My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 8

Day 8. Walking in the Teramachi District. We walked in a large arcade area with a fish market, places to eat and many shops. This shop really made me know we were in Japan.

I thought these were soft ice cream cones until I noticed the flavors! We passed them by.

There are several quite inventive designer shops named Sou Sou– pronounced so-so. All with nice textile things. Things to wear and for the home. The separate shops are all very close to each other. You don’t want to miss any of them. I got a nice jacket.

We went walking in the Gion district. The old buildings are beautiful and it was nice to see women strolling wearing kimonos.

Lots of strollers were out.

We saw an exhibition of red kimonos that are worn under kimonos. They were collected by Glen Kaufman at flea markets. Here he is at the show. Gallery Gallery is the name of the gallery. It’s in an old building with many artists. It’s always stimulating to visit here but it always seems to be the end of the afternoon when I’m nearly worn out. Then it gives me a second wind because of all the art textiles to be seen.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 7

Day 7 A Glorious Park in Nara: Isuien Garden.
We took a train to Nara to see an exit of old hemp and ramie textiles in the Neireku Museum which is in a most beautiful park composed of Japanese gardens. It is more beautiful than the famous gardens in Kyoto and there weren’t the crowds. It was a real contemplative place. The textiles were so fine they spoke to my heart but the gardens spoke to my heart and soul.

A tea house in Isuien Garden in Nara.

More of the garden.

We practically had the whole place to ourselves. Just like it was meant to be.

Back in Kyoto we went to a shop that sold all kinds of dye supplies: Tanakanao Senryoten. There were hundreds of brushes, chemicals, and textiles for dyeing.

There were hundreds of rolls of fabrics to dye. I bought some silks, linens, ramie and cottons. It was great to be able to buy just a tenth of a meter: 10″ of a lot of different fabrics. It was almost overwhelming.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 6

Day 6. To-ji Shrine Flea Market. Here is my loot after 5 hours of serious shopping. We arrived at 7:30 and left at 12:30.

There were lots and lots of textile vendors. By noon this one was a mob scene. We were glad we went early.


This couple sold things dyed with green persimmons. I wore a scarf I dyed with green persimmon dye from Japan so we had a little conversation.


Another couple with green persimmon dyed things. I bought a hat that will keep off sun and rain.

Yet another persimmon dyer. It was really fun to find these dyers. Some also sold the dye. I liked seeing the variety of colors you can get. Kakishibu is the word for persimmon and I pronounced it so I was understood so we could connect right away.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 5

Day 5. Shopping in Kyoto. We had the afternoon and went first thing to Gallery Kei on Teramachi Street near City Hall. She specializes in old textiles made of bast fibers. My loot was from there and another old textiles shop on the street, Tadashi-ya.

This is Gallery Kei which is a first destination in Kyoto for antique textiles.

A closer look at Gallery Kei.

It was dark by the time we left the shop called Tadashi-ya. It’s small but the textiles are piled high. The light blue piece in my photo came from there. It is gorgeous close-up. The weft threads are made of paper.

Here we are after finished shopping.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 4

Day 4. Arakei Textile (who we visited in Chichibu) had an exhibition at Mitsukoshi, a prestigious department store. We exchanged websites–they had put our visit on their site and I put them on mine! It was a grand display.

Another display at Mitsukoshi department store. We will be going to Hakata to see a weaving place. Traditionally they weave obi like the ones sumo wrestlers wear. I wonder what we’ll see when we get there. Here they are promoting their non traditional textiles.

Another department store, Matsuya, had a boutique of textiles from Nuno. Their textiles are ones we watch for because they are so innovative. I learned to make this exact textile in a workshop with Yoshiko Wada!

An exhibit of indigo Japanese work clothes was at International Christian University. They have a big collection of textiles and many exhibits. This is a place to keep watching for future shows.

