Ironing in India

We had a free day in Chennai in southeast India at the end of our trip. We rode in another took-took to two fabric stores. One is where I bought my 21 different silks (a Meter each or so) and the other, for linens (only 7 different ones. On the way back to the hotel we saw something on the sidewalk and our driver said it was a woman ironing. Of course we stopped and I’ll never forget the “ironing lady”. I especially was interested in the hot coals in the iron!

She was working in this cart set up on the sidewalk. I assume the man was her husband.

Here is the view on the street that caused us to stop. In one photo I saw another woman ironing outside the cart-shanty. You can see the work done and what is waiting to be ironed on the table.

Here we are together. We were on a photography trip and had been told that the people were very friendly and willing to be photographed. By the end of the trip, we weren’t bashful about approaching anyone.

Angavasthram Part 3

I thought it would be a good idea to show several Angavasthrams and to make sure you could see the length of them. And to emphasize the narrow width when they are all pleated and ironed. I have 7 and they are all gorgeous fine white cotton. Some have gold thread warp brocade for the outside fancy part and the red and black ones seem to have a red or black silk warp stripe with gold brocade.

Here you can see the outsides of them again. The middle one on the hanger measures a full 47 inches wide when opened out. It is 1 ½” wide when worn. I haven’t found anything about these narrow ones on the web so if anyone has any information, please send it in a comment or email me. Next time the subject will be: IRONING!

Angavasthram Part Two

My angavasthram textiles are priceless and national treasures. Bob remembered the man at the weaving shop told us. At any rate, I, too, treasure them and am hoping to find out more about them.

I thought the inside was so beautiful and interesting that it needed a second post. I think the inside might be that famous Indian muslin that’s thin enough so the cloth would go through a wedding ring. At any rate, it is beautiful. One of the wider ones was 2 ¼” when folded and opened out to a full 45”! I assume servants did the ironing.

This pattern was woven in near the ends on several but not all of them.

Here is how I saw them. I had no idea what was inside or at the ends.

Three of them were 2-sided—black on one side and red on the other. The others are white with gold patterning. Some were wide and some narrower when folded. I think if I ever show them, I’ll let them hang as they are folded in a group with one opened?? Now, I hate to get them mussed up.

A “Find” in a Junk Shop in SE India: Angavasthram

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

A year ago I went with my tech guy on a photography tour to SE India—an area called Tamil Nadu. Up until then I had only used point-and-shoot cameras on my travels. I had a lot to learn; it was for serious photographers. I was the only textile person; however, we did visit a silk weaving business that had jacquard looms weaving silk saris. I bought a simple one that is wonderfully iridescent.
One day we had free time and Bob and I hired a “took-took” to take us to a village to look in the antique shops—more like junk shops—so they were interesting. In a cabinet with a glass door, I saw what looked to me like a bunch of decorative tapes or ribbons. There was a lot of gold patterning on these very long things. I asked to see them and thought they would be great for my scrolls that I was going to make when I got home. There was a large, framed photograph showing how they used to be worn which interested me mildly. Bob did the bargaining, and I came home with 7 different ones.
When we got to the hotel, a woman told me that they were called angavasthram. I wrote down the word and that was it.
The owner of the little weaving factory knew more and said that they were special, and I could not cut them up. That was that.
At the hotel outside our room were a few old photographs of men wearing the angavasthram! We took pictures of the photos in their frames, so they aren’t very clear but enough to see how important men wore them. I haven’t found much on the internet, except that it seems that this was unique to this area of India and worn by Brahmin.

This is what I saw in the junk shop.

So, I did make a scroll after all. I discovered that the inside was as interesting as the outside.

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

This photo looked like a family photo with only the men wearing the anvagasthram.

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

Another family photo I presume. I wonder if the different arrangements mean anything other than “taste”.  I also wonder about the bands on the foreheads, shoulders, arms and chest.

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

Even this little boy gets to wear one. Notice that it is dragging on the floor in the back.

A Very Old Double Ikat that I Treasure

This is a fragment of a cotton Japanese summer kimono called a Yukata. I must have gotten it at a flea market in Japan. The cloth is 13” wide, selvedge to selvedge—the common width for many Japanese textiles. The length of the piece is 48”. It is so soft to handle that I’m loving handling it again for this post.

