Category Archives: experimenting

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!

one thing (too many) at a time…

Now that I got that last post finally published, I feel free to start a new one (there are still over 50 posts in my drafts folder-ha! need to clean THAT up a bit-later!) .
Seriously, later.
I’ve been a little quiet here- too much going on and for some reason I don’t get as much done in a day as I used to! Some of you know I’ve been working on some local government campaigns so that takes time to do, stay informed, etc.. One of my jobs for the campaign was….social media-surprise!! I wonder how I got THAT job? Anyway, most of “our” candidates lost- big $$ and insider political endorsements and all. But our # 1 priority candidate earned a place in the November election making it into the top two. Phew! It’s gonna be trick to get him elected (against the city endorsed candidate and mayoral BFF and TONS of $$- I won’t go on here)…

BUT…
In studio news, yesterday I finished the second (and currently last) session of two, three installment workshops entitled Refashioning Kimono. Even though the groups were small, we had a blast! I wasn’t sure what to expect, hadn’t done this one before or even one like it but it turned out to be a great opportunity for all. I always learn so much doing these. Each session was 3 weeks long and now we are planning an “alumni reunion” to include everyone from both sessions if they want to just “check in” and update us on their projects or see what everyone else did. Some finished during the workshop and started a second piece (the high achievers with time) and some are still working on them (you know…Life!). They have all the info they need to complete their pieces on their own schedules.
I have to say though, perhaps the very best part of these workshops was providing a time and holding a space devoted to learn something new, to tune out the rest of the world for a couple of hours and the threading up of a simple needle to hand sew with. When I hear that the sessions were “the best part of my week” and “I’ve been looking forward to this all week”, I know I am in the right space and time.

Right out of the gate I decided to turn part of these sessions into Japanese Textile Explorations. I sent out swatch cards of the fabrics I had used on my sample pieces to everyone and that was a fun experiment. Participants were surprised at some of the fabrics. We did burn tests, looked at the weaves of the fabrics, and studied their embellishment techniques.

silk sha, meisen silk kasuri, and very fine old silk print(maybe copper roller printed)

As we dismantled and sewed, I talked about various aspects of kimono, textiles, and we looked at my PPT presentation, some online videos and book selections. Each session was recorded for reference in case they wanted to go back to review something and a follow up email was sent after each installment with links, notes and more.
Through the dismantling of the kimono each person formed a relationship with the original kimono sewer and the weaver too. I can’t wait for the reunion!

I was also treated to such a sweet email from one of the participants who thought that there were continuing sessions after the third and last session. She emailed me to let me know she would be back from her errands in time for the Saturday class. I emailed her to let her know the workshop was over.
She emailed me back – “How small is my world now – no class Saturday!  I thought it would go on & on – just slow stitching & getting lots of wonderful information & chatting.  I will miss it & you.”
More confirmation that I’m in the right place and time…

***NOTE***
as I was getting ready to post this we started in with the J6 hearings and the SCOTUS decisions. I just wasn’t feeling like posting. I’m sure you understand. Now that my brain has settled and cleared a bit… I carry on.

AND… before I could even hit the publish button another devastating SCOTUS decision…this time on the environment. AARRG.

I have another post “in the hopper” already with only fun stuff so will finish it up and post soon…

As Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, countered: “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

New Beginnings

Life is full of new beginnings. Every ending has a beginning, every beginning an ending. This is not a new thought, it’s one as old as time.
Beginnings are always interesting. There can be hope, joy, anticipation, unknowingness and even a bit of anxiety about it all, endings can likewise feel the same way! My first introduction to this sort of thinking came when I was in high school and a family whom I babysat for gave me the book, “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass as a gift. The title itself was an intrigue. She also gave me the book, “Notes to Myself” by Hugh Prather. I loved the short moment by moment thoughts in that book. Both books were a revelation to my 15 year old mind. At the same time, I was reading my way through all the Vonnegut and Kesey books…haha. Well, it WAS the 70’s.
I still have “Notes to Myself” but somewhere along the way, “Be Here Now” found its way elsewhere. Maybe that gives you a little insight on how I became me.
We are each the finder, maker, and follower of our own path.
It’s April now. Another beginning. Today it’s cloudy outside on the way to sunny but the garden is alive and well, bursting with new hope. Inside however, the fabric sorting continues…

I was going through my collection of kimono two weeks ago to separate out the various ones I use as workshop samples (mostly shibori and indigo) and other ones I have acquired over time. The “other ones” are  mostly kasuri and silk, but after having them for some time sitting in bins…well, hmmm.

still my favorite shibori and indigo workshop sample kimono

What to do?

