Thursday, 26 November 2009

On the art of selling textiles

Selling textiles is a very seasonal pursuit. (And let's not talk about selling woollies in Australia....think hot climate, short cold winter...) In the warmer months, it's enough to try and get people to talk to you. On a hot day, they just walk past. This is one of the reasons that I've taken October and November off from the market. December is Christmas, even this has it's problems, as you have to give a present that will not be useful till the winter, but I am ever optimistic.

That's one of the reasons that I have an Etsy shop, to try and break into the Northern Winter. This is not having the desired results, at the moment. The GFC, high value of the Australian dollar, postage costs and this is starting to look like a long term assignment. Four sales, of which two have been cancelled is starting to make me less optimistic than I was last year.


One of the good things is that I've had two months to think of what I might to that could sell during our Australian summer.
I always think that it should be something I'm interested in. And I think earings! I didn't get my ears pierced till my 40th birthday, but my love of earings goes back to my college days. Every party was an excuse to buy an even bigger, more outrageous and cheap (I was a student!) clip-on earing.
Finally, I think I've got a good idea and here are the first complete set:
They're a little rough around the edges, but these are mine! They're handspun silk, handknit and finished with the buttons.
Hopefully, I'm on to something!

Monday, 23 November 2009


I did get back to the DVA 1st year exhibition on Friday and managed to take a couple of pictures. Unfortunately, one of my drawings didn't take to the camera, so I can show you only one.

'Forest' is the title of my little knitted sculpture. I finished it off with 'cupric nitrate'. I think that's right, my chemistry isn't too good. Suffice to say that you heat up the copper, paint on the cupric nitrate, quite a few times, without burning the copper!, and you get that lovely green copper look.
Happy as Larry and a good number of nice comments made.
This drawing was done in two parts. Firstly, the soft toys, then the following week we had to add something 'odd'. I thought scissors and my hat add that strange tension. Sort of worked.
My second drawing was a skeleton holding some soft toys. Sounds like a trend, but my drawing teacher has a very young daughter, from whom he brings in props and shows her photos of the resulting drawings.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Exhibitions galore

Wednesday night was the opening of the DVA first year exhibition at Pigment Gallery. This is a showcase of all the first year students, and each has at least one work in the exhibition.
I am lucky enough to have my little copper wire knitted sculpture titled 'Forest' sitting very nicely on a plinth. Also two of my drawings.
So if you're in the city this weekend, come and have a look.
Details: Pigment Gallery, Level 2, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St. City
Weds/Fri: 12-6 Sat: 12-4
I was very lucky to have a look at the Banyule City Council, Works on Paper Art Award yesterday. This is an excellent exhibition with an incredible variety of work and a number of artists that I know. In particular: Marco Luccio, Debra Luccio and Mandy Gunn. I also liked the work by Katie Hill. This consisted of individually etched leaves, with charcoal covered backs pinned on a wall, the label for each is a word from the papers around concerning the February bushfires. Both beautiful and poignent.
Oh, and Mandy wove the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
Speaking of Mandy, by good friend Leanne is having an exhibition at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick and by coincidence, Mandy is exhibiting with her. I'm looking forward to this exhibition and hope to catch it soon. Both artists are well worth a look, here are the details:

The Gallery has two exhibitions from 20 November – 20 December 2009, with the official opening on Thursday 19 November.

Mandy Gunn: re-source
In keeping with the pattern of Mandy Gunn’s work over the past fourteen years, re-source focuses on art works constructed from found materials, principally paper. The materials are sourced from the left overs of everyday consumerism, the sort of products which usually find their way into bins, often wrapping or packaging, tickets, envelopes and printed materials.

Leanne Cole: I want, therefore I need
I want, therefore I need examines the culture of consumerism within our society and the excessive need to continually fill our homes with consumerist items. A series of perspex houses containing ceramic objects cast from household refuse, will explore our rampant consumerism and its effect on our living spaces.
Lots to be inspired by

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Doesn't it conjure up pure luxury....cashmere......

I was very generously given a very large amount of cashmere (dehaired, long guard hairs taken out, time saver....) by a member of the HWSG. It was way to much to keep to oneself without feeling extremely selfish...sigh.....So I decided that we could have a session at Experimental Spinning playing with this beautiful fibre.

