China Tour 2019 – Day 10

A spectacular exhibition of contemporary Chinese clothing designs is another great exhibition at the Chinese National Silk Museum in Hangzhou. There might have been 100 outfits just in the contemporary section. An interesting section before the explosion of Chinese culture preceded which was a big contrast. [click photos to enlarge]

Very creative I thought.

Ethnic flair was paired with a very nice contemporary top.


China Tour 2019 – Day 9

I made it to the China National Silk Museum. A complex of modern buildings—I mean several entire buildings devoted to textiles.  The exhibition is getting set up for opening on the 20th. Loom building, high fashion exhibition, other buildings all with great exhibitions and too much to see even though I had all day. [click photos to enlarge]

All these are from the first floor of the Silk Road history exhibit. Beautiful garments and ancient as well as fragments on display. Silk has been documented over 5000years ago. This brown jacket was tie died with tiny dots. I’m only showing in this post the garments I thought beautiful and interesting. No dates: no time to absorb. Just beauty.

Pants with boot protectors. See trim.

Long brown coat. See next image for special detail.

On long brown coat the first button ever found in China!!

Jacket. Shear. So simple with just these few narrow bands.

Beige dress. This was the first thing I saw on the second floor. I had to take a break. Will see about it the next time. I love all the shapes of these garments a lot.  The museum explains the weaving techniques with wonderful explanations and examples. This is a fantastic place!!!!!!

I couldn’t resist two more. Isn’t  the checkerboard great?

Another simple short jacket with an interesting neckline.

Great news from China!

Peggy just got a message that the Chinese National Silk Museum wants to purchase her piece (that’s in their current BoND exhibit) for their permanent collection! The photo above shows the piece installed in the gallery. We will post a video of it soon so you can see visitors experience it as it rotates in the breeze. [click photos to enlarge]

© Landworks Studio

The China National Silk Museum (CNSM), near the West Lake in Hangzhou, is one of the first national-level museums in China and the largest silk museum in the world, covering an area of 50,000 square meters and a building area of 8,000 square meters. It opened in February 26, 1992, and was extensively refurbished in 2015-2016.

China Tour 2019 – Day 8

Peggy’s photos you see here were taken on day 8 but she had terrible connection problems at the start of the middle phase of her tour – the time at the China Silk Museum show. All of the captions were stripped from her Instagram posts. She has found a solution but for now you will see few words and you’ll have to use your imagination.  [click photos to enlarge]

The moon door just inside.

A portion of the garden behind the moon door.

Yoshiko had a lovely dinner for her people tonight. This was the appetizer course. One dish in the main course was jellyfish. Tasted very nice but took some nerve to try it.

China Tour 2019 – Day 7

My finished pig. My teacher helped fine tune but I did most of it. It’s about 5” wide. [click photos to enlarge]

Today we learned how to do a Miao people’s braiding technique. At first our teacher went so fast I was sure I could never do it. But she was patient and I could make the straight and curved patterns. The braiding stand had propitious figures on it for good luck.

Another class today was learning the correct proportions to draw the Buddha. It was challenging especially since we had to draw two of most everything. For example after managing to draw an ear we then had to make another one but mirror image. Same with eyes, etc. The proportions had to be exact as determined long ago.

Yesterday we learned to make half of a traditional Chinese button. What we call a frog.

This is the shop where we had our button lesson. The other people were working on various stitching projects.

This is the pigment shop. Today we learned how time consuming it is to process pigments for painting. It was interesting to learn that several shades can be made from one pigment.

We saw the rug loom shop where there were 6 or 8 huge rug looms. Students were learning by making small pieces—maybe 3 feet square or so. My students made pieces about 3” square! Only a few of the looms were warped and none had anything in progress.

There was a weaving area with different looms. This one sure had an interesting arrangement to lift the shafts. There were some old looms set up to weave cloth for embroidery and some small looms for students to learn on. There were many other workshops but these were ones we had lessons in. There also was pottery, Chinese painting, glass and more I’ve forgotten. Jin Ze Art Centre is a very interesting place, indeed!

China Tour 2019 – Day 6

A bridge without sides made for horses in a calvary long ago just outside the Jin Ze Art Centre. We crossed the bridge on our way to catch a small boat to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the river.  [click photos to enlarge]

The floor of the calvary bridge called the Welcome Bridge. There were many lovely bridges along our hour long boat ride. All had colorful names.

Here we are on top of one of the bridges. I hope you can enlarge it to recognize us.