Several of the kimono I really love for the unique kasuri weaving, the Meisen sensibilities of color and pattern, but all are regular long kimono and just not practical for wearing here. I do have several of the haori (shorter jacket type) that I do wear and really wanted to see what could be done with these stored kimono to get them out of a bin and make use of them. I hate to think of them just sitting in a bin getting no love…they’re too good for that.

On a trip many years ago I found a silk shibori piece in Kamakura that was more like a duster/vest sort of garment. It was a kimono remake. I can still remember the layout of the shop and the woman who sold it to me. She had taken a temporary pop-up shop along komachi-dori for a week and had a small place where she did sewing work about 30 minutes outside of Kamakura.
I purchased it thinking that aside from the great shibori and the wearability of it, it would make a great piece to take a pattern from and make more of these. So, when I was looking at the stack of kimono I wanted to transform (and there are only 5 or so-I rarely buy full kimono when I go to Japan) I thought of this piece.

I started disassembling one of the kimono and putting it back together as the silk shibori duster/vest version I have. What I realized was that I know there are some of you out there in the same situation with kimono that you have collected, and you may want to explore the possibility of transforming them into something currently useful and wonderful!
Hence, the birth of a new workshop-a new beginning! Supplies are simple-seam ripper, thread, needle and scissors. You will need the spirit of adventure, a willingness to dive into the unknown, and the patience to do a little hand sewing. Oh, and a kimono.

Three completely different pieces. All silk. Different periods spanning the last 120 years or so…

The one on the left is silk sha (unlined) with an interesting combination of techniques, the center is silk shibori (lined) probably ’50s-’60’s is my guess, and the one on the right is a very fine silk kimono for a young boy perhaps 1900-1920 ish. They all wear great over something (either sleeved or sleeveless) and are light and a nice statement sort of wearable.

A few more pics:

In addition, you will end up with the extra fabric that can be used for something else! There is plenty for a scarf. I’ll have a sample on hand of that for you to consider as well.

Check out the workshop listing for details!

There are two dates for this workshop-one more immediately, and the other about 3-4 weeks later. This will allow those who may not have a few kimono laying around to acquire one. I am working with a friend in Japan on having him send me a set that you can choose from if you want to buy from us. Of course you can search other vendors as well, but we are curating a set that has already been predetermined to work for this project.  

Captain, the neighbor cat, helps curate the kimono selection.


In the background of all this, April moons have begun. They are going to be a little different this month… Last night’s moon was a beautiful crescent-did you see it? I hope April is treating you well so far, that Spring is warming and greening you up, and that many of the seeds you plant sprout into seedlings!

Tekumo Shibori Workshop

Tekumo is fun once you have mastered the movement of your hands. It’s especially exciting with silk organza that takes on not only vibrant colors but also crisp shapes. Come join us to explore the possibilities!
All the pieces are in place and two dates are scheduled.

Session One-Friday and Saturday July 30 & 31
Day One: 10 AM-4 PM (with lunch/rest break included)
Day Two: 11 AM-4 PM (with lunch/rest break included)

Session Two-Friday and Saturday August 20 & 21
Day One: 10 AM-4 PM (with lunch/rest break included)
Day Two: 11 AM-4 PM (with lunch/rest break included)

Please visit the shop link for further details.

Tekumo workshop


The other day I met up with some special friends at the botanical garden in the afternoon and went through the butterfly pavilion again.

South coast botanic garden SOAR exhibit

When I returned back home, I was inspired to finish the dyeing and steaming of a set of pieces I’ve been working on.

and the crowd goes wild!

