Tag Archives: textiles

A Twisted Thread

Newlands Valley Autumn

Well Autumn has arrived and I’m getting ready for hibernation by cooking things with dumplings and making steamed puddings, foraging for rose hips and getting obsessive about the log stack. This is the most beautiful time in the Lake District with all the bracken, heather and woodland, dressing the fells in rich russety, foxy colours. The lanes are thickly carpeted with yellow, green and orange Persian rugs of fallen leaves. I’ve dragged my pudding filled self up several new mountains  in the past few weeks and there is nothing like emerging from mist onto a sun drenched summit or watching the fog roll away to reveal the golden patchwork below.

Log Stack, Lake District

As usual I’ve left it too long between posts and have way too much to tell you about… now I will have to skim through it all or risk sending you to sleep. The first thing that has happened is that wool has done its usual thing and snuck back in to my life as a “comfortable thing to do in the winter” after I was offered a place on a weaving workshop at the Greystoke Cycle Cafe a few weeks ago ( I may be running a cyanoype workshop there next summer). Weaving seemed like the ideal occupation for me as it is methodical and almost meditative; not mindless exactly but certainly free of the crushing self doubt and inertia that often hits me when I’m trying to be creative…. and you can get a lot done in a day. Our tutor for the day was Jan Beadle of the Wool Clip Collective which I visited a few days later to squeeze balls of wool and ask longingly about looms. Both Jan and the Wool Clip are highly recommended and I have to thank Annie from the lovely Cycle Cafe for giving me the chance to experience a workshop as a participant for the first time, it was a wonderful day.

weaving by Kim Tillyer

I also finally got myself over to see the Great Print Exhibition at Rheged which will be on until November 22nd. Rheged is basically a very smart service station on the A66 and houses the most amazing gallery space. It was exciting that the first thing I saw as I entered the gallery shop was a display of my cushions and cards – although I suppose it would have been more exciting if they hadn’t been there, having been sold! I found my prints in very good company and left feeling happier than I had for a while. Ok, so they hadn’t sold (yet) but they didn’t look out of place and I didn’t feel like a poor relation even though all the other work was pretty stunning.

The Great Print Exhibition Rheged, Cumbria

There they are, on the right of the picture below. As usual I fell in love with loads of pieces that I wish I could have bought but art is so often out of the reach of artists! I must go back and look again before it finishes.

The Great Print Exhibition Rheged, Cumbria

Strangely the momentary confidence boost of seeing my own work in an actual gallery and in a rather nice gallery shop hasn’t lasted long. I am my own worst enemy and have been doing battle with a sulky muse this week. I think I’ve over worked her by flitting from looms to heat presses ( I bought one cheap from a local man who paints brilliant “old masters” and had a Gustav Klimt on his bedroom wall!), needle felting to lino printing. She has left me barely able to lift a pen so I made a decision to concentrate on knitting squares from silky soft alpaca , channelling my inner Miss Marple or Great Grandma Elizabeth, while slowly re-evaluating what I do and why.

The Great Print Exhibition Rheged, Cumbria. Cushions by Kim Tillyer

So this week I was invited to interview for some weekend cover at Keswick Museum and I’m pleased and excited to say I was offered the post, starting in November. Now with two part time jobs I’m just about able to make ends meet (thanks to family and Rupert) and it struck me … that old question… why do I make things and try to create art? If I was well off would I still do it? Would it be different? Does it only feel worth while if it sells? All these questions that are ultimately about self esteem and the fragile/overinflated ego of a creative person! I’ve been sitting here pondering the subject for ages and its time to put the kettle on for comforting tea before smoke comes out of my ears. I will leave you with this question… do you value textiles and fibre art as highly as other craft forms? It’s something that I’ve had cause to think about lately and its always been a question that bothers me…why is an object made from wool perceived as less valuable than one made of clay, its a historical conundrum.

needle felt squirrel

There were a lot of question marks in this post sorry! Please give me a kick up the bum if I don’t write another post soon… its too easy to become a hermit here and live in a world populated by characters of my own invention… Bye for now x ( and bye from me says the squirrel.)

Reading :- ” A Room With a View” EM Forster and Bernat Klein- Textile Designer, Artist, Colourist by Bernat Klein and Lesley Jackson

Listening To :-“If Big Chief Dies” Sycamore Sykes  ( he’s proper famous you know and I said I’d tell everyone to buy a copy!)


The View From Here


I have been spending a lot of time in the woods; the borrowed dog forcing me to spend more time out doors than I normally would in dismal damp February. The birch trees are decorated with acid yellow/green tassels, bright against the browns and greys; it won’t be long now. Already the days are longer, and it’s getting harder to tell what time it is by the light. I heard a woodpecker the other day and down by the river a heron flew lazily overhead looking prehistoric.

Both eggs are now successfully hatched and they have become “friends”. The first chick is now just over a week old; huge (relatively), with real feathers and a bad attitude, so we were a bit worried it would murder its younger sibling. They squabble a bit about who gets the best position under the PomPom Mother but generally it seems to have worked out ok. Here is Chick2 looking a bit unimpressed by the colour of the tile grouting on the windowsill…4 more eggs went in the incubator today so my Chicken Empire is beginning to take shape!


