Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Year at Japanese Textile Workshops

Two old dogs fast asleep on two big cozy chairs.

Momo and Geiger both dreaming.

Two cats fast asleep on two cozy chairs.

Whiteboots and Julie both dreaming.

The kerosene heaters are on and the rooms are Christmas toasty.

Momo is dreaming of a long walk in the mountains and chasing a few monkeys.

Geiger is dreaming that his tired old wobbly legs are fit and strong and can effortlessly get him up to one of his chairs again.

Whiteboots is dreaming of being in bed with us, snuggled under the blankets getting cuddled all through the night.

Julie is dreaming of today. She was in the house and getting brushed. Last year this time she was  an outdoor cat sleeping in the barn.

Hiro is snoozing....he's dreaming of how warm he will be in Brazil next week.

All is quiet. It is cold and clear outside. Stars are twinkling. The outside bath is hot and waiting for me to finish this last blog of the year.

The year is coming to an end.

My god do I pack a lot in....

Keeping this huge old farmhouse and gardens and tea/indigo/mulberry fields, thousands of silkworms and assorted pets and friends, staff and students in healthy form.  (

Managing the logistics and responsibilities for having dozens of students flying in from all over the world to stay here at the house and study Japanese textiles.   (

Studying how to dye and sew the Japanese festival jackets better, improve my looms, spinning and weaving, studying Japanese book binding, taking Russian language classes, learn a few new songs on the guitar, carpentry work around the house. Lots of cotton knit production for t-shirts....(groan cry, laugh smile.)

Travelling to Sri Lanka, Canada, Finland, Russia, Georgia, Latvia....(no groan, no cry, big laugh, huge smile.)

Looking at the old emotion mandala I pull out of iPhoto and throw my self at to see where the splatters sit.

If it weren't for the f%#^%ing American Cheezy-elect there wouldn't be much in the rage/anger/annoyance/loathing/disgust/terror/fear/apprehension sections.

I can place the four-legged chair dwellers with relative ease....

optimism, serenity, love, acceptance, a little submission except Whiteboots.

Pictures from 2016. It was an excellent year. There is no 'gratitude/gratefulness' section on the emotion wheel......

Lovely Geiger my Fukushima refugee dog had to have his spleen removed because of a tumour. He is better now. He is old and weak though.

Lovely Julie the feral cat becomes a semi-house cat.

Ilkka from Finland comes and stays for a few months and brightens the house with his intelligence and diligence.

Just enough snow at the house.

What happened to that ponytail???

Travelling around Japan to see more old textiles.

Indigo dyeing with Tsutomu  the local architect legend who was hospitalized with meningitis days after this picture was taken. We almost lost him....but he is back on his feet and even playing tennis again!

Indigo dyeing with my Russian friends in Sri Lanka.

Hiro's magic in Sri Lanka.

Making indigo balls.

And the ten-day workshops began with this special group...

Perhaps the saddest part of the beloved Sugimoto healthy and digging bamboo shoots. He has been hospitalized for half a year now. Sorrow in the village while he is away. But he is there with the new face of the village my diligent new staff, Ishii san.

The first official Japanese jacket making crew! Much love to you all!

The beloved salad patch outside the kitchen window.

Out treasure, 98 year old Ogata san busy cooking for us as usual.

Tea harvest.

Fresh green indigo workshop with the locals.

Putting workshop members to work planting indigo.

Julie had kittens!

Workshops and indigo.

A one day trip to Canada for my old friend Ingrid's wedding. That is Colin her twin brother not the groom. We were all bad kids way back.

Kittens everywhere.

The garden was beautiful all year.

Kitten lunch under the loom.

Silkworms and cocoons.

Five weeks in Russia with Anna.

Silk Road valley in Georgia.

Silk Museum in Georgia.

Autumn Workshops.

Indigo knits.

Indigo harvest.

And Christmas Eve....making wood shovels to turn the fermenting indigo leaves.

Thank you friends. Thank you. See you in Japan again. On top of the indigo workshop and the hanten workshop I am putting together a Japanese book binding and paper making workshop to give you another reason to come back.

Warmest wishes for 2017,

Bryan & Hiro and friends.


  1. happy New Year, Bryan...some day I hope to make it to your neck of the woods (provided the Orange Goblin doesn't blow us all to hell and back first).

    1. My 53 birthday is on January 22nd....Is the deck of cards finished...just the joker left.....

  2. What an amazing year! I'm exhausted now ;)

    Keep safe and warm. Happy 2017 to you all xo

    1. Dear Carol,
      You are exhausted.....I finished off a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream writing that blog....I left out the 200 days I was really busy... best for 2017. bryan

  3. Happy new year dear Bryan and Hiro! See you all again one day.

  4. Wonderful to get a glimpse of your fruitful year. I wish you and all your friends & family healthy and happy 2017.

  5. so nice Bryan!! make me drop a tear...have a super beginning of 2017! much love to you and Hiro

  6. Merry christmas and Happy New Year Bryan and Hiro. Thinking if you both his week while i unpack all the wonderful fabric we dyed. I thought i was getting socks from you for Christmas? Anyway...hoping you have a good year. Will be wanting some advice on the huge dye vat i will be setting up in the spring. Hiro its time to start those tomato seeds in small pots! Miss you both.

    1. Socks.....socks....I'm a dragon hoarder with socks....I have hundreds but still pick up more every time I go out.....I'm at three drawers full and counting....still a tad cold for planting anything. It will be minus 7 here for a few more weeks. Best for your new year. Bryan

  7. gratitude to you for sharing your life in so many ways.

  8. Dear Velma,
    I feel little over-shared today...walking around like a zombie. Cleaning up the year with an hour on one thing and moving on to the next. Taxes today.....if they only took an hour! Bryan

  9. wow! that's one fun filled year, so happy to have shared a moment of it. all the best of everything for you and Hiro and the four legged critters for the new year.

  10. Love your year in review Bryan! The paper workshops sound very interesting. Any shifu weaving the wings?? Am looking forward to another visit. Happy 2017 to you, Hiro and co. XX

  11. I am so glad to be a part of this year. Thank you and Hiro for sharing you home and knowledge. I can't wait to come again. Hugs for both of you.

  12. Dear Bryan
    Real happy to have been sharing a small part of your year 2016. Papermaking and bookbinding how tempting!! Would be
    interesting with some haiku writing for me. Great to hear the news of your lovely 2 legged and 4 legged family. I am stitching away during these winter climes. Bizoos. Sophie

  13. catching up.your year seems happy and productive.lots of beautiful textiles and people.
    here's to another good one(that is if trump doesn't f*** us over )