Also at International Christian University. Japanese folk art. These are all wonderful devices to hang a tea pot over the hibachi. I have one that I treasure.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 3

14711959_292358091162814_5099983779477323776_nDay 3. Tokyo Favorite Places Today!
First stop: Issey Miyake. This was the first of several of his shops on the street.

Second stop: another Issey Miyake shop.

One of the many designer shops we passed by on the way to a favorite lunch place. We didn’t stop in. I thought the long black sleeves added something.

yatescountyhome commented. “I like the ‘ selfie ‘ in the window.”

City Shop is the name of a very popular place for lunch. The four of us were the only people over 30 but no one seemed to mind and it’s a very different kind of restaurant with great food. We had to wait to get a table.

Fourth stop: Morita the antique textile dealer. Lovely things to touch and see. Cathy Cerny and I always find some treasures when we go there. I found an old weaver’s sample book and some gorgeous white silk crepe kimono fabric this time.

Last stop for tea and dessert in a lovely flower shop. This is the tea shop Cathy and I discovered a couple of trips back. We look forward to it every time after a day in this area. The subway stop is: Omoto-Sando. My iPhone says the location is: Minato-minamiaoyama.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 2

Day 2 a day with two textile experts. We visited Haruko Watanabe who has a large collection of textiles made in the Meisen technique. In fact she is going to give a lecture and show her amazing kimonos in New York soon. The designs and colors were bold to say the least for the period that is her specialty.

Haruko Watanabe bending over the boxes full of kimonos. She maybe showed us at least 30 smashing pieces–all in perfect condition.

The huge pile of kimonos she showed us. We offered to help put the back into their boxes but she said no.

Then we visited with Keiko Kobayashi an accomplished weaver and artist. She wrote this comprehensive book about textile constructions. Her drawings are so clear, never mind that the book is in Japanese. There are some captions in English.

Keiko Kobayashi is also a scholar. This is her article in the Textile Museum Journal. The next photo shows the cover for information.

This is the volume of the Textile museum Journal that includes keiko Kobayashi’s article.

My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 1 / Part 2

Day 1 / Part 2 – More About Meisen Weaving in Chichibu. This is the front of a brochure from the studio we visited: Arakei Textile. An image is printed on a warp.

First temporary wefts are woven very far apart in a warp of white threads. Then the extremely loosely woven cloth is taken to the printing table. Here you can barely see one weft on a diagonal. See the next photo.

Here you can see that temporary weft in this photo of the printed warp. I brought home a piece of the printed warp. The warp threads are barely held in place by the temporary weft–just enough so the warp can be put into the loom. If I disturb these printed threads they will separate some so they must stay put or all the threads could get out of line.

Here you can see on the loom where the cloth has been woven and also the printed warp threads not yet woven.

These young women were wearing lovely kimonos of Meisen fabric while shopping in the showroom on the day we were there. I am not on a tour for this trip but am traveling with my travel partner on many previous tours. Dear friends drove us to Chichibu which is three hours from Tokyo.


My Japan Weaving Tour – Day 1

Day 1. Our trip to Chichibu to see Meisen weaving. This is outside the weaving shop. The man is the weaver. His mother made most of the delicious food which we ate with our tea after seeing everything and shopping.


The looms! It always thrills me to see the looms. These were powered by the belts and pulleys overhead.


For the Meisen technique the pattern is printed on the warp before weaving. Here you can see the supply of warp on the roller that shows the printed warp. The two layers in the photo show the printed warp threads more closely.


On this loom every other thread goes over the rod. This distorts the pattern or shifts the pattern a bit so that an image can overlap itself. Instead of a simple circle a second circle overlaps the original one in the finished design.


Here the weaver is explaining the printing process on the long printing table. Woven scarves are displayed overhead.


This is a warp that has been printed on. It will be put into the back of a loom and then will be woven. This is a very special technique done in this village in the mountains outside Tokyo. I bought the beautiful blue and white silk scarf seen at the edge of the photo.

