of service

being of service

with all the stories in the news these days about people in need, corporate excesses, dysfunctional government, abuse of power, and more- i am reminded each time i serve “the tiny masters” how important it is for those who have the power (ie money,control, and mulberry leaves) to have compassion and make sure that the gap is not too wide.

each time i clear the frass from the trays of caterpillars there are those who, for whatever reasons have not made it to the top of the pile and need a little extra help to continue on. that might mean i move them by hand, give them a little more time, and save the tenderest leaf tips for them. sometimes, no matter what i do a few don’t make it but in the end i know i made the effort. and in the very end, most will spin a cocoon.

each time i raise a batch of silkworms, i realize how dependent they are on me to collect fresh leaves each day for them, to keep their trays cleared of frass and worm poop, to keep them at the correct temperature and humidity. their very lives depend on all of it. and if i succeed, they will spin large lovely cocoons in return for my efforts.

time for a little reflection…

i have been recently studying Utagawa Hiroshige‘s ukiyo-e and really enjoying his work. the moon appears in many of them and i was inspired to do a few
small (7×14 ish) indigo pieces. kind of a continuing on of the moon pieces i’ve been doing. along with transparency, i think reflections will figure into some of the upcoming pieces. we can use a little more of both as far as i can tell.

reflections on an indigo moon

i’ve really been enjoying this.

silkworm samba

the silkworm cats are really starting to grow now. i started with 500 regular eggs and 200 reverse (striped). the reverse should spin golden cocoons which will be interesting. in the end though, it doesn’t matter the color of the cocoon as the color is in the sericin which is ultimately removed when silk is processed.

reverse cats at 2 weeks

a neighborhood tree generously gives its leaves to feed the tiny masters.

i can’t wait to hear Noriko Furukawa’s lecture in houston- it’s all about silk in your life. here is something you can do with silk cocoons.

a little shop update-indigo sky and more

i’ve put a few new things in the shop this morning..
(go straight to the shop and view all new items on one page)

mainly, some indigo sky fabric: 4 -1/2 yard cuts of cotton lawn sky. each comes with a little indigo silk sky as a thank you.

sky on cotton lawn

also, some more silk shibori ribbon combo packs each comes with a clip of one of the new organza ribbons

3 borealis baby!

and some indigo diffusion organza ribbon with an indigo solid blue sky ribbon to match. i’ve been experimenting with indigo a bit. wondering and what-iffing. something new…
included just for fun is a silk cocoon i raised last time

shiborigirl indigo organza ribbons

also, one of the carry the moon bags remains. these are really special-one of the favorite things i have made i think. i’m really looking forward to keeping one for myself out of the next batch. i will also add that i like making practical things that can be used every day. this is one of those things.
wrapped in something special.



i am making more to take to houston. i will be in booth 903 next to my friend jennifer who has some pretty fantastic vintage ribbons and across from helen gibb of flower and ribbon fame herself! i think we will have a ribbon and silk party! flowers too~
my houston class schedule is:
~monday october 31 all day shibori dye class (and indigo too)
class # 110 9am-5pm still a few openings
~wednesday november 2 fashioning fabrics in silk-flowers & insects class #243 9am-12 noon-
sign up here at the Quilts Inc site.
even if you don’t get into one of the classes, come visit the silk experience room during the lunch break to see what the silk experience teachers have to offer. we usually try to have someone in the room and available during that time.

folks are still adding themselves to the group for the high desert silk experience.

on the horizen~ the JANM has asked me to add a two-day workshop in january (the 21st & 22nd). this in addition to the one already scheduled in march.

and here’s today’s photo of the tiny masters:
day 4

tiny masters day 4

many moons (and kittens) ago

i was recently reminded of a time in 1969, when humans first landed and walked on the moon. being all of 11 at the time and back in the US for a brief “home leave” visit from Japan, i visited and spent the night with a friend and her family on that very day. but it was more than a moon landing and walk on the moon that made that day so momentous in my 11 year old mind.

my friend’s cat was having kittens. lots of kittens. 11 eventually, and we named them all after the astronauts, the moon, apollo (of course) and anything else we could think of related to that day.

