Small beginnings: Marilyn Hall

What to do and where to begin?  This is a question I often find myself asking when a previous piece is completed.  I am trying to stick to my rule of not buying new materials unnecessarily when I have lots of supplies lying around just asking to be worked on.

Looking for inspiration in a recent sketchbook I came across a page that caught my imagination.

The blue reminiscent of indigo I spend much time working with. The linear pattern formed by the squares are another interpretation of the path, the creative journey I am on.

Moving forward I looked through offcuts of indigo and natural colour cloth that I could use in some way. Hidden amongst them was an offcut of orange silk.  I had the colour scheme ready to hand and just had to decide what to do with it.

I cut the fabrics into small squares and began making 9 square patches. 

Anything, no matter how small, to get started.  It might not lead anywhere but…. it might.

The supply of squares was finally exhausted and I had produced a pile of 48 squares.

What now?….

A pieced quilt? No, not my style

Stitch them to a length of cloth? No, didn’t like the look of that

Stitch them together into a long strip?  As I stitched a path began to emerge

I have found my way again.  Almost by accident I am producing another interpretation of the creative path I am journeying along.

It has turned out to be 9 metres long and 14 centimetres wide

I photographed it in the landscapes I love and produced a book.  Words by my sister Fran, accompany the images.

‘how many people passed through here’…?
‘out of the depths of history’
‘lines of sea and sand stretch a path to the farthest shores’

The book accompanied the work which was in our ‘Beyond Blue’ exhibition in Hastings during October

Come and see a live exhibition

Beyond Blue

A collaboration of Textile and Watercolour Artists

Monika Brueckner and Susan Miller met during their MA Fine Art studies.  It was during an exhibition of the MA cohort’s degree show, in Monika’s home town, Herxheim, in Germany, that the idea arose to bring together both artists’ mediums, producing themed work and responding to one another’s interpretation of that theme. 

Sue and Monika presented their idea to their colleagues and a group of 9 artists came together.  Each member of the watercolour group partnered with an artist from the textile group. 

The chosen theme was ‘Beyond Blue’.  

On completion of their response, each artist presented their work to their nominated partner, who in turn responded to their partner’s work using their own chosen medium.

This exhibition of textiles and watercolours, is a stimulating approach to producing and presenting a creative response, constrained by a single idea.

A bit about knit – and me

I am Monika Haeussler-Goeschl and I joined this group a couple of months ago.

I specialized in knit during university and I think this choice suits me well. Although I use other techniques in my work as well I keep coming back to knitting. Through knitting I can construct my own surface through a continuous line, a continuous thread. It feels a bit like Ariadne’s thread, a thread through which I can think and express myself. Although there are quite some limitations when knitting, because it usually is just one continuous thread, it challenges me and I enjoy finding solutions for what I would like to express.

I enjoy also different knitting techniques. I love the soothing effect of hand knitting, but I like also the technical possibilities of machine knitting. 

‘now’, machine knit

My themes are mostly personal. I do enjoy to explore the themes of life, the situations I am in, the aspects of change throughout life. I often start research either by photos expressing a mood or situation, or by investigating a word or a phrase. These investigations lead me on to further ideas to express my thoughts and feelings.

Research ‘hanging by a thread’

The making process is very important for me. I do express myself through my hands, and the hands are like a part of my brain. They are much more intuitive than my brain, and the older I get the more I trust the spontaneous wisdom of my hands.

Although I was fascinated at university by the technical abilities of digital knitting machines, I keep coming back to work manually, whether by machine or not.

It feels right to connect to the past by a traditional technique like knitting, combined with new ways of using this technique. 

Detail of ‘Boro’, machine and hand knit, Indigo dyes, stitched

Materials inspire me a lot, I love experimenting with all kinds of materials. I like to explore their individual capabilities and characteristics and I aim to use them in innovative ways or combinations. 

Material speaks to the maker and has its own language in the way it behaves.

Anni Albers puts it in this way: 

‘What I am trying to get across is that material is a means of communication. 

That listening to it, not dominating it makes us truly active, that is:

 to be active, be passive.’

Two examples with different materials:

Horsehair crochet, sample
Sample with paper knit, print and laser cut

Colour often comes to my work at a later stage, after I decided on the material and the technique. But occasionally it also comes first, sometimes a full palette of it. 

