Moons over Amami

These special moons are made with an unexpected cloth-a coarse homespun cotton cloth that had a layer of silk mawata stretched across it. I wondered…

Mawata is made from silk cocoons that are softened with hot water and soda ash before stretching them out on a frame. We also know them here as silk hankies. They can be used to spin silk yarn or are often used as quilt batting by stretching 50-100 cocoons into a thick, yet lightweight, layer of wonderful silk batting!

After asking around, the best answer I could find was that the silk mawata was there to help keep the two cloths together so the exterior and interior fabrics wouldn’t slip around. Another use for silk!

I put a dozen of these into the shop.

On the shibori side of things, Asiadyer sent me a couple of images of some shibori scraps he came across. They are a great little study in double arashi. Wrapping my mind around the concept, and the cloth around a pole, I made an attempt. I will make some adjustments and have another go at it. The result I got started out ok, but the second wrapping did not achieve the result I was looking for. Even still, some shibori was made!

These things drive me a bit crazy until I figure them out…

And yes, it’s February! We welcome the approaching Spring, warmer weather, and February moons for the circle. I chose and cut the fabric today. One is some fabulous kimono silk woven and dyed on Amami Oshima. Indigo, tannin and mud dyed then painstakingly woven. Even a small scrap is a treasure. The other is the leftover cloth from a dress I made from a repurposed meisen silk kimono a few years ago.
Links to my previous posts about dyeing and weaving on Amami oshima here and here.

If you want to sign up for the 2023 Moon Circle…here’s the link.

Getting in touch with reality

Some days are a real mix of duties.

Today, I:

-filed and paid my state sales tax return

-returned many emails

-attended to the Tour banking

-made indigo moons!! Yay!⬅️

-shipped some orders

-vacuumed and cleaned house

-videoed for phil

-pulled some weeds and trimmed the apricot tree

-made dinner

-attended to my social media

-posted this!

I had to make this list because at one point I actually felt I didn’t get anything done today.

I needed to remind myself.

Moons for komebukuro.

new moons and a shop update

A while back I hosted a zoom workshop where participants and I refashioned a kimono into a more easily wearable garment by shortening and removing sleeves.This project leaves you with some fabric to use later. One of the pieces I reworked was a wonderful hemp unlined summer kimono that was kasuri woven with a wonderful 40’s or 50’s design like meisen. This very bold and colorful piece is now wearable as a lightweight over-jacket. The leftover cloth was set aside until now. I did a little test to see if I liked it to start out the January moon circle. I LOVED IT! wow…what fun. Laying out the cloth for the moons, each one is uniquely fun! Being a bit of an open weave I wondered if the indigo would leak a bit into the moon-it didn’t. And the cloth took the dye beautifully without completely overwhelming the design. Each of course is a bit different.

The other smaller moon this month is indigo dyed onto some beautiful silk jacquard I had been stingily hoarding since I was at the end of the bolt. It has a delicate chrysanthemum (kiku) pattern on a slightly off white (natural) silk. The weight is light- like for a nagajuban (silk under kimono).

While you can join the moon circle anytime, if you want the January moons featured here you need to sign up prior to Jan 30. Thanks to everyone who is currently subscribed and especially to those who joined for a second time!

I also added some items back into the shop- Neko chan kit, indigo treasure packs, and indigo yardage in 3 shades.

lots of inspiration!

The madder I dug is still drying since it’s been so wet here lately. Maybe it will figure in February or March moons. It’s still cold here (for us!) we’re lucky if it gets to 60 and the nights are in the low 40’s. The garagio is still cold and wet! Looking forward to the forecast of ten sunny dry days ahead! Hopefully we will continue to get some rain in the next couple of months. I hope to get at some of the weeds outside. There is a forest of cassia seeds sprouting! Yikes!

