Category Archives: mending

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!

Let there be more Light than Dark

We are officially one day two days (taking me longer to finish this post!) past the Spring Equinox and that means more light than dark. Regardless of what the clocks say, I regard this as a celebration of light!
Every day I read the daily entry from my well worn copy of Hal Borland’s Book of Days and today’s entry is profound and meant so much more than the words on the page might have originally intended. It got me out early in the garden to do some work on the soil in one of my vegetable beds that I have been wanting to do and the timing is perfect. The action was like a prayer to the Universe. I’ll share the entry with you…

sun streaming across my page…and I didn’t know that about frost since we don’t get that here except once in a blue moon…

The action/prayer for today was to screen several buckets from the compost bin that have been fully rendered into a beautiful dark loam and teeming with earthworms. I added this to the next vegetable bed I intend to plant. I dug and forked and mixed until my back said enough and left it so the many earthworms could retreat into their darkness. Many seeds have been planted and have already sprouted with their own promises of miracles. I’ve been planting them out little by little. (There are already flowers on some of the tomato transplants!)

Speaking of the food of life (one cannot exist solely on tomatoes, greens and garlic!), there is other studio work to be done. Here I tend to the “soil” of my work by planting the seeds and giving them nourishment.
I’m listing two workshops today for August. These dates are chosen to be convenient for those who are coming to the Long Beach Quilt Festival should visitors want to take advantage of being geographically convenient to me. Of course this is not limited to show attendees! Please see the listings below for details. Several people have been emailing me for workshops and I’ll start with these since people are making their travel plans now and registering to attend the festival. I also working on a couple of other workshop opportunities that will happen before then- both online and in person. Of course everything continues to be premised on staying and keeping us all healthy!

March moons are all sent out- there are even a few extras if anyone wants to start their subscription with March…I now sort fabrics to find the canvas for April moons…also known as the Pink Moon, not for the color pink but for the pink phlox flowers that bloom in April. There are other names for the April moon and almost all are associated in one way or another with the end of Winter and the changes that Spring brings. I think some vintage silk might be where I begin as April is also when sericulture season begins in Japan. The mulberry farmers are tending their fields and noticing the new growth sprouting out. Soon, they will be hatching out the silkworm eggs…

I have also been doing a little stitching on a piece I started a while back which resurfaced while cleaning up some fabric stacks…it’s another cover for a pillow. The “MHNMC” Moose, has been taking advantage of the new window work table setup so he can harass the cats outside (who live here) from inside THEIR house. I got a kick out of my grandson when he was here and I called the cat “Moose”. He said, “Nana, that’s NOT a moose, it’s a CAT!”. He thought it was the silliest thing ever to name a cat Moose. I did not name this cat. I have no idea why he is named Moose. It’s on his collar. He’s obviously familiar with the Give a Moose a Muffin books. Always was a favorite way back when his dad was youngster. Glad to see these things repeat themselves.

Moose eye view…

Back to the workshops… I finally got them into the shop!

Here are the workshops available for signup now.

One is an indigo shibori workshop and the other is an inspired by cloth stitching workshop. So whether or not you will attend the Long Beach Quilt Festival or not, you are invited to sign up! My mind is already swirling with ideas!

textile detective continued…

Now that the holidays are over, and the sun is back out after some very much needed rain, I’m back to finish off the mystery of the silk fabric from the obi I was deconstructing here.
As you may or may not recall, there was a question as to whether the sateen silk backing of this obi was a cloth woven of silk and paper which would have been very rare. I sent a bit to my friend Velma who makes shifu and she pointed out that she could not detect any “seeds” in the weft threads as she unwove them. The seeds would be where “the strips are joined in one continuous thread by tearing a small tab of paper from the connecting strip above two threads. This tab is rolled in the same direction you intend to spin the thread creating the “seed”. This seed is one of the most notable characteristics of paper thread, and forms a unique pattern in the final woven cloth.” See here for attribution of this explanation and more about shifu.