The reason I’m thinking is it a piece of a Yukata is there is an area where the cloth hasn’t faded over time. It probably was inside the area around the front opening.

It is so soft because it is extremely worn. In fact it has holes in it where the cloth wore out. It is almost tissue paper thin. This cloth was salvaged and re-useable because another fabric was added as a backing.

The indigo dyed cotton backing is also what makes it have a lovely body as well as being so soft.

The entire piece and I assume the entire yukata was stitched to attach the backing and back the holes. The rows of stitching are consistently ¼” apart. The stitching and the ikat pattern work beautifully together, I think, which is another reason I love the piece.

I was showing it to a friend and she immediately thought it was a lovely piece even though she is not a textile person. The more I looked and talked with her, I began to think about the double ikat pattern. It isn’t precise like in my previous posts. I think the cloth was dyed, woven, and re-purposed by a farmer’s wife. Cathy and I visited maybe the last farmer’s wife to grow and dye her own indigo in Japan. Traditionally, the women would grow the indigo and weave the family’s cloth while the farmers tended the fields—could be rice paddies.

I love the hit and miss of the warp and weft pattern yet the tiny areas of the threads in the pattern cross exactly in the right places throughout. Once in awhile I could find where the weft ikat pattern really crossed the warp in the right place. This close-but-not- exact gives a real soul to the cloth, I think. It made me think of the woman planting and growing the indigo plants. Then making her vat not with heat, but with cold water. Her son told us that to make the ash for the alkali, they burned the wood for two months which kept them home. Then she tied the warp threads and the weft threads in the ikat pattern. Then the threads would be dyed in the indigo vat and finally woven. I doubt that she minded that the pattern wasn’t precise and thought it was fine the way the threads hit pretty much perfectly. I wonder if the original cloth was a futon cover—a larger piece—or was it always meant to be fabric for a yukata. After the weaving, would be the hand sewing. When washing, the pieces would be taken apart and then put back together again. Probably there were many washings before the cloth was stitched so carefully to the handwoven backing cloth.

I’m making a scroll with the fabric so that I can have it out to look at. The soul of it touches me. I’ve pinned the pieces on top of the fabric for now, but I think I’ll move them up higher.

Changing 2-shaft Weaves to 4 Shafts

All but two illustrations are from my book, Weaving for Beginners. The 2-shaft drafts come from the book shown in a previous post, Adventures in Weaving on a 2-harness loom. NOTE: harness is a common word used for shafts. Shaft is the more correct word and is used here and in my books.

The book, Adventures in Weaving on a 2-harness loom” shows the threading for 2 shafts like in the illustration. (Shafts are often called harnesses.) The two rows represent the 2 shafts. Dots show every other thread on the bottom line and the alternate threads on the top line. And, to show a different color of threads for a stripe, the squares of the graph paper are filled in. In other words, for one color area, both shafts are that color and for another area, both shafts are threaded with another color. The first shaft is always indicated on the bottom line and shaft #2 is on the line above it in American books.

To change from 2 shafts to 4 shafts we often think of odd and even numbers. With a threading on 2 shafts, you could think of shafts 1 & 2 alternating as “odd, even, odd, even, etc. rather than 1,2,1,2,1,2. You would use that idea to switch to 4 shafts. The odd shafts are 1 & 3 and evens are 2 & 4.  Then you would use the rows in the threading draft 1 & 3 instead of the bottom row (shaft #1) and 2 & 4 for shaft #2. In the illustration the sequence of 1,2,3,4 is shown for the threading.  When weaving, you would raise shafts 1 & 3 for a row and 2 & 4 for the alternate rows. Then you would be getting the same plain weave (or “tabby”) as though you were weaving on only 2 shafts, alternating rows with shafts 1 & 2.

In weaving drafts for more than 2 shafts, the American convention is always to show shaft #1 on the bottom line and each additional shaft on the lines going upwards from the bottom. The illustration shows how the threading for 4 shafts would work. If there were 8 shafts, shaft #1 would still be on the bottom line, but there would be 7 more lines above that to indicate 8 shafts. The same principle would be for 12, 16, or 32 shafts, etc.

