Saturday, 30 September 2017

Creature of Habit...head hung in shame...

For twenty four years I have grown indigo. I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours plucking the indigo leaves off of freshly harvested indigo or crunching it off the sun dried stems. I've begged friends to help and paid helpers to pluck and pluck and pluck.... It wasn't all wasted time. The smell is sublime. It had become a yearly ritual. The resulting quality of the indigo paste was something to be proud of.

No stems.

Maybe it is the moon in Taurus ....

But....Ishii san and I used a rice stem cutter this year. One hundred hours of work done in one hour........

There will be a few stems in the composted indigo next spring. (Nothing to worry about.)

The stems shoot farther and the fans wind separate the stems form the leaves. So easy.

Somehow I figured silkworms were not worth farming unless I really suffered. Years ago, I managed to almost kill myself with exhaustion raising tens of thousands a year. Things became saner with 3000 silkworms at a time for the past few years.  That would produce one kilogram of silk per year.

More than enough.

 I haven't finished spinning last years silk and it seemed ridiculous to produce more. 500 silkworms seemed a little embarrassing at first but it made sense. There was time to work on some carpentry projects around the house.

The rituals and the excitement continue. The early morning mulberry cutting is still heavenly. I can carry it home on my back instead of filling the truck. There is still the satisfaction of creating something beautiful that starts with eggs and ends with natural dyed silk thread on the loom.

Perhaps the middle road has been found.

While I was in Australia Hiro's sister came from Brazil for a few months to spend time at the farm. She quickly discovered the charm of indigo. Hiro helped her out at the vat and made some beautiful work himself.

We had a birthday party for Ogata san the other day. 99 years young.

The carpentry work went well. Slate tiling, wall building and plastering. A one week project morphed into a month long headache. All was finished to welcome the first autumn workshop last week.

We had an excellent group of accomplished and talented women here at the vats and the campfire.
Safe travels Shakti, Molly, Cleme, Scarlett, Jen, Jessica, Melissa and Kara.

Whiteboots misses you all.


  1. that welcome space is exquisite!

  2. I smile every time I walk through it...

  3. Happy Birthday Ogata-san she is amazing. Great picture of Hiro and his sister and of course, Whiteboots. Their dyeing looks great, as does the new entry. Do we have to leave our shoes outside now??

  4. Nah.... we still take the shoes off just inside. It feels a little more formal now...I line them up.

  5. Dear Bryan, two cats, both black with white markings, keep visiting, trying hard to get in. How did you decide on your pet family?

  6. One small young cat was hanging around outside. She looked healthy. I decided to feed her and keep her as an outside cat. She slowly worked her way into the house. We could scratch her behind the ears. I planned to catch her and get her fixed and return her to nature.

    The I realized she was pregnant. She had the kittens in the neighbours garage. We moved the kittens to the 2nd floor in a room we didn't use. She eventually realized that it was a safe place to raise her kittens. We kept one kitten, Whiteboots. He was a a very friendly young boy cat. He sleeps on the bed and slowly his mother became comfortable in the house. She is still somewhat skittish but she feels like a member of the family. The house is really big and she has many places to sleep and hide. She is comfortable. Whiteboots is very affectionate with everyone.

  7. If you want some new pets then feed them and slowly build trust. Then you can bring them inside. Make sure they are fixed because a boy cat may spray in the house.

  8. new converts to indigodom?? :)

  9. Such a long blog post. Really enjoyed reading about what you've done at home as well as your descriptions of your workshops, etc in Australia. I hope to get back to do another workshop at your house, one day... one day.

    1. Hi Lyn,
      Sitting and writing at the end of the doesn't happen as it used to. I hop got get back to it.

      See you in Australia. I can't wait to go back.