Reveal and conceal, Stage 2, Workshop 1, Netting

29 February 2016

Net making was new to me before this workshop, which I chose to complement  ‘knitted nets’ and ‘woven structures’.

I had already made a lot of knitted and crocheted net samples for workshop 2 before I started making the nets. They taught me that very open structures like crocheted nets and netting respond well with materials which ‘invade’ their relatively large negative spaces, such as yarns with a textured edge.

Initially, I just wanted to learn how to construct the net, which was the purpose of sample 1.

Sample N1: Simple net, string

What I learnt from this sample: The methodology for constructing netting.  

I used a book (1) in addition to the course notes as instruction. I started by learning how to ties the knots and lace the net-making bobbin (see below).

I tied a loop around a door handle whilst I constructed the net and used a ruler for the spacings so that they were even.

The finished result was a simple mesh which I will be able to repeat with different threads.

Although I chose string because it was easiest for learning the construction technique, I do like the ‘hairy’ quality of the yarn.


SAMPLE N2: Polyester organza strips

What I learnt from this sample: Transparent fabric strips with frayed edges give interesting results when made into a net.

I cut strips of polyester organza, allowing them to fray and used them to make a net young the same method as sample 1 with a wider cardboard spacer instead of a ruler.

When placed against a black background it is possible to see the detail of the frayed edges and the areas or concentration of fabric/fibres at the knots and transparent areas in between. It works really well visually, although there was some breakage due to repeated rubbing of the fabric strip during knotting and pulling the loops through.


SAMPLE N3: Hand-spun, hand dyed merino plied with Teeswater fleece inserts

What I learnt from this sample: Subtle variation in net texture, translucency and shadow can be achieved by using yarn contains slubs.

The aim of this sample was to select a yarn which would impinge on the negative spaces of the net. The yarn I made contained ‘slubs’ of fleece which made for semi-transparent sections which would change the mesh shape.

The effect is less dramatic than I had hoped, because the fleece insertions are relatively few. Also the colour is rather bland and without contrast.


SAMPLE N4: Hand-spun, hand-dyed thick and thin single, mixed fibre

What I learnt from this sample: Thick and thin hand-spun yarn produces interesting irregularities in an otherwise uniform net.

Because the results of sample 3 had been less dramatic than I had hoped, I chose a much more extreme yarn for this sample. 

Because the yarn was single (not plied) it is unbalanced, so as well as the thick and thin effect of the strands there are interesting little coils or twists which appear in the thin areas where their is most twist.


SAMPLE N5:Hand-spun over-twist (mixed fibre) plied with cotton

What I learnt from this sample: Hand-spun “twist” yarn produced dramatic and lively results when made into a net.

This sample was made to investigate the effect of a different type of extreme handspun yarn. It was made by over-spinning (i.e. spinning a single with too much twist), then plying it with commercial yarn. Whilst doing so, the over spun yarn naturally twists back on itself during the plying process. The little twisted sections produce interesting shapes and give the yarn a shaggy appearance.

I adore the effect of this yarn. You can still make out the net shape whilst the twists give tonal depth, and suggest movement. The net was was very difficult to make, however, as the twists tended to concentrate and get trapped during the knotting process.


SAMPLE N6: Hand-spun commercially-dyed merino plied with Rowan Kidsilk haze

What I learnt from this sample: Autowrap yarn can be used to give nets textural and colour interest at the same time.

I was again seeking to extend my knowledge on what effects might be obtained by using different yarns. I also wanted to explore the effect of colour.

I used some hand-spun, plied merino in olive green. During the spinning process, the pink Rowan Kidsilk haze had been allowed to autowrap around the merino. This makes a loose ‘halo’ of the auto wrapped yarn in irregular loops which surround the core. 


Again an interesting effect with irregular incursions of the Kidsilk haze into the negative space. The rather dramatic colour combination adds extra interest in this sample.



The focus of this workshop has been to master the netting technique and to explore the effect of using different materials on the visual outcome.

Particularly successful were sample 2 (polyester organza strips) and sample 5 (hand-spun over-twist plied with cotton). However all the samples are interesting in different ways, and I particularly looking forward to examining them under different lighting conditions.



1. Holdgate, C. (1970) Net making for all. Mills and Boon Ltd. London.



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