Category Archives: pocket squares

let your creative wonder grow roots

Today I was planting more seeds. I got to thinking about the growing roots. The snap pea seeds I planted last week have sprouted and are forming their first roots. Roots are essential to the growth of the seed and the eventual plant it sprouts. I water the seeds, put them in the sun during the day, take them inside on cold nights, move them to bigger containers when they get too large, and weed out the weak or unwanted plants.

And so it is with wonder and creativity. Once I have been exposed to the seeds of creativity or inspiration, I cultivate that creative wonder in order for it to take root. It’s easy to skim the surface of something (and I’ve skimmed many ideas, techniques and processes) but once I develop enough wonder about something to the point that it starts to take root I want to move forward in a way that continues to develop those roots and lets it become much more. And that requires fertilizing and cultivating those roots with more wondering and practice. The more roots something grows, the stronger it can become.
Not everything takes root. But everything I learn along the process carries me forward. Some things I choose not to cultivate in the moment-I may come back to them another time. Things need time to generate roots and grow.
But enough …. meanwhile in the garden-

Moving from garden to studio…

A few posts ago I showed you some jeans i had refresh dyed in the indigo vat and repaired. That led to a friend dropping off some old pants he wondered if I might be interested in doing something with them. Only one pair was really of interest to me but seems like quite the project!

Now, I’m not quite sure how they came to be in this condition but I’m suspecting the garment industry had a hand in it. I’m going to give them a couple of dips before I put them in the mending pile. I might be up for the challenge. Thinking on it.

Meanwhile, I posted this ol’ moon today and although it is long sold, I received a very special request for one like this. I will make it with intentions of holding on.

-the complicated simplicity of disappearing

Over on the Daily Dyer, I explained the making of these pocket squares for a special order. Indigo on silk satin. One is double arashi, the other triple. having them in hand is akin to playing with a slinky- mesmerizing.

Other goings on in the studio involve completing a shibori ribbon order for a customer in the UK and doing some indigo dyeing of vintage fabrics.

Shop Update Alert!

AsiaDyer (aka Richard) and I have collaborated on a plan to relieve him of some of his growing pile of “cloth with character” (aka imperfect and assorted). This involves lots of sorting on both our parts, shipping from Japan, and in some cases overdyeing to get it into some really lovely and fun packages for your projects. Each pack contains one moon and some indigo thread to get you started. The packs include katazome, shibori, kasuri, stripes, and solids. The end result is a takaramono (treasured items) pack of inspiration for your creative wonderings. Pair it with a pack of solid indigo shades dyed in the fermentation vat and you have a project in the making. in the shop here.

In kitchen news, I have been the fortunate picker of my neighbor’s orange tree. They don’t use them and they are just now finishing their season (started in December). This week I made orange marmalade for everyone and also am making a jar of orange liqueur. Most recipes tell you to use the peel and slice the oranges but my method is simple…from a friend in Poland.

We spent a week worried about Bella- our aging dog. She’s better now after a couple of vet bills- haha. Getting older isn’t for sissies no matter person or creature. Milo the cat is still hanging in there but the time is coming. I’m spoiling him rotten right now.

There’s more, but enough for now…

the very industrious silkworm

So today was the big day. Time to stifle the cocoons.  I know- some of you are squeamish about this so perhaps you want to click away to the kittens right NOW!

Turns out I have about 800 cocoons-actually 794 to be precise. Since I didn’t order the eggs but used my own from the last rearing I wasn’t sure.  I guessed around 1000.  Not a bad guess as you lose a few along the way.

794 cocoons

There are a preponderance of yellow cocoons so apparently most of the eggs were from the reverse silkworms.  This year, I separated out a few of the best cocoons into two separate boxes for mating  purposes in case I want to do this again next year in a more controlled manner.  Last year it was pretty much an inter-racial silk moth sex party.

cocoon detail

I also saved out a few cocoons for more fresh reeling.  I need to get to these tomorrow before they emerge.

So, continuing on, it was time to stifle the cocoons so they can be stored and used later.  I used Michael Cook’s instructions as before for this which involves drying them out in a low oven over a couple of drying sessions.  A little toast (no, not that kind) was made in their honor (coffee, mind you as it was morning) and the drying is in progress.

Just so you know, once the moths emerge, they will live for about 10 days (they do not eat during this time as they have no system for this) mating and laying eggs (female only of course) and then they die.  Left to their own, the eggs will hatch (500 per female!!) and if not fed they too will die.  So it’s a service they do for us- to create cocoons which then we can harvest and use.  If you want some eggs, let me know.

Also , I have been playing with the cocoons a bit-

white cocoon flower

Also, the pocket squares for the London wedding are completed and ready to ship tomorrow, the mandala class is now tying their mandalas, and other orders accumulated while I was away are ready to ship out.  I had to catch up on a little indigo today as well and I have to say the fermentation vat is just stellar right now.

wearing many hats …and colors

To order solid shade hand dyed indigo cotton, go here.