On another note, I got up at 2 AM on Tuesday to hear Nobue Higashi’s sericulture lecture on Zoom. It was very interesting! I saw a mulberry field machine that helps pick the mulberry. It claims to be able to do the work of 10 people in collecting mulberry for feeding the silkworms. She also mentioned and showed some images of a machine that is kind of like a ferris wheel for silkworms. As the bins of worms circulate, feeding is easily done to many worms in a smaller space. I understand that the reason these are not in wide use these days is that the parts are not available to repair them when they break down. Hirata san and I once visited a sericulture farm about ten years ago that used this method. It was interesting and I have since wondered why it’s not used more.
She also had a nice section on the commercial hatching and raising of the young silkworms (before they are distributed to the farmers). I knew about this but had never seen the inside of these facilities. If you are interested in this lecture series, you can still sign up (see last post for details).

I’m really looking forward to meeting up with Nobue and all the artisans along our way on the Silk Study Tour to Japan in May. Join us?

Sericulture in Japan Today and Colors by Ken Nordine!

Just a quick update with some fun stuff.

First, last Sunday at Phil’s rehearsal the sound guy Kevin was playing Ken Nordine through the system during setup. I was fascinated! Never knew anything about him nor had I heard his albuns. But I did know that voice- and you probably do too. So I went down the rabbit hole to learn more.
Phil bought us a turntable over the holidays so we could enjoy the hundreds of vinyls we have. It has been so much fun! We not only enjoy the music, the memories invoked, but the album covers and inserts! Took me back to my HS bedroom and the basements of friends on a Friday or Saturday night.
So now I am on the search for Ken Nordine’s album “Colors” which is what Kevin was playing. Some of you may know it but it was new to me and ever so fun! Among other things, Ken Nordine is known for his “word jazz” recordings. His voice is like silk and so communicative! CDs can be found but albums at an affordable price less so. But I am patient… we will see. Until then, I have downloaded the record. Also found the accompanying book for a few bucks. Maybe the grandson will learn colors ala Ken Nordine! One of the people in the audience that day was Carol who by a very weird set of circumstances was a PE and dance instructor at Burbank High when ny SIL (who lives in NZ) and was her PE teacher! Carol and I got to talking and she had this album (Colors) and used it for improv with her dancers back then. She could even recite some of the words all these years later. Great conversation. She’s somewhere in her 80’s now.
Colors…

OK- the next wonderful thing is going to take a bit of explaining and some links for you to check out. If you don’t know of Nobue Higashi, she is the sericulturist we have been visiting since 2015 on the Silk Study Tour. Previous to that, we had been visiting Koyata san’s home where he kept a small cocoonery (I now think he is over 100!). Nobue san’s enterprise has grown and her and her husband may be the youngest serious sericulture farmers in Japan now! They are keeping tradition alive while at the same time creating a very niche market for her customizable and hand reeled silk from the cocoons they raise. It’s a HUGE endeavor that has taken her 20 years to get to this place. Her history is fascinating!
She is giving an online zoom series of 7 lectures on sericulture that begin January 17th. Her lecture series will cover domestic sericulture, it’s history in Japan- mainly focusing on Gunma Prefecture and the connections to Yokohama as it relates to silk exports, silk cocoons and the variety of strains, the history of silk reeling, silk technologies and how they changed and expanded silk in the industrialization of Japan, hand reeling (her specialty) from the Edo period to now, and the cultural aspects of all of the aforementioned! I’m sure I left out something!
Of course the lectures are on JST so for me here they are at 2:30 AM PST- but you will be able to access them for three weeks afterwards. The series cost is ¥14,000 which is about $103 USD. If you are interested in the series, you can sign up here. I had to actually send an email so they could prepare a payment request as the website seems to only allow signups inside Japan. Email is seraph(at)tokai.or.jp

The series is in Japanese but they may try to get some notes done in English afterwards to accompany the lectures. In any case, I am signed up!

If you want a little encouragement, they have shared this hour long bio on Nobue and how she came to do this miraculous thing… then visit the vimeo link. The password is “silkworm” and it does have English subtitles. They have allowed me to share this with you in hopes of spreading this important knowledge.
The series is being hosted by these folks who order custom reeled silk from Nobue which they use as warp for their beautiful woven kudzu cloth. All of this is a labor of love!

