Friday, 25 October 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'Merrilyn Anne Knits and Gifts'

There are so many artists out there using a wide range of materials and techniques to make their creations. Every fortnight I have a chat with one of them about their skills. Today I am talking to Merrilyn, who knits and sews for her store, Merrilyn Anne Knits and Gifts, which is based in Warrnambool, Victoria.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I live in the beautiful seaside city of Warrnambool on the south-west coast of Victoria. I have four adult daughters and seven grandchildren. The eldest three granddaughters love my sewing room and often come for "sewing sleepovers". I give them free range (almost) of my fabric stash and threads. They have learnt to use my machine and now need very little supervision. They usually go for the "brights" bin and have made some gorgeous soft toys, puppets and bags.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I love colour, and fabric, and wool. (You will not be surprised that I have a problem with space too!! Not that my house is small, but I just buy too much!) Many years ago as a stay-at-home mum, I built up a little home-based machine knitting business. I knitted custom orders and taught machine knitting classes in our family room. It all worked really well. I’ve now retired from the teaching, but still have cupboards of beautiful yarns which I’m gradually knitting into garments for my family and for my Madeit shop, Merrilyn Anne Knits and Gifts. Unfortunately I can not resist the new yarns, so I keep buying. Much of my knitting is done by hand as I always knit in the evenings. I use the machines for the fine 2ply wools that make such beautiful scarves.

I also love fabrics and over the years I have made clothes for my family and curtains, etc for our home. A few years ago I caught the "patchwork and quilting disease" so my sewing room now has boxes of fabrics for that craft. I sell a few little quilts and soft toys in my store. I’m also a keen hand embroiderer.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

Probably the greatest challenge is time management – finding the time to try all the techniques and experiment with the new yarns and fabrics. I set goals, planning to have x or y finished or to a certain stage in the day. But I do not get upset if I fall short as often attention is diverted by other unavoidable events.

What drives you create?

I think the "drive" comes from the fabrics and yarns, the desire to "make something" with them. I usually have a vision of what may work, then I experiment.

What is coming up next?

I’m currently making a quilt using tiny hexagons and Kaffe Fassett fabrics. This is all handwork and will take ages, but it is a good project for "sit and sew" group days. I have another six strips to make (two wider and four narrower) and will then appliqué them with plain coloured strips between, colour not yet decided. (There is a saying that the "quilt has control". I believe this to be so, as often the "quilt pieces" just shout out an idea for colour of design. I often make decisions as the work progresses.)

I also have a little floor or cot quilt ready for the batting and quilting. It has cars and flags and will be listed in my store.

My current embroidery project is an embroidered blanket for my youngest granddaughter’s first birthday. It will have a rooster and chickens embroidered in "thread painting".

I’ve just finished hand knitting a little cardigan for a friend’s grand daughter using a bamboo and wool yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills.

You can also catch Merrilyn at the very occasional market stall.

All images have been provided by Merrilyn of Merrilyn Anne Kits and Gifts.

Read back through the previous materials and techniques interviews. If you would like to share your artistic process, please leave a comment.

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