Look What I Found Waiting for Attention!

I am working on unfinished projects while staying home. I have a lot of work ahead to “mine”. So far, I’m happily keeping busy and staying well. I get to see people on my hall and on walks in our gardens outside the building so am not lonesome. I sure hope our isolation is effective.

Years ago I went on a trip to Italy to visit velvet weavers. It was a wonderful experience visiting so many wonderful places in Italy as well. Velvets are very expensive so it wasn’t easy to bring home pieces. Occasionally we had an opportunity to purchase some scraps. This little piece is 7 ½” x 4” but I love it and am thinking of mounting it so I can have it out to enjoy. The velvets were costly because of all the silk pile threads in the warps. They always were woven on jacquard looms.

Look closely and you can see the tiny cut velvet threads.

This tiny sample is 1” x 1” and has a lot to see. Some areas are “regular velvet” meaning the woven loops are cut. Other areas you can see where the loops were uncut. In the areas where there is no velvet showing on the right side, all the velvet warps are woven into the ground weave. These areas are called voided velvet. So, in this piece we have cut, uncut, and voided velvet.

A few of us were given a chance to weave on a jacquard velvet loom and this is my part of the piece we wove. There wasn’t enough time to even think about cutting the loops. This piece measures 3” x 3 ¼” and I treasure it. How nice to find it again.

Here is the place where we were able to learn how the jacquard loom works and to punch our cards for the pattern above that we wove. We lived on the little campus during the 2 or 3-day workshop.

I brought home this big piece because there is an error in the weaving and couldn’t be sold at full price. I chose it because there was so much voided area which meant that the dark magenta velvet threads were carried along in the foundation invisibly. It is 20” long and 25” high. Can you see the error very close to the bottom?

Here is the error. I love it. It shows the evidence of the weaver (or a glitch in the jacquard mechanism).

Here is the wrong side. I had it framed with plexi on the front and back to remind me that all those dark threads were carried on the back and invisible on the front.

Marking Where to Cut So You Can Change Your Mind Later

I made this post while I was at my loom last week. I was weaving as much as I could in case I got locked up in my retirement place. Since that has happened I’ve been working on other unfinished weavings. And getting ideas for more posts. More on that progress to come. In the meantime I hope this tip is helpful. I love sending out these posts–it makes me feel connected to the outside world. [click photos to enlarge]
PUT THE MARKER THREAD IN THE SAME SHED AS YOU WEAVE ALONG. This allows you to pull out the thread without destroying the weft sequence if you change your mind about cutting your cloth later. DO NOT USE RED, BLACK, NAVY if you think the color might run.

See that the marker thread is in the same shed as the regular weft. Then you can pull it out later if you change your mind.

A contrasting marker thread is very helpful especially if the pattern isn’t easy to follow a weft for cutting. With some textures, even the change of color of the weft isn’t enough for an accurate cutting line. Remember not to use a color thread that might run if it gets wet in the finishing process.

Mending Moth Holes with Needle Felting

While staying at home, I’ve been really almost too busy–maybe procrastinating getting to work on creative stuff like finishing the pile of weaving projects on my table. I had told a friend who wanted her sweater holes fixed that I could do it and it has been sitting on my desk for a few days. That only took a few minutes to do but then I thought it could be a good post. Taking photos, deciding which to use, writing text for each, labeling photos to texts, email all to my tech guy.  Whew!! The day is about over and I promised myself I’d watch a movie tonight (it’s a choice between that and the Met opera that’s on the computer every night. Go to: www.metopera.org. There’s a different one every night, they are free and you can play them anytime of day or night! The scheduled ones are great ones! The next post will be on weaving–I promise.  Peggy



Moths seem to love to eat cashmere and one hole can ruin a whole sweater. I learned this from Yoshiko Wada and at Dharma Trading Company San Rafael, CA. www.dharmatrading.com  I’ve also knitted patches which you can see in the last post.
Here is the equipment needed. The fiber comes from a spinner or spinning/needle felting store. I got this from Windrush Farms at my farmer’s market.  www.windrushfarm.wordpress.com She sells small amounts of colored fiber for felting. I have used a brush or styrofoam instead of this brush-like tool that comes with needle felting supplies. I like it a lot—stays put—and I don’t poke my fingers.

