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!
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.
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…
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.
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!
I decided to add to my indigo vat swatch card by swatching each of the three vats (chem , fermentation, and ferrous) at the end of the daylong indigo shibori workshop.
The vats all got a good workout by the six participants.
The chem vat degraded the most. It will need a complete tuneup! The fermentation vat held fairly steady but will need some rest and perhaps some bran. The blue is a bit lighter and noticeably grayer.
The ferrous iron vat held up the best with less loss of color. I might actually prefer it’s current state more than it’s original state. Seems like a nicer range of blues.
All three dips (on both occasions) were one minute.
In addition, the following day’s stitching workshop was a lot of fun. Getting people inspired to learn something new and create something beautiful is always satisfying.
One of the stitching samples I showed included a strip woven cloth with an indigo moon. Several participants wondered how it was done so I did a quick demo. They couldn’t wrap their mind around it in the beginning but then the “aha!” moment arrived. I always love that.
I’m wondering about how much work it might be to do a woven moon for the moon circle. If I do, it might be a one moon month…
I’m spending my time this week organizing for the upcoming workshops and pulling together teaching samples. There are many and I’m displaying them around the work space.
Also, finishing up a couple of things as inspiration for what one can do with the pieces that will be worked on during the dye and stitch sessions. Here is a bag I just finished with one of them. The exterior is all vintage and the interior lining is recycled. It’s really fun to give cloth a new life and make it into something “new” and useful. Another in the series of “Carry the Moon” bags I have made over time.
I’ve got a few things to clear off the decks today (Saturday) -like a couple shibori ribbon scrap bag orders, the last stragglers of the July moon circle cards, and some computer email communications. If you are reading this and are in any of the August in-studio workshops, you would have received the last details on attending the workshops and have been asked to reply and confirm. About half of you have-THANK YOU! The others have been emailed twice so far with no reply. I will do so once more and cross my fingers! Other than that, I will take time and try to search you out via social media and send you messages there. This all takes time that I really do need for other things… help a girl out and reply to your email confirmations! Thx…
“Other things” include tracking down a FedEx return from France that has been “on the way” for 30 days now! This order seems to have a curse on it. If you recall, I had sadly and mistakenly sent the wrong colors to a customer in France. We resolved the issue by my remaking the correct order and reshipping it while at the same time issuing a return label to have the wrong order returned to me. Package never returned after being picked up by FedEx at the customers location (and this only after several calls to fedex to go get the package). Fedex is now looking for it after weeks of me calling to check on it. Fedex shipping internationally is no joke either ($$$) so not only am I out the ribbon, I have spent hundreds in shipping to get it back. Yikes! It is going to take more time to resolve this and likely not in my favor. I will persist! Never before had a problem like this with FedEx. We shall see…
BUT- in today’s mail, I received these two beautiful embroidered silk moths from an artist in the Ukraine. So delicate and beautiful! I’m working on a piece that involves silk in all its permutations and these will be a lovely addition to it. I came across them through one of my Japanese sericulture contacts on Twitter.
Plus, I will be back to the Japanese American National Museum in early November with a workshop. stay tuned for details!
Today I’m preparing the fabrics for July moons. I’m kinda excited again about the cloth for this month’s moons. I enjoy deciding how to delight the moon circle each month. This time I went through my bins and chose a roll of something I’ve been saving and drooling over for YEARS! It’s silk tsumugi. But not just ANY old (and i mean old) silk tsumugi. This is the most lovely, drapey, thin, folk style cloth I’ve ever had the privilege of caretaking. It is completely hand spun and hand woven, undyed or treated in any way. In my mind I see a woman hand twisting the silk thread on her lap inside her small wooden home. It is uneven in places. Maybe she is new to the process or perhaps she knows the character which she imbues into the cloth from the wisdom of her past. But it is just wonderful. The silk floss might be what was left from her first rate cocoons- which were sold off to the local cooperative and sent off to be reeled at the filature mill. Who knows how long ago…I am just imagining here.
The cloth has texture, character, an uneven natural color in places. The warp is very, very fine reeled silk. Dressing a loom with this fine a silk must be an art in itself. There are slubs and tiny spots of darker threads in the weft which seem to me to be from discoloration of the cocoon by the silkworm. I hesitated to cut some of it for moons but I just can’t keep it all to myself. It must be shared. I happily imagine all the things it may be used for by those in the moon circle.
Some time back I did a meter or so of indigo shibori with some of this cloth for a garment. The shibori on the top right of the blog header above is some of that. It took the indigo like a dream!
The other moon this month is a departure of sorts. It’s also on old silk but on the scraps of a great and colorful silk meisen cloth that was one of the kimono pieces I remade with participants of the last Kimono Refashioning workshop. I’m enjoying putting these small bits of cloth in your hands for inspection and wondering.
Here I chose a straight forward circle for the meisen silk moon and a partial rough ombre moon for the tsumugi cloth.
I’m also preparing fabrics for the upcoming in studio August workshops. The shibori workshop is sold out with a waiting list. The Thursday August 4th workshop has one opening and the Sunday August 7th has 2 openings. Here is the link if you want to check it out. I spent the better part of today prepping all the vintage fabrics for these projects. I am dyeing the base pieces in the natural vat which is loving the warmer weather these days. I love sorting through all these fabrics and wondering about their past lives as well as imagining their future. I’m setting up the “alumni reunion” for those that were in either session of the Refashioning Kimono workshops. Look for the date in your email inbox.