I like this photo of the guy on the steps. There were so many wonderful scenes on the boat.

Another shot from our little boat. The boatman stood on the back and paddled with a very long paddle. Similar to those in Venice I think.

Reflections everywhere.

Another bridge. There was a lot of commerce on the rivers long ago we were told.

I just liked the rooftop. A lovely lovely morning.

China Tour 2019 – Day 5

A weaver weaving fine silk tapestry at the Jin Ze Art Centre where we are staying 4 nights. [click photos to enlarge]

This was the set up made for our embroidery class. It was daunting I thought immediately.

Here I am trying to work with one hand on top and the other below. It took some practice to get so my left hand below could poke the needle up where I wanted.

I chose to do this picture because it looked a lot easier than the one we were presented with. And I liked it. This was drawn by the head religious man here at the center in honor of the year of the pig.

This is how far I got after 2 hours of concentration. I’m told there will be time to finish it before we leave. It was really interesting that I immediately calmed down when I began stitching. I had had enormous internet trouble and was very upset before.

China Tour 2019 – Day 4

We are staying at Jim Ze Art Centre near Shanghai. It is culturally associated with a Tibetan Buddhist group. Young adults from a village in the mountains come to learn various crafts. Today we saw some of the students of thangka painting. I was impressed by their posture and intensity. They painted completely with tiny dots. [click photos to enlarge]

The art center is beautiful wherever you look. This is a scene that greeted us when we arrived.

A night science walking to our room from dinner.

The archery court st night. There are 13 acres of grounds and we toured only a small part today. Each place you turn is something you can’t believe your eyes.

Cathy is hiding from the camera!

What my bed will look like tonight. It feels quite cozy and comfortable inside the net. More tomorrow.

China Tour 2019 – Day 3 (no day 2 post)

Tubu weaving on Chongming Island, Shanghai. This sturdy cotton cloth used to be woven on this island. We were told a bride need to have 100 rolls of cloth at her marriage. Everything was made from it: clothing, shoes, home furnishings. Simple weave patterns made by using dark and light threads in specific ways using plain weave. We weavers call a common patter log cabin and other color and weave effects. Not much is woven now but is being appreciated. [click any photo to enlarge]

This woman has a fabulous collection of tubu cloth and a weaving studio with lots of old looms and tools.

The weaving room had a dirt floor to help control humidity and there were lots of old looms and equipment.

We had too brief a time at the Power station of art Museum in Shanghai before leaving the city. A fabulous show of three avant- guard artists. Here is a piece by Yves Klein.

An installation by yves Klein. He said he tried all his life to get pigment to look right on canvases but whatever her used to adhere it changed the color. At last he relied on gravity to get the effect he wanted with pigment.

China Tour 2019 – Day 1

Everything is up to date in Shanghai. There are skyscrapers everywhere with very interesting shapes to be seen all around.

From our 13th floor room window we could see these old traditional Chinese buildings as well as modern skyscrapers all around.

The Shanghai Museum is in an interesting building. We walked there from the Central Hotel where we are staying 3 days. A great location.

In the museum’s painting section I saw the most beautiful bamboo I’ve ever seen.

China, Here I come!

I’m already to meet people on the trip to China. there will be three parts: 1 week around Shanghai before the symposium. One week at the symposium in Hangzhou: BoND natural dye symposiium. And one week in Yunan Province, the Yi Minority Autonomous Prefecture in Guizhou Province. > click photos to enlarge <

Here’s the map we made for you to keep up. I’ll be sending posts everyday, I hope.

Dyeing Silks and Playing with Light

I’ve been weaving a lot of white lately, mostly silks that Iinherited from Ethel Aotoni when she died. I had the intention to dye them. The silk threads took the light differently whether you looked at them warps wise of weft wise. This fabric is a white 12-end satin. I tried to see if I could make it completely warp face with strong colored wefts. i.e white on one side and red or black on the other. When I had the fabric in hand I noticed that it changed color accoring to whether the warp or the weft was vertical. You can only see the borders and center when the light is just right. (You can see bits of white showing the warps peeking through on the edges of the squares I cut). These are works in progress, nothing is set yet. [ click to enlarge any photo ]

Here is what the red and white pieces look like when looking straight on–no borders or center color change.

This piece I dyed with black walnuts. Weaving the 12 end satin going in 11 stages from warp face to weft face. It didn’t look very interesting as a whole but I liked a lot of the sections. That is why I decided to cut the squares. Then I realized the light-play and came up with this design.

