Welcome to My Website

Share my passion > Explore, Browse and Learn

Kay Sekimachi: A Weaver’s Influencer at 98

This is the opening window of a beautiful show of work by Kay Sekimachi. What a smashing beginning to a gorgeous exhibition.

The second window in the exhibit gave the details. A group of textile people visited the exhibition at the San Francisco Airport in March to honor her 98th birthday. Kay lives in Berkeley, CA—our beloved neighbor and one of my teachers and an “influencer” since I began to weave.

I want everyone to notice this SAMPLER—a highlight at the beginning of the show. Here is a long, narrow piece in an art gallery! Imagine it. I was thrilled to see it right along with other art pieces.

Here is Kay at 98. More things to show in future posts. It was a wonderful day among us textile people. I was certainly with my tribe!

An Idea for Art in Kyoto and a Spectacular Shop for Dyes


This post was about an idea I got for an art piece and about a spectacular dye shop in Kyoto.  Hence, I’m thinking people may be planning a trip to Japan this spring. I am going again in May!

I really liked this piece. It’s lit but what I liked is the proportion—so-o-o short and wide.

Here is the piece close.

There was a short piece in the gallery’s shop. I still like the idea. Maybe with a really nice, dyed silk fabric. That’s awfully big for me but who knows what an idea will come to.

Our guide, personally took me in a taxi to this spectacular dye shop. There are so many fabrics of all types of fibers. I bought 10th meter of many pieces. This is how I happened to have so many different fabrics in my dyed piece for China. There were dyes, all kinds of brushes, tools, equipment—I try to get there every time I’m in Kyoto.

Here I am outside the shop with my bags. I look pretty tired, and I was at the end of a long day.

I couldn’t find the shop name in English at first, but here’s the top of my bill. I bought 8, 1-meter pieces and 4 pieces less than a meter. Mostly cotton this time. I also got some interesting brushes. Take your credit card along! We Googled to get the shop’s name and address for the taxi. TANAKA NAO SENRYOTEN is the shop name!! Now you have it both in English and in Japanese for the taxi driver.

A Wonderful Gathering of My Tribe

I went to our Conference of Northern California Handweavers over the weekend, and I had a wonderful time. I felt like I was famous! (Even though it is hard to take a selfie that doesn’t have to be read backwards!)

I went to tell weavers about my books, especially Weaving for Beginners which came out in 2010. I had thought I needed to keep it in people’s minds lest anyone forget about it! However, I heard it is flying off the shelves lately! Many people came up to me to say that they use my books and recommend them to all new weavers. (You see, I could figure out how to do a selfie.)

A Fourth Edition of weaving for Beginners will be out this summer or fall!

I was thrilled to hear how many people liked my blog on the website. My tech guy designed it maybe 14 years ago and continues to  maintain it and makes sure it looks professional. (I heard that it is  rated #2 for the best weaving blog!)

It’s easy to subscribe and join a lot of other subscribers. Go to my website at www.peggyosterkamp.com.

There are over 900 weaving, travel and dying posts. And over 100 weaving TIPS.

I was especially glad to hear that many are using the SEARCH feature to look up answers to questions that come up. That was my tech guy’s idea and a wonderful one. You can sort by over 170 categories. 

What to do when the Cross is on the Wrong Side of Your Reed? – Transfer the cross to the other side!


This is a process that front-to-back weavers may need to use. However, the other day I was putting a warp on the loom—the first since BEFORE the pandemic! I wasn’t sure if the cross was on the wrong side of the raddle since I was going to use my trapeze and I wasn’t too familiar with the set up. No worry, I thought, “I can transfer the cross to the other side of the raddle.”   See the final illustration below.

Again, most often the need to transfer the cross is when warping front-to-back. The illustrations are from the Front-to-b-Back Warping chapter in my book Weaving for Beginners.

Many weavers never need to do this procedure. But, if you have more than two threads in a dent in the reed, it is ideal to transfer the cross to the other side of the reed so you can thread the heddles in the exact order as the reed was sleyed. You will need one extra stick temporarily during the “operation”.