For other indigo items, try here. I just restocked some of the items.

Next up on the “to do” list- making silk shibori ribbon, silk reeling, and mawata making practice, and of course indigo dyeing on some really great fabrics I brought back with me to try.

pocket candy

yes, silk shibori pocket squares. i don’t talk about them too often but like the ribbon, they are something that goes on in the background of making here.

17 x 17 silk pocket square in orange/red orange

they are kind of self explanatory and you can see the the full details on my page devoted to them here on the blog.

what i really want to write about today are the customers who purchase my shibori pocket squares. such an interesting group of men!
yes, men like shibori too-and why not?
here are the two best reasons why (taken from my PSQ page):

Perhaps the most important one- women love them! Why? It indicates that you are interested in standing out and care about your appearance. Also, most women LOVE textiles. I have been told by men that the women can’t keep their hands off of these silk shibori pocket squares. They are intriguing (and a good conversation starter). They are fun to play with. I dare you to hold one in your hand and NOT be mesmerized by the colorful play of pattern and texture as you open and release the pleated silk. The sheer feel of the heavy silk charmeuse is luxurious.

Another virtue of wearing one of my Silk Shibori Pocket Squares is that no two are ever alike! It’s an acknowledgement and appreciation for things still hand made and one of a kind. In this world of mass production, fast tracking, mega malls, and super stores there still is room for some things to remain small and slow and made by hand one at a time. Remember that, each time you tuck one of my shibori pocket squares into your suit pocket.

the top 3-red/blue/gold based squares also come as a set of three

so who are these guys? some of them are entertainers, pianists, economists, ARS furniture appraisers, CNN newsmen, grooms and their groomsmen, fathers of the bride, boyfriends, photographers, architects, stylists, designers, dads and grads, guys in suits from all walks who want to have a dash of flash.

most recently, a reorder came from a fellow who is ordering a couple of pocket squares for his dad’s upcoming 85th birthday. apparently, dad borrowed one of his some time ago and refuses to give it back- gotta love that! so now, dad will have his very own set at 85!

i really do enjoy making pocket squares for these guys. they seem to enjoy emailing me stories and color requests to match particular things in their closet. sometimes they just send me an order for 4-6 of them and say-“just surprise me!”.

i have had some problems with making them however. this has caused me to reconsider how i am approaching their making. first off, i’ve been trying to make them as the orders come in and that usually means a few at a time. which also means that i don’t get the advantage of perfecting them over a larger batch of producing them. i was just getting too many sub-par squares (according to my standards). making them in between scarves and ribbon and indigo just doesn’t get me the quality i am looking to achieve.
while some people despise making something over and over, i see it as an opportunity to perfect a technique (thinking of those gals in Arimatsu) and i’ve always enjoyed that challenge in making.

double arashi indigo detail


so this weekend, i devoted myself to pocket squares and the stack of orders for them that have accumulated. one issue has been that since these are done on charmuese the fabric behaves a little differently than on the lighter silks i regularly pleat and dye.
some of the pleating has been kind of hit and miss and i am stuck with a box of less than perfectly pleated squares (i aim for the Mary Poppins “practically perfect”). they will be chopped up and put into scrap bags for houston. secondly, i wasn’t happy with the discharge and dye penetration on some and the resulting overall dye pattern on others. more for the scrap bag. other little problems are the ever increasing price of silk and as prices for the blanks rise, they decided to decrease the size! so now the 11×11 squares are 10×10. 11×11 is better to me but OK. so i experimented with the 17×17 version that dharma carries. it’s ok but a lighter weight and while the discharge and dye process is fine it’s just difficult to get the pleating perfect on them. (or as perfect as i’d like). more scrap.

overall this weekend i solved the two major issues that have been haunting me simply through practice and focus. and i’ve come to a couple of conclusions about restructuring the sales of these items. i’m going to work up an inventory of 30-40 pieces to keep on hand each month and devote a couple of days to restocking and custom orders. no more fitting them in here and there. pieces in regular inventory will remain the same price ($24.95) but pieces that are custom ordered will cost a bit more. and i’m going to also add them to my big cartel shop-soon (in the next day or so).

in the end, devoting a larger block of time to them is really the way to go and this will allow me to keep the price the same AND allow me to ship them quicker (win for the customer!). custom orders will still be available at an upcharge and will be produced during “pocket candy days”.
i was happy with all of the last batch (finally!) and they are still made one at a time by hand- just all day long! i have had a pocket square facebook page for over a year or so but just never did anything with it…going to start updating that too. i see a number of my friends adding themselves on there to get updates as they occur. now to get busy and get the inventory made and photographed….

pocket squares for sale in the shop now