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Scrap Happy April

April 14, 2021

another month, just slipping away

 Spring is here, the days are longer, the sun is warm and the birds are singing

the idea behind a hinagata hanten is explained in a previous blog

I thought it would be quicker to sew than the full sized hanten (work jacket) I hand stitched in Japan

well, it took longer – so small and fiddle-y

I  started by boro stitching on a scrappy piece of indigo dyed cotton

then Kjerstin (and Henrietta) arrived with a gift of indigo scraps – what joy!

the sleeves were tiny so they were finished with a plain linen binding

lining is a scrap from my old yukata ( cotton, unlined summer kimono)(in a different yukata)

1987, Kawashima Textile school with my roommate Taeko-san and Flora Ito, from California

finished — length is 10 inches/25.4 cm. and width across the sleeves is 16 inches/40.6 cm.

although I planned the placement of patches when stitching it is interesting to see how they look in the finished piece

pockets are not traditional on Japanese clothing but occasionally appear on jackets

and I love pocketsa shibori six-pointed flower from the Miao people in China – one of the scraps from Kjerstin

 I have been unsuccessful when tying and dyeing this pattern but will give it another try

the pocket placement is a bit low on the jacket but there was a small hole that needed covering

I started with hinagata measurements from The Book of Boro  but there seems to be a printing mistake in the width of panels

if you want to make any traditional Japanese clothing the best, most comprehensive information is John Marshall’s Make Your Own Japanese Clothes

making kimono & Japanese clothes by Jenni Dobson is a more Westernized “how to” book

happy Spring everyone

here is Kate’s list of other scrap happy bloggers;

Kate (me!)Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, NancyDawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

black and white

April 6, 2021

and shades of grey

after stitching white last month obviously black was next

fabric choices are new cottons used to line a kimono , old kimono silk and very old kasuri (ikat)

black also has many shades but it needed a second colour to really stand out

the other side is a grey scale I wove years ago with sewing thread

now that I can take the tapestry loom outside and weave in the sunshine (still a bit cool!)

the tapestry is progressing slowly

I’m using a photograph as inspiration for the center piece

warping the “fringeless” technique creates doubled warp threads

sett at 10 epi (ends per inch) and then splitting the warp in the center and weaving at 20 epi

which is challenging, very slow and requires fine yarns – all handspun and natural dyes

a bit of April foolishness!

a bee’s eye view

happy Spring


Happy Easter

April 3, 2021

not only did the Easter bunny come but so did my vaccination date

and here is the Easter “window hexie”

 when the 2 week vaccination waiting period is up it is time to stop making hexies

and start stitching the quilt

besides, the window desperately needs cleaning

so Happy Easter everyone

James and Carrie brought a lovely Easter basket

so bright and cheerful

my neighbour brought shortbread cookies and Easter eggs

and a friend from down the hill brought a wonderful assortment of fabrics and scraps

including the miniature Japanese Knot Bag

Little Bear’s shopping bag – filled with Easter eggs

thank you Kjerstin and Henrietta

 those stunning indigo dyed shibori scraps have a small pattern called a 6/8 pointed flower

to the Miao people of Guizhou (China) it represents a butterfly

there are good instructions in the book “Imprints on Cloth” by Sadae and Tomoko Torimaru

I have tried to do these and never succeeded but now I’m determined to give it another try

I’m going to use a scrap on the hinagata hanten

and now it is back to stitching



March 30, 2021

I’m running out of ideas, enthusiasm and creativity

so, to have something to do in the evenings

I’m sewing a hinagata hanten – (sewing sample work jacket)

using up tiny scraps and thrums (leftover warp yarns after the weaving is finished)

using an indigo dyed, very fragile old napkin as a base

the front/back pieces were too short and I had to add a piece

in 2016 I took a 2 week workshop at the Japanese Textile Workshop

(Bryan seems to have given up his blog, you can find him on Facebook)

dyeing and sewing hanten

Yazaki Keiko, a professional kimono seamstress was our sensei (teacher)

here she is, in the middle – Bryan is in the kitchen

and in the kitchen garden

we made two completely handsewn hanten in the two weeks

occasionally stitching until midnight

as well as designing and cutting a stencil, a day in Tokyo and another day at a master dyer

 great memories!

returning home I made three more handwoven hanten

this one, made at the last minute for the fashion show at the ANWG 2017 Conference “Treadle Lightly”

at the University of Victoria

I was on the planning committee, crazy busy, totally stressed out, no time to weave anything

made from small lengths of leftover handwovens and indigo dyed shibori

all handstitched – it won 1st prize in the multi-techniques category

so, when I decided to make the hinagata hanten I reread my notebook from the workshop

it is a little bit crazy, I was taking notes while stitching and translating sewing terms in my head