Transferring the Cross Step #1
Start on the side of the reed where the lease sticks are in place. Untie any ties holding the lease sticks in place or together. Turn the stick that is closer to the reed on its side, (the stick then makes a little shed). Push this stick right up flat against the reed. See the shed that has opened on the other side of the reed? Insert an extra stick through that shed. In the illustrations a round dowel is shown in the new shed on the  other side of the reed so you can tell it from the original lease stick. Remove the lease stick that you stood on edge at the reed.

Transferring the Cross Step #2
In the same manner as in Step #1, put the second stick up flat against the reed to form the little shed on the other side of the reed and put a new stick into this shed.

Remove the last original lease stick, and now, you should have a pair of sticks on the opposite side of the reed from where the original pair of sticks was.

For clarity, round dowels are shown being put in place on the other side of the reed. They would be replaced by the regular lease sticks after they have been removed from the original side of the reed.  

This is a common way that a loom is aet up for threading for warping front-to-back. You can see that the lease sticks are in front of the reed for sleyng the reed. For threading the heddles if more than two threads are in the dents, it’s a good idea to transfer the cross to the other side of the reed so you can thread the heddles from the actual cross.

This is how to thread the heddles. See that the weaver its sitting at the back of the loom. If the cross had been been transferred to the other side of the reed, it could be seen when threading the heddles.

Back-to-front warpers use a raddle. At first, I thought the cross was on the wrong side of the raddle and that I would have to transfer it to the other side using this process.

Isn’t the Cross a Wonderful Thing?Thread without Mistakes: Hang the Lease Sticks Vertically

This is my first warp since the BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC. It really feels good to be at the loom after such a long time. I’m thinking, “Isn’t the cross a wonderful thing?” I see it all over in my travels today. Its proper name is LEASE. I was going to use it in my books but was convinced “cross” was better. However, my press is called “Lease Sticks Press”.

Getting comfortable is what Jim Ahrens taught as the way to thread without mistakes. This is the set-up for you, the lease sticks, and the warp. I thought showing the illustration first would let you understand the actual photos better. Note that the lease sticks are hanging VERTICALLY. The illustration is from my book, Weaving for Beginners, which is available on my website.

Here is a side view of my loom with the cross hanging from my yellow broom handle.

Here is a close up showing that the top lease stick is tied to the broom handle, so the pair of sticks is hanging vertically.

Here I am at the front of the loom reaching to the back for the next warp from the cross with my threading hook. My other hand assists, steadying the heddle.

Here I am at the front of the loom. The photo was taken at the back of the loom.

Selvedges on Separate Shafts when you Can’t a Use Float Selvedge


Recently I got a comment about what to do about selvedges when using a fly shuttle and you can’t use a floating selvedge. I hadn’t thought of that circumstance before so decided a post was a good idea. I went down another rabbit hole very happily. This post discusses putting the selvedge threads on separate shafts. First is the 2-shaft version. Then follows a 4 -shaft version called a tape selvedge. I learned both from my mentor, Jim Ahrens and they are in my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth

During Covid, I posted every other day! I don’t know how I did it. And in September 2020 I did several about selvedges. Two posts discussed weighting selvedge threads separately . You can see them HERE.

Part One

Part Two

When I searched for selvedges, there were lots of posts. Use the Search button and you can find quite a lot about selvedges. From winding the shuttles and throwing the shuttle and lots more.

Selvedges on 2 shafts:

Selvedge threads carried on their own two shafts, will always weave plain weave at the selvedge. They will be caught when the shed changes for the pattern or main weave structure. They should be weighted separately of course, because they will take up differently from the ends in the main cloth. Plain weave takes up the most of all weaves, which might make it weave too far ahead of the main weave. If that happens, and you have two more shafts, switch to a tape selvedge on 4 shafts. I think I would try finer selvedge threads before going to 4 shafts. With 4 shafts, the selvedges would weave in basket weave which doesn’t build up so fast—but it takes 4 shafts.