In my previous post on January 27, 2021, Log Cabin patterns were the subject. That particular pattern depends on threading alternate threads in light and dark. The illustration shows an example of a threading and some patterns on 2 shafts. In the illustration, dots represent light threads and solid squares, dark threads. Note that in the area on the left the lights (dots) are on shaft #1 with darks on #2. In the right area of the draft, it is the reverse with darks on shaft #1 and lights on shaft #2.

To change from 2 shafts to 4 shafts, think again of odds and evens. What was shaft #1 becomes #1 & # 3 –both odd numbers. What was on shaft #2 becomes #2 & #4 –even numbers. And notice carefully that in the illustration, the lights are on the odd shafts on the 4 threads at the ends of the draft and the darks are on the odd shafts for the center 8 threads.

The illustration shows that by switching the placing of the lights and darks, the pattern changes. Note too, that the WEFTS also alternate dark and light to create the patterns and the changes. This is typical log cabin. Often the blocks are all the same size, but they don’t have to be. The widths in the threading determine the widths of the blocks. The height of the blocks is determined by the number of rows woven in a light/dark sequence.

This illustration shows a different way to think of 2-shaft weaves. With 4 shafts you can think of 2 looms: 2 shafts (1 and 2) for one loom. And shafts 3 & 4 can be thought of another 2-shaft loom. That means you could have two different things going on at once. For example, log cabin on shafts 1 & 2 and what every you might like on 3 & 4 for example solid areas or stripes. We call the different “looms” block A and Block B. With more shafts and different patterns, you can have more blocks, say C and D.

Another illustration of 2 blocks. This would be a good idea when using thick and thin WEFTS like in my post on January 29, 2021. You decide what you want to show in Block A, (e.g., lights) and in Block B: lights as well, or darks. Because the blocks are on different shafts they can act independently. See the next illustration.

Thick and thin wefts are woven in this variation of rep weave. Notice that the 2 blocks can be alike (at the top) or different when weaving. The threading can never change, but which shafts you choose to have showing at any one time is up to the weaver. More information about this weave is in Weaving for Beginners. Here I just want to show how 4 shafts can be thought of as 2 looms with 2 shafts each.

Here’s a draft showing an example of the shaft numbers for a two-block design: a center field with borders on the edges.

Plaids On Two Shafts: They Don’t Have to Look Plaid

This picture is from the book: Adventures and Weaving on a 2Harness Loom by Alice K. Cripps

These ideas take “plaids” to different levels. I just realized that all of these projects must have been made on the same warp! The same warp stripe system is in all of them. Cleverly, the tote bag has the pattern turned 90 degrees for another idea and look. What the wefts do make very different designs.
I think of setting up a little system when making a plaid. Here a medium tone (value) color has a narrower light stripe on either side of it.

You want to be sure to think about the edges of the design and often, as in this case, want to end with the same width stripe that you began with. Or another way to put it is to have matching borders on each side with your plaid system between them.
I’ve seen directions that say at the end after all the repeats: add some threads ”to balance”. That way you have matching borders on both sides.

Weft Ikat Revisited

One way of making weft ikat seen here is to stretch out a guide thread and paint or stencil the design for the weft on it. Then it would be stretched out along beside a long bundle of yarns needed for the weft for the entire warp. Where the dark pattern hits the bundle is where the bundle would be tied to resist the dye. I would die to have one of these weft frames with a weft pattern on it.

This shows the areas on the weft where the pattern was to be tied to resist the dye. (The resisted areas resisted the dye and remained white.) Here the wefts are woven on a traditional dark warp.

Here the same wefts woven on a white warp.

Remember this tote bag from a previous post? The egret could have been put on a frame like in the first photo and that pattern thread used to mark the weft for tying and dyeing. Note that white wefts were woven on the dark warp for the light area where there was no pattern.

Remember this pocket I made from an earlier post? Did you see the horses?

Here are the horses! The stencil for the horses was made by the creative young weaver in the previous post. Note that she chose to use a white warp with the stencil for the ikat weft. Her name is Butsusaka Kanako.

