Monday, 19 November 2012

Back Strap Loom Kasuri

With all the excitement of the autumn workshop and the new indigo knit studio opening soon, my faithful students are as productive as ever. I haven't documented their work as well as I wanted. I'll try to catch up a little. Yamaguchi san sat quietly on the second floor weaving away as late summer turned to autumn just outside the window. The regular student traffic honked and sped along downstairs.

It amazes me at the quality of material that can be woven on such a simple loom tied to a pillar. She tie- resisted all the thread, indigo dyed it, and patiently wove it up, a shuttle pass and beat slowly and surely. 
As it gets cooler it is time to give the indigo dyeing a break and weave more. I'll nudge the students towards the warping board tomorrow. 

Ogata san is caught in the Japanese gift giving cycle.  People love to spoil her with presents and she loves to dye indigo towels and scarves to give as thank yous for the present...and the cycle keeps going. I taught her how to fold the tenugui slightly differently. So this time she has a dozen hexagon shaped patterns. They look great.

On the katazome front, Catherine is knocking us all down with her straightforward and concise patterns she cuts out. The woman's washroom symbol was a clever idea.

As this is a blog and things go down, I'll add the link to Spring Workshop in Japan at the end of each blog post for a while. I have a few members signed up already. The thought of having some spring guests will keep me looking forward and counting down the months to the cherry blossoms are out. 


  1. the Spring workshop looks super - wish I was getting ready! Yamaguchi-san's kasuri is quite amazing on a backstrap, it is difficult enough on a floor loom. Catherine's prints are so precise and clean cut, what is she going to do with the fabrics, the washrm. sign is brilliant. Ogata-san is like the EverReady bunny.

  2. Oh, I wish! I would love to attend one of the workshops. We shall see. In the meantime, I get inspiration from the happenings at your studio.

  3. i love the pictures of your students at work. i feel like i'm having a respite from my students, those teenage hooligans!

  4. catherine's cloths are incredible! and of course ogata-san's rock.

  5. Oh, the spring workshop is tempting. I love indigo and have experimented with fermentation vats, but written instructions are never as valuable as real experience. Sadly next year is looking expensive already.

    As spinners and weavers, a friend and I are absolutely intrigued by the pictures of hand-twisted "hand ply-joined" hemp on the webshop pages, but I've had little luck finding more information about the technique online. I'd be extremely grateful if you could suggest a source; we're wondering whether it's twisted while green, or whether dry prepared fibre strands are soaked before twisting, whether a size or glue is involved. LOTS of questions!

  6. Hi Sarah,
    I studied making fibres from nettle at Showa Mura (karamushi). I've played around with harvesting nettles then retting them, taking off the outer bark and then drying them. They are wet later and very finely (hair width almost) pulled apart while wet. Then two strands are made at once so the z.z.s twists are at random lengths. Then the double thread is ply spun together with a final z.

  7. Thank you! I think perhaps my experiments were unsatisfactory because the flax strick I've been using is a bit too coarse. I'll try wetting and hand-splitting it, but might do better to wait until next summer to try nettle when I've more control over the process. If we have an appropriate summer I'll also process lime (Tilia cordite) bast - the last two summers have been unexpectedly dry at the site where I am allowed to take strips from trees.

  8. Wowza- Catherine's stuff is great! That's what I wanted to do all along, but never quite managed. Fantastic work!