Category Archives: wondering

W o n d e r -and get WILD!

Ever w o n d e r how I make these beautiful silk shibori flowers? Now you can see and make one yourself!

This past month I have been streamlining the process of making fabric using silk organza for the new WILD Flower make-along workshop. One needs to be persistent in this process. There are lots of trials and paths to go down along the way, but in the end, with enough experimentation you can succeed! Every day is a new day to go at it again! I’ve enjoyed all the wondering and experimenting.

The silk undergoes a multi-faceted process of hemming, base dyeing, discharging, wiring, and finally pole wrapping, overdyeing and steaming. There is also some ironing in between steps. It’s taken me a bit to determine the best width of the silk, the best wire to use (for the result I am seeking), how far to discharge, the best way to add the wire, the colors to offer, before I even get to preparing the listing.

Not all the colors are photographed in the listing but you can choose from the drop down menu and trust my sense of color and dye skills. I’m working all week to get the fabrics and kits ready and may add more colors and photos as I can. But I needed to get the listing up so you can choose colors and dates that work for you.

This will be a fun Zoom workshop where you will be able to make-along with me! I’ll show you ways you can alter my basic design as well as ideas on how to use the fabric in different ways.

There are two dates scheduled and you can attend one or both! Registrants will be able to access a temporary 30 day video link of the demonstration portion of the workshop.
Two Zoom sessions will be available:
Saturday October 23
& Thursday October 28.
4-6 PM PST.

Each zoom session will start with working through the making of the flower with a Q&A half way through and at the end where you can show us yours. Only the demo parts will be recorded. (The Q&A portions will not be recorded. )

I made two separate listings -one for the workshop and materials kit and a separate one for extra kits. Add on a fabric pack of assorted green bits for leaves if desired.

All kits will be shipped by October 13. If you sign up after that, please choose Priority Mail during check out. (If you want your order to be insured), also choose Priority Mail) Otherwise it gets sent via First Class Mail.

So here are the two links:
WILD Flower Workshop and Materials Kit
and
WILD Flower Extra Material Kits

You can make one for yourself, a project, and extras for a heartfelt and handmade gift.

I’m really looking forward to this -it’s always fun to see everyone’s unique results and the path they take along the way!
I added an album to flickr (remember flickr?) of assorted silk organza flowers just for fun…
I also took some time to sort out all the blogs that are no longer current and add a few others that I like to visit over in the sidebar. It’s cool that some of us are still here and blogging after so many years! Enjoy!

and continuing…

This is what we do. Continue. Accept change. Adapt. Create and wonder. Make change. Be change…peacefully.
Today…

fermentation vat-about one year old…it’s a kind old vat that has been very forgiving. I kept my last one for about 4 years.

I add this here in case you are interested in why native plants are imperative for insects. I did not know HOW imperative until I read this book. In the future, I will be replacing any drought tolerant alien plants with natives. It seems obvious, but even though I’ve been gardening for decades, there is always more to learn and wonder about. Also available on Audible if you have unused credits. Just a few monarch chrysalis’ left here. the ladybug nymphs have pupated (there were 100’s!!) and emerged as ladybugs, and the praying mantises have mostly gone off to create their ootheca. Still seeing beautiful swallowtails though.

The praying mantis on the sunflower was there for around a month. One night Phil found her eating one of her male suitors. The next morning she was mating with (perhaps) a preferred choice. They were there the entire day and by evening only she was left and finally crawled away. I’m only seeing females in the yard now. Maybe all the males became snacks! I miss seeing her there everyday!

Also today, I worked on organza for the upcoming flower workshop kits. Got the fabric hemmed, dyed, ironed and wired. Next I will pleat, discharge, and dye it. I’m working out the materials for two different kits. I hope to have everything ready for the shop in about a week. A couple of the kits will be indigo dyed.

Captain, another cat who doesn’t live here (but thinks he does) has lately taken up millinery work at the flower making table.