Which shafts?

I usually put the selvedges on the back wo shafts. However, if the warps are sticky, putting them on the front two shafts will force them to open better when making the sheds. For very long warps, and for the best balance, put the selvedges on the middle shafts: they won’t get lifted as high as on the back ones, so they won’t get so much wear and tear.

Thread the body of the warp according to your plan, but on each edge put four or so threads onto two shafts. If the body uses 4 shafts, then alternate the threads of each selvedge on shafts 5 and 6. The threading for each selvedge is: 5,6,5,6 or 6,5,6,5, depending on which edge you are threading, and which shafts the threads in the main part start and end on. If your main warp is to be a weave on 5 shafts, then the selvedges would be on 6 and 7. If the main warp uses 8 shafts, then the selvedges go on shafts 9 and 10, etc.

Remember, since they will be weaving plain weave, they will take up differently from the main warp so, of course they must be weighted separately.

The Tie-up

Tie up the treadles so every other shed lifts shaft 5 and the alternate sheds lift shaft 6.

It’s the tie-up that makes he selvedge and the main weave integrated, so be sure that the selvedge shafts alternate with each treadle in your sequence. See the illustration.

It’s desirable to have the main structure of the cloth weave with an even number of treadles. Then, both the main body and the selvedges will take an even number of sheds. An odd number of shafts in the body, such as a 5-shaft weave, would need 10 treadles to tie up to achieve the 5 sheds for the body and the 2 sheds for the selvedges. In other words, you would have to go through the weave sequence twice to complete a cycle, because the plain weave structure requires two sheds.

Or you can use two feet at once: one for the selvedge treadles and the other for the cloth structure.

Selvedges on 4 shafts: Tape selvedges

A tape selvedge is also called basket weave or 2/2 hopsak weave. One reason to use it is when the weave structure doesn’t make a neat selvedge. The warps and wefts will intersect less (or more) often than they do in the body’s weave structure, so you can get clean sheds at the selvedges. It makes a very neat selvedge, which can look as if it were commercially made. It is nice for rugs as well as for fabric.

This technique requires four shafts—two on each edge of the cloth. Four or six ends per selvedge work just fine.

The selvedge ends that are raised change only on one edge with each weft. At the other edge, the selvedge ends are raised or lowered as they were in the previous shed. See the illustration where the two sheds on the right are 1 and 2, and the two on the left are 3 and 4.

Note that the side that changes is the side where the shuttle enters the shed. (The X’s indicate the warp ends lifted over the weft.)

This illustration shows 4 selvedge threads at each edge. It shows how the tape is a true 2/2 weave with two warps threaded on one shaft, alternated with 2 threaded on the other shaft. The principle remains the same: to catch the weft, enter the shuttle on the side that has just changed.

You may have to adjust the density in the reed and the weight on the selvedge threads to get them to match the tension of the main warp. Of course, they will be weighted separately from the main warp. The take-up of the selvedge threads is usually less with a tape selvedge because it has fewer intersections of warps and wefts. The wefts should weave straight across the body, and at the selvedges, neither lag nor weave ahead. By the way, don’t make the tape super dense or use sticky, hairy, or loopy yarn.

This edge works perfectly with 8-shaft satins. The tape selvedge threads will intersect more often than the satin weave itself. The warps are usually very densely sleyed for satin and there aren’t enough intersections in the weave to interlace at the edge to make a good-looking selvedge. A tape selvedge with half the intersections of a plain weave selvedge works better than a two-shaft selvedge because the plain weave has too many intersections which causes it to build up faster than the satin. The tape’s sequence used twice equals one sequence of the satin. (Remember to add four shafts to the eight needed for the satin.)

A tape selvedge can prevent the edges of warp and weft faced weaves from curling when they are taken off the loom.

It would not be easy to use a tape selvedge for overshot patterns. Just think of the nightmare of keeping track of the four sheds of the selvedge along with the treadling for four overshot blocks. Of course, a computer driven loom could do it easily.