When I look at these, I see you. All of your creativity, your joie de vivre, and your unique voice. Keep singing…

uh oh…

I learned a lesson (well, probably more than one) recently when I casually mentioned to a friend that I had been keeping an eye out for a small floor loom, cheap. There was no rush and just like most things I was willing to wait for something to just come my way. The timing was right and this friend had seen one at a second hand shop and went back to check it out again. I’ll spare you the details but after texting me a few photos and negotiating a very low price, she had it delivered to me! It needs some cleaning up and a little refurbing but nothing really drastic that I can see. Another weaver friend approved of the photos and the price and sent them along to her friend who came back with a very good and detailed process to get this cleaned up and back in useful condition. Thank you Janice and Joe!
Lesson: Be careful what you wish for and what you casually mention to Carolyn!
There are no markings on this loom so maybe a homebuilt piece. The footprint is about 30″x 32″ and will fit nicely into the space where my son’s vibes now occupy (hint, hint). Vibes will be moved upstairs…
Any comments or suggestions from weavers welcomed! What I am aiming for in the beginning is to weave some sakiori.

Recently I saw a video on Vimeo that showed Hiroshi Murase demonstrating te kumo shibori and I saw something in his hand movements that caught my eye and opened up a more efficient way to do tekumo. I was going to link the the video here but it appears to have been taken down (it was previously public). I saw it in an online advertisement for the WSN/Slow Fiber workshop coming up where this technique will be covered. Looks like it would be of interest to anyone who wants to practice this particular technique. I have taught this technique in workshops at the JANM but I never felt I was really good at it. I could accomplish a good end result but I always felt that I was not being very adept or efficient while doing it. So after seeing his technique, I knew what I was missing! I have been practicing it all week and returned to do some of the work I did way back then but had decided it was too time consuming (and annoying) -at least the way I was doing it before. I then went in search of another video to show this technique and discovered that the Shibori Museum in Kyoto has been very busy during the pandemic producing shibori videos- they are so very interesting! Here is the one on tekumo. Check out the rest of their channel! It’s pretty amazing! I spent a whole day watching and catching up on the videos there that I had not seen.

Here are a few of the early results…

I am experimenting with creating more textural pieces- I really have always been drawn to shibori for the sculptural aspects (hence all the pleating I’ve done over the years) and the silk organza just loves to be shaped!
I also pleated up and dyed some new ribbons for the shop…added back the scrap bags too-I hadn’t realized they have been out of stock.

today is all about silk…

Today, I was distracted by silk and a new silk device I purchased from Two Looms Textiles-a tsukushi. They had acquired one some time back and were not using it so contacted me as a potential foster parent for the item. Happy to adopt and try it out! It arrived yesterday.

The first thing I did was to make some silk mawata caps. That did not go so well as I usually make the square mawata using my stand but from researching a bit saw that caps are preferred for making yuki tsumugi ito. Not a complete disaster but not exactly caps. Practice needed just like I did for the mawata.

I used them anyway for my first practices. The thread was too thick but I carried on. I found some caps I had brought back from Japan and tried them.

Much better! Fluffed them all out like I had seen online. I find there is a trick to putting them on the tsukushi so you can easily pull the fibers out to the desired thickness. The think with yuki tsumugi is that it is not twisted- it’s basically pulled out and sealed with spit. In the end, i was using a bowl of water as that seemed better.

I am not interested in ultimately making super fine threads like those which are used in the beautiful yuki tsumugi fabrics from Japan but something quite rougher and folkier like the fibers used to weave this bolt of cloth… yeah it’s a dream. But if you don’t dream, then what?

Here is another link I found.

Meanwhile in the garden, will be transplanting the tomato seedlings next week into 4″ pots. And, my seed potatoes arrived so I am preparing the raised bed where they will be planted. Will add some pole beans to the same bed when it’s time. (note to self, start seeds!)

three kinds…

and in the background of course….moons. I think I am going to make some special sets using only that fabulous silk cloth above. Like jude commented, the indigo is in love with that cloth.

( and by the way…the Daily Dyer is having an issue with my mobile app uploaded posts. Please be patient. I will reload that last post for the third time sometime tonight)

so it seems…

We have arrived to December. I have caught up with all the Kokoro order except one which will be finished in the next few days. Thank you to everyone who ordered with the Japanese American National Museum in mind. The largest amount of revenue they will receive from me came from subscriptions to the Daily Dyer.
The Daily Dyer got going this past week and can still be accessed if you are interested here. I enjoy the structure of it- now more than ever!

