Exercise 4.3

Experimenting with twisting and plying, weaving, crochet, knitting, knotting, braiding, and plaiting.

I returned to the painting I’d used in exercise 3.2 and the yarn wraps I’d produced. I decided to focus on the green and gold colour palette I’d extracted from one section of the painting, rather than attempt to represent the wide range of colours across the whole thing. I gathered a selection of yarns, threads, cords, ribbons and trimmings to match this palette, including dark and pale shades to represent the deep shadows and bright highlights of the original.

Yarn wraps from the El Greco painting

I also looked at the shape of the green and gold section of the painting, and made a simple sketch of it. I wanted the shape of the yarns to reflect the curved corners and folds of fabric.

From left to right:

Cord, bias binding. This is the same technique as my crocheted sample, though I used my fingers, rather than a hook, to cope with the large ‘yarn’. I held the piping cord and three strands of the gold cord together for the foundation chain, then used the yellow bias binding for the single crochet row. I’ve displayed this with the reverse side showing, which I think looks more effective. I like that the shiny cords have their own shadows and highlights, and I think that holding the cords together has worked to show how the colours blend. The paler yellow is highlighted by being in the centre and in a continuous line, but again, because the yarn is so highly textured, it has its own shadows. I think this yarn successfully refers back to the colour palette and the painting which inspired it.

Yellow ric rac, embroidery threads. I held several strands of two gold coloured embroidery threads, and of two green embroidery threads, and did a simple three-strand plait around the ric rac. I deliberately chose to use mid tones of the green and gold, so that this yarn represents the subtlety of the mid range in the colour palette. Using the ric rac gives a much more regular look to the finished yarn, and the texture contrasts well with the shiny embroidery thread.

This is a four-strand round braid, made using two strands of the leaf green cotton, and one each of the two bundled crewel yarns. The gold cord was  then stranded through the braid. I think the two colours of crewel yarn work well to give the colour shading of the original palette, and contrasting with the central gold cord. The braid was a bit loose and uneven, so that the final yarn looks a bit messy.

Three-strand plait using dark green ribbon, unspun yarn, and gold cord. The plait was then wrapped with gold embroidery thread. The Icelandic yarn is too pale on its own in this yarn and paler than the yellows in the original palette. Using three strands of different widths and textures makes the simple plait more interesting, and the wrapped thread adds a little more interest. I don’t think the finished yarn is particularly successful.

Seven-strand braid made with embroidery threads. These threads were arranged to follow the colour palette and then knotted into stripes and zigzags to echo the shadows and highlights in the original painting.  Some sections of this work quite well, but the whole thing is not very well made and the pattern could have been planned better.

Four strand plait with gathered ribbon knotted around it. The original plait was fine but boring, so I tried knotting the green ribbon around it. The ribbon is translucent, and when I started to gather it, the colour became much brighter and the glitter more obvious. The final yarn is not a success!