My Ring of Silks as Seen in China

Here is a picture of my Ring of Silks as it hung in the show in the China National Silk Museum last fall. I’m thrilled that the museum people just now sent me this photograph. It makes it more real to me somehow.

In the previous post on September 23, 2023, I showed photographs of the piece and gave more information. You can also see that it all began as white silks. See the post HERE

I got a very nice certificate from the museum.

Here’s the text on the certificate. I think this is equivalent to a blue ribbon!

Designing with Log Cabin Revisited

I showed this beautiful shawl in a post a while back and recently got a comment about how it was designed. See that post from January 18, 2022. HERE

Here is a lovely photo of a fabric which might be more inspiring than a draft. This color and weave structure is called “log cabin”.

This illustration shows how the color changes are accomplished by changing the color order. Notice the two black warps and wefts are together at the boundaries of the squares.

Dorothy Burnham described the weave  in her book, Warp & Weft A Dictionary of Textile Terms : “A simple colour and weave effect is formed when warp ends and weft picks in a plain balanced tabby are alternately dark and light in colour for a certain number of threads and then reverse their order. This intriguing pattern, popularly known as “Log Cabin”, was frequently used, as in this example, for fine handspun and handwoven woollen shawls.”

The Trick to Avoiding Disfiguring Floats


Susie Kelly loves to learn new things and works until she is a master. She’s well known in our area for her excellent photographs. She has also greatly mastered kumihimo, beading, pottery, cake decorating, quilting, embroidery, sewing and more  that I can’t remember just now. It was a miracle that I got to know her. She met my photography teacher and blog guy at a photography show where  they were exhibiting,  and she mentioned she was taking a beginning weaving class. My friend mentioned that I was a weaver, and the rest is history. We  have an arrangement now: I teach her weaving and she began to teach me how to process my photos on the computer and now all manner of things on the computer and off! It’s a relationship made in heaven.  

This piece is fresh off the loom woven by Susie with only 1 ½ semesters in weaving classes and a few months studying with me . Four shafts weren’t enough for her right away and she borrowed my 8-shaft table loom. She has been cruising through the book, “A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns from the Friends of Handwoven” commonly known as “The Strickler Book”.  This was her first attempt at block weaves.

Turns out that Susie chose patterns #247 and #248. Her teacher explained the threading and weaving  of these straight and broken twills in warp and weft faced squares and off she went.

Success! Lovely squares with clean, straight vertical and horizontal edges—for the most part. Stay tuned.

Some blocks did not have clean edges on the squares. Being Susie, she quickly used her needle and thread skills and made most of the edges look perfect. I convinced her to photograph one of the places that the flaw was not so noticeable. Notice there are 4 white warp threads going out of the all-white square into the square with the black twill wefts. There were  longer “bad” floats in the sampler before her repairs. But we did find a place with shorter warp floats to show the problem. (not clean edges).

Here is the simple trick to getting all the edges clean with no threads floating across the edges. Where there is a change in warp face and weft face, the tie -down threads at the edges must look like the illustration. In other words, a weft tie-down thread on an edge must meet a warp  tie-down in the adjacent square. If you want to weave more rows than a complete repeat, that’s fine, just in the new square (or rectangle),  begin with the row that has the opposite tie-down thread.

Here is a tie up showing a warp thread opposing a weft thread at the vertical and horizontal edges of the squares. Again, you can weave a square as long as you like, just remember  If you want to weave more rows than a complete repeat, that’s fine, just in the new “square”, begin with the row that has the opposite tie-down thread.

Other weave structures use the same trick. Notice that all the vertical warps are stopped by a horizontal weft where the blocks change. This is an example of a “damask diaper: A self-patterned weave; a simple form of damask with rectilinear pattern formed by the contrast of warp and weft faces of a satin weave; much used for simple table linens.” From Warp & Weft A dictionary of textile terms” by Dorothy K. Burnham. Royal Ontario Museum. 1980. Burnham also lists a twill diaper which is the same idea as the twill weave similar to Susie’s pattern.