No photos but my grandson was by today and we made “garden soup”. If you want the recipe:
-mint leaves
-sweet red mini bell peppers
-pomegranate arils
-basil leaves
-lemon grass
-dirt to taste
Mix all in a bucket with garden trowel. Enjoy!

wondering in and around our local backyards…

Unless you just started following this blog last week, you probably know that aside from shibori, dyeing and silk, my other pleasure is gardening. This post is NOT about shibori, or dyeing, but isn’t everything connected?

Summer vegetable gardening is in full swing here- picked the first zucchini and tomatoes last night and made a beautiful and delicious casserole with them for dinner. Had to use store bought onions and garlic but those are going to be harvested soon as well.

it happened before i got to finishing this post!

Something has been simmering in the back of my mind this past year as I watch the California powers that be (and that generally means the $$$ powers in real estate development who fuel politics) gradually chip away at any and all open space by filling our urban area with much denser spaces- both residential and commercial development, without creating a balance of open space like parks, preserves, and community garden spaces. Not only are they building denser multi story residential buildings, cities and the state are allowing- in fact encouraging, increased density on single family home lots with minimal open space required.
As a home gardener for over 40 years, I feel this loss for future families and the environment. Gardening connects us to Nature, to our Earth, and maybe most importantly, to ourselves. It grounds us. As I wander in my little backyard oasis watching the birds, bees butterflies and other insects I wonder how much longer they will continue to have backyard habitats. A mindful gardener is a temporary keeper of the land they work, be it a small farm,orchard or a raised bed garden in their backyard or community garden. Small gardens are habitats for myriad birds, insects, and peaceful contemplation. A “habitat for the contemplative mind” if you will. Gardens provide food and beauty for ours and our neighbors tables.

I wonder what will happen when generations of humans have lost this connection not just to nature, but to the processes that teach us where our food comes from (and I don’t mean the grocery store-or even the farmers market)? Yes, we will probably (hopefullly) still take trips to visit nature on vacation, but will it be accessible out our back door or down the street? For many, it already isn’t there. And for many, vacations are something one dreams of.

I wonder how concerns for our environment will fare when people are disconnected from the soil that they can dig and run through their hand? What will be the tipping point for all this?

Even in urban areas like the one I live in, there are rivers (long ago cemented in) and wetlands (cruel fodder for continued oil extraction ($$$) and groups fighting for the very life and last breath of these valuable spaces. The local pols throw meatless bones in our direction hoping to satiate the majority through their next election funded by the very developers robbing us of these open spaces. Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) are avoided by both developers and our city, in favor of lesser mitigated negative declarations assuring us that the harm they do won’t affect us….much. There are solutions- solutions that cost extra $money and mean less profit. Decades of promised river plans bulldozed by the very pols that 20 years ago, used those promises in speeches to voters that fueled their slick campaigns.

I can’t say where this ends…but I see people out walking in this very neighborhood pass by my house and I can hear them say “Wow! I’ve never seen how artichokes grow!” or “is that how onions grow?”. If only they saw the back yard…

Cheers to the following Long Beach groups and their continued persistence in tilling the soil in their dogged and valiant efforts to educate and preserve enough nature and environmental quality for us here in our urban city so future generations have access to nearby places where we can co-exist in partnership with the very thing that keeps us physically and spiritually grounded.
CARP-Citizens About Responsible Planning
“Promoting the quality of life in the City of Long Beach through involvement and education in the greater Long Beach area.”
HUSH2/LBNF- Long Beach Neighborhoods First
To educate the citizens on environmental, social, and health impacts of policies and actions proposed by public officials or private entities on land use, transportation, and redevelopment efforts impacting our neighborhoods.
LBRC-Long Beach Reform Coalition
“The Long Beach Reform Coalition is a local, non-partisan umbrella organization and political action committee that promotes and supports public policies, laws, and candidates toward the goal of a transparent, accountable, and inclusive government.”
RPC-RiverPark Coalition
“Our vision is a healthier, happier environment for communities within the watershed of the lower Los Angeles River revitalization zone.”
Long Beach Chapter Sierra Club
” Exploring and enjoying nature is a healthy, happy way to live.”

