Category Archives: Textiles


I am teaching a simple weaving course at a community house to a small group of enthusiastic students. These are the samples I made for the basic weaving techniques covered in week 1 and for tapestry weaving in week 2.

The first is made from garden hemp cloth stretched on a frame and then threads withdrawn and replaced with a wool yarn; weaving using a long needle.

The second has a 4 ply cotton warp on the same frame and 8 ply acrylic weft. It shows quite a few tapestry weaving techniques. The frames I made from coreflute, tape and tapered polythene tubes have been most successful.

The next samples are for the weaving demonstration I am doing at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Open Day next Saturday. 10am – 3pm 655 Nicholson St, Carlton North.

It was suggested that I do a honeycomb weave, actually it was more like told that is what I would be doing. This is because I used a version of this structure in my final piece for Introduction to Weaving.

This time I am using 8 shafts and have picked a draft that uses stripes in the warp to emphasise the pattern. There were two weaving options and I will use the two faced one rather than the double weave which is much thicker. The cells also are a bit too squished but it is still a very nice weave structure.

My problem now is to decide on which yarn to use to outline the cells. I am showing both sides as I used different yarn front and back.

My first choice which is at the bottom is too thick. On both sides. The second is a merino baby yarn which flows around the tight cells beautifully. I used a lighter section of the variegated yarn on the front, darker on the back. It does look very blue.

The third is a multihued wool with different colours plied together. I really like the front with the hint of green but on the back the contrast between the pink and blue is so high the pattern gets lost. This is interesting too. So I cannot decide. Do I have same front and back, or different? And which yarns?

Opinions welcome.



MoMA in Melbourne part 1

The Winter Masterpiece exhibition at NGV Victoria this year is a little bit of New York. MoMA at NGV is over 200 works and spreads over all the ground floor galleries. This means there are two entrances, so don’t lose your ticket. You also get to exit through the gift shop twice.

The layout is chronological starting with a few works from key post impressionists and moving quickly to Paris in the age of electricity. I loved seeing La Japonise: Woman beside the water by Matisse up close. The squiggles and dabs of paint, some straight out of the tube, really rocked the established art world in 1906 leading to the label les fauves, wild beasts.

I was also struck by the work of Sonia Delaunay, Portuguese market 1915. She and her husband were members of the Orphist group, who explored colour theory and optical effects.

The swirling colour takes over the scene and the orphists talked about simultaneity were no hue dominates any other. The descriptor says that Delaunay’s work in textile and clothing design contributed to her understanding of the possibilities of abstract colour.

I was interested to see works produced at the Bauhaus. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was a teacher there and experimented with photography and film. This influenced his painting process which he reimagined as an art not of pigment but of light. His Z II 1925 is an exploration intersecting abstract elements in space.

Gupta Stolzl was a weaving student at the Bauhaus who went on to become and instructor and the first woman ‘master’ at the school in 1927. Under her direction the weaving workshop went on to become one of the most experimental areas.

Wall hanging 1924. Wool, silk, mercerised cotton and metal thread

Anni Albers also trained at the Bauhaus in Germany and then went to on to become head of weaving at Black Mountain College in the United States from 1933 to 1949.

Two of her Free-hanging room dividers c 1949 use cotton, cellophane, braided horsehair and cord. They combine art making with utilitarian design, controlling both light and space.

One of the ‘big’ pictures on show is Salvador Dali’s 1931 The persistence of memory.  You come across it as soon as you enter the gallery focussed on the 30’s and post war period. I was quite shocked. It is tiny. Perhaps because it features such a broad landscape I had always thought it to be a large painting.

Seeing a Hopper was rather special too. His Gas 1940 has an amazing sense of drama. Edward Hopper is not depicting a single scene, it is a composite representing several gasoline stations.

Tapestry challenge

I thought I had missed the July exhibition at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild, but fortunately it was still up on the last day of the month when I called in to return library books. Of course I borrowed more books and even bought a second hand one too, so a good visit all round.

The Exhibition was the AuNZ Tapestry Challenge 2018 with the theme Growth. Organised by an online group of tapestry weavers the pieces had to be up to 20 cm square.

There were about twenty five tapestries on display. Many represented plant life of various forms, but there were people, bacteria, graphs, fantasy forms and abstract responses to the theme as well.

The Weaving Matters group are exhibiting in August and on Saturday 25 there is an open day where all are welcome to see a multitude of weaving techniques and have a go.IMG_0290

Sheep and Wool on show

Now that I have become a weaver of sorts, attendance at the annual Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show is almost compulsory. Not that I mind, it is a lot of fun. Made even more so by meeting up with a friend and bumping into new weaving acquaintances.

IMG_0087 It was a cold but sunny day and the forecast rain did not eventuate until the drive home.

The best of the Woolcraft wearable art was on display at the fashion parade. Mainly nuno felted or woven items. I loved the woven red coat which took a very sophisticated approach to the theme of Home Front. The weave structure incorporates red crosses and stylised poppies.