That was on Saturday and we had lots of fun. Because it is both a very expensive and very short fibre, it is often combined with other fibres. We used silk, silky wool, fine merino and even pink! Beautiful rolags were created and I can't wait to see all the resulting yarns.
I went home and decided to split my 20gms into four and spin a yarn with four different treatments.

1. Mixed with Silky wool (optim), a treated wool that I thought would work well, but it didn't really card well with the cashmere and separated a bit from the cashmere when spinning.

2. Mixed with 18micron merino. This was immediately nicer than the Silky wool and whilst there is a slight different in the pictures, both carding and spinning were much improved.

3. Mixed with Tussah silk. As you can see from the rolags it is beautiful. I wasn't sure that this would work. Even though it came in top form it was still quite long, but I suspect that the critical factor in both the carding and spinning is the thickness, or in this case, fineness of the mixing fibre. For best results they probably do need to be close in micron count.

4. I just spun the cashmere as it came.

I did wonder if I'd put in too much twist for the this skein. Too much twist and I'll lose the softness of the cashmere. I also wanted to keep the different treatments together, so I decided to Navaho ply my single, creating a relatively thick yarn.

This could be a problem as these fabulous fibres are very warm. The resulting scarf will be knitted in a very open lace. I'll show you when it's done.

Oops, forgot.....some things I'd like to try: silk noil and cashmere, what about silk waste with cashmere, fluffy around a core......what else?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Treats and Filous

I love treats, perhaps too much, but there's nothing like knowing your going somewhere and you can combine it with a lovely treat. The treat when going to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild in Carlton is to have coffee and cake at Filous.....just around the corner on the next corner of Lygon St and Fenwick St, Carlton.

This delightful little bakery makes the most wonderful coffee, great cakes and their spinach and mushroom slices are just heavenly.

Disaster has struck. Early Friday morning (3am according to the news report), a car lost control and crashed into Filous. Today is Experimental Spinning, I haven't had a spinach slice for just ages.

In the scheme of things this isn't a great tragedy, except for all the people who work there. However, repairs are already underway, and fortunately, where the car crashed through wasn't where there was expensive equipement and they look like that they'll be back quickly.

The guild meeting is in two weeks, we can just hope.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


This scarf is a culmination of several different threads coming together.

The yarn was handspun and a gift from one of my lovely customers. I decided to dye it using the colours 'Flax' and 'Coral'. This turned out a bit pinker than I'd imagined. The skein, which I forgot to photograph before I wound the ball didn't show this up, but once it was wound, there was the pink. I'm really not sure how that happened?

I had an idea that started with the idea of Autum, though with the pink, perhaps Spring is more appropriate.

That was the first step. These lace leaves occur in lots of pattern books. They consist of increasing without the mirror decrease. This creates a raised leaf, then decrease to bring the end down. I like the idea of playing with the fabric surface, and these are a good way to start.

I decided to knit this lengthwise and with leaves all along. I swatched and it worked well.

The next part of this was to use the provisional cast-off so that I could knit the leaves in two directions. I haven't done this before so I was glad to finally have a reason. You can see the white line is a crochet length from which I picked up the stitches. This was pulled out as the stitches were picked up and I started knitting the leaves in the opposite direction.
So far, so good...but this is a tale of changes, frogging and different endings.
Half way through the second length, it became patently obvious that I was going to run out of yarn. As the scarf is short anyway, some other design feature was going to have to complete the design. (I will do a double row of leaves another day, it was a good idea).
Second idea............frog it again.
Now, you might be thinking that I should have sampled and checked, but sometimes you just have to go with it. It really depends on how much time you're prepared to lose. In this case just a couple of hours to get what I really wanted, and swatching wouldn't have told me if I was going to run out, well not with some great scales and good math!
I finished off one side with the wiggly little cast-off all the way along. For each stitch, cast on three stitches, then cast off four. It created a gorgeous wave.
I undid the other cast-off edge and used the same technique as the other side, except on the tip of the small leaf I did two six-stitch cast-on and off in the one stitch. For the bigger leaf I did three nine-stitch wiggles. Two different edges, I love it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Last Days

Today my exhibition comes down. I'm going to the gallery at 1pm to take photos and bring anything that's not sold home. I don't know where they're going to go, but I do have a few ideas.

I just wanted to thank everyone to wished me well, came to the opening or went and had a look at the exhibition. I have really appreciated your comments. I think I have sold a piece which means that it has been a success all round.

If you want to come and have a last look and a chat with me, there's plenty of time, meet me at 1pm.