Category Archives: arimatsu


This has been my daily undoing lately. Trying to focus when chaos swirls around me. After spending over a week now with an unruly computer, I now have it back to limping along so will take this moment to write a quick post. I had to wipe the HD and reinstall the OS and all the data from a backup. SO lots of resetting work and getting things back to where they were. Not sure it’s done yet as the same problem popped back up during the resetting so I’m expecting more computer trouble on the horizon. But in the moment it is working…

All the chaos of the last year leaves me wondering where the path even is. In what direction do I head? What purpose can I serve? Does what I do even matter (some days I do wonder about this!) ? Chaos seems to zap away my creative energy…
I know I’m not the only person experiencing this. I’m in good company.

After supporting myself for so long (over 40 years) I wonder-can I still do it? What if I can’t? What might that look like? With clearly 6-12 months more of COVID related challenges ahead of us, in-person workshops and shows are unlikely for the foreseeable future and even then, it won’t be like turning a switch back on. It will take time to rebuild. The planned 2021 Silk Study Tour to Japan is of course, cancelled. We have hopes for 2022 so I will refocus towards that.

Sometimes, focus is a matter of deciding what you are NOT going to do!

So just while I’m writing this the screen froze again. So clearly still having issues. Back to the shop it goes tomorrow. Let’s see if I can get a couple of things into my shop to help things out a bit before it completely dies off(crossing my fingers on this restart!).
I’ve still been keeping myself busy, though not really sure what I should be making! I’ve been shooting videos for the Daily Dyer on using the pleater and how I create the silk organza I use for the flowerwork. Again, I’m backed up on the videos due to the computer problems but hope to get more of them up in the next day.

In the meantime, I added a couple of flowers to the shop. I really love the white ones. Here, I am using pleated and dyed silk batting for the leaves. I think it adds a nice textural contrast to the organza.

I’ve also been doing a bit of indigo dyeing for a garment I want to make. In doing that, I selected and organized some of my indigo fabrics into project packs and added them to the shop. It’s been a while since I put these back into the shop. They are assortments of various silks and cottons dyed in varying shades of indigo. There are also a few packs of solid indigo cotton yardage dyed in the three shades using the fermentation vat.

On a side note, I watched some of the Yoshiko Wada shibori lecture videos and enjoyed seeing the work of the featured shibori artists there. I was reminded that I am really more of a commercial shibori craftsperson. Whenever I am creating, it is with an eye towards selling my work. It needs to be this way for me. So when I am experimenting with an idea, I am always wondering how I can use it in a commercial way. Can I improve the process to a point where it satisfies both my aesthetic goal as well as be manageable in the marketplace. I also realize that in the best tradition of Arimatsu shibori, shibori was a way to create a commercial product for a living! This is part of the shibori challenge for me. While beauty and quality craftsmanship is part of the desired outcome, utility remains key and with a eye towards the commercial aspect. And within that utility was a need to sell the work for a fair price for the handwork. I always admire the Japanese ability to innovate the process with this in mind. While much shibori rises to the level of art now, most who are making shibori these days do so as art or as a hobby, what I do is quite different- I made it my profession. I enjoy the challenge of that.

Another interesting Covid related activity- crafting zooms. A group of gals in California have been getting together to make up some of the items for which I offer free instructions. They order the kit, then make the item during their social zoom, screen sharing my video instructions! They have time to check in with each other while hand stitching their kits and helping each other out if needed. Each month they pick a different project. Great idea! If your group wants to do something similar and you want to invite me to pop into your zoom to answer any questions, let me know!

When my focus starts to fade, I take a trip out to the garden and see what is happening there. RIght now the most inspiring thing is the feathery cassia (Senna artemisioides) whose scent is at its peak. It has a little spicy scent -some days it can remind me of Necco wafers-remember those? The clouded sulfur butterflies flit all around and are laying their eggs there. I can always count on Nature to set me straight.

I really wish I could share the scent!
did you notice the butterfly at the top?

PHEW! Made it through the post without another freezing episode!

Mood, indigo moon

Been very very busy. Lots of indigo and the online workshop.

Late night out in the studio- finishing up moons on linen. Have a few great indigo packs that I’ll get up in the shop when I have a minute.



Folks are starting to gather for the 2013 Silk Study Tour. If you wish to be added to the second email we send out with tour info please click the link in the menu above and sign up through constant contact- make sure you add yourself to the tour list in addition to any of the other choices.


