Category Archives: mooncloth

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!

Up or Down?

…or somewhere inbetween?

I have been feeling very confused lately. Lost really. One day I decide to offer some workshops, the next day I it all seems wrong and I change my mind, only to retrieve the idea a couple of days later. Take this post for example, will I keep it? Delete it? I just don’t know…

In the meantime, I make moons for the moon circle. The March moons are almost all finished. I took a little different approach to March. Maybe it’s the mood I’ve been in lately. March moons focused on process- the discharge process. Discharge is the removal of color- the discharging or releasing of the dye molecule from the cloth. Separation. Like mind from body. Disappearing the color…less and loss. Waning…declining, diminishing, decreasing.
It’s a process in itself to study.


I decided what I am going to do with my moons. I’ve been wondering about that, and about when that might happen. Up to now I have just been saving one set each month along with the description I enclose in a notebook until i figured it out. Mostly I thought I would do a wall piece or a small quilt that included all the moons from 2022. But then I had a little visit with my grandson…
I was wearing my cross shoulder moonbag and we were looking at some photos of himself I had just taken of him on my phone. He wanted to look at other photos and so I showed him some garden photos, the cats and dogs, and as we flipped by some of the moons, he identifies them…”Nana, moon!” (yes, he’s talking up a storm at 2 1/2 now). Then he looks at my bag, and says “Nana’s Moon”. Could you love it any more? I kept thinking about it over the next day and each time it just made me smile. As I was packaging up the moons in their cards and printing out the mailing labels it came to me…a little moonbook for Dean! Nothing too elaborate, just one page a month- small and simple enough so it’s doable and can be completed easily over time little pages I can take along and stitch on here and there. Now I’m a little excited and l am looking forward to this project!

Moonbags

I wonder what some of you out there are doing with your moons. Maybe you too are collecting them until the right moon mood hits you. I hope some of you will eventually share your moon projects with me.

As I finish up one month’s set of moons I think about the next. I already have my idea for May but for April, I may focus on some natural dyed moons using the seed pods from the feathery cassia out front.

Leslie from NSW Australia identified the mystery plant from the last post as a type of wattle in the comments and said that the seed pods from a particular wattle yield a green. Must test that out. The wattle is just now setting pods so in a couple of months I will collect them. The cassia too- but I have a bag of pods I saved from last summer so will use those now. She also clued me into a website I wasn’t familiar with that had a great list of wattle. I only had my own moon leaf wattle so didn’t realize how many other types there are! Especially did not guess that many of them are a narrow leaf variety.

I’ve planted some marigold seeds again for some late summer /fall possibilities. I have lots of tomato seedlings almost ready to plant out. I was out checking on the madder this week and broke off a few skinny root bits to propagate some new plants for another area- they are already sending out shoots! In the same area, I have a cyclamen I planted nearly 40 years ago. It disappeared a few times over the years but when we had enough rain it would reappear. It’s not a fancy one but a bright deep red/pink and in the past few years I’ve made an attempt to water it when needed just to keep it alive. It’s at the base of the ginko tree and benefits from the great mulch of ginko leaf drop in the winter. While i was checking on the madder (nearby) I noticed HUNDREDS of tiny cyclamen babies! Not knowing how these reproduced I looked it up on youtube and saw a fascinating vid on cyclamen plantings. Not having to worry about propagating them myself, I’m just potting up some of these to spread around. They are kinda expensive to buy at the nursery if you want a bunch of them. They little babies are pretty adorable. It will be fun to watch them grow. I didn’t know that they preferred dry shady areas! I think they really like the ginko mulching they get here.

And speaking of seed pods, Nancy surprised me with a package today of the pods she collected in this post from her blog Pomegranate Trail. I had commented on them and they are more fascinating in person. They really do float my boat Nancy! What I noticed also is that they make a cool percussive sound when they knock together. (this is what happens when you have lots of drummers around you-everything becomes percussion!

nancy’s seed pod boats!


And speaking of percussion, we went to see Trev and Jen in the pit orchestra for Fullerton College’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was great fun- I had never seen this live and was amazed at how much the music relied on the percussionist. It was written for 3 percussionists I think but there was only budget for one (remember this is education and the arts, not war) and he held it down well hopping from one instrument to the next. But in the hallway there I saw this poster. It’s great don’t you think?

