And now for something totally different. Not all my inspiration comes from natural landscape features. Occasionally I am moved to create from a completely unexpected source and in this case it was penguins – not the birds but the books! The town where I live, Sedbergh, is also known as England’s Book Town. We are a small town with mighty ambitions and for a while we did have lots and lots of bookshops. We still have lots of books but concentrated into fewer shops, one of which – Westwood Books – has been listed by the Guardian as one of the top 10 second-hand bookshops in the country. If you like your books and a good coffee then come on over for some serious browsing, and you can pop in to my workshop at the same time.
But I digress. What was it about the books you might wonder? Well, for quite a few years I was one of several resident artists at another of our town’s attractions – Farfield Mill, an old spinning mill now transformed as an arts and heritage centre. One year we put on a series of exhibitions taking various themes as our starting point. In one case the theme was the book town. Where to start? I didn’t have a clue! But one day, wandering past one of the bookshops I noticed a whole shelf of old Penguin books, the ones with the classic black, white and orange spines. And there it was, my inspiration. I started with those colours but then remembered that Penguin did a whole range of these classic covers using different colours for different genres: orange was for fiction, green was for crime, travel came in pink covers and essays were clad in purple. Those covers are now iconic and instantly recognisable – talk about branding!
So here are my first clutch of Penguin scarves, on display with some classic old books and a contemporary deck chair.
The first lot were woven in lambswool and a couple in silk.
I liked the silk ones best and now that I was getting into my stride I morphed from orange into all the colours of the Penguin rainbow and started to play around with the design.
I was for the first time discovering the power of unbalanced twills and how you can get two sides to one piece of fabric.
Here are three in green, purple and orange:
And finally, a break from books and back to more meditative woodland scenes. I took the same design and started to add more random colours, arriving at this lovely fabric on the right in the process.
I love playing with colours within a structure. I’ve been playing with simple twills for a very long time and never tire of tweaking them. There is so much more to discover and now that I have more shafts to play with I’ll be twilling for some time to come!