Milo and the crickets are keeping me company in my moon-making tonight


Apparently, this will be ready on may 10 and there’s going to be a party. this is called fancy moonshine.


Goodnight Moon



along with stories, thoughts, and a renewed passion- i brought back a few souvenirs. mementos really, of the past. but looking forward to the future. somehow.

note the price. this is the real stuff. and you pay for it. that translates to about $850 for the roll. i would guess these were done in Japan. all this cotton shibori is sold by the roll only (full roll shibori was beyond my budget and really i don’t have a need for it but really enjoyed looking at!). no cuts, unless it’s scraps you find around here and there (which i did buy a bit of and turned into some shibori collections for the shop). some others were about $225 for a roll. they were done in China and had typical patterns. an occasional shop (not in arimatsu though) sold the Chinese shibori by the meter. not indigo dyed. these here are specifically for yukata and are more complex…not just the typical kanoko. lots more stitching here. like in the samples i brought back. the really good stuff was available in the high end custom kimono shops i saw around Tokyo. oh my! just fabulous. and very exclusive. not done in China.

the souvenir shop is open again. have a few more things to post but this is it for now. time to be done with the computer.

ohayo gozaimasu-gurenisu desu! おはようございます

I took some inspiration from this photo (turns out it wasn’t taken at the LA Arboretum but in Herefordshire England-my son was pulling my leg) and also from an email I received from someone wanting me to make some special silk shibori flowers for a sacred event. I dyed up some spring wisteria- summer wedding (kekkon no natsu) colors.

Then I heard the sea calling me. Maybe it’s a pisces thing. Definitely a water (mizu) thing.

rising tides

Check out the link in the first line to see the current schedule if you didn’t get the newsletter direct to your email inbox. You can sign up for my ribbon and dye class in Cincinnati or the indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum by using the links and info there. The online class is gathering and there is just one week left before i close the registration. If you want to see what the supply list looks like, you can see the class setup here. All workshop material kit orders received to date are shipped so look out for yours if you ordered one.

The Silk Study Tour to Japan is filled and I am busy with various details. The gathered group is excited and we are getting to know each other a bit.

I just discovered that I am going to still be in Japan for the annual Arimatsu shibori festival! Held the first weekend of June every year, this is just too good to miss! While searching online for a nearby ryokan, I discovered that Yoshiko Wada has a tour planned to Japan for this event, if you are interested. I did not know of this tour before! It is quite a bit different from ours although it looks like they will also be going to Kiryu. Looking at the page it appears as if there are spots available. I don’t know much about her tours except for what I have read online here so check it out!

So now it’s off to finish taxes and get ready for Puyallup and more…
mata-ne! (listening to Japanese POD101 daily now…)

just working…

I know I have so much more to write about but simply have to be working right now- trying to take and post few pics in the process to keep the flow going here-enjoy!

click to enlarge..

emerging from my cocoon- japan, part two

I am still itching the 20 mosquito bites I got in the mountains of Japan as the blue slowly fades from from my fingernails. Who knew mosquito bites could itch for so long?? They are still showing no signs of fading although the blue is slowly disappearing.
indigo hands

As I begin to emerge from my silk cocoon to spin this tale of my silk experience (and more!) I am somewhat daunted by the task. It is almost overwhelming in its magnitude that I’m finding myself avoiding it somewhat. There are the over 1200 photos to sort through to decide which ones to use- which ones tell the story. The videos need editing before I release them which is more work than I have time for right now. I’ll just have to get at it all bit by bit.
(cocoons boiled,soaked and ready for reeling by hand)
Complicating matters is the fact that although I managed to carry a notebook/journal with me the entire trip I left it at Fumiko’s (the indigo dyer’s) house on my last day-so I am waiting for that to arrive. I’ll also admit to deleting an entire days worth of photos so only have video and a few pics to share with you from that day. I had two cameras with me-my Nikon SLR and a small Fujitsu with video capability. Taking pictures at Fumiko’s turned out to be quite a challenge. Most of the time I was up to my elbows in indigo and working very diligently so taking pictures was out of the question- not to mention rude. So, many images will have to remain in my mind’s eye which is fine. Upon reviewing many of the ones I did get there, I was disappointed in the quality. The lighting was poor and the lights that were there were bare bulbs that seemed to always be in the wrong place. Dim lighting resulted in images that are just not as sharp as I wanted and left the color wanting. You will get the idea though. There are no photos of me as I was behind the camera when that was even possible. More importantly, I chose to concentrate on the matter at hand and realized that the camera was messing with me and that what I really wanted was just to enjoy the moment-which I did-immensely!
Someone asked in a comment on the previous post, What was the “silk experience”?
Briefly, the silk experience tour was masterminded and organized by Maggie Backman from Silk Things. It was organized around the idea that the people who would attend would have an interest in learning about silk from the ground up and also have an interest in Japan and textiles. All of the 14 who joined the tour were artists, writers, designers, textile teachers, collectors, educators and all around fabric people. Maggie imports silk threads from Japan and is the distributor of her own line of silk dyes (Colorhue).
(by the way, the silk threads are really fabulous too!) Maggie really put together a fantastic trip packed with all sorts of visits to unknown and out of the way (some previously unvisited by foreigners) locations. The group was well thought out and well matched as roomies and at the end we became known as the “SEx sisters”.
(SEx standing for Silk Experience!). So, there you have it!