There were also 4 more relating to music and theater degrees. Looks like they had been there a while and produced by the college some time ago…

Also, when I am doing handwork etc., I’ve been taking Robert Reich‘s “open class” called “Wealth and Poverty” on YouTube. It’s quite good and you don’t even have to enroll in a University! I’m a little behind and on week four at the moment. I think he’s a great teacher on this topic. His website is here.

And finally, my hanging orchid (not upright blooming) cymbidium is glorious at the moment…it has 8 flower spikes and about 270 blossoms! I repotted it and moved its location last year but other than a little worm juice from the worm bin it’s pretty much ignored.

yippee!

So I guess I found my way after all…

Full Snow Moon

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.

February’s moons…
I love how after dyeing,rinsing, and drying as well a light steam pressing, the shibori texture endures!!

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 just playing around with some silk- not a moon but planetary. saw some beautiful Nasa telescope photos that were the inspiration.

This week’s shop favorites were all about moons.

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!

Half mast…

Some of the most meaningful pieces made by anyone using my indigo moons have been made by Mo. It’s been a heartbreaking week with the news from Australia that she lost her beloved Old Man Crow to cancer and the vast beyond. She has supported so many over the years with her beautiful and heartfelt stitchings. Her stitches and his song have made for a beautiful pairing over many decades. If you follow her blog-well, you just know. So much love pours out of it. So many have joined in heartfelt messages, entertaining remembrances, and shared sorrows over there. There is a circle of friends that although we’ve never met in person, we have connected ourselves together in many ways. For those who might say that the internet doesn’t foster real and true friendships…I don’t agree. There are many of us who have been blogging and corresponding here for over a decade, yet never have met in person. One day…we may!
But if we don’t, I still dearly treasure this circle of friends-and there are many.

Nothing more to say really. It’s enough. My moon flag flies at half mast…for Mo and her Old Man Crow.

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!

the unity of the circle

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!

Wrap your mind around this if you can…this is a silk weaving! I photographed it at the obi weavers studio in Kyoto in 2019. It continues to amaze me. It’s quite large as i recall. hard to convey in a photograph but quite amazing in person.

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!

Petition of Japanese traders to the authorities. In order not to understand who the initiator is, all the signatures are written in a circle. 18th century.

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

Case of the textile detective…

Here I have to tell a little of the back story to this old obi. Previously I had blogged about taking Ann Wasserman’s online workshop on quilt repair and restoration (see her blog here). I had found her online while doing some research on the crazy quilt I named Ida Belle. (while I was editing this post, Ann put up a new blog post about her latest repair/conservation quilt-a wool crazy quilt. You can see a video of her talking about it here.) In getting to know Ann a bit via email, we discovered we were quite harmonious when it came to cloth and textiles. Even Jude’s name came up as we were both early enthusiasts of Spirit Cloth (currently in wordlessly watching mode until after the New Year). In our conversations, she mentioned that she had some Japanese silk fabric that had been gifted to her many years ago and that she had no idea what to do with it or even what it was. She sent some images and asked me to look at it.

From the images she sent me, my guess was that it was an obi. It had a couple of areas of highly embroidered florals over some shibori along with large lengths of blank undecorated areas. There was what appeared to be a fold line down the center and the length of the piece indicated that it was an obi. At this point, Ann asked me if I would “adopt” it and do what I thought was best with the piece. I agreed, thinking that it would serve as a nice sample of shibori with beautiful embroidery for future in person workshops (hoping I get back to that eventually!). As you can probably guess, someone like Ann is often given and asked to “adopt” a fair amount of textiles but this one was outside of her particular realm.

When it arrived here, I looked it over and took a few of my own photos. I noticed a couple of things right away. First off, the shibori work is really very sophisticated. It impresses me that way where the the use of dyes fades into the background to give the very subtle feeling of distance. The silk used here is chirimen. Shibori techniques used are kanoko (fawn spot), boshi (capped resist), and makiage (stitched motif). I had a couple of questions so I also sent an email to the director of the Kyoto Shibori Museum. (Their latest youtube video is wonderful!) It’s obvious that the shibori was done with the final embroidery in mind. The embroidery! Wow… very beautiful nihon shishu.
I noticed that this shishu has a fairly high “loft”. I asked another friend, Mary Alice in Houston, who teaches this form of Japanese embroidery (you can find her online here) and she said that sometimes the older versions of this were padded underneath. What I ultimately discovered was that there are two layers of silk stitching (one perpendicular to the other) that provide this padding.


