Thursday, 17 November 2011

Indigo Water Dragon Scarves

Two summers ago Kurihara san showed up several times at the old shop and asked if I was interested in making indigo dyed stockings with him. It wasn't that appealing and I was trying to be Japanese and just give him unenthusiastic answers and hope he would take them as a no. He persisted. He is 80 and retired but still has the huge tube knitting machines. He told me that he worked all his life on dying and knits and hunting down big orders. Now he wanted to do something enjoyable and different and not think about the bottom line. So he hunted me down and now we have been experimenting and playing with the possibilities this past year.

I was interested in doing some indigo knits. I often buy 45rpm indigo knit (a Japanese Maker) t-shirts and sweaters and cardigans. They are great but really pricey. I would have to learn to sew knits and design knits and learn knit thread weight. It seemed like too much but curiosity had me and I started dying threads and Kurihara san would knit them up for me on the 1950's American t-shirt knitter. I purchased a 50s four thread lock serger and started cutting and sewing. This is a lot of fun but with other more pressing commitments the piles of indigo dyed yardage started piling up. The shirts I was making were not really sellable. It will take a few years to learn to sew that well. The indigo faded slightly on the creases and in desperation I came up with the idea of water dragon scarves to reduce the piles of knit and prove my enthusiasm to Kurihara san. 2012 is the year of the dragon. (I was born in the year of the dragon so I should be having a good year in 2012) The dragon years are divided into wood dragons, metal dragons, fire dragons and water dragons. There are only two water dragon years in a century.


Water has a calming effect on the Dragon's fearless temperament. Water allows the Dragon to re-direct its enthusiasm, and makes him more perceptive of others. These Dragons are better equipped to take a step back to re-evaluate a situation because they understand the art of patience and do not desire the spotlight like other Dragons. Therefore, they make smart decisions and are able to see eye-to-eye with other people. However, their actions can go wrong if they do not research or if they do not finish one project before starting another.

(The last line makes me shiver...with so many projects on the go right now.)

The scarves are almost all silk and they look funky on anyone. I sew five or six diffent knits together and then dragon back down the edges with the lock-serger and braid/tie them up and stick the tail through the mouth. Selling well!


  1. My husband was born June 1952, so I guess he must be a water dragon. Your description made me smile because it fits him so well. Now I understand his consternation over all the projects I constantly have on the go!

    How lucky am I to have this strong, reliable, reasoned man in my life :-)

  2. The dragon scarf looks great Bryan.

  3. Did you say you dragon down the edges with a serger? ;) I took a serger class recently to learn how to finish t-shirts and the machine took off like a speedboat!

    You are certainly fearsome.

  4. One and only in Australia. A water dragon with the scarf to fit...

  5. scarf looks fab and I am glad they are selling well. Always a bonus. but I do love the knitting machine! I just love old bits of machinery I guess it's the country upbring I had.

  6. Another water dragon here. I was born at the end of that year, so Jan. 1953. Love the knit story. I also worry about the multiple projects part. My present strategy is to finish two projects before beginning a new one. Hope that helps me, and maybe good for other water dragons.
    Janet in California, USA

  7. silk knit, wow!!you've given me some inspiration!!

  8. What a nice post, Teacher san! I enjoyed the story of how you figured out an use for the knit. And I found the quote on the Water Dragon very interesting: 'they make smart decisions' you must love this (I would)!

  9. Your scarf looks great... I really love the fabric- amazing texture and depth of colour. Would you sell any of it as yardadge?!