The bliss continues. I am still working on my gypsy cloth. I chose this piece of shibori silk for the lining. Even though it won’t be seen much at all, it’s a fun piece of cloth and I’ll know it’s there.

I enjoy working with silk. This is a very simple shibori technique. I wrapped small stones in the silk and secured them with rubber bands, and then dipped the whole thing into the dye. I love the way the surface of the stone cools the dye and creates a pale area in each motif.

On the front of the gypsy cloth, I cut out a circle and put it back with a different orientation. There will be various circles incorporated into the cloth. Circles have a lot of meaning in my life. They are containers for energy and emotions. A circle happens when we join hands with the people we hold dear. So many important events in my life have taken place in a circle. The Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts, makes me want to dance in a circle.

To turn, turn will be our delight, till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

It will take some time until this gypsy cloth comes ’round right. I am still deciding about embellishments. Then there are all those running stitches to quilt the cloth and lining together. While I am thinking about all that, I am going back to the basics of cloth to cloth.

This woven block is so different. The colors harmonize, for a start. It’s also very shaggy, because these strips of waste fabric were from the places where the weaver was adjusting the loom or changing colors.

The little shibori moon is just resting there. It may join the fabric, or not.

Thus ends another year. May your new year be filled with color, texture and harmony. May the threads come together with meaning and the cloth speak the truth that is in our hearts.



act instinctively and then reflect

There’s nothing new to show on the gypsy cloth. I worked in a creative frenzy to get the basic cloth woven, stabilized and dyed.  Now I have to let what I finished soak in for a bit.  I am not fully present, at least not with my logical mind, when I create. When the muse is strong in me, I follow without asking how or why.

Today I want to think about my relationship with quilting. Like my relationship with weaving, I have very strong likes and dislikes.

Here’s what I like

  • art quilts-whatever that means
  • frayed edges, tatters
  • minimal focus on geometric forms and repetition
  • use of found objects
  • text as a design element
  • clothing
  • dark or intense color
  • rescued and recycled fabric
  • hand sewn

Here’s what I dislike, and I say this with the utmost respect for those who work in this style. I honor your process, but it is not mine.

  • traditional patterns
  • strict geometry
  • fabric bought for the project
  • repetition
  • bed quilts
  • pastel color
  • floral prints
  • visible machine stitching

Can I combine my saori weaving with quilting?  I don’t know yet. There’s no reason why I can’t incorporate layers and patches of handwoven fabric, maybe build up a wool garment on a silk foundation, and combine wool and silk in a variety of ways.

If I didn’t have to be someplace else, I would love to dump out my entire armoire of fabric and put the fabrics back by color, rather than by the random arrangement that I have. I keep my books sheved by the color of their spines.  Why not the fabrics, too?


cloth to cloth

I watched the first two lessons of Cloth to Cloth, that’s the foundation class for contemporary boro. Get used to seeing the word boro for the next few months.  It means ragged and it describes a beautiful and utilitarian way of patching garments that was used in rural Japan in the early 19th century. Raw edges, parallel stitching, patches upon patches. Indigo dyed, hemp and cotton fabric.

I am drawn to the fabric of contemporary, artistic boro. Old denim. Household linens, steeped in the past, and quirky shibori fabrics by contemporary dyers.

I look in my fabric baskets, and despair. I have none of this. Years of Elizabethan costuming have left me with scraps of velvet, silk, and brocade. What about old jeans and good household rag? Sigh. I am still wearing the old jeans, and using the good household rag as it was originally intended. Plenty of things to be patched, but nothing to patch them with. I have an entire bolt of white muslin, but am not equipped to dye it. All my dyes are for silk and wool.

Ragged…ragged…I’m trying to remember where I saw some ragged fabric. In my yarn basket? Yes! One of the few positive memories from Stitches East was a vendor with sari silk ribbon, and scraps of really wild loom waste. I have three balls of the ribbon, which is really cut strips of loom waste, sewn together. I have a baggie full of the wild stuff, all wrinkled and very ragged.

From the fields of Japan to the waste bins of an Indian textile company, in one leap of the imagination. It seems right for a lot of reasons.  Scrap is scrap. I can dye and manipulate silk. I am using up scrap that I have, rather than going out and buying some. I am being frugal.

Watching the next lesson, the actual weaving. Jude Hill is a great instructor. The videos are clear and the text is filled with inspiring photos.

Weaving, cloth into cloth, without really thinking about anything but the technique of placing the strips on the fabric ground.  I am using whatever colours that unwind from the ball of ribbon. I can overdye it if I don’t like it. Remember those magic balls from childhood parties? Unwind and unwind forever to find little trinkets inside. I am finding small stories in the silk as I go, colour memories. The deep red fabric of a favorite blouse, the one with the holes on the shoulder made by Cat Major in a panic…the dark green silk from my bead embroidery term project in Vashti’s class at Parsons…

…what was I thinking? It looks like it belongs back in the weaver’s waste bin. It’s glaringly plaid, and that light green and pale pink are just wrong with the other colours. This is the ugliest cloth I have ever woven. But I am stubborn and I am going to continue on. Every strip needs to be sewn down, and then I can think about the dye pot.

I have some violet dye stock ready made.  Why use violet? I remember using a dash of violet on some bright green yarn. It calmed the color beautifully and created shadows that ranged from grey through indigo to violet. That’s what I want.

Don’t ask me for the recipe for my dye process for silk. I work intuitively. I don’t measure. It goes something like this. Wash the cloth…scrunch it into a ball….squirt with dye…immerse in a cup of vinegar water…microwave until the dye strikes…rinse and repeat.

Much better. It’s not quite as moody as the photo suggests, but it has become a unified cloth. I’ve started calling it my Gypsy Cloth, bright things, tattered and stained.

Wild Blue, my Gypsy muse, would love it.

thirteen moons make a year

black and white silk waited for me

turn the year, turn, turn

feathers mark my path

this one tells that

thirteen moons make a year

last year, next year and now

not so different after all

look what happened in a day!

turn the year, turn, turn

I never told you that I embroider a little.  I don’t quilt, but since learning the basics of mending, I am tempted to patch together bits of aged and abused cloth into works of rough and rustic beauty. Japanese boro patchwork and sakiori weaving excite me. 

I have been following Jude Hill’s blog, Spirit Cloth, for a few months. She patches and embroiders in ways that I can only dream of doing. Maybe I am dreaming, but I want to combine my textiles in magical ways. I can create my inner vision on paper, and have always dreamed of doing it with cloth. This is the first step.

Best of all, I’m not keeping this square.  It’s for the Magic Feather project, a collection of embroidered feathers that will come together in a project to benefit children. 

Even better is that I am taking a e-workshop with Jude Hill.  Cloth to Cloth.  Weaving with fabric.