What I conclusively decided was that I would disassemble this obi. I decided this for a couple of reasons. The folding and storage were doing it no favors. Storage to me is “out of sight, out of mind”. I like things to be enjoyed and used. So I began to unstitch this beautifully hand stitched obi…and discover its secrets.

If you attended last week’s Komebukuro Treasure bag workshop “check in /hang out” session, after the questions and progress sharing was over, I shared my obi disassembling project. At the time I was about 3/4 through the unstitching. At that time I shared both the front and the back of the amazing embroidery. The back is also amazing and shows the wonderful and tiny stitches used to couch down the gold leafed silk threads. Goldwork embroidery is done using a core thread (usually silk or cotton) that is wrapped with a fine layer of gold leaf. Couching is the main way this thread is used as (I’m guessing) you wouldn’t want to pass this delicate gold thread through the cloth over and over. Couching is done in any number of colored silk threads for contrast and results depending on the embroiderer’s desired artistic outcome.

SInce that session, I have finished taking this piece apart and and discovered something very wonderful. The back side of the obi seemed a little odd to me. The front side of the fabric was very much a sateen-shiny with lots of long silk floats in the weave. However, the back was very matte and had an odd texture. Looking at it with a jewelers loop it was obvious that the warp and the weft were very different fibers. Unweaving a section of an end was in order! The warp was composed of very many fine silk threads. I carefully removed several rows of the much thicker and dull weft threads and did a burn test. Cellulose for sure. Then there was the issue of the feel of this textile. So papery… so I started searching online. I was slipping down another rabbit hole!

I started by searching for shifu, which is a textile woven of paper threads. My friend Velma sent me search for Susan Byrd who wrote the book A Song of Praise for Shifu – Shifu Sanka as well as made a wonderful video on preparing the thread for weaving. I’ve followed Velma for many years and have been amazed at her work and her blog, Wake Robin. I have sent her a piece to look at and give me her thoughts. After doing some reading it seems that it is likely kinujifu (kinu meaning silk and jifu, the word for shifu-paper cloth- when attached to the word kinu) if the weft thread is in fact paper. I did do a sample moon dyeing and when the fabric was wetting out, it curled up like crazy into a tight curl. I haven’t seen that before…


Even if it doesn’t turn out to be kinujifu, I have learned SO MUCH!

this mark of the weaver was woven into the end of the sateen piece

The center of the obi is a stiff cloth called obi shin. In many old obi the center layer is made of old cloth patched together. In fancier old obi, a special thick woven cotton cloth is used. Now days, manufactured obi shin is widely available and I’m not sure what they are made of. Perhaps cotton, perhaps poly. But over the course of time, I have collected and used a variety of old obi shine. I have made many of the moon bags from them as they have a great texture and character as well as being very sturdy. They were also often discarded and I was finding them at flea markets in Japan so someone was saving them. Part of the problem with storing these old obi with thick obi shin is that in the humidity of Japan, they tend to become damp and don’t dry easily if improperly stored. This collected moisture can easily mildew and stain (sometimes called foxing) the exterior obi fabrics. Such is the case here and there with this obi. I also moon dyed a piece of the obi shin. it dyed beautifully…

As I look at the fabric from this obi (now temporarily rolled onto three large kimono rolls), I think the best thing for the embroidery portions will be to conserve them flat in museum grade glass with UV protection. My thought is to frame the embroidery with a border of the silk/cellulose fabric. It would be great to frame it so the back side of the embroidery is visible. The main embroidery would go to Ann of course and the lesser one I would keep for a workshop sample. It just makes sense to preserve them this way unless anyone here has another idea-I’d love to hear it.

After all this, I am reminded that I have so many talented and knowledgeable friends that share the love and interest in textiles, preservation, and craft. It is truly a bounty of riches created over time!
Now if you have the time and interest- go grab a cuppa and come back to enjoy some of the links and videos noted within. There is a lot to take in!