Now this all seems so long ago at this point but our first day out we went to the Tokyo Hobby show at Big Site- I eliminated the sound since if was mostly just people talking in the background.

We saw some interesting things but all in all it was a hobby show. Here are some of the things that caught my eye-

some really nice silk textiles from gunma prefecture here-we have samples and conact info

some really nice silk textiles from gunma prefecture here-we have samples and conact info

just an interesting kimono-like garment made using a double weave knit-unique

just an interesting kimono-like garment made using a double weave knit-unique

product we don't see here in the hobby industry-dye impregnated transfer paper for silk fabric

product we don't see here in the hobby industry-dye impregnated transfer paper for silk fabric

-Katrina & I bought some samples
booth selling parts and patterns to make your own umbrella. umbrellas are big and a fashion accessory in Japan

booth selling parts and patterns to make your own umbrella. umbrellas are big and a fashion accessory in Japan

Katrina & I had a nice curry lunch and headed back to the Ginza area where I needed to check my email to see if I had heard from Masae.
A few weeks before leaving, I received an email from a gal in Japan wanting to come and visit me. She has been reading my blog for a while and wanted to come and visit. She was traveling to Canada and not knowing how far So Cal was from Calgary she thought it might be possible to visit. I told her that it was quite a distance and I was going to be in Japan soon so perhaps we could meet there- in Tokyo if that was convenient for her-so we did. I invited Katrina to join us and we had a marvelous dinner-
dinner with Masae
over delicious yakitori and some of obasan no umeshu (grandmother’s plum wine) we learned of her interest in shibori- her family comes from Narumi and has a 200 year history producing shibori. And that is REALLY where this story begins…..

From the beginning-in parts-part one

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
— Winnie the Pooh

Well, here I am (私は名古屋にいる) . Finally. At the pace I have been going it simply has been too difficult to post to the blog. I’ve been doing a little bit via facebook, twitter and flickr but when I’ve had internet and not been busy I’ve simply been too tired! Only getting 4-5 hours sleep each night anyway so need to at least get that in.

I’m laying in my 4.5 mat room at the Ichifuji Ryokan in Nagoya drinking some green tea, munching on osembe,with the tv on (sumo desu!). If you caught my FB or twitter today you already know that I’m on the “solitary journey aid plan” which is “for the woman who travels alone in Japan”. I thought that was kinda funny-everything has a plan in Japan. I really don’t even know where to start, so much has transpired but I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. Get ready for a MEGA post and perhaps a bit of meandering. I’m sure it will take me days to get it all out but I might just do a brief overview and do more detail when I get back- we’ll just have to see.
I have over 1200 photos and videos to edit and review-I’ve already done the first deletes so what is left will take some time so-
Here goes…..
swine flu welcome!
at Narita after we got through customs and were waiting for a flight from the UK and Chris who joined us from London.
health check
we were held on the plane for a little over an hour (after the 10.5 hr flight) so these folks could go through the plane asking us to fill out some forms which basically asked us if we were healthy- we were. They actually kept track of all of us for the next 10 days (quarantine period) and we were filling out forms at each of the hotels as we moved around Japan. They even brought disposable thermometers to our rooms on the Ginza!
welcoming delegation
Here is our official welcoming delegation- Hirata-san and our coach driver-both indispensable! Hirata-san was with us the entire trip and was the most patient, kind, and wonderful person we could have ever hoped for. More about Hirata and his family later-
fist day in tokyo
this was the view out our (Katrina and myself) hotel window on our first day in Tokyo- kind of ominous, don’t you think? Definitely felt like we had reached the end of the rainbow. I think this was the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen. (None of these photos have been photoshop-ed or cleaned up)
-and just to tease you a little, here is a pic I took today in Arimatsu-more on that later of course!
arimatsu shibori

Shibori update

The thing to know is that when the blog is quiet for a bit it usually means that work is going on. So here’s an update of some of what has been happening around here.

