First Year Experience: Imperfectly Inspired

Read this first year Textile Design student’s account of how our Robert Stewart machine embroidered textile inspired her to learn a new making technique! To see more of what our first year students got up to as part of their “Being Human” project, see a short video by Martin Clark here.

At the archive, I saw this piece which is the Bob Stewart embroidery triptych. We had two projects running in tandem – the archive one and another one called “Learn, Make, Subvert” and we could link the two as much or as little as we wanted.

Folder of Machine Embroidery by Robert Stewart (NDS/GB/62)

For our “Learn, Make, Subvert” project, we were instructed to learn a new textile technique that isn’t as common. I saw these little fine lines on the embroidery and decided to link that to a lace knitting technique. I hadn’t knitted before and I wanted to choose something that I hadn’t done before and learn the whole process, so I started off learning to knit with my auntie and recording the learning process. I made a load of samples, and then I embraced this lace idea.  

I liked how in the archives that things weren’t perfect – some things were a bit obscured, so I was looking to get those imperfections across in my work. I also wasn’t very good at it – I kept getting all these holes and dropping stitches, so I thought I’d just embrace that and start using that within it. I also found a fungus called white blot fungus that when looked at under the microscope it looks like my knitting! I did some little sketches and made a handmade sketchbook along that theme. I also used wire, which was hard to knit with, but it produced these holes which again went with my theme of the imperfect. I didn’t want to use colour so everything was in monochrome.  

Images courtesy of Stephen Keane – many thanks Stephen!

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