I’m off to Japan on my Weaving Tour


Arrived in Tokyo at 4:00AM so stayed in this deluxe capsule hotel at Hamada Airport. There was room for my big suitcase thank goodness. We will be in Japan for three weeks.


And room to stretch out and watch TV. No TV for me. The space cost around $30 for 3 hours and was really comfortable.


This is what the regular price capsule looked like. Bathroom and shower were down a hall along with a Japanese bath big enough for 4 people. It was a glorious way to begin our first day.

Counting Down My Top Ten Weaving Tips – #2: Why Warp Back-to-Front

It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 2. This one has had 9254 views as of today!! The top one has more than 31,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
In my  book, “Weaving for Beginners“, I describe back-to-front warping as I usually do. However, I’ve asked Patricia Townsend to write directions for front-to-back and the reasons she has taught it for many years to high school students. Look for her detailed directions in the book. Meanwhile, here’s my take on the subject.I advocate and write about warping your loom from back to front. Many American weavers were taught to warp from front to back, and that method works fine for them and has been described in many books. I feel that warping back-to-front (beginning at the back of the loom) has important advantages and I invite you to try this technique. It will come in handy someday when you or someone you know is faced with a challenging warp. And since it works for all warps, especially those challenging ones, I think it is the ideal method for beginning weavers to learn. The first method you learn is usually the one you know best and back-to-front is a method you can always rely on.
I admit, I learned front-to-back first. Soon I learned back-to-front, and later Jim Ahrens taught the European back-to-front techniques which were even better. It is these back-to-front techniques that I describe in this book. Just to say back-to-front is or isn’t better than front-to-back isn’t enough. Jim’s way, the European way, has important advantages over both another back-to-front method and a skilled front-to-back method for warping your loom, mainly because it has no limitations on the type of warp yarn or project.Even my front-to-back warping friends have found that for fragile yarns, high twist yarns, fine yarns at dense setts, and using two or more warps, it is easier to warp back-to-front.

An experienced teacher looked at some of my samples woven out of sewing thread and when I asked her how she could possibly have done them warping from front-to-back, she immediately responded, “Why, I’d never want to do such a thing!” My response helped me clear my mind about how important Jim’s methods are. I said, “Yes, but your students might.” Then she agreed-maybe she was teaching her beginning students a method with a handicap. I continued, “My teachers never dreamed of the warps I’ve made. Two examples are fine silk damask at 114 ends per inch using 5 strands as 1 thread, and sewing thread at 200 epi so I could weave 5 layers that unfolded.” (Now I am working with fine silk at 120 ends per inch.) 

  • Sometimes I weave dense warps. My front-to-back friends wonder how I could possibly see to thread. My answer is that the threads are quite spread out in the heddles during threading, and it isn’t until they get to the reed that they are pushed so close together. I still wonder how one could put 200 epi into a reed and thread the heddles with the warps so tightly packed together-the front-to-back method.
  • Sometimes I weave with fragile warp threads-my front-to-back warpers wonder how I can weave them without threads breaking all the time. I tell them that beaming on the threads in groups gives them the strength to go on the warp beam under tension. When they are woven, they pass through the heddles and reed for the first and only time. They are not subjected to abrasion, static, or to tension during beaming like front-to-back warps.
  • In back-to-front warping, the warp is beamed immediately so almost all of the warp is under tension during the threading process. In front-to-back, the warps are not under tension until after threading.
    I’ve seen classrooms full of tangled warps hanging from the breast beams and splayed out in the reeds. Just untangling the threads while beaming them through the reed and heddles is a struggle for the weaver, let alone a hardship on the threads. Jim’s principle applies here: “The only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension.”
  • Some yarns, like singles wool and high twist yarns, kink up on themselves or twist into groups of yarns. Again, it would be a great frustration to the weaver and the threads to try to force them through the reed and the heddles during beaming. And again, putting them on in groups using a raddle and getting them under tension on the warp beam eliminates the struggle.
  • Many front-to-back warpers feel strongly that designing random colors and/or textures in the reed is a major reason for using their method. Mixtures of textures and sticky yarns and dense warps can be a struggle to beam through the reed and heddles. And since the warp threads are not under tension while sleying the reed and threading the heddles, they can get terribly tangled. I suggest in the stripes chapter that the same designing can be done in the raddle and the mixture of warp threads can be beamed on the warp beam better back-to-front.
  • Some weavers feel that putting 2 warps on a single warp beam requires front-to- back. I refer them to chapter on two or more warps. They can be put on efficiently back-to-front.