Colour sample of my MA work ‘in between’

I try to stay open to ‘faults’ and mishaps, because often they trigger new ideas. 

I value the aesthetics of Wabi Sabi, the beauty of the unfinished, imperfect and incomplete is close to me.

Detail of stitching, ‘unfinished’

I am happy to reconnect to the UK by becoming a member of Quinary12 and I am excited to take part in the groups’ future activities. It is a valuable experience to be part of this group to get feedback and share ideas, and to see how fellow members work. It is always fascinating to see the individual approach of each member, their personal way of working

Marian’s Blues

As a child I remember royal blue as my favourite colour – I think it was because I had a wonderful flouncy royal blue party dress with three little pearls each side attaching the sash. I can see it still and I loved it. Over the years that favourite colour gradually faded into the background and was usurped by reds, oranges and the hotter range of colours and more recently my palette has been drained or washed out, plastered and nearly colourless.

Then a couple of years ago a friend gave me a large pot of ultramarine pigment and oh how it sizzles in its raw state! This wonderful colour has indeed been sizzling in my mind ever since and I have become very blue aware!

I have been finding it everywhere: in the Madonnas and works of the old masters, the abstract expressionist zip paintings of Barnett Newman. And the extraordinary shimmering use of blue by Yves Klein that he named International Klein Blue – IKB. The blue stained glass within modest little churches can be as stunning as the windows of the large cathedrals.

Sassoferrato, Newman and Klein – IKB

Learning about the different pigments by reading Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay and the medieval writings by Cennino Cennini’s The Craftsman’s Handbook has been fascinating and there is a treat yet to be read: The Secret Lives of Colour by Kasia St Clair. I also want to research the symbolism of the colour amongst different societies and cultures, a confusing subject as the meaning can be so diverse – blue sacred robes versus the blue movie!!

Having saturated myself with blue I felt it was time to start experimenting with imagery so using photographs of earlier work I started to play with photoshop – lots of good results and some not so good but all feeding into a new direction for my work to go in. After the washed out colour of recent years I find I am dying (no pun intended) to get back to more saturated colour using predominantly blue with a contrasting palette.

I am currently experimenting with sublimation inks with an idea to make some large pieces of work based on a loose timeline of my trip through life using photographs, drawings, text and motifs. I am researching a way to apply imagery to the fabric before applying colour but so far my results have been disappointing. I am also experimenting with disrupting the surface with stitch and folding. Blue will be fundamental to this body of work which I am very excited about but have a long way to go.

Marian Murphy

Virtual working together time

Each year we aim to spend some time working together as a group. 

We have found this time invaluable for several reasons; it gives us focused time for work; it allows us to spend time together to see what we are each working on; to discuss as a group and on an individual basis the ideas, inspiration and evolving work; to critique our work; to engage in some critical debate and to talk about future plans for the group.

For obvious reasons this has not been possible for the past two years.  Earlier in 2021 we discussed the issue of how to overcome the restrictions as we were missing this valuable time.  The result was a virtual 3-day event.

Each day began with a virtual meeting to discuss our plans for the day. We posted images for discussion in the plenary session that was held at the end of each day.

Some of us continued with ongoing research and experimentation whilst others chose to begin planning and trialing new work. 

Monika Brueckner

Monika is working with the theme ‘moon’. Stitching onto fabric and photos, using a range of threads. 

‘After a long time of not stitching the work is calming me and has had a meditative aspect’

Monika Haeussler-Goeschl

Monika is continuing her knitted pieces, exploring how to interpret the ‘rhythms of time’.

Marilyn Hall

Wool found whilst walking in Scotland is the inspiration for Marilyn’s explorations.

‘Using the wool as a starting point I will see where it takes me.’

Caroline Hibbs

Caroline is working with the theme ‘Emotions’.  Exploring pattern and how to portray emotions in a visual way.

Jean Kirk

Using woollen yarn that Jean dyes herself with natural dyes, she is continuing her exploration of knitting.  She is ‘pushing the curve further’.

Marian Murphy

Marian is moving out of her comfort zone with her use of colour and scale.  ‘Blue and big’ is how she describes where she is going.