For those of you interested in shibori, you might take a dive into what Yoshiko Wada and Ana Lisa Hedstrom and others are presenting over on the Slow Fiber Studio website under Conversations. I just finished watching the presentation on arashi shibori and was intrigued by one of the historical patterns presented there. I liked a lot of the things that were brought up in regards to using different types of cloth in different ways. Also I agree with the fact that overall in shibori practice, your own particular circumstances whether it is in regards to space or financial limitations, shibori presents challenges to overcome and encourages solutions to be found. The endless possibilities of all that. This is one of the main things that has kept my interest in shibori going all these years.
I noticed that one of the things that was faintly mentioned in regards to some of the arashi shibori patterns that are twisted while pushing on the pole prior to dyeing is the grain of fabric. Whether you have wrapped the cloth on the straight of grain or on the bias makes a big difference in the outcome of the pattern. At least it does for me! Try it yourself and see. I discovered this many years ago while experimenting and although I haven’t done much of this type of shibori recently their presentation inspired me to make a few new samples to remind myself.

These were done with a fairly medium to lightweight linen in the newly restored indigo fermentation vat. Cloth wrapped on the bias was very easy to twist and create the puckers in the cloth needed to create a fairly regular pattern. The center example of fabric wrapped on the straight of grain was much more difficult to twist with any evenness and resulted in mostly stripes. Same cloth, same dye vat, same pole, same day…different result courtesy of the grain of fabric.

I’ve been saving up little swatches in a notebook of arashi samples and will add these. It’s fun to try to recreate old patterns because you often end up with something new while learning. The extra cloth will be used for moons and cards.
Have you noticed the moon lately? Here, it’s setting late in the morning now.

landmarks and roadmaps

It seems as though my ability to clearly recognize the usual landmarks marking the way has greatly diminished and, in some cases, completely disappeared. It’s OK to be a bit lost at times, and especially so right now (in America). It moves us in different directions, and asks us to consider more. More of what we wonder? More possibilities, more directions, more ideas. This is the kind of MORE that I appreciate. MORE can be more, and MORE can be less! I’m considering this (more and more).

As I travel down this increasingly altered road, abandoning the usual familiar roadmaps, thoughts of how and what if are my constant companions. I reach out to cherished and long time friends (how are you?), checking in with them to assure myself they are OK and are still there- realizing that perhaps PEOPLE are my new landmarks. This feels reasonable, if not truer, than some things I considered as landmarks previously. How are you?

Navigating the daily milieu these days takes a lot of energy. Remaining creative in the midst is a challenge. I find I must focus on balance of body, mind, and soul. Here, in my small world I seek the lessons of the garden, nature and handwork. The garden is feeding us well this summer and a steady stream of seedlings feeds the raised beds as plants are rotated through. The worm bin is very alive and well- I am experimenting with compost worm tubes in a couple of the raised beds- so far so good. Just trying to keep the soil alive and healthy. We have a bunch of praying mantis right now and I’m hoping they mate and make some more egg cases for us.

Silk shibori ribbon will be back in the shop soon! After at least a 6 month hiatus, I am making ribbon again. The silk satin I had been using became unavailable and I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and considering other silks in various momme weights and weaves. I finally have settled on one that meets my qualifications. Pictures later this week.
I am leading a free zoom workshop just for the regular shibori students from the Japanese American National Museum. It’s a group effort in many ways. It’s great to stay connected to them all while we can’t meet in person. The cool thing is that they all have made their own indigo vats at home! So over this 9 week course, they get to maintain their vat and really get to learn how it works over time. Several have even started fermentation vats! We have weekly zoom check-ins to see how the vats are doing, discuss and share the weekly techniques and patterns everyone is working on. It’s great that we can meet up this way and make sure everyone is ok. We are using Jane Callender’s book as a reference and inspiration. It really is the best one out there on stitched shibori.

It’s really been hot here-too hot. We have resorted to AC set at 78˚ when in the 90’s now and grateful to have it. Evenings are tolerable but still in the upper 70’s which is hotter than normal for us along the coast. Fires are ravaging the state, brought on by unusual weather and more than 300 lightning strikes. Over 500 fires are currently burning in CA. Such a devastating and environmental tragedy for so many. Currently the Santa Cruz area is suffering greatly along with Big Basin and Big Sur parks. California fires.