Pull the fibers apart and crisscross them and make a small loose ball or wad.

Put the fiber on the wrong side of the sweater and poke all over the area with the felting needle. Watch your fingers it is SHARP!

I thought mine needed an extra wad so I worked over the area again on the right side. Check the right side and if a few hairs, poke them to the wrong side.

My fleece didn’t match as well as I’d like, so you may not want to do it on the obvious places. However, the hole(s) will not get bigger and the sweater is stable.

I preferred to knit patches and needle felted them in place, using the back side of the knitted patch. Look closely and you can see another hole mended just with white fiber and needle felted—not too bad. Use a fuzzy or fluffy yarn. I loved this kid mohair swear and couldn’t bear losing it. I made extra patches as a “design feature”.

Measuring Your Progress

Before I give you my “Measuring Your Progress” tips I’d like to follow up on my last post about the Warping Trapeze:
I recommend the wood be 2″ x 2″ rather than 2″ x 4″ as seen in this YouTube video. And I didn’t cut the ends of the boards as seen in the video.  However it shows how it works.

Also I didn’t drill holes but used brackets from the plumbing department at my hardware store and my rod is smaller at 1/2″ diameter. And I used ½” brackets like in the photo below. That way I can easily take the trapeze apart for storage.

Be sure to measure the width of you loom before you buy your rod. A curtain rod might work if the length is okay.



I like to use adding machine tape to measure my progress. Using 3 pins keeps the tape from slipping and sliding so you can be accurate. When you need to move the pin closest to you, “leapfrog” it over the other pins and place it near the edge (fell) of the cloth.

Mark with a fine enough pen so you can see your measurement exactly.

Here is a page from my book Weaving for Beginners showing the tape. Notice it does not get woven in with the cloth. I mark where the hems are to be and any changes as well as where I want the beginning and the end to be.

Making My Own Warping Trapeze

Now that I’m restricted to my apartment in my retirement place because of the corona virus, I have more time on my hands. I think that may be the case for others, and maybe people are at their looms more than ever. So I’m planning to send more frequent posts about weaving. While I was allowed to go out to my studio I wove more than I have in a few years. I was afraid we’d get guaranteed and then I could dye what I wove at home. That is my plan.

Peggy

 

I was so excited to get everything I needed to make my warping trapeze in one afternoon. Everything came from my local hardware/lumber store. My tech guy screwed in the brackets in 5 minutes. Whoever said there was no such thing as a 10-minute job! I got 8 ounce fishing weights from a sporting goods store and 2 bungie cords while getting the lumber (2×2, 6ft long), solid metal rod (1/2” d.), and brackets (from the plumbing department).  My apprentice, Vera, gave me her plans.

The trapeze will be used for beaming—making tightly wound warps for perfect tension. Here-to-fore I’ve used my warping drum (a hassle) or cranking and yanking (works ok but the trapeze will speed up the process with perfection.

Now all I need is a new warp to beam on. That won’t happen until we are allowed to leave our apartments until the virus settles down.

When Teaching is Wonderful!


Here is proud Gao Yu after he was on a 3-month internship with Slow Fiber Studios. He is a textile scholar from China and his personal knowledge of backstrap weaving and weavers paid off. He came several times to my studio to learn how a floor loom works. He asked great questions and understood so much what was happening. After one experiment where he had to lift many shafts, he said, “Now I understand why people weave the cloth wrong side up!” Here he is showing his sample with a supplementary warp he planned and set up on my 10-shaft loom. Then he wanted to know if he could also do supplementary weft. The white wefts show that: both supplementary warps and wefts as well as other treadlings he figured out.

Gao Yu made another warp on my 4-shaft loom. He had seen a textile with a space in the warp which was his inspiration.

Then he tried weaving each side separately. The orange warp thread had been in the center as a supplemantary warp to weave with the unwoven wefts. (I suggested he put in the thread between two heddles–working like a floating selvedge–when he wished for another shaft.)

The final challenge was to make the floor loom work like a back strap loom. I grapped a shirt I had with straps–and voila!

