We are officially one day two days (taking me longer to finish this post!) past the Spring Equinox and that means more light than dark. Regardless of what the clocks say, I regard this as a celebration of light! Every day I read the daily entry from my well worn copy of Hal Borland’s Book of Days and today’s entry is profound and meant so much more than the words on the page might have originally intended. It got me out early in the garden to do some work on the soil in one of my vegetable beds that I have been wanting to do and the timing is perfect. The action was like a prayer to the Universe. I’ll share the entry with you…
The action/prayer for today was to screen several buckets from the compost bin that have been fully rendered into a beautiful dark loam and teeming with earthworms. I added this to the next vegetable bed I intend to plant. I dug and forked and mixed until my back said enough and left it so the many earthworms could retreat into their darkness. Many seeds have been planted and have already sprouted with their own promises of miracles. I’ve been planting them out little by little. (There are already flowers on some of the tomato transplants!)
Speaking of the food of life (one cannot exist solely on tomatoes, greens and garlic!), there is other studio work to be done. Here I tend to the “soil” of my work by planting the seeds and giving them nourishment. I’m listing two workshops today for August. These dates are chosen to be convenient for those who are coming to the Long Beach Quilt Festival should visitors want to take advantage of being geographically convenient to me. Of course this is not limited to show attendees! Please see the listings below for details. Several people have been emailing me for workshops and I’ll start with these since people are making their travel plans now and registering to attend the festival. I also working on a couple of other workshop opportunities that will happen before then- both online and in person. Of course everything continues to be premised on staying and keeping us all healthy!
March moons are all sent out- there are even a few extras if anyone wants to start their subscription with March…I now sort fabrics to find the canvas for April moons…also known as the Pink Moon, not for the color pink but for the pink phlox flowers that bloom in April. There are other names for the April moon and almost all are associated in one way or another with the end of Winter and the changes that Spring brings. I think some vintage silk might be where I begin as April is also when sericulture season begins in Japan. The mulberry farmers are tending their fields and noticing the new growth sprouting out. Soon, they will be hatching out the silkworm eggs…
I have also been doing a little stitching on a piece I started a while back which resurfaced while cleaning up some fabric stacks…it’s another cover for a pillow. The “MHNMC” Moose, has been taking advantage of the new window work table setup so he can harass the cats outside (who live here) from inside THEIR house. I got a kick out of my grandson when he was here and I called the cat “Moose”. He said, “Nana, that’s NOT a moose, it’s a CAT!”. He thought it was the silliest thing ever to name a cat Moose. I did not name this cat. I have no idea why he is named Moose. It’s on his collar. He’s obviously familiar with the Give a Moose a Muffin books. Always was a favorite way back when his dad was youngster. Glad to see these things repeat themselves.
Back to the workshops… I finally got them into the shop!
One is an indigo shibori workshop and the other is an inspired by cloth stitching workshop. So whether or not you will attend the Long Beach Quilt Festival or not, you are invited to sign up! My mind is already swirling with ideas!
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.
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.
The collecting of the cloth, the growing of the dye stuffs, the wondering about it all. Going at it a little bit at a time as I can, seasonally and intentionally.
Finally, I have enough to make a small offering.
kakishibu and indigo
pomegranate and indigo
These four collections of color herein contain a certain sense of place. This place is here in my yard. The pomegranate, the persimmon (kakishibu), and the madder (a new and exciting venture). The added indigo is from my nearly 5 year old natural fermentation vat. (I did not grow indigo this year due to drought conditions but look forward to once again if we get some decent rain.)
freshly dug madder root- two years to get here!
Pomegranate peels for the dyepot
pomegranate fruit ripe and ready!
green persimmons fermenting before being strained and aged for kakishibu
Each packet contains fabrics (mostly silks) collected in Japan. Even the cottons are mostly from kimono linings. All are perfectly imperfect and have their own sense of time and place about them. Each packet contains a moon- a reminder that we are united and some silk thread with which to stitch these thoughts together.
I instruct you to look, really look at these fabrics as you open the packet. The hand of the weaver is visible in many. The needle marks from unstitching and the loose threads tell tales. I tore many of the lengths selvedge to selvedge- in an effort to get you to notice the edges.
Only 4 each of the 4 collections. For now, in the shop.