Diane Krys: Scraps

It was so well worn from a bygone era of worldly travels on ocean liners I expected to find something rare and exotic inside. Sadly, this lovely old steamer trunk could only offer a dense assortment of small fabric scraps. Within hours of jettisoning the mishmash to the charity shop pile I started getting flashbacks of everything I had just rapid fired into bags.  I was seeing connections between those bits of fabric and other things we had discovered during my parents’ downsizing. Over the next few days, I came to realize that trunk held a textile record of everything my mother had ever sewn. The fabric bits spanned decades and included swatches from square dancing outfits when they were Tartan Twirlers to cozy flannel pyjamas I remember wearing as a kid. There were memories and feelings embedded in these scraps and there was an unusual beauty to the random mix. It was a palette of colours, patterns and textures that could only come together over time.  They haunted me and by week’s end I was back in the garage digging to find the bags and snag a small sampling for my own stash. Crazy I know but it was a lightbulb moment.

There are textile traditions from every part of the world that are solely based on the use of scraps: crazy quilts, hit and miss hooked rugs, Kantha cloth made from old saris to name a few. Scraps have a former life and when brought together their random associations can bring something new and fresh, as well as, connect to a history. After finding Mum’s collection I reflected on a few on my own experiences using scraps and leftovers.


I used leftovers  from two very different rug projects to make these pillows. I created colour combinations and designs by responding to a sense of randomness and limitation.  Even before I brought materials( and memories) from different projects together many of them had a life as a wool shirt or skirt.  All those layers of history were with me when I made these pillows.


Using the “standing wool rug”  technique I dove into a six month pile of leftover wool strings to create this piece in progress. There were lots of colours and widths that seemed incompatible but I played with them like a game of  improv. I’m fascinated by the endless combinations and permutations that can come from this fixed group of materials collected by circumstance.

I have a new appreciation for a pile of scraps these days. Using scraps and leftovers can be more than just a practical gesture. A pile of textile scraps is unpredictable and pregnant with creative possibility. They are like maps encoded with our experiences and the life of our material choices. It’s a magical confluence when they are combined into something new. When I think back to that well traveled steamer trunk it did indeed hold something rare and beautiful and I’m glad I recognized the treasure in time to keep a little bit of it for myself.

Thanks for stopping in!

P.S.  In my last month’s post I gave you the head’s up on my workshops for Newfoundland’s  Fibre Art Conference this October. There was a computer glitch with their website.  A few workshops including mine were showing as completely full when in fact they weren’t. So for anyone who tried to register and couldn’t there are actually a few spots still available.

2 thoughts on “Diane Krys: Scraps

  1. Hi Janet, So far my experimentation has been with wall pieces but I think the rugs would wear quite well. Old wool blankets are often used and the strips are cut evenly and much wider compared to the assortment I’m using. You can also look up wool quillie circles for more ideas. I found using a long doll making needle makes the stitching go a lot faster. You should be warned, they’re addictive to make!


  2. Well, this is my first time seeing the “standing wool” rug and it is fascinating! I did a quick Google and found some instructions but, Diane, if you have any instructions/experience to share, I, for one, would be interested. Does anyone have one of these rugs on their floor? Does the rug stand up to wear? Or is it just cushy-comfy for awhile, then you make another one… 🙂 They would make lovely art pieces for the wall or maybe a pillow.. Another something-old is new again! To me, at least…


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