I know most of my readers here are not from anywhere near this local area but I do know that many of the places you come from are feeling the pressures exerted on your own local habitats and environmental quality of life. I hope that you have organizations in your cities, towns and regions standing up for Nature, our World, and that you choose to participate with your involvement as you can. All are in need of funding, participation, and assistance.
Check out your local area groups and stay involved!


Milo and Neko chan

It’s been 15 years here on the blog and almost just as long Milo the cat has appeared here and there. I went back and searched posts (he started appearing in early 2008) and found many photos and mentions that even I had forgotten about. He has been a steadfast companion all this time and during this past year he even insisted on making appearances on zoom too. It was with a heavy heart that we had to put him to sleep a couple of weeks ago. I was just too sad to post about it and even now… we miss him dearly.

On an upbeat note, we got our second vaccination last week and all was well-even without any side effects at all other than a sore arm for one day. May 5th will be our two week mark. I am hoping that more and more people choose to get vaccinated so we can begin to congregate more and see fewer people fall ill. I’ve barely seen my nearby grandson who will turn two next month this entire year. I know many of you have also missed seeing dear ones. While people in many other countries are literally dying for a vaccine, people here are saying “no thanks, I’m good”. Astounding. Here in LA, even the police are only 50% vaccinated (while having access for months now) leading one to believe they are choosing to remain unvaccinated while working with the public! Even Japan seems determined to have a summer olympics against all reason with only a 1% vaccination rate and rising infection rates.
And India! Such suffering…

Ok…moving on.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been going through some of my collected Japanese fabrics as well as cleaning out a cupboard or two. In one of the cupboards I found an old hand stitched cat doll my grandmother had made. It is so basic, yet with a lot of personality. Made with what looks like a cotton toweling and red thread it seems to have been an exercise in hand sewing practice. The face and her name are drawn on with a (now faded) marker of some sort. Interestingly, in one place where the stitching came undone the material that was used to stuff the piece was showing. It is stuffed with women’s nylons. Since nylons were not available commercially to women until around 1940, I had to reassess who/when this little cat was made. So either my Nana made this for my mom (maybe a class?) or my mom made it and for some reason my Nana’s name was written on it for identifying purposes. My mom would have been around 10 in the early ’40’s. Nana was born in 1901. Both Nana and mom loved cats. This little guy is probably about 80 years old…

Back to the fabric sorting/organizing and I wondered…what if I made a little cat based on Nana’s cat? So I did. What if I made one for my grandson with some photos and a story? What if I made a pattern and a kit with instructions using some of the Japanese fabrics I have? And so it is… a quick and fun little project for a child or just the child inside us all. Added to the shop here.

The wisdom of the cloth

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

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

sorting and wondering

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

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

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

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

today is all about silk…

Today, I was distracted by silk and a new silk device I purchased from Two Looms Textiles-a tsukushi. They had acquired one some time back and were not using it so contacted me as a potential foster parent for the item. Happy to adopt and try it out! It arrived yesterday.

The first thing I did was to make some silk mawata caps. That did not go so well as I usually make the square mawata using my stand but from researching a bit saw that caps are preferred for making yuki tsumugi ito. Not a complete disaster but not exactly caps. Practice needed just like I did for the mawata.

I used them anyway for my first practices. The thread was too thick but I carried on. I found some caps I had brought back from Japan and tried them.

Much better! Fluffed them all out like I had seen online. I find there is a trick to putting them on the tsukushi so you can easily pull the fibers out to the desired thickness. The think with yuki tsumugi is that it is not twisted- it’s basically pulled out and sealed with spit. In the end, i was using a bowl of water as that seemed better.