I too had unwoven a bit more of the weft and looked at it more closely seeing that the fiber did actually look more like a cotton or hemp than paper. I did another burn test on the warp just to make sure and it really did smell like cellulose and not protein fiber-confirmed!

I also received back a reply from the Kyoto Shibori Museum who sent me the following interesting reply:
“It looks like an obi made a long time ago.The Japanese embroidery is very beautiful, and I think it’s hard to see anything like this now. The red stamp part is usually stamped with the weight of the fabric, the name of the manufacturer, the place of origin, etc., but it cannot be identified here. The kanji woven into the silk can be read as KAMI GO. It could be the name of the manufacturer/weaver or the title given to this particular obi.
KAMI means God and GO is the name of an ancient Chinese country. Japanese kimono is also called GOHUKU, but it means the kimono that GO people came to when the shape of the kimono came from China to Japan.

The best guess at a date would be late Meiji- early Showa. So around 100 years old.

I have been wondering what fabric I would use for the January Moon of the Month Circle. To begin the year and the Moon of the Month Circle, I will be sending both moons using this beautiful obi silk lining. Can’t wait to get to the vat and make them!

A couple more projects claimed the workspace in December. first, a not so auspicious
t-shirt quilt I have been threatening/promising to make for my son trevor going on ten years now! When he went off to college and cleaned out his dresser, there were a lot of favorite t-shirts going back even to co-op preschool days. There were memories from music camps, summer camps, marching bands, favorite pokemon,surf and skate brands, and even their own rock band from when they were kids. I had cut out the graphics and backed them with a lightweight fusible and there they sat, stacked and ready to go. Over time he added a few more from college music groups, shinkendo, and Japan. As I cleared out some of the workspace I decided that THIS was the year I would finish it. I spent two days stitching them together, backing, quilting (by machine), and self binding it. Done! It’s a fun ride from preschool through college in addition to being a utilitarian quilt made with recycled fabrics. The first photo he sent me of its use had a big fluffy cat sitting on it- success!

The other project is still ongoing but I think I solved a dilemma that had been plaguing me for a while. I made this piece -a bit of an ode to fabric scraps and stitches and wasn’t sure if or how I wanted to back it. I always like the back of a stitched work-maybe just out of my own curiosity. But this has sat there feeling a bit unfinished and finally it ended up sitting next to some lovely old red lining silk. The jacquard pattern woven into the very very fine red silk are beautiful cranes with florals and vines. This auspicious pattern was probably for a wedding kimono lining or some other important kimono lining. It’s a full bolt but disassembled and stitched back into a continuous length. I decided I didn’t want to cut it to fit the width of my piece- it would ruin the full pattern. So I decided to stitch it into a tube at the proper width to stitch the lining to the back of my piece. This way, should someone ever want to reuse this beautiful silk, all you would have to do would be to unstitch it. Kind of like a kimono. Something from the Amuse Boro Museum rings in my head at times like this.

2015 Asakusa, Japan Amuse Boro Museum
i imagine sericulturist feeding the kaiko, the silkworms spitting this thread, the dyers dying the thread, the pattern designer graphing out the pattern for the loom cards, the weavers weaving… imagine what the silkworm provided!

The sun has come out here and is drying the outdoor workspace after all the rain. The snow has covered our local mountains and the new year begins with this wonderful view and hope for a year of drought recovery. About a million poppy seeds and bachelor buttons have sprouted in every nook and cranny in the backyard!

It’s November?

just a teaser for the next workshop

It was two years ago that I taught one of the last indigo workshops at the Japanese American National Museum. We made komebukuro bags with dyed and stitched fabrics from the class. Several have asked for an online version of this workshop and I have spent part of this last week thinking this one through and sorting out fabrics for kits to accompany the class. Here is the after workshop post for that weekend. It was really one of my favorites. It also speaks to why we teach and why craft matters.
So- here is the link for the online Komebukuro Treasure Bag workshop. It has all the details but if you still have questions, just email me or leave a comment.

I am starting to add the pleated silk flowers to the shop. I have more to photograph and add but the main listing is there and I will just add new ones as I get the photos taken and edited. So far… here they are.