Here are some photos of our visits with Nobue and her husband over the years…


We can’t wait to see her again in May on the Silk Study Tour to Japan! We will have a workshop with her at Ton-cara where everyone gets to reel some silk and make silk mawata.

little cloths

On one past trip to Japan I met this piece of silk and brought it home with me because it made me wonder.

That was several years ago. And only this past December did I pull it out and make December moons with it for the moon circle. Yes, I am still working on December. Between the holidays, the cold wet windy weather in the outdoor work area, and cutting my hand rather badly which prevented me from any wet work, I’m still finishing last month’s moons.

While making moons again today since we got a break in the weather – the sun came out and shone down upon us. We all went outside to enjoy it! I dug up a little of the madder to see…I’m trying to dry it but it keeps raining!

Working with this silk, I was able to appreciate it all over again. Somewhere along the way, I might’ve mentioned this fabric. But it’s worth showing you again especially after having dyed moons on it. It’s all silk, and quite lightweight. I’m not sure what the technique is that was used with this as the little bits of color seem to be snips of thread that were just sprinkled into the warp as it was woven. You can pull these little threads out and they are only about 2mm. Now that is of course, a very uneducated guess on my part. I’m sure there’s more to it than that but I certainly don’t know what it is.

And a few posts back I showed you some sashiko practice I was doing. During the recent full moon and moon making session the swatches caught my eye…and turned into their own special moons.

So now all the December moons have been sent, I am working on January moons. Many of those who subscribed last year have asked to continue and I have some people who are only half way through their subscriptions. I contemplated how I wanted to continue…

I’m choosing to continue but limiting the number of subscriptions I can comfortably do. This seems like the way to go. I’m also looking forward to the Silk Study Tour to Japan (still 3 spots available!) and meeting new and wonderful moon cloth. This time I will look with intention for moon making which will be interesting. In the past, I just used what I had found somewhat randomly. Now I will look with a new set of eyes, a new vision. After a year of doing this now I have developed a system for creating the cards, the notes, the labels, and assembling it all for mailing. There was some trial and error along the way. I want to take advantage of that knowledge. It takes time to work out the details.

So into a new year of moons, a new circle, a continuation. Find the new listing here.

Additionally, I gathered a whole bunch of moons gathering stardust for a shop update. There are some really fun ones in there. some I have have several of and others just one. No two are completely alike of course. I put the sashiko moons in there and a few woven moons too. Have fun!

Heavy rain and wind continue here…the worst of it hitting north of us so far but putting out love and safety energy for all my friends in California experiencing the flooding. Stay safe and stay home! Lots of evacuations today.

We are Here

Enter friends, into the New Year. The Year of the Rabbit.

Tsuki no usagi
“HOW A RABBIT REACHED THE MOON:

One night, the Man on the Moon came down to earth disguised as a beggar. He chanced upon a Fox, a Monkey, and a Rabbit (usagi) and asked for some food. The Fox brought him fish from a stream, and the Monkey brought fruit from the trees, but the Rabbit could only offer grass. So he told the beggar to build a fire, and when it was built, threw himself onto the flames to offer himself to the Man. Amazed by the Rabbit’s generosity, the beggar transformed back into the Man on the Moon and pulled the Rabbit from the fire. To honor the Rabbit’s kindness, the Man on the Moon carried the Rabbit back to the moon to live with him. Now, if you look at the full moon, you can see the outline of the Rabbit pounding mochi on the moon.”

To all the moon makers, pathfinders, and wonderers… 明けましておめでとう!
Akemashiteomedetō! Happy New Year!
(December moons are running a bit late but include some stitching inspiration for the New Year of the Rabbit.)


I have some thoughts entering into this New Year 0f 2023. Some of those thoughts include words like C O N T I N U I N G, G E N T L E K I N D N E S S, L O V E, H U M O R &
H E A L I N G. These are just words, but words can become thoughts and thoughts can become actions and direction. We are all still here in this C I R C L E of G E N T L E
K I N D N E S S, L O V E, H U M O R & H E A L I N G. .

Perhaps you have also had a life adorned by C R A F T. Craft is an embellishment that has adorned my life. It’s been a steady companion throughout. It has offered a respite from difficult times as a child, a relief from everyday anxiety as an adult, and a comfort when a moment of focussed meditation is needed. We can stitch a hole in the fabric of our life that needs healing with a needle, thread, and a little cloth. We can encourage ourselves to head in a positive direction.