I am not interested in ultimately making super fine threads like those which are used in the beautiful yuki tsumugi fabrics from Japan but something quite rougher and folkier like the fibers used to weave this bolt of cloth… yeah it’s a dream. But if you don’t dream, then what?

Here is another link I found.

Meanwhile in the garden, will be transplanting the tomato seedlings next week into 4″ pots. And, my seed potatoes arrived so I am preparing the raised bed where they will be planted. Will add some pole beans to the same bed when it’s time. (note to self, start seeds!)

three kinds…

and in the background of course….moons. I think I am going to make some special sets using only that fabulous silk cloth above. Like jude commented, the indigo is in love with that cloth.

( and by the way…the Daily Dyer is having an issue with my mobile app uploaded posts. Please be patient. I will reload that last post for the third time sometime tonight)

Focus?

This has been my daily undoing lately. Trying to focus when chaos swirls around me. After spending over a week now with an unruly computer, I now have it back to limping along so will take this moment to write a quick post. I had to wipe the HD and reinstall the OS and all the data from a backup. SO lots of resetting work and getting things back to where they were. Not sure it’s done yet as the same problem popped back up during the resetting so I’m expecting more computer trouble on the horizon. But in the moment it is working…

All the chaos of the last year leaves me wondering where the path even is. In what direction do I head? What purpose can I serve? Does what I do even matter (some days I do wonder about this!) ? Chaos seems to zap away my creative energy…
I know I’m not the only person experiencing this. I’m in good company.

After supporting myself for so long (over 40 years) I wonder-can I still do it? What if I can’t? What might that look like? With clearly 6-12 months more of COVID related challenges ahead of us, in-person workshops and shows are unlikely for the foreseeable future and even then, it won’t be like turning a switch back on. It will take time to rebuild. The planned 2021 Silk Study Tour to Japan is of course, cancelled. We have hopes for 2022 so I will refocus towards that.

Sometimes, focus is a matter of deciding what you are NOT going to do!

So just while I’m writing this the screen froze again. So clearly still having issues. Back to the shop it goes tomorrow. Let’s see if I can get a couple of things into my shop to help things out a bit before it completely dies off(crossing my fingers on this restart!).
I’ve still been keeping myself busy, though not really sure what I should be making! I’ve been shooting videos for the Daily Dyer on using the pleater and how I create the silk organza I use for the flowerwork. Again, I’m backed up on the videos due to the computer problems but hope to get more of them up in the next day.

In the meantime, I added a couple of flowers to the shop. I really love the white ones. Here, I am using pleated and dyed silk batting for the leaves. I think it adds a nice textural contrast to the organza.

I’ve also been doing a bit of indigo dyeing for a garment I want to make. In doing that, I selected and organized some of my indigo fabrics into project packs and added them to the shop. It’s been a while since I put these back into the shop. They are assortments of various silks and cottons dyed in varying shades of indigo. There are also a few packs of solid indigo cotton yardage dyed in the three shades using the fermentation vat.


On a side note, I watched some of the Yoshiko Wada shibori lecture videos and enjoyed seeing the work of the featured shibori artists there. I was reminded that I am really more of a commercial shibori craftsperson. Whenever I am creating, it is with an eye towards selling my work. It needs to be this way for me. So when I am experimenting with an idea, I am always wondering how I can use it in a commercial way. Can I improve the process to a point where it satisfies both my aesthetic goal as well as be manageable in the marketplace. I also realize that in the best tradition of Arimatsu shibori, shibori was a way to create a commercial product for a living! This is part of the shibori challenge for me. While beauty and quality craftsmanship is part of the desired outcome, utility remains key and with a eye towards the commercial aspect. And within that utility was a need to sell the work for a fair price for the handwork. I always admire the Japanese ability to innovate the process with this in mind. While much shibori rises to the level of art now, most who are making shibori these days do so as art or as a hobby, what I do is quite different- I made it my profession. I enjoy the challenge of that.

