Tag Archives: silkworms

a perfect storm & a little sayonara sale…

Even though I have a million things to do, I have to write this post! This morning I came across this video on youtube that answered a couple of my questions regarding processing my indigo- at least one approach.  And there is a good explanation of three sorts of indigo producing plants, how they differ and how to grow them.  It ends with a demo of processing the plant and collecting the indigo:

growing and processing indigo

Then, a lightbulb went off in my head…why was I putting the silkworm castings in the vegetable garden when I could oh so easily put them in the indigo patch where they would up the nitrogen level thereby producing more blue naturally?

A  perfect indigo silk circle.

Yesterday there was some fun interaction on the FB studio page regarding frass where I came to discover May Berenbaum…I’d love to meet her someday.  Here, she writes about frass. and here is an interesting podcast interview she did with scientific american.

frass

And for a little Sayonara Sale…typically in Japan, when one moves, one has a sayonara sale. That’s just the way they do it there. Also, a sayonara sale is a great place to pick up stuff you need when furnishing a new apartment. Check out the sayonara sale ads in the Tokyo craigslist. Garage sale- Japanese style.

Well I’m not moving in the classical sense but I thought it would be fun to have a sayonara sale prior to leaving to Japan. And besides, who couldn’t use a little extra yen on a 10 day trip to Japan? Not to mention keeping the bills paid up while I’m gone. Count me in-and maybe you too if you have been thinking about buying some scrumptious silk shibori ribbon. Here’s what I have to offer:

-packs of 6 one yard cuts of six different colors of pleated silk shibori ribbon. Dyer’s choice as far as the colors go but what color wouldn’t you want? Sayonara sale through Friday night only with the last order to ship Saturday. 6 yards for $60- in the shop now.

~and speaking of perfect circles…jude is gathering stones.

just dreaming…of indigo and Japan

Recent ribbon dyeing has kept me away from the indigo (but also keeping the bills paid-thank you!) but while I have been wrapping and dyeing, the indigo has been growing! It’s about a foot tall now.

Which leads me to wondering..as usual.  What if I harvested this indigo and set about composting it?  How will I compost it?  Apparently, it takes 100 days according to Rowland Ricketts.  He has completed construction of a composting shed (so cool!) but I have no such shed at my disposal nor will there be one.  But in usual Shibori Girl form, I will figure something out.  Perhaps in  a sort of Heath Robinson sort of way…

I understand that the floor of the shed is made of sand, rice hulls, and clay in order to draw moisture away from the composting indigo.  I imagine the shed maintains an even temperature and humidity and the floor draws a stable temp from the ground.  The shed provides protection from sunlight, rain, and wind- not to mention bugs and such things…I will learn more of what is required.

Now how to create such an environment here in the yard… I am wondering.

Also wondering- what if I were to dry the indigo leaves and just dump them into a fermentation vat?  I wonder where (not if!) this has been done before.

As always,  I may need to return to my source- Japan.  And it just so happens I am leaving on Monday for just such a trip.  To finalize details and make a few visits, see a few folks, and have a few meetings for the 2013 Silk Study Tour.  I have a lot on my plate!  Fortunately, I will see Sato-san as she is having an exhibition in Tokyo while I am there.  Before she started dyeing indigo she worked up north for several years for an indigo farmer.  I think she will have some answers to some of my questions and it will be so very good to see her again!  I will also meet a new sericulture farmer, a new natural dye master, test out a new ryokan, visit the Yokohama Silk Museum and meet with it’s former Director.  In Tokyo, I will be hosted by Makoto san who’s wife is a long time friend from Austin who always has a fantastic collection of Japanese and vintage fabrics at the Houston Quilt Festival each year.  I will also meet up with Masae whose family specialized in kanoko shibori for 4 generations out of Narumi, as well as with her friend Watanabe san and hope to hear more about the artist shop we visited last time.

A day at a temple sale, just to browse and do some wandering- good for the soul.  And back just in time to post the Indigo Mandala class!

Also looking to collect a few artifacts to be loaned for the upcoming Silk Exhibit at Quilt Festival this year-Experience Silk, Then and Now.  Did I mention this before?

The exhibit will include exceptional silk works from teachers, artists and authors prominent in the textile/quilt  world.  It is also out our aim to show silk “from moth to cloth”, featuring historical silk pieces, as well as educational displays of silk production.  The exhibit is in conjunction with the Silk Experience festival classes/lectures, sponsored by Quilts, Inc., and the Special Exhibits coordinators. The prime organizers of the exhibit include Maggie Backman, Glennis Dolce and Katrina Walker and a host of other Silk Experience volunteers.

In many ways we intend this silk exhibit to be a collaboration and partnership in the continuing goal of education, creativity, and commerce.


And, the silkworms are getting crazy-big-fat and healthy!! Have lined up my silkworm sitters who are excited to have them again.  They might even be starting to spin when I return! Did I mention Mawata Madness here already?  Come and work with some of my very own cocoons- from my very own 2nd generation! It’s the weird things that excite me…

Gotta go-out of fresh mulberry and the cats need feeding…

mata ne!

 

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.

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.

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…

thinking ahead-and wondering a bit

~just wanted to let you know i have added two pages here on the blog.
both require some thought, consideration and planning ahead so take your time to wonder a bit.
you can reach the new pages through the links below in this post or by clicking their links in the header above.

giant silk moth display from the Silk Center Takasaki, Japan


the first one is for the High Desert Silk Experience workshop/retreat in St. George Utah. a great opportunity to take some classes all about silk in a beautiful location. Signups are ongoing until Dec.1 or when the classes fill. i think we are about halfway there now…

the second page is for those of you who might want to consider joining us for the 2013 Silk Study Tour to Japan in May of that year. that might seem like a long way off, but planning ahead is the key to a successful tour.

in other news, i’m going to start raising a new crop of silkworms. hopefully, they will be the ones we will use in the workshop in UT to demonstrate the silk reeling skills we have learned on the previous two Silk Study Tours. i’m waiting for the weather to cool slightly so my eggs can be shipped-apparently, it is too hot for them to be delivered now.