Dorothy Burnham chose twill blocks for the cover of her book. Notice not all the blocks are the same size or square but they all have beautiful clean edges.

Ahrens Loom Available


It is rare that an original Ahrens loom becomes available. Jim Aherns was a weaver, built well engineered looms, taught and sold to high end stores, churches, and interior decorators. He is the A in today’s AVL looms. He studied production weaving in Europe just before the Industrial Revolution when hand loom weaving was at its peak. I learned production (efficient) weaving from him, and his techniques are the bones of my books and teaching.


The loom is in Redding, California. Transportation might be available. The owner’s mother wove on the loom and wants to get it to a good home. Send your best price offer and why the loom should go to you. The owner wants it to go to someone who will really use it. Email: kiki_hogan@yahoo.com.

The loom has 8 shafts, 10 treadles, is approximately 36” wide and is made of birds eye maple. Efficient as well as beautiful.

The warp beam has Jim’s well known tension brake as well as a ratchet brake. The slot in the warp and cloth beams allow for even winding of up the warp and cloth. These are old traditions that I’ve seen all over the world in professional weavers’ studios currently.

It folds to 26” deep without disrupting the warp or woven cloth.

The loom has a side tie-up so there’s no more struggling underneath the loom to tie up the treadles. And the treadles are engineered to make clean sheds without extra effort.

What’s in a Loom’s Scrap Heap? – (Maybe, just maybe an example of tying on new warps??)

I’ve noticed over the years in my travels that most hand looms have a little scrap heap near them. I noticed one in Japan and thought it would be a great teaching aid. I’d been teaching one of the husbands on the trip and I could see if he could find the warps, wefts, and selvedges. I expected them to give them to me, but I did pay a small price. That was OK because it is a great teaching aid.

When I ironed some of the fabric scraps, I noticed this scrap seemed to have a “purple fringe”. I said, Wow! Maybe these are new warps tied to old ones.

I began to look closer and seemed like there might actually be knots. Maybe I was in luck.

.I needed to use a tapestry needle to part the tiny threads.

Yes! Knots! Every warp thread was tied in a knot to a purple thread!

There was another scrap I didn’t need to bother to untangle because it was clear this also was a new warp knotted to the old, thread-by-thread.

I describe the process of tying on new warps thoroughly in my book Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps which is now back in print. It is also still available as a pdf for less money.

Notice that I tie on behind the heddles, just like these fine threads would have been tied. My mentor, Jim Ahrens said, “If you can talk them out of tying on in front, you will be doing them a big favor.”

Surprise! A Shirt that is Made of Silk


I became intrigued with my new shirt and started going down a silk “rabbit hole”. Then I wondered if I had already written about it. I found I’ve made 25 silk posts already! Here is a link to “Raw Silk or Noil?”  from August 8, 2022. HERE I went down the rabbit hole about silk in 2022! There are a lot of interesting silk subjects. Put silk in the search box on my home page.

I bought this jacket at a flea market in Tokyo last fall. The price was right: $3.00 it had been in a heap, but after I took it home and washed it, I was very happy with the look.

At home, a non-textile friend saw it and asked what the fabric was. I hadn’t paid any attention to that (I’m surprised!) and said cotton? She said it looked like raw silk. That alone embarrassed me so I began to think she might be right.

It was obvious that the fabric had a lot of slubs. I had heard of dupioni silk where the silk is reeled from double cocoons. I was hoping that my fabric was that, but alas, it sure didn’t look like what I read when I looked it up in A Silk Worker’s Notebook by Cheryl Kolander. “ It is regular, in the main, but every so often large slubs from where the two cocoons were joined are brought up into the yarn. Fabric woven from it is considered very subdued and elegant in a robust sort of way.”

So, I looked up raw silk and noticed a box titled “Raw Silk”. And I quote: “Unbleached, cultivated silk noil fabric is very popular under the name “raw silk”.