Another interesting Covid related activity- crafting zooms. A group of gals in California have been getting together to make up some of the items for which I offer free instructions. They order the kit, then make the item during their social zoom, screen sharing my video instructions! They have time to check in with each other while hand stitching their kits and helping each other out if needed. Each month they pick a different project. Great idea! If your group wants to do something similar and you want to invite me to pop into your zoom to answer any questions, let me know!

When my focus starts to fade, I take a trip out to the garden and see what is happening there. RIght now the most inspiring thing is the feathery cassia (Senna artemisioides) whose scent is at its peak. It has a little spicy scent -some days it can remind me of Necco wafers-remember those? The clouded sulfur butterflies flit all around and are laying their eggs there. I can always count on Nature to set me straight.

I really wish I could share the scent!
did you notice the butterfly at the top?

PHEW! Made it through the post without another freezing episode!

wondering into the new year…

Here we are. The last post here for the year.

I’m suffering from a poverty of words for the New Year.
I continue on in the studio as well as with the Daily Dyer blog. It’s quiet business-wise this year so I ponder what comes next. Maybe with this poverty of words, pictures might be the best…

And here are a few of the sillier things I learned during this year’s isolation …
*****
-I can’t believe I never learned to put chicken feet in my chicken soup until this year! (try it!)
-Planting seeds every week keeps me looking forward.
-I benefited from not being one to have my hair cut, colored or permed- I look basically the same!
-Same goes for manicures! My indigo blue nails worked just fine!
-Millions of women will probably give up bras and heels for good (at least on the daily).
-I can teach on Zoom! It’s fun and sometimes hilarious! (look for more in the coming year)
-I enjoy isolation more than most.
-I like wearing a mask when in public and washing my hands more (didn’t have a cold or the flu all year)!
-I do miss teaching in person workshops, especially at JANM.
*****

I wonder what others learned…

But on a more serious note…
I’m in sympathy with all the people who lost friends and family this year. Each day brings new losses. Today I read that 1 in every 1000 Americans died of covid or covid related illness this year. I had to look that up-to be sure. A very somber statistic with which to end the year. It simply cannot go unheeded. Add to that the related statistic that 1 in every 17 Americans have been infected with covid. I put that here as a reminder to myself of what kind of year this was-not that we are likely to forget, but as a marker of sorts- a solemn headstone for 2020.
May we all continue to carry on, to hold up those who are in need of holding, to console those who suffered loss, and to help heal those who face new life and health challenges going forward as a result. In reality, we don’t need to see the New Year roll over to accomplish these humane acts but it seems that the New Year is a celebration that can unite us in these thoughts, so I offer it here.

Seems I did manage to find a few words.
Travel well my friends. Continue to be courageous, kind, and creative into 2021.
Love to you all. And let’s keep looking up.

so it seems…

We have arrived to December. I have caught up with all the Kokoro order except one which will be finished in the next few days. Thank you to everyone who ordered with the Japanese American National Museum in mind. The largest amount of revenue they will receive from me came from subscriptions to the Daily Dyer.
The Daily Dyer got going this past week and can still be accessed if you are interested here. I enjoy the structure of it- now more than ever!

For those of you interested in shibori, you might take a dive into what Yoshiko Wada and Ana Lisa Hedstrom and others are presenting over on the Slow Fiber Studio website under Conversations. I just finished watching the presentation on arashi shibori and was intrigued by one of the historical patterns presented there. I liked a lot of the things that were brought up in regards to using different types of cloth in different ways. Also I agree with the fact that overall in shibori practice, your own particular circumstances whether it is in regards to space or financial limitations, shibori presents challenges to overcome and encourages solutions to be found. The endless possibilities of all that. This is one of the main things that has kept my interest in shibori going all these years.
I noticed that one of the things that was faintly mentioned in regards to some of the arashi shibori patterns that are twisted while pushing on the pole prior to dyeing is the grain of fabric. Whether you have wrapped the cloth on the straight of grain or on the bias makes a big difference in the outcome of the pattern. At least it does for me! Try it yourself and see. I discovered this many years ago while experimenting and although I haven’t done much of this type of shibori recently their presentation inspired me to make a few new samples to remind myself.

