A while back I hosted a zoom workshop where participants and I refashioned a kimono into a more easily wearable garment by shortening and removing sleeves.This project leaves you with some fabric to use later. One of the pieces I reworked was a wonderful hemp unlined summer kimono that was kasuri woven with a wonderful 40’s or 50’s design like meisen. This very bold and colorful piece is now wearable as a lightweight over-jacket. The leftover cloth was set aside until now. I did a little test to see if I liked it to start out the January moon circle. I LOVED IT! wow…what fun. Laying out the cloth for the moons, each one is uniquely fun! Being a bit of an open weave I wondered if the indigo would leak a bit into the moon-it didn’t. And the cloth took the dye beautifully without completely overwhelming the design. Each of course is a bit different.
The other smaller moon this month is indigo dyed onto some beautiful silk jacquard I had been stingily hoarding since I was at the end of the bolt. It has a delicate chrysanthemum (kiku) pattern on a slightly off white (natural) silk. The weight is light- like for a nagajuban (silk under kimono).
While you can join the moon circle anytime, if you want the January moons featured here you need to sign up prior to Jan 30. Thanks to everyone who is currently subscribed and especially to those who joined for a second time!
The madder I dug is still drying since it’s been so wet here lately. Maybe it will figure in February or March moons. It’s still cold here (for us!) we’re lucky if it gets to 60 and the nights are in the low 40’s. The garagio is still cold and wet! Looking forward to the forecast of ten sunny dry days ahead! Hopefully we will continue to get some rain in the next couple of months. I hope to get at some of the weeds outside. There is a forest of cassia seeds sprouting! Yikes!
On another note, I got up at 2 AM on Tuesday to hear Nobue Higashi’s sericulture lecture on Zoom. It was very interesting! I saw a mulberry field machine that helps pick the mulberry. It claims to be able to do the work of 10 people in collecting mulberry for feeding the silkworms. She also mentioned and showed some images of a machine that is kind of like a ferris wheel for silkworms. As the bins of worms circulate, feeding is easily done to many worms in a smaller space. I understand that the reason these are not in wide use these days is that the parts are not available to repair them when they break down. Hirata san and I once visited a sericulture farm about ten years ago that used this method. It was interesting and I have since wondered why it’s not used more. She also had a nice section on the commercial hatching and raising of the young silkworms (before they are distributed to the farmers). I knew about this but had never seen the inside of these facilities. If you are interested in this lecture series, you can still sign up (see last post for details).
I’m really looking forward to meeting up with Nobue and all the artisans along our way on the Silk Study Tour to Japan in May. Join us?
Enter friends, into the New Year. The Year of the Rabbit.
Tsuki no usagi “HOW A RABBIT REACHED THE MOON:
One night, the Man on the Moon came down to earth disguised as a beggar. He chanced upon a Fox, a Monkey, and a Rabbit (usagi) and asked for some food. The Fox brought him fish from a stream, and the Monkey brought fruit from the trees, but the Rabbit could only offer grass. So he told the beggar to build a fire, and when it was built, threw himself onto the flames to offer himself to the Man. Amazed by the Rabbit’s generosity, the beggar transformed back into the Man on the Moon and pulled the Rabbit from the fire. To honor the Rabbit’s kindness, the Man on the Moon carried the Rabbit back to the moon to live with him. Now, if you look at the full moon, you can see the outline of the Rabbit pounding mochi on the moon.”
To all the moon makers, pathfinders, and wonderers… 明けましておめでとう! Akemashiteomedetō! Happy New Year! (December moons are running a bit late but include some stitching inspiration for the New Year of the Rabbit.)
I have some thoughts entering into this New Year 0f 2023. Some of those thoughts include words like C O N T I N U I N G, G E N T L E K I N D N E S S, L O V E, H U M O R & H E A L I N G. These are just words, but words can become thoughts and thoughts can become actions and direction. We are all still here in this C I R C L E of G E N T L E K I N D N E S S, L O V E, H U M O R & H E A L I N G. .
Perhaps you have also had a life adorned by C R A F T. Craft is an embellishment that has adorned my life. It’s been a steady companion throughout. It has offered a respite from difficult times as a child, a relief from everyday anxiety as an adult, and a comfort when a moment of focussed meditation is needed. We can stitch a hole in the fabric of our life that needs healing with a needle, thread, and a little cloth. We can encourage ourselves to head in a positive direction.
