The Net Thickens

Thought I’d post some pics of my current box amulet. As I’ve discussed before, the lids of these pieces symbolise the nets we draw across our inner lives and feelings. The textile technique I use is latchet hooking – something I was taught as a child at school (and hated!). The gridded cotton backing imposes a set of ‘rules’ on me as I make (which I also hated!) . Up until now I’ve struggled on and completed each piece, but in this example the pattern has broken down and the backing is showing though.

I’ve also inserted fragments of yarn made from recycled saris which adds a scruffy, irregular quality to the fluffy regularity of the wool yarn. For me it’s a way of making the inside and the outside of the box more linked – the inner turmoil is beginning to break through to the outside, breaking through the net.

Turku story rug

I am really excited to discover that as part of the Turku City of Culture Celebrations there will be a ‘happening’ to do with traditional Finnish rag rugs. Here in the UK, the tradition of making rag rugs was supposed to have been brought by Viking invaders in the 9th and 10th century. As I wrote to Angie Wyman:

“I know of the connection of rag rugs with Scandinavia very well. It has been argued by Ann Macbeth (Glasgow School of Needlework – but also lived in the Lake District) that Viking settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries brought looped Rya rug weaving techniques to the north of England via the Shetland Islands, Scotland then Cumbria. The shaggy, looped pile was eventually translated into the British rag rugs we know today once industrial production and availability of Hessian and wool cloth reached a critical mass in the early to mid 19th century – Britain’s domestic weavers were forced out of business at the same time.

I think that in 19th century Scandinavia domestic weaving continued, since their industrial revolution was later than ours but eventually with access to industrially produced cotton hence their woven rag rugs. Wouldn’t it be great to join the circle back up again and show them where the tradition ended up?”

This is the link to the Story Mat project webpage – hope it work! I would love to run some workshops or talk about the history of rag rugs in the UK

New Year, New (net)Work

Happy new year to everyone on Netwurks – I feel like we are slowly coming out of hibernation here in the UK as the snow melts back to the walls on the hillsides of the Yorkshire Dales leaving wonderful white lacy patterns. I have been progressing my box amulet ideas, winter was the traditional time for making the rugs from which I draw my inspiration. I attach some photos. They show the relationship of the latchet textiles with their gridded patterns just like I was taught to make as a child and the boxes with their primitive house amulets inside.

Pictures of my work

'Plant Bowls'

'Memory of Wear'

Here are some photos of the work I did for the first year of my MA here in Cumbria.

'Street Creases


They make reference to concealed and protective textiles that carry the wear marks of their owners.

Concealed textiles & net curtains

Hello to everyone on Netwurks. I’m half way through the MA in Contemporary Applied Arts at the University of Cumbria. My current practical research has many strands but it began with the old northern European practice of concealing worn clothing in the walls of houses to act as protective amulets. At the moment I’m creating box spaces which conceal ragwork amulets (the Victorian past) and on whose lids I am placing latchet hook textiles (the modern era). They are for my own home which was built in 1929 at the cusp of the change from the ‘Victorian’ to the modern era. The clean modern textiles conceal (like net curtains) the older primitive hearts of the pieces.