In this New Year, I will continue to note (not control) the measure of my days. All days are not measured the same. I continue to hold the circle gathered and to listen.

A new Gathering will begin soon.
(ha! just as I wrote this, three black cats entered the yard right outside the window here. Not the gathering I was thinking about, but just the local black cats that seem to want to hang out together! One DOES actually live here!)
This one below lives next door and has taken over the dog’s new upstairs bed as her own. A little NY humor…

it’s the Captain…

Next up will be some new offerings for 2023, and more about the 2023 Silk Study Tour to Japan in May! But now to go and finish with the December moons…

all the signs of Season…

There has been rain! It has also been colder lately. All the signs of season have arrived. For us here that means twinkling lights on houses, sprouts emerging everywhere, narcissus starting to bloom out back, and the annual golden falling of a million ginko leaves carpeting the the back corner of the yard. All the rain barrels are full- 300 gallons of water. Here, that is a blessing indeed!

It seems Time has been passing at warp speed. In that passing some things have been worked on. Some things have been endured. For the worked on:

A bag was made for an order. It is a lovely bag for a long time customer who became a friend over time. So was the psychological connection that I insisted on calling her by my sister’s name for YEARS!! That was the comfort and familial level at which we met. We laughed over it so many times. I finally have trained myself to her actual name at great effort. Have you ever had that happen with someone? Unfortunately, when it arrived it had a failing of a piece of the hardware and I recalled it for repair. It has been repaired and resent in time for gift giving. I appreciate her kind patience with all this. But it is the second photo above I want to bring attention to. I knew I wanted to make this a special bag and selected a long saved silk moth/butterfly mon I had found at a temple sale in Japan several years back. I remember the seller being wary of my purchase since the men’s kimono it was on was in such poor condition. She insisted in showing me all the flaws (virtually falling apart in many ways), but I assured her that I completely understood and that the price was fair and it was the mons I was interested in and that I would use it for scrap and hand sewing projects. We completed the transaction happily. It is an unusual piece as it is a medium grey silk with the finest and lightest katazome pattern in the background. I had not seen one like this before. And the butterfly mon was exquisite and detailed. Done with katazome technique and additionally embellished with fine line drawing. I think it’s pretty old…
Moving along to the third image above, I posted previously some images of sashiko practice. This piece seemed to call out for something “more”. I added french knots at the center of each star in a satisfying orange brick red thread. Done!
And then there has been this bag with an unfinished knitting project from at least ten years ago. I lost track of the pattern and asked my friend Penny to resurrect and reconstruct it. She’s a great regular knitter (as I USED to be), and provided the written pattern for me. I can’t express how satisfying working on this in the here and there has been! It’s been great fun and I have my knitting mojo back! Perfect for my mental plan to spin and dye up some glorious silk knitting yarn. This is some Zara wool we sold when I had a knitting shop (history – haha) and it is a great feeling yarn to knit with- especially on bamboo circular #6 needles. If you are going to knit, make sure you ENJOY the yarn! This is a simple 4 row repeat pattern over a 5 + 2 stitch count and yields a satisfying resulting pattern. I’m almost done now and will be blocking it soon.
Oranges… my favorite holiday ingredient. I picked these fresh navels at my son’s house (got to see the grandson and go to the movies with them!) and made candied orange peel last night- a holiday favorite here. I will make the much sought after orange pecan biscotti tomorrow…. after the dishwasher and under sink plumbing is repaired!!! (this OLD house!)
And lastly, while making the last ribbon order of the year I indulged in making some pleated red organza and made the floral piece pictured. I really love organza for flower making. I will likely do a zoom workshop for it in February.