All the Woolcraft on display was interesting but behind glass. This flock of needle felted budgerigars was beautiful, but the background did not help. In one of the industry sheds Looms and Spinning Wheels were down from Sydney for the first time. Elizabeth Calnan’s stunning woven piece was made for a competition in NZ.

Lots of sheep to be seen everywhere, this merino was ready for the close up.IMG_0098

And these guys were waiting patiently for a ride of some sort, although when the leader got to the top, it didn’t seem to know how to work the controls.

I also learned a lot about fleece quality, but that doesn’t mean I am going to take up spinning any time soon.IMG_0097

Before going home I dropped in on the fringe event down the road at the Bowling ClubIMG_0109

where I saw a few interesting things.

An antique sock knitting machine. Although no leg has enough heels to wear this sock.

A system from Argentina for weaving shaped vests. Chunky wool only.

I did make quite a few yarn purchases, mainly planned ones. And I found the cutest little loom. It is Australian made, by a Mr Robinson of NSW. It is only 50 x 50 cm and 40 cm tall. It is made from beautiful wood and I love the curved levers and the pulleys for the cords to run over.IMG_0142 (1)

I would like to find out some more about it.


Wangaratta Art Gallery is staging Petite miniature textiles until 19 August.


This juried exhibition does not need much space as the works are all very small. The maximum size for eligibility was 30 x 30 x 30 centimetres and I don’t think there was a minimum size. Some pieces are very, very small.

The tiny piece of textured canvas work is Walking by Cipi. Seen to the side in the photo that gives an idea of its minuscule nature is Judy Howarth’s embroidered and quilted Self Portrait at Seventy.

Traditional textile processes are used in interesting ways. Tapestry with wool and lurex, cross stitch on aida, stitching on silk noil.

Three dimensional work involved many different manipulations of textiles.

Amanda Ho’s hand woven linen Spatial Layering explores space as overlapping thin, light and transparent planes. She says of her work that through “the transparency of each layer dissolving into each other and losing the sense of perspective and 3 dimensional character. The shapes, therefore become the space in between”

By placing the piece out from the wall, light and shadow become further layers in the work.

The works are petite, forcing close inspection, making every stitch count.

Strictly Quilts

Wangaratta is known for its Stitched Up Textile Festival held every two years. The quilters in the Rural City of Wangaratta are so prolific that they can’t wait that long between shows and have held their Strictly Quilts Exhibition every year since 2007.

A friend and I caught the very early V Line train to see this year’s quilts and also Petite at the Wangaratta Art Gallery. We were both very impressed with the wide range of quilts on display, the amazing productivity of the various groups that jointly display. There is an obvious passion for quilting in the district.

Here are just a few of the quilts.

Margie Likes the Purple by Tania Mills of Dorcas Quilters. It is the most recent of her organic quilts made using techniques learned in a block of the month workshop held by her group.

French Chic by Helen Ellis of The Saturday Quilters. It was made for a black and white and another colour challenge. A simple quilt using some very cute fabric.

Gunitjmara is a whole cloth quilt based on the Gunditjmara possum skin rug on display at the Melbourne Museum. Made by Donna Hughes also from the Saturday Quilters.

I do like quilts based on grids and both of these are just my style. Kathy Bickerdike from Women in Stitches made her Japanese Inspired at a hand piecing workshop with Hiroe Mogi held at the local quilt shop. Boxes and Crosses is a Bemma Jean Jansen pattern made by Kerrith Bell of the Centre Quilters.

A framed needlework piece looked like an array of franking stamps. It is each of the Cottage Garden Threads in used in a design that includes the thread number. Stitched beautifully by Jean McDonald of Women in Stitches.

Suzanne Reid is the featured textile artist this year. Her work reflects her love of the mathematical. It was a very sunny day and light coming in above some of the works distorted the colour in the photos.

Its Only Mathematics. 

Two versions of a design based on an enlarged thumb print. both whole cloth quilts painted and free motion quilted. The first colour way is inspired by Hundertwasser and the second, with also includes machine embroidery, by Klimt.

 Tree of Life with leaves made using a deconstructed wall hanging purchased in India.

Strictly Quilts is always in the July school holidays and well worth visiting.

A lifetime’s work

The current exhibition at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild in North Carlton is work by Lithuanian born Ale Liubinas. She came with her family to Australia in 1949 from a displaced persons camp in Germany. The case her father had made from pine trees on the farm in Lithuania, and used by the family for their few possessions when they fled in 1944, is in the collection at the Melbourne Museum.

After marriage and children she went to night school at Phillip Institute to study dress design and handloom weaving and design. She graduated in Fine Arts with a ceramics major.

This very talented lady worked in all these media for the rest of her life. Ale was active in textile groups in her local community. In 1990, after Lithuania gained independence, she returned to search for her lost childhood and wrote three books about her experiences following her retirement.

Ale passed away earlier this year and her sons asked the guild to assist in selling some of her work to raise funds for the creative art group at Arcadia Aged Care Facility in Essendon North.

From all the red stickers I saw, everything is sold however the exhibition is on at 655 Nicholson St. Carlton North until  July 15.