He wanted to use a large tube for the natural shed and only one shaft for the counter shed like in a plain weave backstrap loom. Not perfect but close. My loom was not deep or tall enough to get a good enough counter shed. But more thinking about it he can do when back home in China. (We all were lucky that he got here before the virus outbreak.)

A Hair Comb is a Lifesaver


I discovered a threading error after I’d woven about an inch or so and an ordinary comb helped isolate the mistake in the heddles. [click photos to enlarge]

I discovered the error in only a few of the sheds—2 warp threads were closer together than the rest of the warp.

Then I vaguely saw in the woven part what looked like an error in the reed. It wasn’t the reed, but a mistake in the threading which was obvious when I isolated the area in the heddles with the comb.

I took out all the threads from the error to the edge of the warp. It was helpful to have the woven part still in place.

Here are the first 4 threads in their proper heddles.

Thank goodness for the lease sticks in the cross! I always keep them in behind the heddles in case of an error or broken thread so I can quickly find the correct heddle(s) to make the repair.

I put the threads into the reed as I went along.

Here the 40 ends are re-threaded and re-sleyed in the read, ready to tie on. I’ll take out the previously woven part and tie on the whole warp again. I like to lash on, especially with this slippery and expensive silk warp thread.

More Surprises at the Silk Factory


This gorgeous irridescent sari caught my eye immediately. I brought it home with me and hope to make collages where the light plays on the fabric in different ways. So inspiring! It would be lovely as a garment with gathers but I can’t think of anything I would wear. [click photos to enlarge]

THIS IS A SKEIN HOLDER! I asked about the bamboo pieces with “feet” that were laying on the floor under a loom. Immediately a skein was produced to show the purpose. The threads came off beautifully. I would like to think it could be put up on a table.

If you look closely in the corner of the photo the weaver is winding the thread from the skein on a wicker cage-like tool with a stick for a handle. He is winding very fast and the fine silk thread is coming off like magic.  I wish I could make skeins that well.

This close-up shows a stack of the cards for the Jacquard loom and the “cage thing” that threads are wound on. They could  twirl the cage fast and wind up the thread really fast.

I watched this weaver for a good while while he was separating warp threads so he could move the lease sticks. I thought I was the only one who needed to fiddle to move the sticks sometimes. It’s VERY important to keep the sticks in. The reason is that if a thread breaks you will know exactly where it belongs.

The woman in the sari is weaving along with a fly shuttle that works when she pulls the handle on the cord. (It shoots the shuttle across the warp.) I  visited a factory once in another part of India where all the Jacquard weavers were men because lifting all the threads with their weights took a lot of muscle. I was very surprised to see one woman. The others were men but not beefy types.

Silk Sari Weavers in India


In the town of Thanjavur in southest India we visited Sri Sagunthalai Silks factory. One of their specialities is weaving special borders on the fabric. They developed a technique so the join between the body and the borders was barely detectable by feel. [click photos to enlarge]

There were 5 or 6 Jacquard looms. Here is how the (two) Jacquard mechanisms were set up: one mechanism for the borders (with yellow cords) and the other for the body of the cloth with white cords. Each and every pattern warp thread was weighted separately so each thread could be lifted to make the complicated brocade pattern seen above. Each heddle was attached to its own cord going up to the mechanisms (yellow and white cords). One punch card was made for each row of weaving which the mechanisms operated to make the sheds. This inspired the develpment of computers; you can see why.

This shows the two warps for the body and a border. I think the shafts lifted the ground threads and the Jacquard lifted the separate pattern threads.

Here the woman weaving (wearing a sari) lifted the border threads with its own treadle. I think the Jacuard worked automatically when a shed was made. (You can see some of the weights below the border).

Another treadle worked the shed for the body of the fabic.

Here she was VERY grumpy when the Jacquard mechanism overhead malfunctioned!

I’m Off to India on a Photography Tour!