when i think back on it, we must have seemed out of our 11 year old minds really. running back and forth down the hallway from the living room where the tv was broadcasting images of the moonwalk, to the back bedroom closet where kittens just kept streaming out. sliding on the wooden floors in our stocking feet us girls would scream, squeal and run back to the living room to report each arrival before running back to the closet to check on the next. we were running out of names!

i had never seen a live birth before and forever after i think of the moonwalk and that day on July 20th 1969 as a day of infinite possibilities.

so, with that memory in mind, i made up a few little indigo moon bags. some days, you just want to carry the moon around with you (just for memories-and other things too).

in -the shop now.

and speaking of births- 2 new batches of silkworms have hatched. remember the little moon marks the last ones had? i have once again become slave to the “tiny masters”-just for a while…


aiko has gone missing. or perhaps she’s just “on tour”. she was mailed over a month ago to wendy but has not reached her destination. we are hopeful still but if you see her, let us know!

she has work to do there…

aiko while gathering sansai...

post indigo blues

i love the early hours of the morning where everyone else still lives in their dreams, even the dog at my feet whose legs twitch, dogdreaming-perhaps running free, not at the end of a leash.

it gives me time to think, to make my morning coffee, read the paper and perhaps even write a post like this one here.

this morning though, i also have time to ponder the last two days which have been spent giving an indigo workshop here at my studio. as i drink this morning’s coffee, i look out on the just completed deck repair where we spent some of the time stitching, talking, and of course- wondering. all the blue that we hung at the end to get a bigger view of is gone, leaving me with the post-indigo blues.

my new moon friends

with everyone assembled, we took a look around the garden. within the first few minutes after they arrived, so did several beautiful hawks! the local crows and jays were laughing and waking the whole neighborhood and i looked up just in time to see a large beautiful hawk fly right over us from the two story cactus and into the alley behind. the hawks soared up and circled for several minutes while we watched. we don’t see them often in the neighborhood and never before have i seen them inside my yard. i captured a couple of pictures of one in the neighboring palm tree, feasting while crows screamed in the background.

hawk in the palm

there was also talk of feathers, and sky fabric, and spirit cloth in the making.

the 4 participants, karleen, mae, gerrie, and patty were a delightful group-full of wonder and enthusiasm in equal parts. three of the gals have taken many sessions from me at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) where i give workshops on a regular basis, the other had been in an online class with me. (in fact, there is another JANM workshop this coming saturday focusing on indigo where we will stitch dragonfly motifs among other things).

the four ladies -a retired firefighter, a painter, an apparel manufacturer, and a writer- enjoyed two days of exploring the vats at their leisure. my friend penny came by both days to assist and wonder with us. we spent the first morning getting to know each other, the textiles and the vats by making some swatch sheets.

swatch making

they had about a dozen or more various fabrics to work with so we made pages to help us remember.

one page was made to simply identify each fabric for later reference. the others showed how each fabric took the indigo dye with one and two dips in the vats.

no matter how you think you might remember it all, the memory has a way of fading, somewhat like the indigo.

it was a beautiful indigo day

we explored many indigo and shibori traditions, stitching,
itajime, and arashi as well as some ombre dyeing. patty even brought some old kimono silk from the lining of an old kimono that had been taken apart and she designed and dyed it to use for a garment she will make. it will be beautiful. everyone made many moons, the indigo and orange moons being the most popular i think. where ever i give a workshop we make moons together and i gain new moon friends. karleen seemed particularly keen on the board clamping and came away with a beautiful ombre piece over dyed with an itajime pattern.

a little itajime with ombre

gerrie and patty both made some large motifs on cotton flannel suitable for pillow shams and everyone did some larger scrim pieces they thought they might use for curtains.

in the end, everyone exchanged emails with promises to share the makings of their indigo fabrics and even left with intentions to meet again in Utah in february at the high desert silk retreat. some are even wondering if a visit to Japan in 2013 might be in their future… it was a wonderful indigo weekend!

and if that weren’t enough, my sensei in Japan sent me a note friday to express the following…the timing couldn’t have been better.
ぐれにす さん へ
ひらたさんから おくられてきました。
あめりかで すくもう が つくられていることを しり うれしい です。
これからは あめりかで どんどん ひろがって いくとおもいます。

she is happy to see the American’s interest in indigo rising like the moon. we both are.