In this New Year, I will continue to note (not control) the measure of my days. All days are not measured the same. I continue to hold the circle gathered and to listen.
A new Gathering will begin soon. (ha! just as I wrote this, three black cats entered the yard right outside the window here. Not the gathering I was thinking about, but just the local black cats that seem to want to hang out together! One DOES actually live here!) This one below lives next door and has taken over the dog’s new upstairs bed as her own. A little NY humor…
it’s the Captain…
Next up will be some new offerings for 2023, and more about the 2023 Silk Study Tour to Japan in May! But now to go and finish with the December moons…
Why is it I can’t get to writing blog posts the way I used to?
Part of it is because I let too much time pass between them and then I get to feeling overwhelmed by all that I want to communicate in a post so I put it off. But today’s the day! Another part of it is that so many other things are demanding my time and mental space at the moment. Have you ever written ballot arguments for measures appearing in an upcoming election? Walked for a candidate? Worked on social media to get a good candidate out there? Involved yourself organizing and researching issues for a community and candidate? It’s a lot of mental space. Paying attention to your local politics is important since many want to move up in the ranks and we can’t afford to have unethical people running our cities-regardless of party. City governments need to remain nonpartisan!
Ongoing here is is a series of Power Alerts- meaning residents are asked to reduce electricity use during our current heatwave. Heat always saps my energy and usually my work happens outside-in the heat. We close the nights cool air in the house and pull the shades during the day to preserve coolness. We rarely use the AC this way but there are times when it gets to the upper 90’s that I succumb to the need-keeping the thermostat at 80. It’s also not cheap! I’m doing more inside work today and for the next three days. Additionally- we are getting ready for a 2 week ban on outdoor watering. There is a major pipeline repair that will be underway on a pipe that supplies water to a large part of Southern California. Hopefully the weather will cool down and give us a little help but that’s a big if. Deep watering my critical trees, filling my rain barrels to water only the the most sensitive plants over the next two weeks. I’ve pulled all the veggie garden and won’t plant again until late fall due to all this. Hoping for cooler weather and a little rain this fall. Fire alert is HIGH!
I am thankful we have water at all…Jackson Mississippi. I am thankful to be closer to the coast…inland temps in the 100’s-110- only cooling to 90 at night! I am thankful not to be in a high fire danger zone. Currently Castaic area is burning. I am thankful we have electricity and are only asked to cut back. (Conserve for the greater good!) I’m thankful my 35 year old Volvo passed smog yesterday so it can be registered! Sad though that my beloved mechanic is calling it quits this week. He was a 240 enthusiast and specialist. He was devoted to keeping these cars on the road in good condition. So far this 35 year old car has retired two great Volvo mechanics!
In shibori news… I’ve sent off a shibori ribbon order to Michelle at Fundametals which she will have listed soon in her shop. I finally got FedEx to settle a claim on a lost order to France after it disappeared in mid June. Jeeze. An ordeal- but finally over. August moons were all sent- a little later in the month than usual and they were HOT! Hope you all liked them. I only managed to screw up a few by double shipping some due to a label printing error but that’s better than someone not getting theirs. Better to overship than undership! I hate it when people are unhappy with me. I always work to make it right for them.
Also, playing around with some hotaru (dragonfly) stencils and various stitching…
September moons will involve natural dyes- seems appropriate being a harvest month. I’ve collected quite a bit of the feathery senna seed pods and due to the heat, my fermentation indigo vat is really kicking! I will be combining those two this month. One silk and one cotton. I’m working it out now. The iron vat needs a little attention but will get to that in good time.
We are inching closer to taking deposits for the 2023 Silk Study Tour. Japan is starting to relax their restrictions a LITTLE. Thinking is that by next May we will be able to resume. Dates for the tour are 5/11-5/26 2023. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, enjoy this end of summer post by Meiji Showa Old Photos of Japan about musical insects!
I didn’t mention it last post because I was still too sad about it but crazy cat Moose was taken back and moved by his “real” owners. He had been part of the daily scene here for a year, sleeping in our bed at night and by my side or harassing my own cats here by day. He was a royal PITA but we loved him and took care of him. He didn’t want to live with his owners. He was a fighter and a misfit. I hope he is OK.
