Yarnosophy is my (new) textile blog. If you’re thinking things look a little familiar, my previous blog was called Twisted and Warped, but for a range of reasons I’ve decided that no longer quite fits me and my textile work. I have, however, imported the posts from there into here.
I’ve been making things with yarn and fabric since I was young. I grew up in a family in which making things was taken for granted. Dad built things and fixed things, and Mum sewed and knitted. Part of it was necessity – there was not a lot of money to spare – but it was also just the way we lived, and hand-made items were always valued, and an integral part of our everyday life. We dried dishes using the set of embroidered linen tea towels that my mother’s best friend gave her as a wedding present
I learned to knit around age 7, while travelling with my Mum and sisters on a train to Sydney. I still remember the narrow pink Barbie doll scarf I knitted. When we visited Melbourne, a highlight was always a visit to the fabric section of the old department store, Buckley & Nunn (sadly no longer in existence) where there was a beautiful range of fabrics, including Liberty prints and pure silk velvets, as well as less expensive fabrics, and a wonderful remnant table that we often bought from. My sisters and I made many of our own clothes and other items; we sewed, knitted, embroidered, appliqued, and patched. We also made pottery, sanded and painted furniture, and became reasonably handy with a screwdriver, hammer and nails!
I was always fascinated by textiles, and in high school I learned to spin and weave. My interests in social history, historic costume and textiles eventually led, via a byway through theatrical costume design, to an Honours thesis on the incredibly useful topic of eighteenth century British worsted textiles. There being little in the way of career options in Australia for that expertise, I’ve pursued other, sensible, management careers – until I gave that up to focus on my other creative activity – writing novels. So, now my career is writing, and I’m a published author of three gritty romantic suspense novels set in Australia, with a fourth contracted and underway. My textile work continues as always, a part of my everyday life, and yarn is never far away from my hands.
I’ve always designed things, rarely following a pattern exactly, sometimes simply starting a project without any pattern and seeing what evolves. The ‘what if..?’ approach that inspires my writing also underpins much of my textile work. Now that my life is more balanced, I’m giving some more attention to designing, and to challenging myself not only in new directions, but to record, test, write, and publish patterns.
The following two quotes pretty much sum up my yarnosophy:
‘Beauty is not optional. I am convinced that everyday objects can and must be beautiful because the beauty surrounding us feeds our souls. Perhaps we can survive without beauty, but I don’t see how we can thrive and be fully alive without it.’ Sharon Alderman (weaver), Handwoven Magazine, November/December 1995 p. 46.
“The special quality of beauty in crafts is that it is a beauty of intimacy…. The beauty of such objects is not so much of the noble, the huge or the lofty, as a beauty of the warm and familiar. Here one may detect a striking difference between the crafts and the arts. People hang their pictures high upon the wall, but they place their objects for everyday use close to them, and take them in their hands”. Soetsu Yanagi.