Noil silk. It has very short fibers left after the longer staple silk has been combed out. It consists of smooth fibers 1” and shorter, mixed with little tangled balls of fiber. The flecks are  also the crumbled remains of the chrysalis, that horn-like envelope that encloses the transforming silk caterpillar inside the cocoon. (Also, from Kolander.)

The jacket has the drape and feel of a medium weight cotton shirt. AND it is officially silk noil, not raw silk. The warp—cotton??

Japanese packages: Horn Bag or Furoshiki??

The horn bag has 2 seams and some tricky folds. The furoshiki is much simpler so I thought people could try it if they wanted something easier. It is a simple square. You just tie the corners together, like a hobo bag.

This post gives the pattern and instructions for the horn bagin 19 illustrations.

In my last post I showed this bag for presenting gifts. Here are the interesting folds and seams similar to origami that make the bag. There are 2 seams to sew and small hems around the raw edges to sew down.

NOTE: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND MAKING A PAPER SAMPLE before working with cloth. The folds are tricky. I found it enormously helpful to mark letters and lines on the paper pattern. They were often valuable  as I was working along. I cut up a grocery bag for my sample.

Length: 4 times the width PLUS ½” to allow for the 2 seams and  the folded raw edges.
Width: ¼ the length plus ½” for seams and the folded  raw edges.
My sample measured 16 ½ inches x 4 ½”.

Step 1
Turn under ¼” to the WRONG SIDE and iron on all sides for hems and seams. DO NOT sew anything yet.

Step 2
Fold the length in half and half again for 4 sections each ¼ of the length. Iron so you can see the creases easily. On my paper sample I marked those creases on the wrong side.

Number the sections: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Step 3
In section 1, Make a diagonal fold AS SHOWN. I marked the line with dashes and marked it  A. On the other side of the fold, I put a small a.

Fold A is done.

Step 4
Make Fold B in section 2. All the folds will be diagonals.

Folds A and B completed. Note the orientation. A & B should be perpendicular to one another. Fold B is on the bottom and A is actually going to be one of the handles.

Step 5
Make Fold C.

Step 6
Make Fold D for the fourth fold. Don’t worry too much if it isn’t exact.

Here  is how it should look after the 4 folds are done. (This is a repeat of the previous photo.)

Step 7
Fold E. This one makes the other handle. To do this, flip the whole thing over to the other side and see where to fold E. Magically, it turns itself inside to form the other handle.

Step 8
Sew the first of two seams. The arrow shows which pieces will be joined. See detail in the next Photo.

Open up the folds to sew a narrow seam as shown. Keep track of the edges which are to be sewn together as you turn everything inside out. Note: I made a little cut where the sewing begins to separate this seam from the turned-down raw edge.

Step 9
Now turn everything over to see the arrow where the second seam will be  made to join those pieces together. As with the first seam you will need to turn the piece inside out to actually sew the seam. See the next photo.

Sew the seam.

Step 10
Sew down all the remaining raw edges where you ironed them down.

Here is one side of the finished bag.

The other side – and you are finished!!

Another Life Saver: The Snitch Knot

This knot absolutely saved me the other day when working on a student’s loom. I had to untie all the ties to the treadles and the knots were OLD, frayed, and dusty. Because the previous owner had tied proper snitch knots, I could undo the knots without breaking a fingernail or swearing.

A snitch knot is very handy and is especially good for tying heavy cords that can be adjusted. A common use is to tie treadles to lams—the snitch knot saves fingernails and frustration when adjusting is needed. The knot has a simple concept: it’s made in two parts. A loop is made into a lark’s head knot, and another cord’s two tails are put into the lark’s head knot and tied like the first part of a shoelace knot. The shoelace knot can’t pull out of the lark’s head’s grasp when tension is put on the cords. But when tension is slack, the shoelace knot’s cords can slide inside the lark’s head’s grip to adjust the overall length of the cord. It takes time to prepare the cords, but they can be used over and over again. A loop is needed for each knot and two tails of another cord.