It will be an amazing and fast-pased photographic tour for 3 weeks. This is not a textile tour per se but there will be textiles everywhere. We start out by flying from Chennai (Madras) to Madurai then we tour in a motor coach back to Chennai. There will be no time to make regualar posts on my website this time. I expect to send daily photos and stories you’ve come to expect on Instagram. Hit this link https://www.instagram.com/peggyoster/ and click on the pictures is all you have to do to keep up with us. My Instagram name is Peggyoster. Click the map to enlarge.

Back to Double Weave Again


Double weave is on the top of my brain because I’m teaching a small group the basics with the idea of moving on to bloocks. The reason most people start thinking about double weave is because you can get solid colors that way–rather than plaids. Then one needs also to think about different weft colors as well. Often the “back” side isn’t clear when different colors are needed. [click photos to enlarge]

Often the blocks of color are not so obvious. My mentor, Helen Pope wove this sample for one of her many afghans, always using the same threading but way different colors.

Here is a sampler I wove to show the separate layers. Also see below for the Weaving Tip I did using diagrams from my book, “Weaving for Beginners”.

I’ve been wracking my brain to be able to show graphically weaving the layers in different blocks. I dreamed up this today–not sure if it will do the job or not.

I was playing with layers and opening them out like Paul O’Conner suggested when I wove “Blue Descending a Staricase”.

Here is the width it was when threaded on the loom before being opened out to the 7 “layers”.


Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Introducing Double Weave

This is taken from my new book, “Weaving for Beginners” on page 245. How double weave works and making a sampler follows on pages 246 through257.

Double Weave

Weaving Two Separate Layers

Double weave is one of my favorite weaves, and most of my students love it, too.
It seems like magic that you can weave two layers of cloth simultaneously—
but that is what happens.
The cloth will be double thickness with a pattern or design happening when the layers exchange places

A Tube

—going from top to bottom and vice versa.
I like to be the one to introduce weavers to this technique, because once they understand the concept, they feel so capable and proud.
There is a lot more to learn about double weave than the basics given here.
Read more in weaving books. Some special techniques and considerations are given in my third book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth, beginning on
page 153.
There are three basic variations of double weave:
1. Weaving two separate layers at once: See Figure 481.
2 Weaving a tube: See Figure 482.
3. Weaving double width: (You can weave a cloth twice as wide as your loom!) See Figure 483.

A Wonderful Sashiko Workshop with Lucy Arai


Here is Lucy teaching in her Sashiko workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, CA.  She gave invidivual attention to anyone who needed it. The workshop was 2 1//2 days. I had one day free before it started after I got back from Japan. Traditionally white cotton thread is stitched on cotton indigo fabric.Here near the end of the workshop she was showing how she stitches on paper that she paints and stitches on. Her art work is fantastic–sometimes has gold leaf and sumi ink. [click photos to enlarge]

A nice picture of Luci.

This is a square cloth used in Japan for wrapping things–called a furoshiki. The pattern technique is called sashiko. It is entirely done with running stitches. We learned about the culture of sashiko and the ins and outs of stitching. There was a lot more to it than one would think. Note that the corners are reinforced with the stitching.

This is how the furoshiki is tied to make a bundle for carrying things. The corners are reinforced where the knot is to be tied.

Here you can see the corner fringes where the tie was made at the reinforced corners.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 20


A cultural experience at Narita Airport. I made this woodblock print while waiting for flight!! [click photos to enlarge]

Typical to see gardens wherever there’s a patch. This was on the bus in Kyoto on the way to the airport.

Houses are narrow in Japan because they are taxed on the frontage of the properties. Here are 3 attached.

This is a topical house from the back but the front is just as narrow. There are so many odd shapes of buildings in tiny areas. I couldn’t catch them on the train. This is in Kyoto on the was to the airport.

Seven Elevens are everywhere and are lifesavers—for ATMs especially but snacks, yogurt, ice cream and little jars of sake.

There are lots of really wide rivers in Japan with lots of wide area for lots of water when it comes. I was surprised to hear of flooding due to the big typhoon.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 19


We did serious shopping today, my last day in Japan. Kyoto is a great place to end a perfect trip. We were incredibly lucky two typhoons missed us and we had fine weather. Every day was an adventure and everything Cathy planned turned out wonderfully. We connected with friendly and creative people and saw a lot of textiles and techniques. We took lots of trains, some busses, and a few taxis and always found our destinations. [click photos to enlarge]

My loot for the day.