Moving Time along…

Inspired by the french knots that seemed to be appearing everywhere I looked, I played around with french knots and the moon. It was a happy collaboration. First the sashiko piece, then a gal I have been following on twitter ( Katrin Vates) for some time that does the most intense french knot embroidery I have seen- mainly trees, and then Jude of course recently did some wonderful and simple moons pieces with french knots!
My contribution to end the year of the moon circle is to show you some possibilities with the year of moons. It’s winter, Solstice is two days away, and snow is a possibility! Maybe not here in Southern California, but we can dream…

And in conclusion, the report came back “margins clear” again this time. And I urge you also to take good care of your health, and your bones

Captain, the next door cat, approves this post…

Time takes a holiday

Time is funny that way. It passes slowly or quickly, it unfolds, or it rushes by. It can also stand still.
The past week and a half, it has stood still with a little help from a virus I thought might have passed us by. But no. First Phil, who isolated upstairs with me delivering food and meds to the room- masked of course, and then myself 5 days later. Fortunately, my symptoms were mild compared to many (thankful to up to date covid vaccines) and Phil only a little worse. We are both on the upswing now, yet still testing positive. So far my worst outcome seems to be the ridiculous back pain from laying in bed for three days straight. I am not good with being waylaid like that. Feels better to be moving again.
So orders took a hit and are leaving more slowly than anticipated. I did get out to the studio today to make a start at it all. I hope you can be patient.
This is Thanksgiving week and we were supposed to be away but won’t be (a driving trip to Nor Cal- still not ready to be on a plane especially at holiday time).
Thanksgiving dinner will be delivered by family and we are grateful.

When I was finally feeling like getting up, I took to the needle…and thread! I’ve been practicing and testing out some sashiko thoughts and patterns. Testing various fabrics, threads, patterns, and marking tools. I’ve come to a few conclusions for myself if you are interested.

I was mainly in search of a preferred type of cloth and pattern marking system that was convenient, consistent, and just felt right. I’m still looking at various cloth but the first three I tried were cotton lawn (lightweight cotton), old linen tablecloths (maybe rayon), and some cotton dishcloth (most like Japanese sarashi). Of these three, I preferred the cotton dishcloth fabric. It had a better feel and was a bit more open weave than the other two. Won’t use the linen tablecloth fabric again. It has a weird drape and although it stitched ok, I wasn’t sold on it. Too bad, because I have a lot of this! It’s good for other things though. The cotton lawn was ok- easy to stitch but not too interesting of a texture. The cotton lawn one I liked the most was that was randomly indigo dyed.

As far as marking systems, I have taught basic sashiko in some project based workshops and always relied on using the carbon type transfer paper (chacopy) from Clover or even just a grid marked with a chalk or wax type pencil. I have found that the chalk pencil marked pieces don’t hold the pattern well enough and fade/rub away while I am working the cloth.

I got swayed by a post I saw somewhere singing the praises of a Sulky dissolvable adhesive product that you can run through the printer and apply to the cloth, thereby transferring the pattern easily so I ordered some. Yes, the transfer of pattern was great! The transfer material dissolved easily, but it was not fun to stitch through! It took away ALL the enjoyment of stitching for me. And that is the heart of sashiko- the stitching. I want to enjoy the feel of the cloth in my hand, the way the needle and thread slip through the cloth… the dissolvable adhesive took that away.
Thanks to one of the shibori students who turned me on to some heat sensitive marking pens, I think I prefer those for grid marking. The marks don’t wear off in handling, are easily seen on the cloth, and disappear easily under the heat of an iron. The pens come in various colors and have refills available- as from what I understand they don’t last a long time. Since I am mostly using cloth I have indigo dyed, I’m using the white pen mostly.
It’s worth it to put the time into marking the cloth well if you are practicing traditional or even your own planned patterns. I tried a short cut with the Sulky product but it wasn’t for me. Maybe it will be useful in some other way. Any ideas?

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with friends, family, or like us- a quiet day at home.
Gratefully…

unfolding time…

When I haven’t posted in a while, I hardly know where to start! I looked back just now and see that it’s been nearly TWO MONTHS since the last post. I think that must be a record! Not to worry…
just been busy.

Several things have been going on. First, I organized the itinerary, info and newsletter for the Silk Study Tour To Japan for 2023. I sent out a few waves of email newsletters and right away filled 10 of the 16 spots. If you wanted to look over the details, here is a link to the details. Contact me if you have any questions!