Meanwhile, back in the “studio” I have been trying to get sorted out for the “Pop Up in The Pub” event which Jane and I are organizing…


“Pop Up in The Pub”  @The Golden Lion, OSmotherley.  For One week only, from Friday February 28th. 

Christie, the landlord, has very kindly allowed us to take over part of the ground floor to showcase a small selection of work and we’re hoping to have a meet the artists session at some point during the week (details to be announced).I worked in the The Golden Lion for many, many, many years so I can recommend the chips very highly…it would be lovely to see a few people there (and if no one comes…well at least we can drown our sorrows at the bar!).


I plucked up the courage to cut my precious fabric last week, when I made a Kindle cover for my lovely daughter’s birthday. I’m quite pleased with the result and lots of people have been very complimentary and even ordered one for themselves… however it brings me up against the thorny issue of pricing again…and the fact that I would say I was a designer rather than a maker. It was really interesting to meet up with Nicola Taylor and Kimberli Werner to talk about these things yesterday. We all work in very different areas but face many of the same problems so I felt as though I learned a lot and came home feeling encouraged and inspired. One thing we agreed on was that it is hard to be both designer and maker when aiming for a wholesale market. I know my work must either be priced much higher in order to make it profitable or the actual making of the product needs to be done cheaply elsewhere; I guess its deciding whether I want to be Liberty or Primark. At the moment I have shed loads of time rather than money to invest so it looks like I’ll be following in my Grandma Jackson’s footsteps for a while and slaving over a hot sewing machine!


So, it’s time to find some tunes on the radio and maybe have another biscuit or two before threading some needles and getting on with it. The puppy is snoring by the stove, worn to a frazzle after her day of silliness…oh to have the energy and lust for life that a small brown puppy has.


Reading:-  “Dear Life” Alice Monroe   Listening To:- “New York Morning” Elbow Vote for Kimberli Werner “The Red Corvid” in the Draft and Design Awards here

“to travel hopefully is a better thing…”


It still doesn’t feel like winter, in fact I’ve been doing so much gardening that it’s felt, at times, more like spring. It’s muddy though and everything is dripping wet, soggy and saturated; moss growing on everything that doesn’t move fast enough. The ponies like to stand in the field looking depressed and neglected for the benefit of passers by who can’t see the cozy sawdust filled stable. Meanwhile the chickens are obsessed with their own reflections in the mirror and I’m obsessed with making repeat patterns after receiving my copy of “A Field Guide to Fabric Design” by Kim Kight.


I’m so inspired but also so annoyed that I’ve learnt more after a quick browse through this book than I did in 4 years doing a Textile Design degree! If only I’d known some of the Photoshop tools and shortcuts sooner I would be miles ahead of myself by now. Don’t get me wrong, I loved CCAD but left woefully unprepared for the commercial world of surface design. Anyway, these are just some basic repeats I’ve been playing with … the next page is about half drop repeats but I’ve got a very out of date version of Photoshop/Illustrator so I’ll have to improvise (this design was made from a tiny, scribbly doodle I did while listening to a talk at an Art Connections event).


It’s been an odd week here on Witchmountain as I am constantly wracked with guilt every time I open the fridge. No, I’m not on a diet. Cramming a still awake tortoise into an earth filled box in the salad drawer, after starving him for weeks, seems likely to have me up in court for animal cruelty if not insanity but I’m assured by The Tortoise Shop that this is how it’s done. He’s due out on the 31st so please keep your fingers crossed that he thaws out properly and doesn’t hold it against me.I’ve made a pattern in his honour…


…and here it is in repeat in a more subtle colour way. If I’m not careful I’ll be spending my rent on Spoonflower and living on broth. Before my designs can be sold on Spoonflower they need to be “proofed” which means I need to buy some myself, that’s why some of these are in the design gallery but not for sale.


As well as all this I’ve been catching up with some blogs I haven’t read for ages, scouring the Art Jobs pages and knitting owls. Knitting owls is a good way to use up a whole day and have a lovely knitted thing at the end of it…however the guilt caused by sitting by the stove knitting like Granny Goggins  instead of doing “proper work” is a bit difficult. Talking of guilt, this “Chai Syrup Crunchie Cake” seems to have disappeared very quickly …


Now it’s time to start thinking about an event Jane and I have planned for next month; we’re hoping to have a pop up gallery at the village pub and revamp our space at the gallery. I’d better get some work done…oh and it’s broth for supper!



Drawing and Dreaming

Well its been an eventful few days. My wish came true and the fog was blown away by gales ; which also blew away chunks of peeling paint and bits of the window frames. Its ok, no real damage and anyway, the insides of the windows are all neat and freshly painted…you can’t even tell which bits are actually held together with scrumpled up Guardian newspapers and wood filler.