What a Difference the Warp Makes (and the weft, too): – Inspiration from a 2-shaft lesson

Slide the vertical line in the photo back and forth and see the difference the color of the warp makes on this weft ikat cloth. We visited a young weaver in Japan who made these 2 different cloths using the same weft threads she ikat dyed.

When I turned back to see what the first lesson was in the 2-shaft book, I liked the idea of one warp color with different colored weft stripes. Weavers with any number of shafts should not forget about this possibility. Often, we weavers sample different wefts to see which we like the best, but seldom make stripes with different colors. Even though the warp changes all the weft colors a bit, many combinations of colors can make good-looking fabric. Using the example from the previous photo, the same idea could apply with a dark warp. This is what inspired this whole post.

This is the traditional way we are used to seeing these cotton weft-ikat fabrics in Japan. White threads for the weft are tied and then dyed in indigo. This results with the pattern being white with a dark background when the warp is also dark.

A close-up of the dark warp with the ikat weft.

I only saw one other example of using a white warp with indigo dyed ikat weft patterning at one other studio—It was a piece displayed on the wall designed by the weaver’s wife’s mother who was an artist. Our young weaver used the non-traditional in the same unique way: using a white warp instead of the traditional dark one.

Two Shafts with thick and Thin Wefts

Lesson 6 in the Adventures in Weaving on a 2 Harness Loom makes stripes in the warp and weft but these are thicker cloths. How thick depends upon the thicknesses of the weft yarns. Usually the warp yarns are about the size of a thinner yarn. However, all of this can be experimental and just how thick or how thin is the choice of the weaver and whether you want a fabric or a mat or a rug and which colors you want to dominate or recede.

An example of a thick yarn is a rug wool which has 250 yards per pound.

A thin yarn can be 5/2 cotton at 2100 yards per pound.

Notice that in the threading draft, some areas are threaded with 2 colors alternating like in log cabin. Other areas are threaded in all one color.

All the examples in the book are woven with only thick weft yarns. You get a fine stripe in the areas where the warp colors alternate and solid color when only one color is used in a warp stripe.

In my book, Weaving for Beginners, I describe a variation where thick and thin wefts alternate, and 2 colors alternate in the warp. This lets you choose which warp color you want to dominate. You do that by having that color warp threads up when you throw the thick weft. Alternately, when the thin weft passes, the other color will recede. The illustration shows how you can have one or the other dominate as you choose for your design.

Log Cabin on Two Shafts

This book from 1950 was in my Two-Shaft file. It specializes in color placement in the warp and weft using Maysville yarns. I’m not sure if they exist anymore.

I like the weave structure, log cabin. There were interesting photos in the book.

Here is the draft from my book, Weaving for Beginners, which shows how the dark and light threads in the warp and weft create the pattern for 4 shafts. The next photo shows how this could be threaded on just 2 shafts.

Here is the threading draft in the Adventures in Weaving book. Dark and light threads alternate.

Of course the blocks don’t have to be all the same width in the warp. Or the same height in the weft, either. Another photo from the 2-shaft book.

Thick and Textured Yarns on Two Shafts

Fine and coarse yarns are designed in the warp and weft in this example.

The same warp threads, but a different look when thick, textured yarns are in used for some of the wefts. They wouldn’t be good choice for warp threads because of getting caught in the heddles or abrasion from the reed but make good choices for wefts.

Again, the same warp threads with a different design for entering the wefts.

Two-Shaft Threading Drafts Ideas

Rather than thread every other thread on shafts 1 and 2 or every 2 threads, you might try this variation of every 3 threads, or any number. Of course, you could do the same or something different in the treadling.

This could be an interesting threading variation. Think of how you could use different colors of threads as well in different areas.

Here’s a variation of the draft above.

Moth alert, Part 3


Last night while working with my dyed silks in our lounge down the hall, a clothes moth happened to fly by. I couldn’t belief it! It had the nerve to fly over my worktable and I dropped my needle and gave it a lethal swat. Then I took its photo: front and back. I was looking for the golden whiskers mentioned in the previous post! I saved it until I got back home and photographed it again with a penny for scale. Now I think it’s time to throw it in the garbage.