A view looking down the street from our hotel to the incredibly architecturally interesting Kyoto Train Station. It’s the arch to look at. The next photos will be of the inside. Don’t miss them.

A view of the interior of the station. It is so complex it was hard to get a photo to convey the space.

These are steps inside the train station. They can serve as seating for a very large amphitheater. Here they are lit up in a simple way and you can see some folks walking up the steps. Watch out for the next photo!

Here is one way the steps were lit. It was a real light show that kept changing and changing.

Our hotel offered a free drink every evening by the fire. A fine way to enjoy a cold Japanese sake and mull over a day’s adventures. I’m all packed and must catch a bus to the airport in the morning.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 18


This Issey Miyake jacket looks surprisingly weaverly. We investigated fashion designers at the Isetan department store in the Kyoto Train Station this afternoon. Many of his things were surprisingly tame and wearable. [Click the photos to enlarge]

This Issey Miyake dress was on the wild side as expected.

Another Issey Miyake. Many had a patchwork look. Many of the designers used patchwork ideas.

Still at the Isetan Department Store at the Kyoto Train Station in the fashion department. We loved this wool patchwork jacket. One of the appeals was how beautiful the seams were pressed flat.

Before going into the fashion department in the Isetan dept store we had great fun shopping at the Daiso Store in the train station.

My loot from the Daiso Store.

Here is my loot from our trip by train to the town of Shiga near Lake Biwa. We expected to see more ikat weaving with some interesting weft ikat techniques but found wonderful fabrics in hemp, rami, and linen. We were given a personal tour of how hemp thread is processed and the individual strands are joined (twisted NOT knotted). Weaving the hemp as weft was shown on a traditional Japanese blackstrap loom and weaving weft ikat on a floor loom, too. There was a wonderful gadget arrangement to wind the bobbins.

Watch this video to see the gadget arrangement to wind a bobbin of hemp thread. This was at the Omni-jofu Traditional Crafts Center In Shiga. Everyone there was so friendly and helpful.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 17


We visited The Senbido Dye House in the Nara area today. Mr. Shinobu Yasukawa does marbling on silk fabric. This is one of many deigns in his gallery. [click photos to enlarge]

Mr. Yasukawa and his wife posed with me in fronting the studio.

A paisley pattern which is a popular and recent design. It’s a large one; maybe a meter square.

Another design. There were so many different colors and designs it was hard to choose. I got two but could have chosen many.

I bought this lovely scarf. Seemed to resemble marbling so much.

The second scarf I bought is a heavier silk and lined with a solid kimono fabric.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 16


We visited the hugely famous shrine In the city of Izumo yesterday, the day the typhoon was hitting Tokyo. We were on the other side of Japan so only got gray sky some rain and a lot of wind. It didn’t stop our guides from volunteering to drive us 2 hours to see the shrine and Mr. Nagata’s dye studio. Trains were shut down and we could never have gotten there on our own. Besides the guides translated for us. this is a shrine not to be missed. It’s impressive straw structure is its distinguishing feature in the guidebooks. [click photos to enlarge]

The roof structure is also well known. Note the threatening sky.

I couldn’t resist making a video of the sound of the wind and the blowing of the little white wishes tied on the wires.

Waiting for the bullet train on the platform takes experience. You have to know where to stand for the cars with non reserved seats. And you want to be first in line if there will be a lot getting on. The bag shown was holding the place first in line while its owner found a bench to sit on. We took an express train to Okayama and then the bullet train on to Kyoto today.

The sky the day after the typhoon was dramatic at first then just sunny with clouds in Kyoto later in the day.

The moon came out over Kyoto tonight after a breezy fresh day of blue sky, puffy clouds, and about 70 degrees. Even though the typhoon didn’t actually strike here the air seemed remarkably fresh and clean.