This weekend I helped Kev and Viv of ArtVanGo set up and take down, their stand at the Knitting &Stitching Show in Harrogate.It was hard work but even harder work resisting the urge to buy one of everything.Mountains of pristine sketchbooks and papers, racks of paints and dyes the colour of precious jewels, bottles of mysterious potions and brand new virgin silk screens. ArtVanGo also run a stand called Artists in Action where you can see …erm….artists in action, and talk to them about techniques, materials and so on. I was sorry to miss Dionne Swift ( who got me the job), but I did meet Ruth Issett who was demonstrating mixed media techniques ( here is a video from a previous year ) and who has written quite a few books on the subject. Jill Flower was another artist who specialises in textile applications on paper, making intricate lacey pieces inspired by Elizabethan ruffs.

Well, I was tempted in to buying the new issue of Selvedge Magazine , mostly because the cover fitted so perfectly with my idealised vision of Witchmountain, I would love to swan about in vintage lace and cozy wool with my pack of huskies and a few tame polar bears, before returning to my roaring fire to drink brandy coffee and eat turkish delight…oh hang on… I AM sitting by a roaring fire, drinking coffee and obviously when I next look in the mirror I’ll look just like the model in the pictures!

So, I’ve also been busy with this year’s Sketchbook Project and really enjoying using a combination of pen and ink with cyanotype.The subject is “Tears and Fears” but I’m being quite vague about it. I wish I had been able to afford some of those lovely inks and things from ArtVanGo but to be honest I don’t know what half of then are for! My other treat was a pack of inkjet printable cotton which will be used for making some more little wallets, probably, and a skein of beautiful orange wool which I’m trying to knit yoga socks with!!! ( no pattern and little patience)

Now I must leave you to do something productive, it is hard to set my mind to one task and tempting to go outside and do some strimming while the weather holds. This time last year I was snowed in, I feel quite nostalgic for those sparkly days of ice and isolation.

I’m sure there was more I wanted to tell you but it really is time to make more coffee and set up the sewing machine. Oh, but I just wondered, what is Cyber Monday?

“When You’re Falling, How D’you Tell Which Way Is Down?…”


Ok, I know it’s been a while…is anyone still reading? I stopped saluting at magpies in the hope that my luck would change, and it has , in strange ways; though not always in the ways I’d wanted.

These pictures are from an exhibition being held this weekend in Jane Thorniley-Walker’s newly revamped shed. It’s in aid of Street Child Africa and will hopefully be the first of many.


Here is the work of Heidi Turner and below are some of Jane’s landscapes.Jane also showed some lovely mosaics one of which is an owl which I would have loved to buy if I was a bit richer.


Meanwhile, it looks like a few galleries are interested in showing my work later in the year so I’m hoping to pull myself together and get some new work done.

Please keep reading, I will try to be a bit more reliable in future! x

(Reading: ” The Bedroom Secrets of The Master Chefs” Irvine Welsh, Listening to: “When You’re Falling” Afro Celt Sound System)

2009 Degree Show


Since I last wrote I have been to Hartlepool twice to see the Degree Shows at CCAD. The opening night was very busy and brought back all sorts of memories from last year. It was lovely to see some familiar faces and catch up with people a little bit, as well as seeing the end result of all the hard work I’ve been reading about on various blogs.An instant favorite was Holly Flanagan’s amazing dresses, featuring bold prints and jewel like embroidered neck-pieces.The embroidery was so original and fresh, very inspiring. I think she is entering the Hand and Lock Competition this year so I’d like to wish her good luck.


I’ve been working on some new designs and found out I’d sold a piece in Japan which is good news amongst the gloom of a wet June day. I’ve also been making a few little bits and pieces to take to York for the Embroiderer’s Guild exhibition.I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to sell stuff but I need to fill the table anyway.Its a shame the exhibition clashes with the next Designer’s Marketplace in Middlesbrough on the 28th.


Now, time to reheat the coffee and finish some sewing. I just finished my last  (and decidedly weirdest) Moomin book, “Moominpappa at Sea”, and have that horrible feeling you get when you finish a book and feel a bit bereft!


New Adventures


There are only two days left of the exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery so here at last are a few pictures of my bit, with Carl Liddle’s amazing digital prints just visible in the background.Carl is one of the students nominated for Texprint, along with Jess Blackwood,Samantha Harrington, Claire Salway and Zena O’Connor.

The work comes down on Monday and then in two weeks we’ll all be in London for New Designers. I’m really looking forward to it now. It’ll be interesting to compare our work with that of other colleges ( I hope it is interesting and not depressing!). Its at the Business Design Center, Islington (right near Angel tube) and well worth a visit as its not just textiles but ceramics and jewellery as well.

I’m hoping that this time I will be able to persuade someone to come to Fabric with me, its been far too long since I had a good dance and by then we should have had our results and be able to celebrate! If not I will have to wait until August and REM in Manchester :@) !!!

Friday the 13th and its raining on my washing. I hope its not bad luck that I posted some cv’s today. Its pretty cold so I’m going to look for another jumper and some fluffy socks and bake a cake for Father’s Day.