Category Archives: quilting

Mottainai!

I didn’t want to add this to the last post on the Houston show since it’s a bit of a “Debbie Downer” (apologies to all Debbie’s out there), but I discovered something that I found very disappointing/disturbing (once again) at the show.  I walked the wholesale market on Sunday as I had to wait a couple of hours for the Ed office to open.

On the show floor, I saw that Moda is now producing, for February delivery, a line of fabrics called “Boro”. Now those of you regular readers of this blog probably know how I feel about this. We had a similar discussion when they came out with their “Shibori” fabric line. But this one is even MORE disturbing to me.  Is that possible? Why yes, yes it is.

Why is it that everything has to be bastardized for profit?  You might find my mindset a bit harsh but boro -really??  So now we are going to take the Japanese historical tradition of using scrap cloth to make utilitarian items for daily use and commercialize it to the point of PRINTING scanned images of boro on cotton sheeting for quilters to use in boro-esque quilt projects?  Are we really going there? And for quilters– who in general, have more scrap fabrics than any God of your choice!

I am really appalled at this.  Do they even understand the history of these fabrics? They wax poetically in their catalog about boro, but there is a certain dissonance I find disturbing. Boro was created out of poverty, a lack of having textiles for everyday needs. A certain need to use all that was at hand- to not waste.  Mottainai! Do not waste the resources you have! The ways that people in Japan found to creatively reuse what they did have is remarkable and noteworthy.  To take this and create a line of printed “boro” quilt fabrics just really is the height of irreverent insincerity in my opinion. It’s nothing more than the use of a term seen as a trend for profit. It’s actually quite the opposite of boro, which translates to tattered, ragged, torn or scrap fabrics.

We can celebrate boro by using what we already have, by stitching together the fabrics of our lives. We can study the boro fabrics so lovingly stitched by those who truly were stitching to survive cold winters in northern Japan. We can honor their resourcefulness by adopting the spirit of Mottainai in our everyday lives. Let’s do that instead.

a matter of time

Somehow, this makes me feel really sad.  I did realize that this would be the eventual end game of sorts.  It always happens.
And for expressing this I am prepared to take whatever shit comes my way about it.  I am. Somehow this feels somewhat personal.  Not in the usual Me Me Me sense but in the way that something I have grown to love, understand, and practice has yet again been usurped by the commercialization of something fine and turned into something rote. Turned into something that yet again, another company will inevitably run into the ground until people are tired of it in a season or two or until the profit runs dry and no one cares.
In the meantime, they will crank out tons of cotton fabrics, printed (not dyed), to be sewn by machines into stunning show quilts for competitions and more.

Why wonder about and practice it when you can just click a few buttons on the computer or grab a stack of whacks at the show and be done?

And so it is.

The word shibori comes from the root verb of the word shiboru which means to twist or wring, to squeeze.  Yup.  Makes sense.

workshop

 

from Journey to Odyssey

Gosh, has it been that long?  The first quilt Journey started here. Further photos from the wayback time machine here on Flickr. And it has been a journey that has developed into an Odyssey. Journey was the original mooncloth.

Sometimes it’s funny to go back and read an old post.  Notice how some things change and others remain the same.  Like how I am still not a quilter.  Blogging for over 10 years now and there are so many posts I still enjoy going back and re-reading- as a reminder. Others not so much- but still a good reminder.

In a much more recent post, I showed you how I was binding the edge of the test mooncloth Under One Moon in a little video. A couple of pics of the semi-finished piece:

This was sent off as a gift with a hope of continuing.  Some thread and a needle included.

Continuing on with the larger one I’m calling Odyssey, I’m realizing how much I like the feel and drape of this cloth in my hands as I stitch on it.  And right now as I head towards Quilt Festival I also realize that about 90%+ of the fabric I see there is not fabric that I would want to hand quilt with. Of course quilting began with the reuse of scraps from clothing and household textiles that lived previous lives and had a softness built into them.  Fabrics now are made for machines with tight weaves, bright colors, and slick finishes.  This makes them harder to push a needle through by hand.  And less desirable to hand quilters. I don’t know how others feel about this but I will be noticing next month at the festival and wondering about it more.

I hope I can get this one finished in time.  Or near to-at least in a way that it can be continued on the road. Late afternoon light…
mooncloth odysseySeems it’s a Nine patch.  Just turned out that way.

And in workshop news… the upcoming indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is going to be a little different.  We will be making some small fermentation vats that folks can take home and continue with.  We will also be using the pre-reduced indigo and doing more shibori.  Perhaps you want to explore doing some more detailed stitched shibori on larger cloth?

Workshop details and registration are on the museum site. Saturday and Sunday October 8-9

all cloth and thread dyed in the fermentation vat.  mostly rescued fabrics. silk and cotton threads.

 

 

 

under one moon

because we all exist under one moon,
because we all see the moon from our own perspective,
because it is a time traveler, a wave maker, a truth teller, a light giver.
the moon
-may its peaceful countenance shine in all the darkest corners

discharged moon-am i adding to or taking away? wondering...

discharged moon-am i adding to or taking away? a moon divided or one finding ways to hold together? wondering…

it's an old moon. we all become old moons eventually.

it’s an old moon. we all become old moons eventually.

