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We were worried. Pneumonia and then catching influenza in the hospital. Jeeeeesh.
She has been coming to class for eight years now. She brings some vegetables from her garden and cooks lunch for us without fail every week. She climbs up the back mountain to get whatever extras she needs. Mushrooms, persimmons, shiso or ginger.... She started studying indigo at 89 at this ramshackle old house with this scruffy Canadian and his guests. She weighs 35 kilograms. (Snoopy weighed that much before I halved her with a strict two-year diet.)
I have about eight more or less regular students who come to the house and work on their individual projects. A few are just working on shibori or katazome. Some are reeling cocoons or making floss and spinning it into thread. A few are weaving and well on their way to be better weavers than I am. We occasionally boil up some natural dyes from roots and barks and dye the silk. We look at a lot of Japanese textile books for ideas and inspiration and knowledge. We try new things occasionally like eco-dyeing.
Yamaguchi san bought a loom and weaves at home. She comes on Tuesdays to dye and wrap warps. My god is she weaving beautiful stuff.
Our lives are interconnected now. The students met here at the house and now are part of each others lives outside the class. They tolerate how busy I am with other projects....ripping out a kitchen, workshops with foreigners. The seasons go by, the years go by.
Kamei san worked with madder dyed silk last year. Daughters worked with their mothers and grandmothers in Japan for many years to slowly pick up the hundreds of steps it takes to get a kimono from silkworms. It is not easy to get the lengthly processes across on Tuesdays (sometimes Fridays and Saturdays). By the time one weaving project is finished the initial steps are distant. The students help each other like neighbours and family members did in past times.
The warping wheel upstairs feeling useful again.
On the loom.
It is not easy when everyone is working on a different project at one time. I learned indigo and silk farming and weaving over many years from several people. There was not much structure. I had to fill in the blanks myself until I ran across something that worked or someone or something that made something unknown clear. Not just techniques. I can never forget those precious times with the old farm families learning to grow mulberry, reel silk, warp looms, weave kimono. I was so lucky. The learning was organic. Like how kids can learn.
I went to look at a few textile related schools. Freaking nightmares. Not relaxed atmospheres and spaces where students can explore and be creative. People learn different ways. Some need step by step instruction while others just take off from the start. Do onto others.....I hope my house and approach works for my Tuesday students like it did for me. I can see them taking off now. The runway was longer for some but the plane is up and banking and taking in the textile scenery now.
Fedora san reeling cocoons in the kitchen on Saturday.