Next, the first post Covid workshop at the Japanese American National Museum was completed last weekend. It was wonderful to be back and see so many familiar faces and new friends as well. I didn’t even take any photos- just a couple of quick video clips. Just a little glimpse… I live streamed the clips on FB and didn’t save them… but available here if you want to view them on FB.

Today is November 8– (I probably won’t even complete this post to my satisfaction until tomorrow) but I hope you went out and voted! Here in Long Beach there are several wonderful true grassroots volunteer groups out there working hard at getting some great candidates elected against a very powerful and monied political machine. There is corruption. I don’t know how we’ll do, but we are hopeful. It’s taken a considerable amount of time and energy and decreased my ability to do the work I do here. I’m looking forward to more mental peace post election!
UPDATE>>> It’s now Wednesday and after a late night election watch party nearby, we all went home fairly accepting defeat to the machine and the overwhelming amount of $$ poured into machine candidate campaigns (by the scandalous LA Federation of Labor no less), only to be revived around midnight (once we all got home) with an update that put our candidate within 99 votes of a win…less than one % point! We may not have the final outcome until Friday, so we remain hopeful.

Back to the Museum… there’s a great exhibit there at the moment and I pulled a couple of photos and a vid for you. Remember back in July of this year when I did a post that featured Old Photos Of Japan referencing senninbari (1000 stitch belt)? Well there was one in the exhibit! I was so excited to see it. Partly because it hadn’t occurred to me that senninbari might have been made for soldiers in the Japanese concentration camps to send off with their men going to war for the United States. The exhibit is called Sutra And Bible and you can read about the exhibit here-it has been extended until Feb. 19th, 2023.

The exhibit reminds us too, that silk had a part to play in the establishment of the first Japanese colony in North America in 1869- by samurai families fleeing civil war in Japan.

Sutra and Bible is a fascinating look at the history of faith in the Japanese community and into their camp experience. A discovery of sutra stones brought to light the role that religion played in the lives of Japanese migrants in the US. The sutra stones themselves are beautiful and inscribed with portions of Buddhist sutra.

I also viewed in person the Ireicho- a sacred book listing over 125,000 names of people of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated in the camps.

beautiful and solemn


A quick note about October moons… I am late in finishing the last portion of them so if you are waiting, do not despair! I’m finishing them off today and getting them out tomorrow! Then on to November!

We had a great rainstorm yesterday and all my rain barrels are filled! there is plenty of catching up to do outside. I’m picking and sharing persimmons with the birds and squirrels again this year- plenty for all as usual. The behemoth cactus is STILL blooming! Not quite sure what to make of that. It’s been blooming since July I think which is a very long time-most ever as far as I can remember. Cactus and Dia de los Muertos, cactus fruit, and my daily friend in the studio.

New trim ideas and plant dyed moons

I recently had some scrap silk left over from having bias ribbon made for my silk shibori ribbon. It was enough that I wanted to see what could be done with it so I had the converter do some flat bias tube (unfilled cording). I always want to use as much as possible without throwing any away of course. I found out that the previous company I was using to do the biasing was throwing out the end cuts! Once I found that out I started having them save them for me for odd projects but they were very irregular. These days, I am a little smarter. I work with the converter to minimize any waste so we can plan ahead to make something with the end cuts.
Below, I am playing around with some ideas for the trims I will start having made- which I will be dyeing. I started out with an autumn colorway.

The trim can be twined and braided too.

So far I have just finished the one piece. It’s in the shop as a made up brooch /necklace combo. When I get more of this made in different colorways, I’m thinking I’ll do some kits and workshops with it. It’s always fun to experiment with new things!

At the same time, I’m working on the September moons for the circle. This month I’m focusing on plant dyed moons. Using the feathery cassia seed pods and the fermentation vat on some vintage silk taffeta and cotton lawn, two very different moons are the result using the exact same dyes.

Also on the dye table are the materials for the kits for the upcoming Mermaid Adornment workshop. If you didn’t get a chance to check that out see here.

And my new daily visitor keeps me company in the studio…another squirelley girl but younger and smaller than my original friend!