We miss him every day but I do have to say that OUR cats and the neighbor cats DO NOT! They have resumed their places as top cats and I can’t blame them. Pictured here is the Captain, next door cat that spends most of the day here but goes home at night. He is Kuro chan’s buddy who has resumed sleeping in the shade on the surfboards where moose use to dominate. They look alike and the easiest way to tell them apart is by Kuro’s ragged ear and Captain’s saucer eyes
A fruitful month here in the garden yielded a delicious cantaloupe, some grapes from a neighbor, and a bunch of pomegranates I still have to get out there and pick so I can juice them. Later, when it cools off. Lemons are done for now but limes getting ripe. I just went outside for a minute and the high predicted heat has not materialized- at least so far for today it hasn’t hit 90 yet.
And then there are the ginko nuts…ginnan in Japanese. Probably the most I have ever seen & way more than I can use with not many takers. If you are local and want some, let me know! They are currently in the “stinky phase”. The heat is baking the outside smelly part and hastening the process. Once the outside has sloughed off I will collect and process what I can. Google eating ginko nuts for ideas…. There are plenty for the squirrels to stash away for the “winter” here. They too, are waiting out the stinky phase.
And then the night blooming cactus. It has produced many evenings of 100+ blooms. The bees were in heaven and now with fruits ripening high up the purple finches are having plenty of sweet, juicy, seedy eats.
I’m finishing up details on upcoming workshops so look for that next post. It won’t be so long…
I decided to add to my indigo vat swatch card by swatching each of the three vats (chem , fermentation, and ferrous) at the end of the daylong indigo shibori workshop.
The vats all got a good workout by the six participants.
The chem vat degraded the most. It will need a complete tuneup! The fermentation vat held fairly steady but will need some rest and perhaps some bran. The blue is a bit lighter and noticeably grayer.
The ferrous iron vat held up the best with less loss of color. I might actually prefer it’s current state more than it’s original state. Seems like a nicer range of blues.
All three dips (on both occasions) were one minute.
In addition, the following day’s stitching workshop was a lot of fun. Getting people inspired to learn something new and create something beautiful is always satisfying.
One of the stitching samples I showed included a strip woven cloth with an indigo moon. Several participants wondered how it was done so I did a quick demo. They couldn’t wrap their mind around it in the beginning but then the “aha!” moment arrived. I always love that.
I’m wondering about how much work it might be to do a woven moon for the moon circle. If I do, it might be a one moon month…
I’m spending my time this week organizing for the upcoming workshops and pulling together teaching samples. There are many and I’m displaying them around the work space.
Also, finishing up a couple of things as inspiration for what one can do with the pieces that will be worked on during the dye and stitch sessions. Here is a bag I just finished with one of them. The exterior is all vintage and the interior lining is recycled. It’s really fun to give cloth a new life and make it into something “new” and useful. Another in the series of “Carry the Moon” bags I have made over time.
I’ve got a few things to clear off the decks today (Saturday) -like a couple shibori ribbon scrap bag orders, the last stragglers of the July moon circle cards, and some computer email communications. If you are reading this and are in any of the August in-studio workshops, you would have received the last details on attending the workshops and have been asked to reply and confirm. About half of you have-THANK YOU! The others have been emailed twice so far with no reply. I will do so once more and cross my fingers! Other than that, I will take time and try to search you out via social media and send you messages there. This all takes time that I really do need for other things… help a girl out and reply to your email confirmations! Thx…
“Other things” include tracking down a FedEx return from France that has been “on the way” for 30 days now! This order seems to have a curse on it. If you recall, I had sadly and mistakenly sent the wrong colors to a customer in France. We resolved the issue by my remaking the correct order and reshipping it while at the same time issuing a return label to have the wrong order returned to me. Package never returned after being picked up by FedEx at the customers location (and this only after several calls to fedex to go get the package). Fedex is now looking for it after weeks of me calling to check on it. Fedex shipping internationally is no joke either ($$$) so not only am I out the ribbon, I have spent hundreds in shipping to get it back. Yikes! It is going to take more time to resolve this and likely not in my favor. I will persist! Never before had a problem like this with FedEx. We shall see…
BUT- in today’s mail, I received these two beautiful embroidered silk moths from an artist in the Ukraine. So delicate and beautiful! I’m working on a piece that involves silk in all its permutations and these will be a lovely addition to it. I came across them through one of my Japanese sericulture contacts on Twitter.
Plus, I will be back to the Japanese American National Museum in early November with a workshop. stay tuned for details!
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!
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!
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?
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.
Lots of thoughts rumbling around here since the last post. This is gonna be a longer post, so settle in.
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.
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…