motif, and I found the whole process rather interesting.  I can quite see myself trying some aleatoric knitting in future, but probably modifying the 'rules' and probably not having acid yellow as one of the colour choices!  Although, being honest with myself, letting go and making myself do things with colour I wouldn't normally consider could well lead to some very interesting discoveries.

I was very interested to see the effect of using several quite different coloured yarns for the star motif, but that were very similar in tone, where normally I'd have used one colour or a carefully selected group of quite different colours and tones.  A possibility for a future project that I've tucked away.  An exhausting day, but I'm so glad that I chose to go to both events.

Today saw me back at Hoswick Visitors' Centre for a second workshop with Nielanell.  This time it was Felt Memory - making a felted wall hanging to remind you of Shetland.

Again we were met with a vast and enticing supply of fibres to use in our felting - the baskets didn't seem any emptier after our mammoth batt making of the day before.

We learnt how to make felt and then it was time to choose the subject or inspiration for our panel/hanging.

Having enjoyed so much using the colours of the dead nettle plants for my batt and spinning, I decided to revisit that source of inspiration and see how I could work with it for making felt.

I'm beginning to embrace the greens and browns that I previously wouldn't have considered using in a creative craft.  That rather fabulous container of rich reds and purples was left to others today.

We didn't just have wool to play with.  There was also a shelf full of exotic fibres, glittery bits, lustrous silks and much more besides.

I went out again to remind myself of the colours and form of the nettles - and this time took photos as well.
I hope these photos show the full range of colours to be found just by closely examining a bit of dead nettle plant.

And this was my Dead Nettles felt - which I'm rather pleased with and really enjoyed making.

Sadly the photograph doesn't really show the texture I was able to achieve by using linen threads and locks of fleece which came out from the surface of the felt.

It's very hard work making felt, but I was delighted that I was able to translate so much of my vision of what I wanted using a new craft.  I'm not sure if more felting is going to give me huge biceps or be rather useful in reducing the flabby bits at the back of my upper arms.  Sadly ageing isn't all the fun of red hats and sausages, but the inevitable rule of gravity over the most unlikely parts of the body.

Felting is however another way of allowing myself to be insanely inspired just by playing with colour and texture.  Opportunities for such life-affirming happiness should never be ignored.

Just look at all the felted pieces created by everyone in just one day - such a riot of talent.  Niela is very good at releasing the inner creative genius in people.

I did make a second piece - this time of the sea at Hoswick - it's on the bottom row, second from the right, and I very much like this one too.

Finally, as we left, I decided to photograph my Sonic Yarn and Dead Nettles felt actually with the nettles.  A lovely way to end my 2013 Shetland Wool Week.

I am very pleased to say that this year has been even better than last year and my main problem has been having to make choices and to accept not being able to do All The Things.

One thing that has struck me about this year is how strands have woven themselves between different events and different speakers and teachers to bring me an experience that has been so much greater than the separate parts.

I must remember to book my accommodation for Shetland Wool Week 2014.


  1. I have loved reading your posts about SWW, and have enjoyed it with great vicariousness(!) I love how your nettle-inspired yarn and felt just vanish into the background in the nettle photo, just shows that you got it spot on!

  2. I also love very much how the photo "in situ" looks - what a pleasingly direct conversion of the immediate landscape into your own textiles! The prospect of "sonic yarn" is obviously a big thrill for me, and it is really helpful to read your thoughts on the Aleatoric Fair Isle project - I am so glad you enjoyed our workshop even if the acid yellow shade isn't your Favourite Thing! I have fallen in love with quite a few shades and made some enemies too within the J&S palette through practising Aleatoric knitting; I think the surprises in terms of what I've ended up liking, using, and understanding about colour are for me the big reward from working on this with Tom.