Another satin warp of silk dyed with black walnuts. I dyed the weft silk before weaving. Then I dyed the whole piece again in a light walnut dye with iron after bath. This photo shows how the light changes the darks and lights.

This was the first white warp satin I did and I couldn’t bear to dye it. It feels gorgeous, and I love the way the fabric takes the light.

I’m going to China with Yoshiko Wada from Slow Fiber Studios

Here is one of the lovely towns we’ll visit before the symposium. There are three parts of the trip and I am going on all three–one before the symposium (Shanghai and ancient villages nearby), one in Hangzhou during the BoND Symposium on Natural Dyes (where my piece will be in the exhibition),  and the third after the symposium. On the first part we’ll visit Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang with traditional highligts at Jin Ze Arts Centre.

The tour after the symposium will explore first-hand heritage provinces of minority group Yi in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and Yi Minority Aautonomous Prefecture. This area is most interesting and not so easily visited. These groups are ethnically different from the main Chinese people.

Another exhotic scene.

More from the last part.


Here is the website for Slow Fiber Studios China tour. Yoshiko’s trips are fantastic. She knows so many people and we visit textile people, not just tourist sites. 

I Got Accepted into the China Show!!

The Chinese National silk Museum is in a huge and beautiful building.

Here is one of the exhibition spaces. I wonder if our show will be there.

Now I have my business cards made–It is beginning to feel like it is really going to be.

I am going with my very favorite tour guide, Yoshiko Wada, with Slow Fiber Studios. There are two tours with her plus going to the BoND Symposium. The tour before is around the area of Shanghai and the tour after is to the Yi Minority Autonomous Region in Southwest Cina. Yoshiko’s trips are THE BEST. If you’ve folled my blog you know. I think registration is still open. Contact Slow Fiber Studios.

“Colorful World: Overview of Natural Dyes” The First Biennale of Natural Dyes 
The advent of synthetic dyes in the 19th century has brought a steep decline in the centuries-old productions of natural dyes around the world. The beginning of the 21st century, however, saw a revival of interest in natural dyes as more people turn to nature for solace and harmonious living. Now, many international communities are advocating the use of natural dyes in modern practices and promoting researches on ancient dyeing techniques. In recognition for these artistic and scientific endeavors, the China National Silk Museum (CNSM) organizes the first biennale of natural dyes, with an aim to embrace the beauty of nature, as well as to explore the ancient wisdom and knowledge embodied in the traditional craft of dyeing.

Cuddling a Baby Lamb at Windrush Farm

I went to Windrush Farm in Petaluma to one of the “Lamb Days” and it was a glorious treat. The wool felt wonderful.and he was so cute. It was a treat to hold this baby lamb in my arms.

Out in the field there were lots more baby lambs with their moms staying close. So far there ar 30 lambs born this spring with one ewe left to give birth.

These twins were especially cute. The black and white is unusual.

Lambs of different types are bred for different types of fleece. This fleece is from a previous year’s shearing. The farm sells fleece and yarns –natural and dyed.  They teach spinning too. Here is the link to Windrush Farm in Petaluma California.

Neddle Cushion Details

Here are the needle cushions as they were woven, before cutting them apart. After sampling, I was happy with the way they looked. See below for some of the problems that needed solving.

I hated the spaces between the pattern threads as seen here. Read how I solved that below. I chose different colors of the pattern threads and doubled the number of threads to make them thicker. Then I was satisfied.

I went to my bible on Overshot techniques, Helene Bress’s book. On page 206 in the Overshot chapter was my answer! Her book has such depth with many ways to think about how one can design things. There must be thousands of images.

© 1981 Helene Bress



Needle Book Mania??

I wonder if I have a “thing” about needle books. The first one I had I made in 4-H when I was 10. I never saw the use of it and never used it. Then I saw one my friend Mary Rowe had when I was in New York. I think it was her mother’s in New Zealand. It was the cutest thing I ever saw so I made one for my best friend’s 40th birthday years ago. She still uses it a lot of years later. [ click photos to enlarge ]

Last month or so a weaver/friend died and I took care of finding homes for her loom and stash. I found the most wonderful needle “cushion” in with her things. (The colorful one full of her needles.) It now lives on my new dobby loom. I had to weave some of my own! I’ve been dyeing with black walnuts so I thought I would dye the cloth and the pattern threads–what whimsy and fun that was. I made a lot for gifts when I travel. On the rest of the warp I had fun designing 4 new fabrics without changing the threading.