I had held back on selling them so I could show them in the recent online workshop which just completed. I have to admit, I was a little nervous with starting a new zoom workshop but after this one I’m feeling much better about the process. It takes a little bit to figure it all out and even after having done several already I wasn’t quite happy with them…especially the recorded outcomes. I have finally figured out what works for me! Not that I won’t find other tweaks and improvements-isn’t that the way though? Learning through doing. Everything is good in theory, but doing it is the key.

It’s an interesting process to switch from the way you teach in person to virtual teaching. People take workshops for so many varied reasons-whether in person or online. My goal is to always try to meet that varied need-to figure out how I can best be of service to participants through a workshop.
I really want participants to enjoy the workshop and have it meet their needs, in addition to being able to clearly see what I am doing.

I had a couple of people email and ask me how I got my worktable in the main video as well of my “mini-me” talking head going at the same time. For those of you who might need this info- here’s the process I used:

-set up a remote camera connected to your computer
-start your zoom-your computer main camera will show your talking head as usual.
-choose to “share your screen”
-in the share screen window, click to advanced
-choose “share video from second camera”

That’s it! Why it took me so long to figure this out while I did all sorts of other more complicated configurations escapes me! But we all need to learn and grow and I’m happy to share what I have learned so far- especially if it is helpful to other makers out there earn a living at what they do.
Speaking of making…I also added another Wildflower making workshop as there were some people who told me they missed signing up. You can sign up here.

Out of the wildflower workshop-which included beaders, stitchers, dollmakers, milliners and other sorts of textile stitching enthusiasts, I found that they really enjoy working with the various pleated silks so I am working on colorway sets of interesting pleated silks for the shop. Hopefully, next week I will be able to add them. Everything takes SO much time!

On yet ANOTHER note (sorry for the long catch-up post) I am still really enjoying Ann Wasserman’s quilt conservation and repair workshop. Last week’s focus was dating quilts as well as the beginning of the “triage” portion of the sessions where we look at slides submitted by participants of their quilts and what can be done to repair them (and how-using her great series of videos showing all the methods she uses). If you have any interest in this topic I highly recommend it. How can you go wrong with a group of people who want to save quilts and textiles from the rubbish heap? Saving quilts is often saving stories- and adding stories too! Ida Belle will require quite a process and I’m already thinking a little differently about repairing her than I was at the beginning of Ann’s workshop.
So to finally conclude…thanks for making it this far and I hope that some of you will join in to the komebukuro workshop! It’s going to be fun and inspired!

a little crazed…

The recent days and weeks have been busy, full of daily goings on, dyeing, kit making, workshop prepping, visitors, and then the big event- a beach wedding!

It was a simply beautiful affair on the beach with a BBQ afterwards as the sun set. I had the privilege of making the wedding cheesecakes, vegan chili and helping with the clothing alterations. Others brought food, flowers and officiated. It was a perfect October evening with mild temps and a slight breeze. Children played at the shores edge and adults enjoyed food and conversation. Some surfed prior to the ceremony with the groom. Several people camped overnight nearby, under a bright near full moon.

This Saturday is the first of the two Zoom flower workshops. The material kits have been mailed, the work table set up and today I will do some test runs. The second Zoom date is next Thursday for those who would like to do it a second time or perhaps already had something scheduled for the first date. You can also still order a kit and get the video link when it’s done.

from plain to pleated

I made a whole bunch of extra kits and have added them in the shop. Here in Long Beach, we have hundreds of cargo ships off the coast and politicians encouraging people to shop early for the holidays since the logjam is delaying the arrival of goods. I say, why not make things instead? Here is a list of kits I have in the shop right now if you are inclined to make a hand made gift. I also have a few things ready made that might suit. I’m working on several more. If you have a special custom request, let me know. (I just looked over the shop and see I need to add a few things I never added so that will be my next task…)

Last week’s workshop with Ann Wasserman in her “Preserving Our Quilting Heritage” we were treated to her lecture with samples of quilts she had worked on and new ones now on her work table. We have all sent in photos of a quilt we want to “triage” and of course mine is that unfinished crazy quilt (Ida Belle) I acquired some time back. Here are the photos I sent in.