I am dyeing more indigo cloth, more moons, more threads to hold things together. I am stitching indigo mooncloths in the evenings and in-between times.

shop links:
moons and more moons
indigo cloth packs
threads
and for those who are interested in dyeing their own:
online indigo workshop

waiting for the thread to dry…

…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today.  Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed.  As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment.  My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful.  I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed.  It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
indigo vatAs a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it.  This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat.  There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse).  My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work.  That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.

I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet.  I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one.  I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.

Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter.  This may not even be a quilt. It is something.

So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one.  I will say that if you define a quilt as:

“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”

-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all.  Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.

moon

I think the thread may be dry now.

weaving across colors and then some

Some things take a long time to figure out.  I wondered about this quite some time ago while participating in one of Jude’s classes.  Then I set it aside. Recently while working on something new, I realized exactly what this was for.  And now I’m wondering again. Getting into the Spirit of things.
woven moon

patched up and mending

I figure at this point it will be easier to do a blog post than respond to folks individually regarding the goings on here the past couple of weeks.

Turned out that in a follow-up xray for the pneumonia that plagued me from Yosemite through Houston something odd was spotted on one of my ribs that required a follow up CT.  This revealed that yes, indeed, something odd was growing on one of the ribs.  Chances were a tumor and being unable to needle biopsy it, removal was the best course of action.  So a couple of nights in the hospital between Christmas and NY.  All went well and final results should be back this week.  Even though the surgeon doesn’t seem like a betting sort of fellow he actually told me that “99% chance” is that it is benign.  I’m holding out that NY bottle of champagne for that final confirmation.

A couple of things.  It hurts! They did some sort of surgical nerve block thingy which permanently cuts a section of nerves to reduce pain. Thankful for that!   I guess without it I might just drive someone crazy (r). I don’t react well to strong painkillers (nausea) so have some codine with tylenol that takes the edge off.  Everyday brings a change.  Today being better than yesterday! I will be fine.  Eventually. I am up and around. I have a couple of friends going through much much tougher crap than this and I know I am incredibly fortunate. I salute their strength and persistence!

We also had a fun day at the ER on Christmas as Amma (Icelandic for Grandma) fell and broke her ankle, cracked her head and ribs. This was a couple days before my hospital visit.  She is all OK -light break, head staple (out now) and ribs painful but improving.  Main issue is she can’t go home. She lives in a 2nd floor apartment so she is here for the next 6 weeks for sure.

Boy, when things change, they change!! The boys have cycled in and out to help but Phil is here full time to do the heavy lifting. I am indeed lucky as he is patient and a good caretaker-sometimes bossy but i’m told i’m difficult (imagine that!). So for those asking about their orders, things are a little slower than usual.  But still moving along.  After all, hospital bills must be paid along with the usual bunch.
So, moving on…
The dogs and cats have never been so happy to have so many lounging around! Bella likes nursery rhymes with kittens in clothes- a gift from meagan from my childhood kitten fetish-revisiting…

bella

and there has been time for me to enjoy Donna’s book-

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

I even pulled out one of my favorite collected pieces to look at-I don’t think I’v shared it here (at least not in many many years). this is the inside of a silk velvet cape. special kasuri silk weaving with supplemental metallic threads. it’s a marvelous thing.  every now and then i just pull it out to gape at its glory and finger its textures.
rusched silk velvet collar inside kasuri

Then one day I played with more of the gridded fusible that Carmen Geddes sampled me. I used it for a beaded ribbon embroidery piece I’m still working on but wondered how it might work to tame the ribbon into a more traditional use.  Maggie was always after me to do something like this.  Carmen was kind enough to also send me her booklet which featured a photo on the back of her and her 9 sisters.  I realized why her business is called TenSisters.  Quite the sweet photo! Wow, imagine ten sisters!  In grabbing that link I just read that there were also 7 brothers!!  Oh my! I’m looking forward to meeting her this coming year at Houston where she will be applying her skills to silk in the Silk Experience classroom.

nine patch-

nine patch-

nine patch detail

silver gold silver gold- for some reason I had never done this combo until one of the Italian designers requested it.  I can see how they will enjoy working with this colorway in their jewelry

and because I always enjoy the ghost colors that come up in the discharge process of certain base colors.  they are those colors that appear halfway up the pleat and don’t get drowned out by the overdye.  not all colors have this aspect.
ghost colorsand one more…gore-tex!  in place of that pesky rib I now have some medical Gore-Tex patching me together. kinda cool stuff. inert in the body -like silk.  I have really integrated textiles into my life!

By Abrev improved picture impression (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Abrev improved picture impression (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


I have to add a couple more stories here. Not too long ago I received a thank you email from a gal who had been buying scrap bags pretty regularly. She wrote to say that she wanted to thank me for the ribbon and the dragonfly pattern as she was able to retire a size-able medical bill by making and selling the shibori ribbon dragonfly pins.  she also worked up a butterfly design as well and both had contributed to freeing herself from this burden and she was doing well.  How great is that?

Then, the afternoon of my surgery I was resting in my room and received a wonderful new years note from Wendy with a child’s thank you for some of my pieces that are used in her therapy work.  She told of coming to know the color blue even though she can’t see it and the way she maps life through the textiles. Who is healing who here?