Kay Swancutt

Kay is working with her natural dyed wools and exploring colour combinations through tapestry weaving.

‘Little hand made balls of plant dyed yarn.  I somehow like them more than the ones on the ball winder’.

Quinary welcomes two new members

Quinary welcomes Marian Murphy and Monika Häußler-Göschl as new members who joined the group in the spring.  Marian and Monika will be posting on the blog very soon so that you can see how exciting their work is and how it will enhance the work of the other members of Quinary

Marian Murphy Field of Gold (detail)

Monika Häußler-Göschl  Work in Progress

Less Colour – View Inside – Colour – Secrets in Folds ….. Monika Brueckner

My work is driven by personal experiences, feelings and the subconscious. The vessel as a female symbol for holding and giving up was used often and appears in the presentation in various outcomes. 

The knowledge, that emotions from former generations are given to the next by the subconscious, was the starting point for my BA work. 

“Flying Family Tree”

paper, stitched with cotton thread, free hanging by fishing line

2012, London, England

The bowl form reappeared in my MA work. By using transparent paper to wrap a basket in the diameter of 1.60 meter, I tried to present my childhood feelings in my home nest. In addition, photos and a video loop were presented. 

“Nest that doesn’t cradel”

transparent folie, cotton yarn, photos, video

2017, Barnsley, England

During the last years I worked through different themes relating to the 20th century German history and so they relate to my personal family history. 

In the group exhibition “Mend”, shown in the Coventry Cathedral and the Nail Cross Christus Church in Karlsruhe, I tried to work to the different destroyed Cathedrals and churches in England and Germany. The use of medicine material and the red colour provide the link to the hurting of both sides. 

“Reconciliation yesterday and today….into a hopefully better future”

card board, different threads, red acrylic paint, photo, gauze bandage, wire, nails, silk

2018; Coventry Cathedral England; Christuskirche Karlsruhe, protestation Church Herxheim, Germany

The knitted “Hidden Spaces” (online quinary12 exhibition) were constructed without a plan and very spontaneous. All have different openings and indentations. 

Beside photos of the presentation in the landscape snapshots were taken from the inside of the containers. 

As well a series of photos of the used threads, laying under a microscope, present the material in another context and transform the material into a meditative moon like outcome. 

After a colour painting online workshop, I could restart with the intuitive use of self-dyed fabric and over a long time collected, different yarns. The use of colour is back. It feels very good and satisfies my inner self. 

During the first step huge textile colour fields laid on the floor, then some of them were stitched by hand to a bigger piece of cloth and afterwards I started to stitch intuitively into. 

The backside was the one I preferred and so it was arranged in a 3 D piece. Photos and close ups were taken and printed onto transparent silk. 

left: frontside – right: backside

It is my inner space which is visible – without the covering of old experiences. The personal essence gets space in colours and folds. Catherine Dormor´s last book “A Philosophy of Textile: Between Practice and Theory” and the philosopher Gilles Deleuze will give me insights from a theoretical point of view. 

I can sit and watch endless into the hidden spaces, reflect about the nonvisible parts. These spaces will provide next steps to work on. Going bigger or very small? We will see. 

Spinning and Weaving

Photo: Dylan Roles

I thought I would write a blog post about spinning and weaving as this is what I seem to be doing most of at the moment.


I taught myself to spin about three years ago now with the help of a beautiful turkish spindle gifted to me by my sister and brother in law for my birthday.  When researching how to spin I loved the shape of the Turkish spindles and waited for a long time for mine to be made by hand by a wonderful maker. It spins as if it’s dancing with the beautiful tiny brass weights helping to keep the spindle balanced. I was also gifted a beautiful purple 3d printed one at the same time so I had plenty to work with. It took a while to learn to spin on these and many hours of watching YouTube; it took even longer to make the yarn I wanted to work with and to even know what I wanted or how I was going to use it. I also need to know what kind of a spinner I wanted to be. Not a lumpy one which is what I was getting at this time

My dancing Turkish Spindle

In 2020 the world went into lockdown and I remembered that I had a spinning wheel in my loft that had virtually never been used. I had bought it 25 years ago but after having a class on how to use it I don’t think I ever used it again.  Was this a lockdown project?