In between my own work, I have become somewhat obsessed with this crazy quilt thing. In doing a little research, I wondered where the term “crazy” had developed in regards to quilting. It seems (whether true or lore), to have been a reference to the crazed glazes on porcelain the Japanese had exhibited in the 1876 Centennial Exposition  in Philadelphia. Crazing on ceramics occurs when the clay body and the glaze don’t “fit”. That is, they don’t cool at the same rate after firing. This can be caused by a number of things-too thick a coating of glaze, the (intentional or not) chemical composition of the glaze, or thermal shock of cooling off a kiln too quickly. Tension between the clay body and the glaze creates a network of fine crackling. This can be enhanced by rubbing ink into the cracks to make the pattern of crazing stand out on a decorative piece. You don’t want crazing on dinnerware because over time and use the crazing can collect bacteria that may not be desirable. But on decorative ware, glazes can be designed to create a variety of crackle patterns and when I was a ceramic student we had to do just this in the Chemical Clay and Glaze classes. I loved the chemistry of ceramics. During 30 years of running my own porcelain company, we “cracked” many crazing issues. For the most part, even when we wanted a crazed glaze effect on a decorative line, stores and customers would often see it as a defect and we just abandoned it altogether. But that was another time and place…so, back to crazy quilts. So as the story goes, the crazed patterns on Japanese porcelain pieces at this exhibition in 1876 inspired a “craze” itself where quilters found beauty and interest in recreating this type of pattern in their quilts. Previously, quilts had been mostly geometric organized affairs. I imagine that the pieces that were exhibited were possibly Japanese raku.

In between this and that this week, I was looking at Ida Belle and realizing what a task it is going to be to restore it to a reasonable condition and as I was inspecting various parts of it I kept coming back to my interests in Japanese boro traditions and techniques. I can see so many instances where boro repair techniques could be applied. I am not trying to do a traditional restoration of this crazy quilt. This quilt in fact was never completed by Ida Belle. It does not have a binding or a quilt back- it was never quilted or tied or embroidered (something tells me-mainly the types of materials used that Ida never intended to embroider it or embellish her quilt). Perhaps she died before finishing it. The fact that it exists in a fairly decent condition is that it was never used since it was never actually finished. It exists as a quilt top only.
My list of “goals” currently is as follows:

-repair Ida Belle to a condition where it can be lightly used
-use materials I have on hand (as I believe would be Ida’s way)
-apply hand stitching and repair techniques from Ann’s class as well as my knowledge of boro repairs observed in pieces I have collected

-apply a backing and a binding
-steadily work on it as I can-don’t abandon the project!

I may add others as I go but that’s it at the moment. In another twist, I was cleaning up my work table for the Saturday workshop and sorted some scraps of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. Another project emerged alongside. I became a little obsessed and worked late into the night. It seems that Japanese vintage textiles and crazy quilting are quite like peanut butter and jam.

I chose a piece of egasuri (kasuri with an image or picture woven into it) as a central piece to this block- bird images being quite popular in crazy quilting. I did not use the traditional method of crazy quilt piecing (surprised? haha) but opted to leave all woven selvedges intact as I honor the selvedge whenever possible. I used tattered bits and repaired them using boro techniques- but using some very old red silk in a way that reminds me a bit of the Japanese porcelain repair work called kintsugi. I used hand dyed cotton sashiko thread for the decorative featherstitch (practice needed!) across each joined patch (still a WIP). So now that I have one block near completion, I guess I’ll have to start another. This first block is 18″ x 18″ so I imagine I will do either 6 or 9 for a smallish lap type quilt. Who knows?