Don’t forget, there is a new workshop forming for the 2022 Komebukuro Treasure Bags – details here.

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!

Circle back

Has it been a month and a half since i blogged here?? Is that possible? This might be the longest “dry spell” here since i started blogging sometime in 2006 (maybe I’m just giving you and myself a break).

Lots going on really- I should probably break this post up in chapters, we’ll see. In brief, the summer garden has kept us well fed and busy with it’s bounty. I’ll add an annotated gallery of photos in this post. This year the garden seems like it is in perfect harmony with itself. Lots of insects keeping each other in check. Fun to watch.



The tekumo shibori zoom workshop has concluded and students are working on their own with posts on the group blog to guide them, a place to post their own work and ask questions. That is really what has kept me pretty busy. Lots of technical challenges. Multiple cameras, multiple devices, recording, lighting and audio! Jeeze- and all I wanted to do was teach you some shibori. I do miss in person workshops. I was fortunate to have a student volunteer to co- host the sessions- Thank you Komo!! She also took attendance and kept the chat questions going when I was busy presenting in addition to making me some good spreadsheets. Great fun though- a fun roster of exceptional people- some whose path I have crossed variously in the past and some new friends- all looking to learn and get creative!

Part of the class was about creating the fabrics, learning and practicing tekumo, but the end of the class was about using the fabrics you created- in any way whatsoever. One of the pieces I made from class demos for purposes of exampling what one could do, was an indigo wall hanging. I really had a good time making it and thinking about the elements of it. Using pieces I made as demo pieces was part of that fun. At a certain point I let these pieces evolve. I try not to have many pre-planned ideas or expectations as to their final outcome. Often, they are made over the course of several weeks and while that process is happening, life occurs. Natural disasters, loss, rebirth…things one contemplates while one stitches and creates. It ended up as a very tactile piece and one that really should be touched to fully experience it.
I added it into the shop here.

I’m also working on more silk organza tekumo pieces as well as a 2 hour make-along zoom class to make the organza flowers. If you were in the online workshop and made the fabric, use that! If you just want to make one and want to order a kit, I’ll have that available too!
There’s a list developing for a second online tekumo shibori workshop so if you are interested, let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

And for those of you still waiting for the Silk Study Tour to Japan 2022 signup email, I’m hesitating a bit until I see what direction the pandemic is taking. In the meantime, stay safe, masked and vaccinated so we can meet again!
Here’s a little video that Hirata san made of a new restaurant in Kamakura-I want to try it out next visit!

in the air…

Lots of thoughts rumbling around here since the last post. This is gonna be a longer post, so settle in.

various tomato seedlings transplanted up and getting a bit of a slow start due to cooler weather but it’s warming up now.

Spring is definitely in the air. And so is hope in many quarters. Spring always is in the very heart of a gardener and I’m no different. Like Spring seasons, life is slowly changing and renewing. Many people are getting vaccinated, getting out and adjusting to what currently is. Just being here is good. In fact, quite wonderful.

Hirata san sends me photos of the beautiful cherry blossoms in Kamakura and I’m having hanami natsukashii (cherry blossom viewing yearnings)…here are a couple to get you in the mood. We have our itinerary for the Silk Study Tour set for 2022 and are looking forward. The photos below show the new cherry trees approaching the Hachimangu shrine. It is just gorgeous with all the trees in bloom! This approach was reworked just a few years ago and is a lovely walk down the center of the main street.

I’ve struggled to post often this past year, instead letting thoughts congregate a bit before getting them written into the ether. That doesn’t mean that they are more clearly expressed with the passage of time, sometimes I think it is quite the opposite! Too many thoughts blend, are forgotten and so on, but today felt right so here we are. Sometimes I take short notes for the blog on my phone to remind me of something I want to write about and sometimes I don’t, letting the thought return like a butterfly to its host plant if it works out that way (speaking of butterflies, the caterpillars of the clouded sulfers have gone somewhere to pupate, I know not where) and the praying mantis oothecae should be hatching any second (haven’t seen the babies yet).