My daughter retrieved it from the loft and I soon realised that parts of it were missing and parts were perished and broken; this wheel is not made any more so I needed to see if I could repair it.  I found a small company (Weft Blown) that did replacement parts for a later wheel and they found out that I could use some of the later parts to repair my old wheel. I needed the help of the family again and my brother-in-law repaired the wheel for me.

Now I needed to learn how to spin again.  

My Old Spinning Wheel

This was a challenge, not knowing and not evening knowing what I needed to know was  indeed frustrating. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, not a great place to be.  I had many hours of trying, parts of the wheel flying across the floor, bobbins and the drive band coming off all at once and if I could get anything going, the result was the lumpiest yarn ever and the tension band was a complete unknown.  Not knowing how these things worked together didn’t help. At this point there was no chance of finding out what yarn I wanted or what type of spinner I wanted to be. Eventually progress happened and I could spin and understand what was happening and what relationships were made between maker and materials with the equipment helping along. I still have much to learn but that’s the exciting part.

I love that I can spin on my old wheel but I always return to my spindles; they connect me to the earth through the materials and to early cultures that spun in this way and I am a much better spinner on my spindles. It’s a slow way of working but one that suits me.I still have a lot to learn about hand spinning but look forward to the challenges it brings.  After a lot of research I have purchased a Tibetan support spindle that you spin using a small bowl for support and so the learning goes on.


My first weavings were on a tapestry frame loom and I often return to this for a particular way of working because of the simplicity of methodology and equipment.  For inspiration I looked to abstract weavers, I knew that I didn’t want to be a pictorial weaver so I looked towards Jilly Edwards, Fiona Hutchinson and others.

When I finished my PhD I promised myself that I would learn to weave, so in February 2020 I was gifted by my family a day of learning to weave on a rigid heddle loom for my birthday at the Handweavers Studio in London. 

This was an exciting day and of course I came home with a loom. As my background is in creative hand stitching, I naturally broke the rules of weaving as soon as I started and when the teacher asked if I wanted all the ends cut off and I said no, then she was sure to just let me do what I wanted instead of the scarf everyone else was making, which was great.  I came home with a piece of cloth that I had created myself, I found this hugely exciting.

I began by weaving small pieces and then progressed to four meter pieces but still only a narrow width but this was fine as I could experiment freely. I looked at the American idea of ‘art weaving’ and came to the conclusion it was too ‘lumpy’ for me but do enjoy some aspects of Saori weaving.  Like learning anything I have to find out what I want my work to be and the only way to do that was to ‘make’ the work. 

Photo: Dylan Roles

I seem to have found a place I want to be with the weaving for now and am concentrating on explorations between materials and process with a foray into some colour

I have bought a larger loom that was delivered in the last few days, this awaits the warping up which I love.  It looks a little scary to me as really I only make small pieces usually. A friend has caused me to question why I want to make bigger pieces.

We should always be questioning but also be satisfied with where we are ‘now’ with the work – so I spin and weave on.

Kay Swancutt

Knitted Codes: Jean Kirk

Madame Defarge in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens knitted into her work the names of those to be executed when the revolution began. Although this is fiction, knitting was used as a means of passing on information during the American War of Independence and both World Wars. With a series of knots, dropped stitches and pattern changes knowledge of train and troop movements was gathered and passed on

Are patterns codes?

I began to look at patterns of Ganseys worn by fishermen along the east coast of England and Scotland, also in Devon and Cornwall.

These are Gansey patterns from Whitby, Sheringham and Polperro

These Gansey patterns are all associated with place and people within this place. The code for these is the identification, both emotionally and physically, of people and place.

Can colour be a code?

Red is a colour associated with power, orange with potential danger (as in traffic lights), purple was the symbolic colour of opulence and royalty, yellow the Chinese symbol of the Emperor’s family,

Naturally dyed yarns using leaves, flowers and berries from my garden and gathered on walks around my home town during lock down last year. I used wool from Wensleydale and Cotswold sheep, also Alpaca from Somerset.

I am using the ides of pattern and colour as codes to knit a piece of work for exhibition next year.

This work is about the seasons of the year and the emotions which are evoked by them, with colour and pattern as a code for the seasons.

This is work in progress!!