Tag Archives: moons

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.

Naturally, Shibori Girl

I’ve been working at this for some time now.

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.

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.)

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.

Enjoy~