A few more responses came in for my last moth report. One person wanted people to know the important fact that moths don’t like light and certainly don’t fly around a light bulb like other moths. That fact reminds me not to let clothes hang in dark closets without wearing them, or shaking them out, or airing in the sun on occasion. Several places on the web say if you want to store things, do in plastic and seal the seams. Moths can eat through a cloth bag.

They like body oils and oils in fleeces. I once (in the 70’s) hung a couple of fleeces in my loom room because I thought it looked neat. When I took them down and looked inside, it was awful. One year I didn’t wash my main sweater in the spring and left it in the drawer. The next fall, it was crawling, too. And a cashmere bathrobe from my mother-in-law languished in the back of the closet when I stopped wearing it and a mess as was on the dress next to it.

One person suggested they put trimmings of cedar in with the wools when they pruned the trees. A word of warning: cedar only kills young larvae, not older ones or eggs! And the effect fades as the scent dies.

One person wrote from the Philippines that they were battling termites.

More Moth Advice

 I got comments with more moth advice and I spent a very few minutes on the web.

If you get moth traps, be sure to get the type for cloth moths, not for food moths. This is a cloth moth. I love the description maybe from Wikipedia. “The adult moth is gold with reddish-golden hairs on the top of its head. A row of golden hairs fringes its wings, which have a span of about ½ inch.” When I’ve  swatted one of those tiny things, I’ve never noticed the golden hairs! They are tiny but “swat-able.”

What the traps do is attract the males and then they get stuck to the sticky surface inside.

Besides freezing, one person wrote that heat in an oven can kill all the cycles of the moth and gave this informative website:

Be sure to date the moth traps and replace every six months.

I tried to find a picture of the debris often seen around where moths have been found. It is white sort of silky and web like. That may be why the moths are called webbing clothes moths. This shows the larvae and eggs, too.

Another comment: “I had a ton of clothes moths in the house; they started from the dog hair under the dish cabinet and spread out around the house. I vacuumed all the wool rugs, both sides each week for a year, vacuumed everywhere else (threw out the vacuum cleaner bag after each vacuuming), sealed all the woolens in plastic bags, and double-bagged my fleeces with the thickest plastic bags I could find. It took 2 years of constant work, but I did it. During the summer I still place the indicators in various areas of the house to find early problems. After several moth-free years I got stupid and brought in a fleece with 12″ locks that I didn’t quarantine and got moths again last year. Sigh…”

You can even buy an iPhone case with moths pictured on it.

A Textile Lover’s Fruit Bowl

I noticed my fruit bowl today and thought not many people have balls of yarn mixed with their apples and oranges. The balls of yarn were there waiting to go into my freezer. The reason: To stop moths from multiplying and eating holes in my wool things. To prevent that: do the following: Put the wool item in the freezer for two days. Take it out for two days. Put it back into the freezer for two more days. The time out allows any eggs to hatch and the freezer zaps them with the second incarceration. This is serious advice used by serious textile people. When they bring home something, it goes straight into the freezer.

I noticed a moth flying around when I was at the computer the other day. I ordered moth traps immediately. I set one up near some other wool yarn that I was suspicious of.

I looked tonight and saw I’d caught one. It’s the larvae that do the harm but flying moths make eggs which make larvae and then turn into more moths. Catching the moths stops the cycle.

I have had this moth trap hanging over my closet for a long time and I can see it’s doing its job. What this means is that I haven’t been religious about the freezer treatment. I discovered a couple of wool garments from trips that had a hole or two –or worse—larvae casings! Then they went to the freezer for sure.

Color Drafting


In this post I go through the process of color drafting the 2-shaft weave from the previous post. For those who are new at drafting, there’s a whole chapter on drafting in my book Weaving for Beginners. Note that I begin the threading on the right and work right-to-left.

Be sure to use pencil and have a good eraser. You’ll see that I had to use it. This was my 3rd start on this, it’s easier to start over when you find mistakes.

