China Tour 2019 – Day 18

This little group was spinning along the road as we drove by. What they were doing was putting extra twist in synthetic yarn which had become popular. We are in Butuo County in the mountains for a few days. Interesting to see some ethnic dress especially hats and head gear along with Western clothes. This was our first sight of weaving stuff being done. [click photos to enlarge]

In the little spinning group was this grandma stitching two layers of wool fabric together. It was beautiful. She also had a toddler under her eye. I discovered that most of the young spinners had babies on their backs.

The stitching the grandma was doing. Later we saw someone in a shop stitching the cloth together with a sewing machine.

My favorite spinner had a baby under the shawl on her back I discovered when we were about to leave.

This little guy was hanging around the spinners. He and his sister were playing at weaving with two sticks holding a few “warp” threads. It was clear they were learning by being around their mothers from the beginning.

Grandpa modeling his pants.

China Tour 2019 – Day 17

We are In the town of Xichang pronounced something like she Chang in SW China in the Yi Minority Autonomous Prefecture to see the Yi textiles and culture. Today we went to the market and saw lots of unusual food displayed beautifully. I thought the squashes with a few blossoms were handsome.

Furry tofu caught my attention.

This man was unwrapping individual cherries. They were wrapped separately before ripe to keep the birds from destroying the crop.
These were said to be the juiciest and best tomatoes. They looked great. I hope we get to eat some.

It looked like French fries catching the drippings under these ducks. Look carefully to see the cleaver at the ready.


China Tour 2019 – Day 16

My treasure. from the Yi people of China. This is a case for needles. One uses a safety pin to attach it to the clothes.  [click photos to enlarge]

Close up of the needle case part.

Two needle cases opened so you can put I. The needle. Closed you pull it down to enclose the needle.

Detail of decoration the needle case is attached to Off quickly for another day of shopping.

China Tour 2019 – Day 15

Last day in Hangzhou. I went to sit with my piece in the show for the last time before a busy day. I’m going to go through the day briefly. Each place could be its own post.

We took a mini bus for the day’s events. First stop was to a Chinese medicine facility. People brought in their prescriptions to be filled. Odd looking things were in cases for sale as well. It was in an old building with old character.

Nearby was a Chinese medicine museum with lots of history and old exhibits. This guy was impressive.

Then we drove to the art academy where we were treated to box lunches by the art professor who was in charge of the exhibition. He said nice things about my piece.

We were taken on a walking tour of the fantastic campus. The architect is a famous Japanese man and the campus won the top award for architecture. I hope to do a whole post on different different buildings.

The arts and craft building was stupendous. This outer wall is covered in roof tiles that are wired together.

Here is the roof tile wall looking out from the inside.

On the bus passing tea plantations on the way to an enormous temple.

Quite a special place this is.

There were huge carvings in the cliffs on path to the temple.

There are 5 huge temples each with giant statues. I was pretty exhausted and probably didn’t give them the attention they deserved.

Our last stop was at a luxurious tea shop in a tourist inn within walking distance from the temple. There might have been 20 dishes on the menu. After that we rode back to the hotel to pack up for our last night. We got up at 3:45 am to get our bus to the airport. Whew!!

China Tour 2019 – Day 13

Our finished projects in the “ash resist workshop “. We didn’t use any ash. “Ash” is the English translation for the word for the type a paste we used on our stencils. The paste was made of soybean powder and quick lime mixed with water. Here we are with our translator. At first I thought she was saying rust but finally we figured out she was saying rice. She did a fine job though. [click photos to enlarge]

Here I am cutting my stencil. I chose a simple one that I thought I could do.

The teacher is beginning to put the paste on my stencil.

My cloth is soaking in water before dying in the indigo dye.

The cloth comes out green right out of the indigo vat. In the air it turns blue.

Here I am with the teachers. When the cloth was dry after dying we scratched off the paste.

China Tour 2019 – Day 12

The workshop on safflower dying. At the end we had to dry the fabrics before cutting into samples for everyone. [click photos to enlarge]

We all crowded around the teacher. The main color we were looking for was red.

Samples were cut for everyone at the end. We were surprised to be able to get so many colors from the safflowers. Our teacher was an expert.

Orange was the last color to come. By then everyone was in a good mood. It was a wonderful workshop.

Here I am with my translator for the safflower workshop. She did great explaining everything including the changing pH.

Another workshop showed how those glorious colors on old Chinese robes were dyed with natural dyes. The color system was based on 5 colors. Red, blue, yellow, green, and purple.

Here are the colors. Different shades of colors were worn according to the rank of the person.

Translations were awkward. I finally figured out that they were talking about the tops of acorns. What they called them was “the tops of oak tree fruits”. Rhubarb wasn’t as hard as one would think. Smoked plum took awhile to “get”.

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.