To make a snitch knot when tying up treadles:
Make sure that the cords’ anchoring knots in the lams or treadles are big enough so they never pull through the holes in the wood. I prefer to put the tails on the lams and the loops on the treadles. That’s because if the loops are attached to the lams above, they can cause trouble by “looping” themselves onto unwanted treadles. However, if the tails dangle from the lams, they can’t hook onto anything.

Step 1
Make a lark’s head in the loop by folding it back on itself.

The beginning of a Shoelace Knot
Step 2
Pass the tails through the lark’s head loop and tie the first part of a shoelace knot with the tails. Don’t add the second part of square or granny knot—it’s strong enough if you’ve tied it with both ends taking the stress of the knot equally.

Step 3
To adjust it, pull on one of the tails of the shoelace knot and the knot is easily undone even if it has been under tension for years. Then slide the tails in the lark’s head loop to shorten or lengthen the cords. Then tighten the shoelace knot. It’s faster to shorten so start with the cords too long and shorten as needed.

To untie a snitch knot: Pull on one tail to loosen the shoelace knot. Then undo that knot and slide the tails out of the lark’s head.

A Japanese Bag Perfect for Gift Giving

Gifts and their packages are important in Japan. For years I’ve used square cloths called furoshiki with the corners tied like a hobo’s bag. I have several from pretty small (10” square) to huge ones about a yard square.  One day two Japanese textile friends met me in my Tokyo hotel room, and we exchanged gifts of course.

Nice cloth or paper is also important. This trip to Japan I remembered that paying for anything and everything will take time and patience. The fabric here is the silk lining of a kimono that one of my friends took apart.

Here is the shape of the finished bag. I often saw them in the shops with the “handles” all tied up and had thought they were made with square fabric like I was used to. So, this shape intrigued me. The ends would be tied in a knot providing handles for the bag.

We spent a good bit of time tearing up paper to get the right starting shape and proportion. The length should be 4 times the width. The creases in the paper show where it should be folded.

Here is the finished sample.

Afterwards we had a soba noodle lunch in the hotel’s Japanese restaurant looking out at a lovely garden.

Oh no! I Cut a Mono Filament Thread: Mending my piece for China with Jim’s Fisherman’s Knot

When I was getting my piece ready to send to China, I cut one of the threads holding a string of swatches! On top of that, the thread was made of monofilament or slippery fish line. I had to reconnect the thread without extra thread for a knot and besides, it couldn’t show. It was one of the purple strings beside the black one.

I don’t think I’ve ever used this knot before but I’m sure glad that I remembered it when I needed it. The knot is Jim’s Fisherman’s knot which I learned from my mentor, Jim Ahrens. It’s for tying very slippery threads together. I put it in my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, available now in print after being only available as a PD for many years.

How to tie this life-saving-knot-for-me is the subject of a post from quite a while ago. The post gives full directions and hints. The link to the post is HERE.

A Visit to a Contemporary Oriental Carpet Studio/Factory

We visited an Oriental carpet business in Yonezawa where we saw pile carpets being made and a studio with amazing carpets and historical photos.  They make hand knotted and not-hand-knotted carpets. This was our first view when entering the factory. It is a hand knotted carpet on the loom. Notice all the cones of dyed yarns for the many shades and colors needed for this carpet.

On the left beside the loom are the current colors of yarn needed for this area being knotted and the skeins so each yarn can be pulled out when the end is pulled to the loom to make a knot.

To make the knots each yarn is composed of several yarns.

Here is the color card with all the colors needed for this small carpet.

Six workers are hand knotting a huge carpet. All are working on the same row of knots. Then the one on the left will begin weaving in a weft thread and by the time that weft reaches the right-hand weaver she will have completed her section of knots and is ready to finish the row of plain weave (over one warp thread and under the next.) There will be one or two of these over one, under one weft threads woven in between each row of knots.