First draw the lines defining the part of a weave draft. The chapter on drafting in my book Weaving for Beginners explains the parts of a weave draft.

Put in what you can see on the cloth—both the warps and wefts.

Assign threading to those known. I saw the weft floats first, so I assigned them to Shaft #1. Remember, I work a draft from right to left here and in my books.

Assign what colors you know: the wefts are the horizonal lines.

Add the warp colors now, the vertical lines.

Then I looked for what I could find next: verticals for warps on top on either side of yellow weft areas. NOTE: the colors are not always in the same place! Assign them a shaft: see in the tie up that shaft #2 is lifted so all the lifted warps must be on shaft #2.

Now discover what the last warp threads will be. Now I need to look below to the rows below to discover those and I see the first is orange. Again, looking for vertical threads in the cloth.

Fill in the same way for the missing spaces: see that they are all shaft 1’s and watch out to get the colors right. I see below, a warp lifted in the first rows is followed by a weft every time.

We know the weft color from the photo of the cloth so fill in the wefts (horizontals).

We see on the cloth that each warp missing is orange. See that the single warps have 1 orange and one yellow since we know the yellows (wefts) already, so the rest must be orange.

 Now we know all the warps in the threading draft AND we know some of their colors, too. So fill in the colors we know. Then we can fill in the yellow wefts but that’s easy. We still have to determine the colors of some of the warps. Again, look for rows below for the clues needed. The vertical floats are easy to see.

Now put in the treadling 1 & 2.
What’s under the grey floats, check wefts so check the image and you can see shaft 1 should be up from the treadling and see the color from the photo or further down the draft. Notice I tried to erase grey in rows 5 & 7. They should be yellow wefts colored in the treadling draft.

What goes on under all the floats you can check out first in the treadling draft: what shaft is up. Then, fill in the blanks for the wefts (horizontals). Then clean up the draft and you’re done. (I hope I haven’t made any mistakes! Let me know if you find any.)

Two-Shaft (harness) Weaving: Part One

I discovered weavers with many shafts often become interested in weaves for just two shafts. I’ve kept a file, and these fabric samples were on top. The label on the sample card says Konwiser inc. When I looked them up on the web, I found they are on the MoMa website with two furnishing fabrics dated before 1955. I don’t think they are in business now.

There are 6 colorways in the collection: all the same weave.

The third in the stack of samples. So interesting how the different colors make such a difference.

These are 52% cotton and 48% wool upholstery fabrics.

The price on the label is $14.25 and the width, 54”.

The name given to this collection is “Bahia”. My next post will be about drafting these and color drafting. In the meantime, see if you can work out the draft and if we agree.

Bhutan Singles Handspun Yarn Woven UP

This is a scroll I made with the handspun yarn from Bhutan that I unwound from the skeins with a cross. It measures 8” x 27. That makes the warp 8” wide; a width I often do. It was on my small 4-shaft loom.

Here is a close-up of the center pieces I dyed with black walnuts. My original plan was to weave white cloth and dye it. However, I’m really liking the whites I wove and don’t know if I’ll dye any more of them or not.

This piece is very supple with thick and thin wefts in plain weave. It’s surprising how lovely the singles yarn wove up. Singles for warps finish up flatter than plied yarns which makes a nice cloth. Then for the selvedges you use 4 plied yarns. I might use sewing thread or 5/2 pearl cotton or something else like the warp yarn.

Here is a close-up showing the different wefts.

Here, the warp and weft are both the handspun yarn.

The warp is the one I wove the needle cushions on. Here I just used one block for the whole cloth. I hard pressed it then to flatten the floats. That means when it was damp from wet finishing (light hand washing) I ironed it hard.

Here, I used a very fine thread for the weft. I had made a warp of it at 125 epi so you know it is fine. Since I knew it was fragile, I didn’t snug up the wefts at the selvedges and just let them splay out a good bit. The reason for the fine weft was to see how the handspun yarn looked without any weft showing.

A Special Niddy Noddy to Make a Cross in Skeins

This skein from Bhutan has a cross in the middle and in my last post I showed how two swifts were needed  to unwind the yarn.

Here is the niddy noddy I brought back from a weaver in Bhutan.

