Sunday, October 23, 2011

Knotty Ladies in October

Hard to believe it is coming close to the end of the year - and although this blog has been a bit on the quite side Knotties has still been happening!

Infact we are meeting this Tuesday the 25th of October 7.30pm at the House of Cloth.

Our wonderful sponsor Elizabeth May the director of House of Cloth is sharing her textile story with Tamara Marwood.

TM: I couldn't help but notice that you are completely head over heals in love with textiles! Please share with us your current textile practice and research.

EM: My current practice encompasses dressmaking, knitting and weaving. I am also doing a Textile Design course through RMIT, which is opening my eyes to new possibilities.  Last year I did machine knitting, which was seriously challenging but when I finally got the hang of it was great fun. And this semester I have been doing screen printing, which is challenging,  fun and inspiring.

I am an avid reader of anything which is about or connected to textiles. I love old sewing and fashion books, and do have to control myself from buying too many. Thank goodness for libraries!! I usually have lots of books out from the RMIT library, and have found our local library a rich source of textile related books and magazines. These all provide lots of inspiration
TM: What are you current projects you are working on?
EM: I have a few too many projects at the moment, all in varying stages of completion. I have been making a red ‘jeans-style’ jacket for some time (though I am not going to say how long!!). I am getting some buttons made now, so it is getting closer to finishing. I am really looking forward to wearing it after all this time.

I also have a couple of weaving projects underway, one at home and one in the shop. The home one is intended to be a plain weave cushion cover using a wool blend yarn. I have used leftover bits of yarn and fabric from the dyeing class I did at RMIT a year ago in the weft, just to add a bit of colour. The shop project will be a table mat using a fine linen yarn, and is basically a plain weave crossed with areas of a lace weave. This one will take a while to do I suspect, as have not been able to do much of it recently.

I also have a couple of nearly completed knitting projects, which I have done slowly over the last 2-3 years whilst travelling on the train. One of these projects was completed, but when I tried it on I did not like the fit, so I have pulled it apart and re-knitted it. The hardest bit now is fitting in the sewing up and finishing. Hopefully they will both be ready for next year’s cooler weather. I will need to start planning the next knitting project in preparation for returning to weekly train journeys early in the year. 

TM: Who was it in your life that gave you these beautiful skills and knowledge?
EM: My earliest influence would probably have been my grandmother, who was always knitting something for her grandchildren. I used to play with her wool when staying at her place during the holidays. I also had a great aunt who was a dressmaker, and remember having clothes made by her, like a beautiful maroon velvet dress I remember wearing proudly. But I guess it was my mother’s influence which was the greatest. I do remember hanging around the treadle machine while she made clothes for me and my siblings, always trying to help. This started my long association with fabric and the sewing machine.

I have also been fortunate to have met a number of very talented women over the last 10 years who have inspired me to take on other creative activities, most notably weaving. These women have been very generous with their knowledge, which has helped me develop. But you know, I sometimes feel like I should have been weaving all my life, as I have a high level of comfort when working at a loom. 

TM: What role does textiles have in our community?
EM: Textiles have the capacity to unite people in the community into a common creative atmosphere. And whilst sharing this common activity, it is possible for people to heal from whatever misfortune has befallen them. Textiles can also tell a story, about events and people at particular times and places. They can also be things of beauty, to brighten up people, homes and public spaces.

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