Front-to-back makes good sense if your loom is uncomfortable for you to thread working the European way, or if the back of the loom is not accessible. After all, I do want weaving to be pleasurable.

As for speed, some of my front-to-back friends say their way is faster. That might be true given a sturdy warp that isn’t really long, wide, and dense.

I’ve been told that back-to-front has more steps. Here are the tasks, in order, for both methods.

Front-to-back Steps
1.Wind the warp
2.Sley the reed
3.Thread the heddles
4.Knot the warp on the back beam
5.Beam on the warp using sticks
6.Tie on the front apron rod
Back-to-front Steps
1.Wind the warp
2.Load the raddle
3.Beam on the warp, no tangles
4.Thread the heddles
5. Sley the reed to accommodate the knots and untangling the threads as you go
6.Tie on the front apron rod
I think it makes sense for you to learn first a method that can be used for every single warp you might dream up. Then, later, learn front-to-back when you’re more experienced. By that time, you know what kinds of warps you are likely to make and the loom you’re likely to have. Then you can decide which method is for you, or both, depending on the situation.


More Fun at the Farm

It’s always a treat to visit Mimi Luebbermann’s Windrush Farm in Petaluma. When I asked her if she would do a guest post for my blog she mentioned that there will be a spinning class beginning next week–October 1. Just being out in the country is special, but learning how to spin yarn from a sheep’s fleece is the icing on the cake. I think there are two sessions.
Lamb and Boy

She told me about a flea market she has in the fall where people bring what they don’t want to keep in their stashes anymore and take home new stuff. 
I went to her holiday sale and farm day last fall and look forward to going again.

sorting-fleece-2“We have our beginning classes starting next week, Oct 1 and 2, a two part beginning to really get folks spinning.  Then, on October 9, I am having a spin-in day, with spinners coming to the farm to spin and have a potluck lunch and for those folks who wish, a fiber flea market.”

There’s always a Holiday Sale paigegreenpattybrown31314-203at the farm: dyeing, spinning demonstrations and of course, seeing the sheep. (Lambs don’t come until the spring.) I forget when the day is to see the sheep getting sheared–but that is a really nice thing to do, too.


A Knot to Make When One End is Very Short

Weaver's Knot When One End is Short

Weaver’s Knot When One End is Short

You might use this method when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short.

  1. Make a slip knot in the long thread–the worker thread.
  2. Slip the loop over at least 3/8″ of the short warp thread.
  3. Pull the tail and the standing end of the worker thread away from each other (in opposite directions from each other). This capsizes or flips the knot inside out.
  4. Tighten by holding the tail and standing end of the short thread between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; pull on the remaining standing end with the other hand.

Release, or undo the knot the same as with any weaver’s knot.

One word of caution from Vince Webers of Wilmington, Delaware: If you make the slip knot too tight to start with, this weaver’s knot won’t “upset”(capsize) in Step 3. He says you soon learn how much you should pull on the two threads. If you want to test this, try it with two ropes.