These were done with a fairly medium to lightweight linen in the newly restored indigo fermentation vat. Cloth wrapped on the bias was very easy to twist and create the puckers in the cloth needed to create a fairly regular pattern. The center example of fabric wrapped on the straight of grain was much more difficult to twist with any evenness and resulted in mostly stripes. Same cloth, same dye vat, same pole, same day…different result courtesy of the grain of fabric.

I’ve been saving up little swatches in a notebook of arashi samples and will add these. It’s fun to try to recreate old patterns because you often end up with something new while learning. The extra cloth will be used for moons and cards.
Have you noticed the moon lately? Here, it’s setting late in the morning now.

dearest friendlies…(part 1)

It’s been a rough week, month, year! So many ups and downs. I been telling myself I would write a blogpost almost every single day these past two weeks but…well I just couldn’t didn’t. I read your blogs, FB pages, twitter and a few books, and took lots of stitches.
First off, my dear friendlies, one of my favorite FB friends/writers/ NYC poet of life, Michelle Slater passed away. I never met her in person but here, through the blog when she began commenting many years ago. I think she came here via Spiritcloth as many of you have for so long (and even for some, more recently). We had so many wonderful exchanges over the years, through social media as well as the mail. She lived alone in a rent controlled apartment in Manhattan and gave us the gift of so many views of the city she had lived in for over 60 years. She also wrote a blog (actually several) filled with observations of life, photos, and poetry. Just reading the sidebar of her blog could change your life and worldview.
She commented on my blog many times over more than a decade and I will treasure each comment once more whenever I come back to one. In the years prior to our friendliness on FB, she gave me glimpses into her world as they related to mine in her comments but it was only 4 years ago she left me the following comment that told me even more about herself than i had known:

I’ve never made a living at what I’ve loved to do, neither in twenty years of Theater, another ten or fifteen in Film, video and photography, nor as a writer, nor painter, and I only dabbled in cloth. I could blame this on the fact that I somehow managed to eek out a living on the fringes doing this and that, or that I always worked for unpopular causes (feminism, peace, justice etc.), but the truth is I was simply never ambitious enough to pursue money, nor did I have the stick-to-it that’s needed, and now, at seventy three, I’m quite poor in the pocket book. Sometimes friends send gifts, my Social security and small pension from one 11 year position just manage to keep me in internet, phone, electric, and rent (blessedly low after many Landlord battles) and I even get some food aid from a Senior nutrition program. I’m able to go to doctors thanks to medicare basic, but not dentists. I had help to pay for two cataract operations from several generous friends as I live without credit cards. But my admiration for craft and those, like you who manage to somehow make it work is unbounded. The way the 21st Century is leaning into the automated and the digital, outsourcing and growth does look bleak…not to mention the awful political wrangling and the shameful wars…still, I believe that though the artists are as endangered as the polar bear and Minki whale, we persist in another dimension, and that’s as real as the space probes and the industrial glut. Love fuels the enterprise and it’s the best fuel ever to emerge from this earth enterprise.

Michelle in NYC

She was found in her apartment, apparently in her usual chair, when friends noticed she hadn’t posted for several days and wasn’t answering the phone. In my mind I imagine her setting up a new post with a fabulous link or video or simply typing “Goodnight dear friendlies” with a photo view out her apartment window as she did so often.
So here’s to you Michelle… Goodnight with gratitude my friend!
Link to the last video she posted…here.
And my original post (2016) where Michelle left the above comment.

other parts (2 and maybe 3 to follow). comment link is at the top of post.