I have had several requests for new dates for both the Refashioning Kimono workshop as well as the Komebukuro Treasure Bag workshop. These new sessions will begin in late August and September. Look for dates in the next blog post.
In addition to the moons for the moon circle, I was inspired to do a bunch of these moons. I recently saw some new images of the planet Venus from NASA. Pretty amazing!
That reminded me of some hand dyed fabric I had bought several years ago in Houston. I used some of it to repair the couch cushions but I had some left over that I used for Venus inspired moons. There wasn’t enough fabric for the monthly moon circles so I just put them into the shop here.
I’ll end this post with a referral once again to the blog Old Photos of Japan and Kjeld’s recent post titled 1930’s Off to War. Another well researched and interesting post about being conscripted and sent off to war in Japan and how it was “celebrated” by the families and the public. It was the first of two times this past month where I came across the term senninbari or thousand person stitches. I had not known about this and it’s another way to honor the cloth and the stitch. He has a wonderful ukiyoe he came across depicting a scene of a kimono clad woman collecting the stitched knots in public at a temple. The images depicting this practice have dots marking the position where the knots are to be stitched much like the kanoko shibori dots that are marked with aobana. A really great post. I hope you go visit his site and support his fantastic work! He includes this clip of a film with a “song for senninbari as well, Aikoku Senninbari (愛国千人針, Patriotic Thousand Person Stitches), released in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In this clip of women collecting stitches on the street, you can hear part of the song as sung by Junko Mikado (三門順子, 1915–1954).“
Today is the full moon and a February moon- the Snow Moon. And coincidentally, we had a cold snap that brought hail and snow locally here yesterday (Pasadena!). Last week it was 90! Check this out! I’ve been working on finishing up the February moon circle subscription sets and along the way I took some photos to document the fabrics and some of the process. This month’s main moon is indigo dyed on some very old kanoko silk shibori. This was already partially deconstructed when I found it at a temple sale. Only the lining had been removed.
just a few shots of the work table- plus a test dip into the revived fermentation vat oxidizing… looks like it’s fine! It was in the upper 80’s and even 90 one day so I got the ferm vat back in shape. Now it’s cold again!
I was looking around online for old images of something and I came across this site which was a lot of fun. I’ll go back later to enjoy more. This particular image about washing kimono might interest you. Enjoy and wonder!
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.
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!
I thought we might enter the 2022 New Year with a confidence and vitality that would enhance our well-being and allow us to look back on the past two pandemic years with a certain gratitude and commitment that we could go forward with lessons learned for the future.
Hmmm…that was around mid October. Yes, I’m an optimist!
Now, it is clear the better thing to do at the moment is to admit that we are not quite ready for that yet and to step into the New Year a bit gingerly, with a commitment to looking out for each other and continued determination to adjust to things as they come at us.
Here and there over the years on this blog (entering my 17th year now!) I have committed to a word at years end, and the word that I am thinking of a lot these days is an old and good friend of mine…
P E R S E V E R A N C E
Now this old friend has carried me further than any other word I can think of in these sorts of situations and is often well paired with other words…
love P E R S E V E R A N C E hope P E R S E V E R A N C E compassion P E R S E V E R A N C E trust P E R S E V E R A N C E kindness P E R S E V E R A N C E time P E R S E V E R A N C E understanding P E R S E V E R A N C E peace P E R S E V E R A N C E community harmony 2022
There have been many occasions missed, rerouted, and cancelled this past year. There have been deaths, illnesses, pain and sorrows. Too many sorrows for sure. But there have also been births, unions, and celebrations too. We persevere. While 2022 will continue offering us challenges, we can and will rise to meet them. We really have no other choice do we? Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to maintain harmony.
For the New Year, I have a couple of new projects I am working on as in-person gatherings are still on hold. One is a textile talk series over zoom that will (mostly) be about the Japanese textiles I have collected over time. I am sorting and organizing that at the moment. This was suggested to me by a couple of people and most recently my friend Janet in one of the online classes where I went off the rails talking about some of my Japanese textiles. I received several emails telling me how much they enjoyed that spontaneous part of the workshop. OK-I hear you. I appreciate the suggestions and the feedback. Because in the end (and the beginning!), it really IS about serving the needs of customers and those that are interested in what I do. This thought of service and commitment I carry forward into the New Year. Thank you!
The other offering I am doing is a Moon of the Month Circle. It’s a subscription item to receive 2 moons a month. These will be made using some of the fabulous cloth here and each months moons will have a note about the fabric, the dye, and whatever other story the cloth wants to tell. The two moons will be sent out first class mail tucked into one of my MoonMate photo cards. Let the moon guide your inspiration! The moons continue to be one of my most loved shop items and making a subscription item with them will help me even out the making of them as well as make my income stream more predictable in unpredictable times. Of course you can still order the separate sets of moons but these will be a bit different than what you get in those sets. Use them in stitching, journaling, and multimedia projects, gift a subscription to a creative friend- let the moon be your inspiration!
I post this image here as I found it fascinating. As I understand it, placing the signatures in this circle presented the traders as equals, so no one person would be targeted for recriminations as a result of the request. The unity of a circle. The protection of many by the circle. Just something that make me think and wonder…
Welcome to 2022 friends…may we all look up at the same moon in peace, love, harmony AND perseverance! Omedetou tomodachi sama! Glennis