These are needle books I have lying around–in my sewing box at home and near my looms in the studio. In 4-H I learned that one needed protein fiber for pins and needles so they won’t rust. So all the pages are wool fabrics. (The new needle cushions are made with silk).

The round yellow crocheted needle book is like the one I saw in New York and made for my friend. The inner “pages” are made from scraps of wool overshot fabic I wove when I was an apprentice with Jim Ahrens.  The tiny heart shaped one I found in a sewing box at a thrift store–lovingly crocheted. The round, fat pin cushion with sashiko stitching I got in Japan and couldn’t resist it.

The last is a pin cushion I made and use now. We wove yards of this wool fabric in a production weaving class with Jim Ahrens at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in the 70’s. My inspiration was a pin cushion I got in Whales at a weaving mill  made from their scraps. The red book came from there, too.

My “Warping the Loom Back to Front” Video is Now Available for Streaming!

The tech world swirls around me again. Now my DVD “Warping the Loom Back to Front” is available for downloading and streaming on demand as well as a real DVD.

I learned that many people don’t buy DVD’s anymore—in fact computers often don’t have a drawer (or slot?) for them—and people don’t even own a DVD player. This reminds me of the VHS videos I used to sell that are now useless.

Now you can either purchase my “Warping the Loom Back to Front” as a real DVD or download it or stream it on demand from the Vimeo website. I am thrilled that I can offer all of these methods to my customers. To kick off this event, I have reduced the physical DVD price from $34.95 to $19.95. The Vimeo options are to buy it for $9.95 (stream or download anytime) or rent it for 48 hours for $4.99. See my Vimeo page HERE. I’m proud to say that after 14 years in production, people are still ordering the DVD.

For anyone who bought a DVD in the last year at the higher price, you can contact me HERE and we’ll make a settlement together—say a free book, another DVD or credit for a download or Weaving for Beginners. 

I hope you’ll want this on all your devices. Always have it nearby–handy at the warping board, when beaming, or threading the heddles. Learn how to make great warps with perfect tension and to thread the heddles without mistakes. My mentor, Jim Ahrens said, warping is 50% of weaving and if done well, the weaving will be hassle free without tangles or broken threads.

We even made a real “trailer”. It feels almost like I’m in the movie business.

Remember: The only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension! Happy weaving!—-Peggy

Photographing My Entry for an Exhibition

My mobile is 9 feet tall. We had to rent a photo studio to be able to take pictures for the entry. All the pieces are dyed with natural dyes: indigo, green persimmons (kakishibu) and black walnutes.I dyed lots of different white fabrics to get so many shades of colors.

It was exciting to be in a real photo studio. The Image Flow Photographic Center has this studio is in Mill Valley. There was equipment all over the place and being there made it possible to get these great photos by my photographer, Bob Hemstock.

The bamboo structure on top is constructed like an Alexander Calder mobile. Until we got it permanently balanced and held in place, it got knocked down time and time again whenever anyone touched it to rotate the pieces. To have it change sides and rotate in the air currents we used 7 fishing gear swivles.

A detail with mostly green persimmon dye. The Japanesse word is kakishibu. I got many colors and shades with it. I have quite a stash now of white fabrics that take the dyes differently and I have figured out ways to get mottled looks. The transparent blue fabric peeking out from the back side was dyed in my indigo vat.

This detail shows how I took shiny silk and turned the pieces 90 deagrees so the light caught it in different ways–similar to nap. I liked the way the fabric looked when it wasn’t ironed completely flat. That makes it shimmer more I think. Wish me luck at getting accepted into the international show.

Why I Named My Publishing Company “Lease Sticks Press”

Lease sticks are important in my weaving at so many stages. Shown here they are holding the crosses in both a new warp and the old one in preparation for tying on a new warp. The illustration is from my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” which is no longer in print. (However it can be downloaded as a PDF.) This is the subject of my next eBook which will be coming soon. Then you can have the process on your devices right at the loom as you proceed. I found it more convienient when I was hemstitching to have my iPhone at the loom, rather than the whole book.

People mostly know of lease sticks used in threading the heddles. Do you know why they are called lease sticks? Because what we now call the “cross” is officially called the “lease”. So these are the sticks that hold the lease.This image is from my book Weaving for Beginners. I like THIN lease sticks–the thick ones are cumbersom and take up too much space in my opinion. Jim Ahrens (the “A” part of AVL) made lovely thin, narrow ones. They are now available at AVL Looms.