I will be updating the shop next week with more indigo (hopefully with some ribbon too-depending on the heat!). I will have packages of indigo cloth in various shades as well as some finished wall pieces. Indigo moons are ongoing as well as the cloth mooncards. I’ll also recommend the new USPS stamp celebrating the work of Ruth Asawa. The stamps are truly beautiful.

Considering new landmarks, tossing aside familiar roadmaps, we embark on new journeys together. May we choose Peace, Love, Health and Sanity when we come to a fork in the road. Together, we must.

are we coming or going?

I open up my wordpress site to write this post and see that almost 3 weeks have passed since the last post! Has reality melted time? Dali’s Persistence of Memory comes to mind. I’ve been busy, but time seems incongruous with reality. Maybe it’s my memory or perception of time that can be faulted. In any case…

It’s time for a new Moonmates tutorial. If you recall, they are free, but don’t let that discourage you from contributing using the pay as you wish link in the sidebar. In these times, all contributions are welcomed. Today’s tutorial is a bit different as we had lots of rain here the week I started working on the video, so I took a little different approach. I think you might like it. I also cleared out all the orders for the moons and ribbon scrap bags so if you were waiting for your moonsets, you may have them now or they are in transit. I also restocked the shop with moonsets.

In the news over the past week was an an announcement that Quilts Inc. was not going to refund vendors for their booth fees from the cancelled Pittsburg Spring Market. Then after what appears to be a virtual landslide of negative social media commentary lashing out at their decision, they found the money, turned that decision around and are now refunding booth fees. I know many who were relieved to hear it! My question is what are they doing regarding the scheduled Long Beach Quilt Festival scheduled July 9-11? They have yet to announce any cancellation of the show- although from everything I am hearing in the city and the state, there will not be any large events happening that early. Lots of vendors are wondering and have sent in booth fees. I seriously doubt that the public will be rushing out to attend large events this soon. I just received a cancellation for a show I was going to do in early October here in LA. If I were them, I’d get ahead of that and announce the cancellation now.
The future is very uncertain isn’t it?

Working on moons this past week, I made a little discovery. I became obsessed with the patterns on the little blocking fabrics I was using to make a particular type of moon. I started setting them aside and then altering them in divergent ways. The rain, having driven me inside to work, I started arranging them in variously. I settled on one layout and started piecing them together using Jude’s non-paper piecing method. I have been enjoying the lookback review she is doing on her blog of all the techniques she uses in her work and I wanted to practice a bit with them. Now pieced and ready to attach to a background cloth, I have it hanging on the wall gathering thoughts on how I want to proceed.
I’m leaning toward simplicity and see it as a bit of a meditation piece. I think I’ll use Jude’s glue stitch to mount this on the background cloth.

Several pieces have been added to the wall and are gathering thoughts on what they might become. here’s another…

all across the universe…

Again, the woven moon is a takeoff on Jude’s cloth weaving technique. The background moon is dyed on an old grainsack that had been repaired. The lower moon is on some old thick silk organza I found in Japan. It looks like a planet with a gaseous cloud swirling around it. Who knows where this one will go? I hope I don’t have to wait for more rain to find out. It might be quite a while…

The post-rain garden is looking really wonderful and flowery. We pulled the rest of the beets and daikon for pickling, making room for more summer veggies. Another round of beets, lettuces and beans are in the works. Seeds are sprouting everywhere. The weed pulling continues…

amaryllis and alstromeria

Since we last visited, the full moon came and went and we are approaching the new moon soon. I’ve been playing with new ideas for moons and they become more complex.

new moons for new moon sets…

Perhaps you would like to visit the shop?

If you have previously pondered purchasing one of the pieces in the shop under the Zakka category, you might want to take advantage of the marked down prices there. A lot of work went into these pieces and while I hate to do it, they aren’t doing me any good sitting here in my inventory. Maybe today is your lucky day-and mine too!

As I am able, I will add to this collection of moonish pieces and get some versions of these into the shop. I’m thinking some simple meditation wall cloths would be nice. What do you think?

don’t forget to visit the moonmates tutorial page

until next time-mata ne!