Learning New Things with Yoshiko Wada and Elisa Ligon

Straight Persimmon Dye1

Yoshiko Wada and Elisa Ligon

I took a workshop called Shibori and Sublimation Printing on the weekend. It was really inspiring. We were dying on polyester using shibori techniques and dying by sublimation using disperse dyes and a heat press. I hope to use the ideas with my persimmon dyes on silk and cotton.
Straight Persimmon Dye2

Straight Persimmon Dye3
Straight Persimmon Dye4
Straight Persimmon Dye5

A Day in the Country

Mimis Friends-2
I had a glorious day in the countryside near Petaluma at my friend’s farm with some of her fiber-loving friends. After a fine lunch we sat around and visited while knitting. Then we cooled off in the pool. I love this landscape and drive out to be in it whenever I need a country fix. In August I always look for blooming naked ladies. They were flourishing along the roadside. I brought home some precious green persimmons–perfectly hard–to make my own dye called kakishibu. It might take 3 years to ferment to really do a good job!
Mimis Countryside-2
Persimmon 1-2

Mimis Pool-2Naked Ladies

Weaver’s Knot: Make It using the Rabbit Hole Story: Part I of 3

Knowing how to tie the weaver’s knot is very satisfying. I use it when I want a small, thin knot. I first learned it with the “ears” method but I see that I decided to just use the rabbit hole story in my book Weaving for Beginners. The next posts will have more details and how to make a double weaver’s knot.

The weaver’s knot’s characteristics–non-slip and a quick release–are valued not only by weavers but by climbers and sailors, too. The knot can be used whenever two cords are tied together or to fasten one cord to a loom part. Because it can’t be tied under tension, it is a good knot when measuring the warp when you have a slack thread to work with. It can be tied with short ends, but not with very slippery threads, such as silk. It’s slower to work than a square knot, but more secure and smaller. So if a square knot doesn’t hold, try a weaver’s or double weaver’s.

There are several names associated with the weaver’s knot, such as bowline and sheet bend. One of my previous tips was the weaver’s knot with “ears.” 

By remembering the following climber’s story, you can always remember this version of the weaver’s knot. Imagine a rabbit hole with a tree growing right behind it. Every day the rabbit jumps out of his nest, runs around the tree, and pops back into the hole. Think of the rabbit hole as a length of cord using the short tail end to form a loop. The “tree” (or tail of the cord) ends up behind the “hole” (loop).

Another cord follows the rabbit’s daily path. This cord comes up through the loop, runs around the cord tree, and pops back into the loop.

To tighten, pull equally on both standing ends in opposite directions. Release in the same way for all weaver’s knots.

Weaver's Knot: Another Way

Weaver’s Knot: Another Way



The key to knowing you’ve tied the weaver’s knot correctly is to be able to release or undo it. To undo it, you want to straighten out the thread that makes the “U”in the completed knot. No matter which way you tie it, there is one thread in a U-shape and the other thread winding itself around the first. Pull on both ends of that “U” thread-in opposite directions-to unbend it and straighten it out. The squiggly portion can be slipped right off, and even the squiggles relax so you have two fresh threads when you’re through. See figures below.
Weaver's Knot

More information in Weaving for Beginners and Book #2: Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps

Dying with Kakishibu–Green Persimmons

persimmon dye with iron modifier on various fabrics [click to enlarge]

persimmon dye with iron modifier on various fabrics [click to enlarge]

I’ve been interested that I could dye with green persimmons for awhile and I have a friend with persimmon trees. But when I got Chris Conrad’s book, “Kakishibu: Traditional Persimmon Dye of Japan”” and found I could buy the dye already made I was hooked. These are some of my first experiments. I love them and have more pictures for an album we’ll make later. Her book told me all I needed to know to get started.  Visit her website :

persimmon dye with no iron modifier on various fabrics except for the dark piece in the center [click to enlarge]

persimmon dye with no iron modifier on various fabrics except for the dark piece in the center [click to enlarge]


Yarn and Sett Charts for Good Weaving

Here are the sett charts from my book, Weaving for Beginners.

