Monday, 7 December 2009

Patience, Practice and Perfectionism

I have enrolled on a course to learn more about machine embroidery. It's very satisfying to begin to take control of my sewing machine when I couldn't even make a button hole before! I have been practising my new-found skills by making a sketch book cover. I thought that some nice paisley motifs in patterned silk and crystal organza would be perfect on the warm green silk I had chosen.

However, my ideas did not match my skill and it took several attempts to get the right combination of patterns. I was so focused on my embroidery that I forgot to check what had happened to the main fabric - disaster! I realised that I had appliqued several layers of silk together. When I finally unpicked the last of the little loops and swirls that I had so carefully embroidered I realised that the foundation layer was damaged beyond repair. To add insult to injury, my newly repaired and serviced sewing machine decided to leave some irritating drops of oil on my work.

Thankfully a resourceful friend came to my rescue when she suggested adding some pretty ribbon to disguise the small holes and water marks.

My sketch book cover is complete and, whilst not quite perfect, it is still very pretty.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Fabulous Felted Flowers

To coincide with the opening of Presence VII exhibition on Saturday 21st November, I'm leading a workshop to make felted flowers. I had a lovely time making these examples with my girls. We got very messy and a bit wet but you have to agree the results are stunning!

The workshop is free and it's taking place at the Manor House Museum and Art Gallery in Ilkley West Yorkshire on Saturday 21st November 2009 12 noon until 2pm. No need to book, just drop in.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


The first headdress I made was a commission for a ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. I was asked to make a headdress for Carabosse, the wicked fariy, something that was macabre and bird-like. I wanted to produce a headdress that was light and easy to wear and that would stay firmly anchored to the head throughout a dance routine. Here is my design made from knitted copper wire with additional yarns.

It looks even better when its worn! Thanks to Simone Clarke who danced Carabosse and to Hilary Barber for the photo.

For my Ice Dreams collection I made a headdress for a fairy tale. The structure reflected the formation of ice crystals in hoar frost and the confection of unravelling monofilament and mother of peal irise yarn reminds me of snow flurries.

Design and photos copyright Claire Ketteman except photo of Simone Clarke by Hilary Barber.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Extreme knitting

I love the colour contrast of vibrant greens and bright reds, they shout "look at me". I wanted to use the drama inspired by cacti to create burlesque-style costumes. The shape and structure of the plant made me think of corsetry. For the cactus, its sharp spikes protect a vulnerable and soft interior and so my knitting reflected this armour plated body.

I chose a very soft viscose yarn and married it with nylon monofilament to give structure and shape. Pleats created a flexible fabric and wire "smocking" added a contemporary interpretation to what could have been a rather ordinary garment. The red beads interspersed within the pleats and pockets allude to drops of blood drawn when an intruder tries to gain access. A well protected corset indeed!

All images and design copyright Claire Ketteman 2009

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Inspiration for my ice collection came when there was a spectacular hoar frost that lasted for two days in January. It transformed the landscape and even the most ugly objects like barbed wire or a spiky artichoke became beautiful.

I realised that this was what clothes did for us too and I started to explore what was hidden underneath this cloak of frost. Would I find something dark and sinister beneath all the pristine white surface?

The thought of something hidden influenced my choice of colour palette and instead of using monochrome I looked for greys, purples and blues but I couldn't resist the lovely combination of red and green that I found in this frosted flower.

All images copyright Claire Ketteman 2009

Thursday, 15 October 2009

New Beginings...

Here I am in the brave new world of blogging. I'm going to use this rather like an on-line sketch book to show my projects. I'm a real butterfly when it comes to craft projects and I can't wait to move on to the next interesting thing. Maybe writing things down will give me a bit of discipline!

Here is some of my current work. I'm making items for sale at the Presence VII exhibition which takes place at the Manor House Museum, Ilkley 21st November '09 - 10th January '10. The work is based on my Ice Dreams collection which was inspired by hoar frost and frozen water.

My zig-zag scarf is made from combed cotton and viscose yarn. The permanent pleat pattern reminds me of jagged shards of ice that I found in frozen puddles. The fabric will retain its shape even when washed.

The ice scarf is constructed from felted lambswool which has been embellished with embroidered snowflakes and metallic beads.

Finally my flower brooch is made from stainless steel/wool yarn and nylon monofilament. These unusual yarns have allowed me to create light ethereal pieces that are also sculptural.
All work copyright: Claire Ketteman 2009

All work copywrite: Claire Ketteman 2009