Fresh on my mind right now are my beader friends in the Czech Republic (CR) who write me that they are suffering greatly from their government’s misconduct and irresponsibility in regards to COVID. I felt so sad hearing her description of their situation there. Vaccines are extremely limited, and lockdowns are very strict beyond what science would rationally dictate. People feel stifled and rebellious and somewhat hopeless. They look forward to a new election in October, she says.

“forbidden to move out of our districts, forbidden to work and not compensated, forbidden to socialize, forbidden to breath without a mask even if there is nobody around us in a 100 metres range(328 feet), forbidden to leave our homes between 9pm and 5am… and god knows how long til the end, because the government has literally NO PLAN”

I know she won’t mind my sharing her words here anonymously. I can be so absorbed in my own world here, listening to others broadens my perspective. I love that we have become long distance friends sharing our worlds. At the end of our conversation I shared the music of Joan Armatrading (a long time favorite of mine). I’ve been listening to her music today in the studio after Maura in India (Mustard Seeds Kolkata) featured a song on her FB post this morning.

Seems we lost a number of writers in March, notably Beverly Cleary(104), Norton Juster(91), Larry McMurtry(84), and Marianne Carus(92). My kids and I enjoyed their work and say a fond farewell, having left us with many good reads.

My heart was warmed by a message/conversation received from the mother of a son who credits me with far too much- but as we say, we never know what good a simple act of open-heartedness can give rise to. She credits me with reaching out to him as a young teenager who was struggling greatly and saving his life but it was her perseverance and love that brought him to meet me at a show in Houston (they lived in IN) and to encourage his interest in textiles and art. It is to his credit (and hers) that he graduated with a degree in art and is now teaching art in a HS in CO and just got accepted to grad school. He is out and doing what he loves, being who he is. How can you not love that?

It’s haru basho in sumo right now and today is the final day. We enjoy watching sumo here (I love looking at the silk gyoji costumes with their jaquard weaves and wonderful color combinations) and love watching both the juryo and makuuchi divisions. In a lower division called sandanme one of the rikshi (Hibikiryū) suffered a horrible injury perhaps resulting in paralysis (yet to be determined). The resulting uproar over treatment of rikshi injuries has resumed in sumo and is very justified. If you follow sumo, you know what I am talking about. Japan needs to step up. Tradition is one thing, humane treatment of rikshi is another.

Here in CA people over 50 are eligible for vaccinations April 1 and everyone over 16 is eligible April 15. Some areas have already opened to over 50 and we just received our first vaccination here. We still need #2 in 21 days plus a waiting period but progress is happening and workshops will again begin this summer! I am noticing how it is affecting my mental well being today. I feel inspired and more alive. I hope you are taking advantage of vaccinations in your area so we can all move ahead with safety and more peace of mind. This is a time to consider the future and reinvent many things.

Speaking of the studio, my recent post on the paid blog was quite interesting (apparently only to me-haha) yet I’m not sure if subscribers are reading regularly. Makes me wonder about that path. I won’t be doing this again, methinks. All posts there are password protected unless you subscribe but I thought I would “unprotect” this one to share here. It’s about indigo and madder and what I am making now… moonfire! March moons are all about madder and indigo. Today is the full moon as well as a shop update. Moonrise last night was spectacular here. Are you watching where you are?

I also was listening to a video I came across that resonated with me by George Monbiot who promotes “feeding the world without devouring the planet “. This also applies to textiles and clothing which continue to be a resource problem. As the planet goes, so go we. We survive by walking a fragile line of coexistence with nature. The planet will outlast us surely, but by how much? That is up to us.

In the meantime, I continue to dye. I have been dyeing madder and indigo. On a frustrating note, my aquarium heater in the indigo vat is out of commission again. I think that the high pH just does it in and results in its early death. They seem to last less and less time these days (this one just 5 months). Maybe this is the answer? Pricier than replacing the heater but…less wasteful if it lasts a couple of years. The weather is heating up now (81 degrees today) so a heater for the fermentation vat won’t be needed soon. I have been sorting through old cloth and over-dyeing in both indigo and madder to create some interesting cloth sets for the shop. Moonfire sets are also available there. A little diversion is always fun. I love how madder complements the indigo. I can imagine the projects that will be made from these cloth sets. From my imagination to yours…

and in the end, a look back to an older post.