We just made the cover today. Remember it’s not available yet–but coming soon! This is always an exciting time of the process–seeing the cover!

Reminding Myself How to Hemstitch with My Kindle Book

I needed to hemstitch the other day and had to get out my big book, Weaving for Beginners, which was so big that it made it impossible to do the stitching. So I got out my Mini iPad and opened up my Kindle book on hemstitching. Perfect–then I taught myself again how to make the stitches. I was all thumbs at first but when I got it, it was quick and easy.

Then I got out my iPhone and it worked better than ever. What fun! I learned to hemstitch way late in my weaving life so on one piece I even forgot to use it.

So, I got it! Since this will be on the hem on the back of the piece, I didn’t need to be careful about having every group of threads the same size. The reason here is to keep the last wefts from unravelling. You should leave at least an inch of warp on the piece before cutting it off the loom.

You can get a copy of my Kindle Hemstitching booklet for just $2.99 HERE.
Next month I’ll publish my third booklet. This one will be about a unique way of “Tying On New Warps”. FYI: the second booklet is “Weaver’s Knots“.

My New Baby is a Cutie!

Now my studio really looks like a weaving studio. My newest loom is in the center. All my looms except this new sweetie were built by Jim Ahrens. Now the new one was made by AVL looms—the “A” stands for Ahrens, so all the engineering is related. The ‘V’ stands for Jon Violette, who began the company with Jim and the ‘L’ stands for looms.
Are you wondering what the other looms are that circle the new one in the center? Starting with the loom on the left and going around clockwise: 10-shaft, side tie-up, 4-shaft loom, 40-shaft dobby built by Jim Ahrens in the 1940’s, and my love, the 4-shaft loom made of bird’s eye maple wood which I have used exclusively for years and years. Going to 12 is a giant and exciting step for me!

Here she is—a real sweetie. I’ve been trying to reduce and give away things but this loom from Jan Langdon I fell in love with years ago. When she decided to down size, she said I was the only person who had longed for it. It is a 12-shaft dobby about 36” wide. Note that in the photo, my 10-shaft loom with a side tie-up is back behind the new loom. Small in a way but the dobby will increase my capacity for new structures greatly.  I’ve been wanting to weave a structure for years and finally decided to do it until I realized I would run out of treadles. The dobby solves that problem. Two treadles work the mechanism to raise the shafts. Notice it is on wheels—that has been very handy already. I just need a pillow on my bench.

Here’s the back of the loom. The dobby mechanism is on the left side in the photo.

This is the dobby mechanism. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving.

A close-up shows the pegs in the bars. A special tool makes it easy to ‘peg’ each shed. The holes without pegs are the shafts that will go up. Since there are 12 shafts, there are 12 holes in each bar. When the right treadle is pressed, the mechanism raises the shafts for one bar—one shed. When the left treadle is pressed, the shed closes and the mechanism readies itself for the next shed. When all the holes are filled nothing will go up. It’s a way to mark the end of a repeat.

Here is the first thing I’ve woven! I wanted to shade the 12-shaft satin weave to go from only the warp showing graded to only the weft showing. The white warps are shiny spun silk (2 different yarns) and the weft is handspun silk from Bhutan that is not shiny.Then I dyed the piece lightly in black walnut dye. I was hoping the shades of the color would contrast more, to go in shades from light to dark–but that is what I’ll work on next. I thought the two yarns—one shiny and one mat would contrast more when in the dye. Lately I’ve been weaving cloth for the dye pot—really fun to weave and get my creative juices flowing.

I Love My Cordless Iron

Here I show the iron I used on this singles linen piece I made. I love the sheen on the linen.

Here is the iron stipped in its cradel to show the bottom with the holes for steaming. It has great steam and spray and holds its heat. I place it in the cradle when I shift the cloth. The cord to the cradle is plenty long and retracts easily. It can even steam or spray with the iron held vertically.

The carrying case is surprisingly handy. Sometimes I even carry it to my kitchen counter and iron a small piece on a towel.

I am reminded fondly of the special squeak my mother’s ironing board made.
Below you can see the link to the iron on Amazon.

Panasonic PAN-NI-WL600 360 Degree Freestyle Cordless Iron

I’m Bending the Rules

Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.

From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.

This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross  made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.

Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.

Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.