Peggy Osterkamp - Weaving for Beginners [click to enlarge]

Peggy Osterkamp – Weaving for Beginners [click to enlarge]


They are more like summaries of the comprehensive charts found in my book, Winding a Warp & Using  a Paddle but I think they can do for a quick check. My charts are based on the yards per pound (m/kg) of the yarns. You can read how the calculations were made, Ashenhurst, and much more about sett in my tips on the website. Search for sett.  
Sett Chart

Twill Sett Chart

Meters? Yards? Kilograms? or Pounds? –Calculating for Weaving

Metric Equivalants

[ click to enlarge ]

Here is a chart to convert yards per pound to meters per kilograms. I got a request a while ago for this information so my European subscribers could understand US labels better. In my book , Weaving for Beginners, there are sett charts with both yd per lb and m/kg. I thought it would be handy to just have the equivalents in a separate chart here.
My next post will be 2 sett charts that include both metric and US measurements.

Peggy Osterkamp’s Worksheet

My Worksheet
Here is my project worksheet that I always use. It’s in my book Weaving for Beginners. Someone asked if I could put it here on the blog so it will be easier to make copies than from the book. I posted it on my blog a few years ago, but think it’s time to post it again now that I have close to 600 subscribers (598). It is used to calculate the many things needed when planning a project. This worksheet lets you figure out how long and wide the warp should be and the amount of warp and weft yarn you need. When I was starting out, I was always worried that I’d forget a critical calculation. You may download the worksheet HERE.

Camp Season Almost Here

Table Looms for Camp
Here are my Structo table looms all ready for the campers later in June. Last year we had great creativity from the 6-11 year-olds. Finally a use for my looms that have been gathering dust n my studio. Last year was a great success so we are going to do it again this year. I always wonder before hand how it will go over. The kids last year were so eager. I made the warps–2 1/2″ wide and then cut cut them off when they are all done and glue the cut ends.

My First Guest Post! Calm Obsession by Regina Potts

Claw for post
I started guest posting with Regina Potts. It all began when she emailed me with a better way to stretch out the cloth on the loom. I suggested using croc clips in my book, Weaving for Beginners. We’ll be collaborating in future posts. I like her idea, her stories, and the way she thinks.
Here it is in PDF format. Just click the post title below
Weighted Claw Temple by Regina Potts

Fine Threads, Oh, MY! A Video

Threading My Loom with Threads that are as Fine as Hairs

I’ve been threading the heddles now for a few weeks—about an hour at a time and when I can get into the studio. It’s such a meditative thing that I wanted to have a film made. I’ve never used so fine a thread before and I hope it can stand up to the tension and abrasion of weaving. This short segment is the beginning of the film I’m dreaming of. I hope we can put together the rest of setting up the loom and me weaving—and an end result. This time threading is both soothing and ‘hair’ raising—you’ll see why in the video. If you’re not a weaver and don’t want details, go to the video now.

The thread is so fine that I couldn’t get it wound off from the skein so I sent it to Japan for them to wind it off (my friend with the equipment in the US couldn’t do it). It came back on about 15 cones—each with a very small amount of thread on it. So even the experts had a hard time—so many cones means that the thread kept breaking and they had to find an end and start a new cone over and over.

I’m planning on 120 threads per inch—the threads in my other sheer warps have been only 96 ends per inch. That gives you an idea of how fine we are talking about—like hairs.

I thought I’d warp 10 cones at a time as I’ve done with the other thread. Well, things kept breaking and threads blew around in the air and I almost gave up. I did end up using 4 cones at a time. I could keep track of those and repair them every time one broke and find its own exact path to the heddles in the heck block on my warping reel.

I didn’t notice that the 4 cones weren’t in position to make a perfect cross so I ended up with a 2×2 cross. You’ll notice that in the video. Jim Ahrens taught us that 2 threads at a time can work but never more than that. (3 or more threads will braid up on one another.) I’m hoping that is true because every thread has a mate in the cross. The reason to use a paddle is so you can always make a thread-by-thread cross. In my case I have a heck block that does that job connected to my reel. I am lucky enough to have a warping reel that Jim Ahrens made.