We saw an excellent exhibition called, “Dress? Code: Are You Playing Fashion?” today at the National Museum Of Modern Art. These socks in the museum shop tickled me. Enlarge do you can read all of the titles.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 15


A Visit to the Nagata Dye Factory. The first thing that caught my eye was this old furushiki wrapped around a box in Mr. Nagata’s dye studio. A furoshiki is a square fabric used to wrap things—before shopping bags. I have many of various sizes but I’ve never seen one with the design showing like this one. I asked him to unwrap it so I could see how the square turned into a pattern like this. This wasn’t going to happen but Mr Nagata showed us others opened out. His and old ones. [click photos to enlarge]

Here is a big furoshiki opened out. It is a meter square. The big center area is a family crest and the corners have smaller images of good luck symbols. I wanted one of Mr Nagata’s but figured I could never afford one so left his studio empty handed. But at an exhibition that day I saw this one and asked to buy it. The artist was called over and said it was made by his father and was dirty and he would call his father to see if I could buy it. Luckily he said yes and for a very nice discount. Later I found out that “the father” was actually Mr. Nagata himself. I am thrilled. We were told that the design on top here should be on top when wrapped. I hope I can remember how to wrap it.

Here is the way a large furoshiki would be used as per the design layout.

Seen from the front are the smaller images. The image on the back would be the family crest. The model is Mr. Nagata. The furoshiki is sort of old I think. It just fit perfectly.

Mr and Mrs Nagata and Bret. Bret’s neck scarf is barely visible but proudly worn.

I am always interested in the dyers’ indigo vats. These are very old and can’t be replaced.

Here is Mr. Nagata’s shrine over his indigo vats. I’m always interested in seeing them, too. Every indigo dyer seems to have one.

This stick is used to stir the vats to keep them happy and working. He is showing how deep the vats are.

In this video Mr. Nagata stirred one of the vats to show us how it’s done and the color brown that comes when stirred. The vat can’t be used then for a least a day until it settles. He can tell by looking to know if a vat will work or need more time to rest before being useable. I was glad to see his technique is the same as what I learned from Yoshiko Wada.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 14

A Day of Kasuri or Ikat Weaving.

This is a traditional Japanese kasuri design. It is an old cover for a futon. Here is the traditional dark blue background. The white areas are made by tying or binding threads in a pattern before dying in indigo. In other words the pattern threads are tie-dyed first then woven into cloth.

The threads on the right are shown after dyeing. The white areas were tightly bound so when the threads were put into the indigo dye the dye couldn’t get into the threads (areas resisted the dye). The piece on the left is the final cloth after weaving and shows the pattern that had been bound off or tied before weaving. The technique is called ikat or in Japanese, kasuri.

Here you can see what the bound threads look like before dyeing.

Here is kasuri cloth being woven on the loom. The patterned area on the right has not been woven yet so there is no pattern there…yet. The area with the pattern has been woven with the patterned weft thread. It’s magical to see the pattern appear.

Mr. Tanaka puts big pillows on top of his indigo dye vats. I’ve never seen that before. The dye likes to be rather warm. There is also a heater by the dye vats. You can see the hole for the heater in the center of his 4 dye vats.

We also visited a young woman kasuri artist by the name of Butsusaka Kanako. This beautiful kasuri piece was her graduate piece. She employs both traditional and contemporary designs which can be seen here.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 13


Ritsurin Gardens in Takamatsu. We spent a lovely afternoon in this famous and huge beautifully manicured garden. How it got it’s name, Ritsurin, isn’t exactly known but there are theories according to our volunteer guide we had for the day in Takamatsu yesterday. It is known for lots and lots of pine trees. There were so many it was hard to isolate them for photos. This photo also show one of the tea houses on the site. [click photos to enlarge]

A view from one of the round bridges we think of in Japanese gardens. It says it all: tea house, rock garden, manicured tree, and natural forest. I liked the reflections too. It is unusual for Cathy and me to spend time in a garden. I tell people when we travel in Japan it’s “no gardens, no shrines, only textiles.” This place was so big we were glad to have our guide take us around. I was surprised to see signs for WiFi all around. She said it was in case anyone got lost.

Cherry trees. Imagine them in full bloom in the spring. Probably there wasn’t a crowd today because it is the fall.

Today we took a train across an enormous bridge from the island of Shikoku across the Inland Sea to Okayama. Then another train onward across the main island of Japan to Yonago. Going by train is so easy even if changing trains because they absolutely leave on the minute they are scheduled. We have Japan rail passes which make it even easier.