I attended a talk on Saturday and became a member of the Wearable Art Connection in Southern California affectionately called WAC. The speaker was Tara Arnold from Berkeley. I was interested in seeing what others were doing here in wearables and who else might be working with shibori. Tara sews custom clothing for women and shared with us her ideas on making clothing that suits your life. The samples she brought were simple and very practical. Most were based on geometric piecing with the emphasis being on the choice of fabrics. I was interested in the idea of layering crisp over drapey fabrics and vice versa. I haven’t sewn garments for myself for quite a while but I wanted to get some inspiration for using some of my shibori fabric in creating some wearables. The group is having a vest “challenge” and I am going to give it a whirl. I picked up a pattern (required starting point-from there you can take it to the moon-anything goes) and have started in on the project. I want to make something lightweight and filmy and started with some habotai 5mm yardage which I cut out before pole wrapping and dyeing. I decided that cutting out the pattern first might be the way to go since after the texture was added, it might be a bit more difficult to manage. There are only 3 pattern pieces to this vest and after cutting, wrapping and dyeing- here’s what I have so far:

I am still working on the treatment for the front edge of the vest. I need to dye some more fabric and perhaps some ribbon to match. I like how the arashi texture helps to shape the garment. I used my steamer to remove/soften some of the texture and shape the garment before I sewed the pieces together.
This fabric is tricky to work with but here are a few tips:
-use a very fine needle
-iron texture out of seam allowances before pinning
-always sew samples of every seam on a swatch of the same fabric before sewing on the garment

Took a road trip with a friend to see some shops and stopped in at La Jolla Fiber Arts Gallery where they are having a shibori show. I’d offer you more info but their website event page is still listing last year’s August show/events. The main featured artists from my recollection were Doshi (mainly garments), Carter Smith (quite a number of pieces in the store), and a few stunning pieces by Karren Brito. Karren has now posted some of the pieces she sent to the show over on her blog and they are beautiful! I was there before the show opened so missed seeing those pieces. Worth a trip to La Jolla if you are in the So Cal area.

Saw this and it inspired me to NOT remove my pocket squares from my product list. Up to now I hadn’t convinced anyone to order these. Guess I need to photograph mine and get it out there now. I originally made some of these for the kid’s prom.

I updated my styles page and still need to do more work on my colors page. I must say the daily practice of photoshop is really helping me get more familiar with all the tools in the photoshop palette. Not that I’m creating masterpieces there but I am remembering where to find things when I need them. For me, that is half the challenge in photoshop. Have missed a few days posting there but I have been progressing. I did come across this flickr pool which I found interesting and have added a few contacts over at flickr who specialize in photoshopped images-WOW! some are amazing! I look at photographs in a whole new way and I am starting to be able to recognize the various techniques when I look at images.

Making and sending out lots of new things….attending to the business side of things which is very boring but has to get done too!

There’s more but I’ll leave it at that………if you’ve made it this far reading this long post leave me a comment if you found any of these links of interest….mata-ne!

shibori blog stats


I have been tracking hits to this blog for a while now and thought you might find it interesting to see where the interest in shibori comes from in terms of location. This pie chart represents a fairly typical day where 60% of the hits come from the US and 40% from other countries. Some days it is almost 50/50. That being said, I always wonder what the interest is and who is actually visiting the blog. With so few comments in relationship to visitors, I know very little about about you. So I guess this is a request that you leave a comment and say hello, G’day, que tal, konichwa, ola, aloha, bonjour, hallo or whatever works for you. Things I would like to know:
-do you practice shibori now?
-where are you from
-what is your favorite type of shibori to make?
-do you collect shibori?
-do you use shibori textiles to create other things-quilts, apparel, craft items?
-what is the most valuable information you gain from reading this blog?
-anything else you want to ask about shibori…
Often there are 50+ visitors a day with 200+page views so I look forward to hearing about shibori from around the world!