This one is beautiful. It’s made of a branch of bamboo. I absolutely love it and hang it on my wall and almost swoon when I walk by. (I held up the group a bit while buying this exact one.)

I am trying to show you how long it is by putting it against the door to my apartment.

Here is the path the yarn will take to make the cross in the skein.

Balling Yarn: Part One

I brought back this handspun, overspun, tangled skein from Bhutan. I bought it to show the others in the group what handspun yarn was like. I bought two enormous skeins—one was the most tangled I could find. I balled the yarn for a few nights in my apartment when things were calm and peaceful—before I got on to another creative binge.

I stayed back in my room one afternoon to unwind one skein to show the group. Was I flabbergasted when I couldn’t open the skein from either end, and found A CROSS in the skein!

I can’t say how many wonderfully peaceful hours I’ve spent balling these skeins. In a shop I saw a woman unwinding a skein using two swifts. Then I realized how I could unwind my skeins.

With the cross in the middle it’s been a pleasure. Never a tangle and every thread came off in perfect order.

Making it more interesting is that each yarn is made up of two singles. They weren’t plied, but doubled and sometimes one was longer than the other.  That meant I got to keep two balls going as I unwound the skein. Besides, the yarns were sticky.

Here are the two balls. One yarn was definitely thinner. Part two will show how they made the cross in the skein.

Conversations with Cloth, Episode 4

Wednesday, January 6 is the last episode of this series from Slow Fibers Studios, Conversations with Cloth. Ana Lisa Hedstrom and Yoshiko Wada put on informative and very inspiring ‘Conversations with Cloth.’ They are wonderful and available to anyone in the world by Zoom.

Previous episodes are available to view! Topics have been on Shibori, Nui Shibori, and Clamp Resist. Terrific examples, up close directions, and always a collection of contemporary work.

This week will be on shibori in Africa and stitching on the sewing machine for resist. Also, I think, items from Yoshiko’s collection. Yoshiko has been the tour leader for many of my trips to Japan. I love her and her breadth and depth of knowledge

Upcoming series are in the works with real virtual workshops. Check out Slow fiber Studios for more information. I can tell you they are what you expect from Yoshiko and Ana Lisa.

  • Episode #4: Exporting Shibori to Africa from Arimatsu Narumi, 1948-49, Machine Sewn-resist, and Complex Substrate

Wednesday • January 6 • 2021, 1pm-3pm (pacific coast time)

Yoshiko and Ana Lisa will discuss creative solutions the Japanese artisans came up with to meet demand in the African market for wide width, quick production, and dramatic patterns. Examples of the artisans’ solutions were to use a sewing machine for compression-resist (kikai-sekka shibori), enlarge the scale of traditional techniques, and incorporate printed substrates. Ana Lisa will discuss her own way of using the sewing machine in her art textiles, and images from contemporary artists’ work will be shared.  We hope our analysis of a variety of artists’ and artisans’ technical and design approaches will inspire shibori practitioners to find innovative ways to scale up their production.

From left to right: (1) Kumo & Miura shibori, (2) Tesuji shibori & sewing machine, (3) Printed mock shibori, (4) Miura shibori on printed cloth, (5) Sewing machine resist, (6) Sewing machine resist & Nui and kumo shibori

The Start of 2021

New Year’s Day.
14” x 23”

Commercial cotton I dyed in indigo.
Center: Silk Velvet I got in Italy from the weavers.
This piece represents my hope for the new year for me. Simple, clear, and calm; but interesting.

The original idea was to turn the nap of the white velvet 90 degrees to make the border show. If one stands at exactly this spot you can see it. The velvet pile is so short there is almost no difference in the direction of the nap.

You can see I didn’t catch that one square was turned the wrong way when I put it together. It only shows up when you stand in that certain place. When I was working on it, I kept trying to get them all lined up correctly.

I bought this small piece of white velvet and loved it because it was so silky-soft, but I could never find a way to use it. I think cutting it into squares helped make it more than just a scrap. I’m glad I didn’t lose it! I chose the blue velvet because it looked contemporary to me. I used every millimeter I had.

Front-on, no pattern can be seen.