The view from on train window on the bridge made my palms sweat just imagining someone walking on the catwalk. I still get the creeps when I see this photo.

At the end of the bridge I could see the cloverleaf for car traffic.

This special train runs from Yonago to the little town of Sakaiminato which is famous because it is the birthplace of the cartoonist Mizuki Shigeru who made the manga series of folklore and ghouls, Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro. It can be said it is the birthplace of Japanese cartoons. Besides the trains all painted up the whole town was saturated with his cartoon characters.

There were sculptures all along on the sidewalks with the cartoon characters.

Every tourist shop promoted the characters even this hairdresser.

The bakery was no exception. Neither one of us knew of these characters but we soon got to know they were important in the town. We thought were were going to see textiles. That will be tomorrow with a guide.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 12


Tokushima to Takamatsu. On the hour long local train we saw the autumn season. I love seeing the persimmon trees in the fall. It’s a little too early and the leaves aren’t ready to fall and expose the bright orange fruit to its splendor. [click photos to enlarge]

The trip to Takamatsu is our last stop on the island of Shikoku. These rice fields/paddies have been harvested up to this point. Other paddies have been recently planted and are flooded and green with young plants.

The egrets like to hunt in the fields of lotus plants at this time of year. The fields are still flooded but soon harvesting the roots will begin. There were many lotus fields on Shikoku. We had some for lunch in a delicious plate of vegetables and chicken.

Our destination in Takamatsu was to the Okawara dye Studio Co. Mr Okawara spread out a big silk piece his studio made for the lion dance festival which happens the day after we leave town. The process in creating these beautiful works of art is called Sanuki Norizome which is technique of dyeing textiles using rice paste resist.

Mr Okawara draws with the special rice paste using tubes like for decorating cakes. The paste is colored red so it will show up for the next stages in the process. These lines will be white in the end result because where ever there is the paste no dye will go into the cloth. This is another “resist” technique like what we’ve seen previously.

Here is a small piece which shows the technique in a simple design. After the lines are drawn the areas are painted. Then the cloth is washed to remove the rice paste, leaving the stark white lines. Traditional designs are more like for the lion dance. The studio makes all kinds of banners, flags, and curtains for shop doorways called noran.

Mr and Mrs Okawara posed in their tiny shop in front of the studio. He is holding a photo in a book of a very large art work he has exhibited. I coveted her shirt. Weavers will understand why. The shirt is color samples. Instead of the sample shirt (not available) I bought a piece of art similar to the one shown only my piece has a gorgeous red circle and a black “X”. It is made as a large tote bag but I plan to hang it as art on the door to my apartment when I get home. I fly home on Day 20.

A lovely picture of mother and father and son and daughter in law. We all enjoyed each other so much today. Both men have taught their traditions in the US. Cathy knew when the father came to her university when she was in college in Seattle.

At the end of a wonderful visit.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 11


An Indigo Day!
Today we visited two farms whose crops are indigo. Here a young farmer, Kent Watanabe, and his young farm hands are working on the fermenting process that began this week and will go on for some weeks. Their hands and fingernails caught my attention immediately after we arrived on the farm. [click photos to enlarge]

Indigo dye is made from indigo plants. Various plants grow all over the world. These are cultivated on Shikoku island outside of Tokushima. The plants are harvested and processed before the indigo can be used for dyeing. Blue jeans traditionally are dyed with indigo. Chemical dyes are often used instead however.

Young Mr Watanabe’s dye vats are unique in that they are made of stainless steel. Usually they are huge ceramic pots sunk in the ground and about waist deep. The advantage is his vats are wider so larger things can be dyed easier. His are chest deep. One still has to bend over and reach into the vats while dyeing. I suggested he make his next vats do one could stand up while dyeing. That would be a first!

After harvesting the plants the leaves are chopped up and thoroughly dried and kept in large bags until October when the fermentation process begins.

The fermenting process begins with the dry leaves sprayed with water and mixed together to distribute the moisture evenly throughout the dry material.