One last thing. I’ve started taking photos of all the oothecae I come across in the yard as I do fall clean up work. It helps me remember where they are when it’s time to watch them hatch around February (I’m guessing…). So far I’ve found 6 or so. all in different places. Each egg case can contain 50-200 eggs of the praying mantis! We had so many this past summer.

moon circling

The past few days have had me back at the indigo vats working on new sets of moons. The only vat of the three that didn’t need reviving was the fermentation vat, which had a nice coppery surface and was dyeing beautiful blues.
Cleaning up around the studio I found a couple of base cloths that I had dyed moons into and had set aside for myself to play with on a rainy day. Well, the rain never did come but I craved a little needle time so I threaded up and got to work. It was quiet peaceful work-just going along with it. I never plan them out ahead of time- just let the cloth take the lead.
I finished off the little moon cover for the buckwheat pillow that had been looking kinda shabby. It’s an envelope style so the cover can easily be removed. The back are two pieces of old sturdy kimono cloth. I love these things and much prefer them to any kind of foam pillow insert. They just have a great comforting feel.
Next I had an old feed sack that had a wonderful repair on it- I dyed a tattered moon over the repair. These are treasured and useful scraps, the scraps of our lives. As we work to put our heart and souls back together after this past year and a half, I’m feeling pretty tattered myself these days and stitching these blues seems to wash away some of the sorrows.
Circling of Moons can be considered a series of sorts. I have a number of them started around here in various stages of completion. Various moons, various cloth, but mostly indigo. The ones that aren’t indigo are natural dyes. I’m grateful for some of the stitching techniques I learned from Jude- especially what she calls the “glue stitch”. I use that extensively to stitch the frayed raw edge pieces to the base cloth. I fray them enough first so they won’t unravel more and stitch them down with these tiny stitches. You can barely see them and probably can’t in a photo. Later I add the running stitches with thicker thread to ask your eye to travel with me around the moons. I want you to meander and wonder as you look at these pieces. To take a little trip.
Someone recently said to me, ” I have a sewing machine but just don’t know where to start”. I say, start anywhere! Start with a needle in your hand- sit in your favorite chair or the kitchen table. Gather some bits of cloth- cut up old clothes- go to the secondhand store and get some old cotton cloth. (skip the poly!) No machine needed. You can always unstitch something if you really can’t live with it but just let things develop. YOU will develop with practice.
I also did a couple of short videos that were requested from participants in the recent tekumo workshop. One had to do with machine hemming using a hemming foot, and the other with wiring the edge of a hemmed silk piece. You can see them on the FB studio page by scrolling down a few posts.

Late last night I took a 2 hour zoom tour of a sericulture farm located in the Kofu Basin in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan. It was quite interesting. Probably the largest sericulture operation I’ve seen so far in Japan. He said they raise 160,000 cocoons at a time there and grow them from seed. Most of the sericulture farms now get the silkworms in the 3rd-4th instar from the local collective and raise them on mulberry from that point to cocooning. Here’s a few links for my “silky friends” to enjoy…


Silky moth friends at Ashizawa Sericulture
And speaking of circles, Circle of Silk is a lovely story of silk sericulture hanging by a thread.
And also, a video on silk thread reeling by my friend and sericulturist in Annaka, Nobue Higashi whom we visit with on the Silk Study Tour to Japan. Enjoy!

ALL about shibori…

Now that I got that last post out of my draft folder I move on….

oldest one in the center is probably around 100 years old

Today is all about shibori….stands. Or you may consider them to be a “third hand” which is how I think of them. I have several and show you here. (I have a couple more stored in workshop boxes but they are lesser ones and one in fact was broken in a workshop and I have yet to see my way to repairing it (if possible).

I’ll start by showing you a video of how I updated the old one pictured above. As I recall, I acquired it on a flea market trip one year after the Silk Study Tour. Is needle was missing and the hook where it once existed completely rusted through, but still…

I am working my way back to offering some shibori workshops and the first one will be tekumo shibori using shibori stands with a shibori hook. For this to work, I had to create enough stands for everyone in the workshop to use and the next video is my simple design which costs less than $10 to make with odds and ends from the local hardware store.