To make one knot, the weaver pulls the end of the group of threads from the ball above her, makes the knot, then cuts the yarn with the knife in her right hand. Later, these pile yarns will be cut so all the pile is even (or perhaps sculpted).

Color cards show that the exact color of a pile yarn will be that of the cut ends of the yarns, not the color of the length of the yarn itself.

You can tell if a carpet is hand knotted by looking at the back side. You can see the back sides of the individual knots.

The knots themselves are not actually what we think of as knots. There are two types of knots used for pile carpets. This is probably the knot used. It’s called the Symmetrical knot. Notice the 2 rows of plain weave between the rows of knots. I had a student once who forgot these rows and all the knots fell apart when she was finished!

This is called the Asymmetrical knot. It is used to my knowledge for finer knots so they can be closer together.

The carpet will be trimmed so it is flat or even encised.

Other pile carpets made at this factory are not hand knotted. A person holds a piece of equipment like a hand drill that pokes the yarns from the back through to the front side. The person works row by row holding the equipment perpendicular to the warp.

The back of the not-hand-knotted carpet needs a glued-on mesh to keep the yarns stable so they don’t come out since no knos are made and no rows of weaveing between the knots.

Shifu: Weaving with Paper


Now that I’m back home I have time to make more proper posts with photos of my 2 ½ weeks in Japan. We were extremely busy and went to a lot of interesting places. We visited an artist in Yamazawa who weaves with paper, and we had a chance to make some paper weft thread and weave it into cloth.

Here is a hanging made of paper hanging in the studio. I took the photo because it seemed like a really good idea to make a wall hanging without using a lot of weft or weaving time.

Old account books are popular for making thread for weaving. I’ve collected some myself over the years, hoping to make some shifu cloth myself. This time I mean it!

Here is a spool of the paper weft. The black marks (and maybe a red one or two) are from the notes written on the account books. People didn’t pay for each purchase but had a page in the merchant’s account book and paid up periodically. They were available on my past trips in flea markets.

How the treads were made.
We cut the paper into strips about 1/8 wide in such a way as to make very long strings. The cutting didn’t go clear to the edges of the paper, sort of like a paper lantern. We stretched out the cut paper and where the paper hadn’t been cut, it made a little bump where the paper was stretched. (See the book below.)Then we twisted it off the point of a spinning device. Formerly, I twisted it off the point of a bobbin winder.

Then came the weaving.
For several others, it was their first weaving experience, and they were thrilled beyond belief.

There is a special look of the cloth—little bumps or irregularities where the uncut paper was twisted.  Unless it’s very professionally made you can tell a shifu cloth by those little bumps.

This is the book I plan to use to make my own shifu. It goes into detail about cutting and also about what papers are good. In my  first class I took years ago we used old paper dress patterns.

Here’s a photo from the book that shows the irregularities indicating it is woven with shifu paper wefts.

A beautiful walk

A gorgeous walk in the Oirase gorge along the river near the city of Aomori. We are still in the north in Japan. Check the map in a previous post. The Japanese call the fall colors of the trees as “God’s brocade” or something close. I loved that because the tree color was just beginning and it looked like a brocade.

A walk along the river with waterfalls.

Falls and trees.

This was a gorgeous hike in the woods by the river..

“Two days of eating and traveling…” – Part Two

Two days of eating and traveling after breakfast in Kyoto ryokan and flying way north to Hokkaido for a lunch of much meat and big Ainu museum. Then the Shinkansen train back to Honshu, the main island of Japan. A huge wind and rainstorm really hit all the way to Temple Fugenin hot springs for the night.  PS. the drink was made with honeysuckle juice and was delicious.

Two days of eating and traveling…

Two days of eating and traveling after breakfast in Kyoto ryokan and flying way north to Hokkaido for a lunch of much meat and big Ainu museum. Then the Shinkansen train back to Honshu, the main island of Japan. A huge wind and rainstorm really hit all the way to Temple Fugenin hot springs for the night.  PS. the drink was made with honeysuckle juice and was delicious.