Turning the plant material to distribute the moisture for fermentation is strenuous work and takes place over a period of weeks.

A day of turning the plant material to moisten it just right for fermentation is left piled up just so until the next time it is all turned over again.

Back in Mr Watanabe’s studio he shows us his little shrine for his indigo dyeing. I asked if he had one because most Japanese indigo dyers I’ve visited have some type of shrine—usually much bigger than his. He knew what I was asking for but he had to search around a bit before he could find his cute little good luck shrine.

We also visited the very large indigo farm of the well known master, Mr. Osamu Nii. The pictures of the fermentation process are from his operation.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 10


Bunraku!! An amateur performance was fantastic. Local groups of people are active in the city of Tokushima—even children. This city is famous for Ningyo Joruri another name for bunrako. The more emotional the story is, the better. Many women play the puppets and they get emotional too, according to a video telling about the players. It take three people to work one puppet. At this point in the performance all were on stage at once. It was just before the tear jerker ending. [click photos to enlarge]

Here the mother is sewing. They even had her cut off the thread with her teeth with a nice jerk of her head! All along was music from a samisen and voices doing the dialogue of the mother and her daughter.

At the end of the show the puppeteers came out on stage. Many women are doing this now in the amateur world but the professionals are always men still. The group performs twice a day every day with different groups giving the performances. The company is Awa Jutobe Yashiki that we saw today. I understand there is a lot done in Tokushima now days.

There is a small museum attached to the theater and we were given a private tour along with the video before the performance began. Here you can see levers that operate the head and face. Notice above the eyebrows where they would go up and down.

The person who controls the head and one arm must stand on these platforms to be tall enough. I think we were told that would be the major puppeteer.

I even got a chance to work the head and eyes of one of the dolls. Cathy made the video.

At the end of the show the audience was invited to have our pictures taken with the puppets that were in the performance. What a treat the whole experience was.

Japan 2019 Fall Tour – Day 9


Today was a travel day to Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. This was one of the looms we saw yesterday at the Fukuyama City Museum of History and Folklore in Onomichi. This type of double ikat pattern is called Bingokasuri. I’ve never heard that term but Cathy knew it. Ikat means that the threads are tied and dyed before they are woven on the loom. Double ikat means that both the warp threads and the weft threads are dyed separately and they must line up correctly to make the pattern work out. At the front of the loom is the cloth that has been woven so far and the vertical threads (the warp threads) are lined up with the weft threads (horizontals). If you look at the back of the loom you see the unwoven warp threads that are just the vertical lines of the pattern. The museum has many looms being worked on by local women who are teaching themselves the traditional weaving techniques used in their area. [click photos to enlarge]

We visited a old but working canvas weaving factory yesterday. It used to be a huge operation because there was a huge amount of old industrial looms and equipment. These are the threads ready to be measured for one section of warp threads currently in use today. The mill made cotton canvas cloth for the welders’ work clothes for the ship building industry to protect them from the sparks while welding.

This is the gigantic warping reel used in industry long ago (but way after the Industrial Revolution). The first section of warp threads would be put on the left end of the reel where the wedges are. The first section leans against the wedges and subsequent sections lean to the left so the threads don’t slip off the reel. A giant warp beam is placed beside the reel and the warp is transferred from the reel to the beam while being very tightly wound onto the beam.

This is a magazine to hold the shuttles at the ready so they can be quickly changed whenever one is empty. The invention of the machine gun was based on this idea long in use in the weaving industry.

The train stations where the Shinkansen trains (bullet trains) stop have to be very long. This is looking out to the right from our hotel window. The longest trains are 16 cars long and the cars are mostly 82 feet long. The end cars are a few feet longer.

Here is the rest of the train station looking to the left from our hotel window. 82 x 16 comes to over 1300 feet long for those trains. Some are only 8 cars long. We always find the cars with unreserved seats because they are significantly cheaper. Today I pushed into a car crowding in front of a bunch of petty hefty guys. Cathy said they were rugby players. I couldn’t figure out how they got in front of us since we were first in line on the train platform for that car door. Come to find out they had been standing because they couldn’t find seats when they got on at a previous stop. In the end enough people got off so we all found seats.