It feels good to have rescued an old shibori stand and to also create a new version that is very affordable. Each has its pros and cons- the older versions can be used anywhere, whereas the new version needs to be used on a tabletop to which it can be clamped.

makers mark on side of stand

The wisdom of the cloth

There is something ultimately satisfying to me when I use old cloth. Especially cloth that has been previously reused-who knows how many times? The feel of it is different, the smell of it, the texture…the memories it holds. Old cloth has lots to wonder about.

Then there is the variety of the cloth. The various weaves, the fiber itself, and the skill of the weaver, the dyer, the thread maker. The cloths original intent or purpose and ultimate uses is also something to wonder about.

sorting and wondering

Today I sorted through another bundle of old Japanese fabric, all previously reused and dismantled from its former use-kimono, yukata, futon cover and more. I love things made from these old fabrics. That someone felt the cloth was precious enough to mend and then use again in something else- is enough for me to continue treating the cloth with the same respect and frugality.

As I ironed, picked threads, and lint brushed the various fabrics, I ran my fingers over each piece wondering.
Who made it? What had it been? What could it become? Japanese narrow woven cloth and the way it was used lent itself to being easily taken apart and reused after laundering. It is a testament to how cloth was valued. Mottainai! (Don’t waste!)

I see the worn and threadbare parts, the patched places, and the edges as the wisdom of the cloth.
They are there to instruct me, to show me the way. I study all the parts of it. I look at the stitches of the patches, the selvedges. I pull a few weft threads and look at them under magnification. I imagine the journey the cloth has been on – from plant or animal up to the point where I now hold it in my own hands, generations later.
In whose indigo vat was it dyed? Did this lovely katazome here serve an early 1900’s merchant family? Had this bolt or strip of cotton katazome been a wedding gift? This boro bit here later used for a layer of a futon cover for cold nights? Who raised the silkworms and warped the looms with the homespun threads? Did the shibori come from Arimatsu or Narumi? Through the passage of time and many hands I’m left with so much to wonder about as I imagine what I (or you) will do with this cloth.

The ancestors of the cloth speak to me as I run my fingers over the surfaces, identifying each textile technique as I prepare a new batch of takaramono treasure packs for the shop-kasuri, shibori, katazome, shima (woven stripes), plain dyed cloth. Some of it is very durable and some now quite thin. It all feels good in my hand and ready for a whole new “becoming”.
The new takaramono packs are now in the shop here.
Here’s a few ideas of things I’ve made-a couple are still available in the shop.

And Windy has stormy eyes…

Spent some more time mending that old favorite quilt. It’s been very windy and cold here so some afternoon inside time is welcome. I’m applying the repairs on a “what do I think will work here” basis. Not all worn areas get the same treatment. The goal here is to restore the quilt to a condition that will favor continued everyday use. So that means that repairs will be visible, practical, and in some cases whimsical!

In addition, while on an outdoor gardening break, I caught my jeans on something resulting in a large tear about 10 inches long. Into the repair pile they went after a dip into the vat to restore some color to the worn areas. I had a little fun with this repair and applying the same goal as the quilt above, I’m back to wearing them and they feel very sturdy. I have another pair that could use some of this stitchlove as well. The satisfaction I get from doing this keeps me at it.

The garden is sprouting all kinds of seeds, both wanted and not so wanted. There will be plenty of weeding in my future. The feathery cassia continues to perfume the front walkway and the knife leaf wattle is just starting to bloom with its seemingly millions of tiny bright yellow pompom flowers. I’ll add a photo later when it is fully bloomed out. My onion and garlic patch is doing just fine- I have about 50 garlic and 150 onions planted there. I’m starting to plant seeds for the spring garden but with this colder weather it will take a little extra time for them to germinate. I can wait. Gardening is all about waiting. And watching. And hoping.

The recent wind pretty much tore up the studio shade/rain cover so today’s plan is to get out there before the rain hits and replace it with a used one I found online for $40. The moon was seen through the hole…

And Windy has wings to fly…
Maybe you are too young for this song but we heard this nonstop on Armed Forces Radio in 1967, Yokohama. The Association is worth a few listens …it’s been a while.