I didn’t want to rewrite it, wanted it to reflect the experience

also referred to the pattern shown in the lower right of the picture

so a smaller version should go more quickly!


everything old is new again

March 23, 2021

as the month drifts on and the weather improves

 I am spending much of my time outside

it is just nice to get out of the house

heather is blooming, tucked in corners around the garden

I’ve read that heather blooms profusely on the English moors pruned by the deer

well “my” deer don’t touch it – more interested in eating the rare and expensive stuff

quince blossoms

love the colour, they bloom reliably every year with little care and the deer don’t eat them

the white page is finished

and a black page is just started

it was difficult to find suitable fabrics – getting inspiration from an old quilting book by Yvonne Porcella

this kimono coat, all hand woven and stitched in 2015, was inspired by work in Yvonne Porcella – A Colorful Book

her use of and thoughts on colour is some of the best I have come across – wonderful book

I’ve finished spinning the silk hankies – will have to think of something elegant to weave

Sanjo Silk sends a little gift when they mail an order5 gms. of Eri silk spun very fine and plied

back in the garden, the rhubarb is poking upI will have to remember to divide the roots in the fall – and save some for dyeing



March 18, 2021

the forsythia is blooming – and yes, the sky really was that blue

for two weeks I’ve been pruning and weeding and cutting and hauling

once a year the municipality picks up garden waste

 I try to take advantage, otherwise everything has to be bagged and hauled to the recycle dump – no burning

yesterday I finally finished as much as I could do

and this morning at 8:00 am they hauled it all away

thank goodness, getting old, my body aches

with the help of my neighbour we cut six feet off the holly tree and reduced it’s girth by two feet

now I can get back to fabric and fibre

Gilbert is modeling the hinagata hanten I mentioned in my March, Scrap Happy blog

“hinagata” are miniature sewing samples hand stitched by young girls when learning to sew

it is surprisingly large, 25 inches/ 63.5cm. in length

old, very soft cotton fabrics, possibly recycled and all handstitched

my memory was wrong, this is a yogi not a hanten

a yogi is an oversized kimono-shaped quilt – a hanten is a work jacketit is made with a thick layer of batting but, as the piece is in good condition, and the stitching firm

I can only guess that it is cotton

the only flaw is a stain on the back

“the book of boro” gives directions on how to make a full size yogi quilt

Saturday is the first day of Spring – enjoy!





























Scrap Happy March

March 14, 2021

marching on—slowly

in addition to March’s colour study page “in the pink

I’ve been stitching all white

this definitely is scrappy – no trimming or squaring up the edges

two of the fabrics are handwoven – the bottom, center is my handspun shifu gami (Japanese paper yarn)

it is surprising how many shades of white there are when you put them together

the backing is a damask linen napkin – it was intended to be a cushion

but – I quickly became disenchanted – too much white and too scrappy

it may end up as a page in the colour book – white is a colour too!

I often think, after finishing a boro stitched piece, that the back is more interesting than the front

when it comes to using up small scraps Japanese boro is my favorite technique

something I have realized while reading the book is that most Japanese boro is stitched with fabric pieces that are straight/squared

possibly because they used narrow, handwoven fabric and they don’t cut shaped pattern pieces

it really looks nicer than my squiggly bits

Gilbert is showing some of my work, done over several years

I finally broke down and ordered the newly published  “the book of boro”

written by Susan Briscoe -a western expert on sashiko (a very precise, decorative, Japanese stitching technique)

the first 30 pages of techniques, history and stitches etc. is interesting

then 10 project chapters, including a bookmark, pincushion, placemat and coaster

several types of bags, including a traditional komebukuro bag

a hanten (work jacket)

  and a hinagata hanten which is a minature piece used to teach young girls how to stitch

I actually have one of these purchased in a Kyoto market years ago – maybe I’ll stitch my own

all the projects are photographed and illustrated in very precise detail

in the end, it really is all about sewing projects from patched fabric pieces you have made yourself

I have to confess to being somewhat disappointed – what was I expecting?

I didn’t need to pay for a book to tell me how to make a table runner

some fabric books I have stitched, in this past year, to use as teaching tools

a “new normal” can’t come soon enough!

here are Kate’s links to other happy scrappers;

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean (me), Jon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, NancyDawn 2, Noreen,
Bear and Carol


in the pink

March 8, 2021

Spring has sprung – think pink!

always the first to bloom is the Japanese plum

and then the double pink hellebore

then pink for this month’s colour study

another book page

no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to get them all exactly the same size

maybe they will get better as the months go by

cutting fabric strips for the edge binding

all handstitched, the pink side is sewn with triple stitching like bojagi

with the third stitching a top stitch instead of carefully hiding it

the reverse side shows complimentary colours

it is going to be a challenge stitching 12 pages into a book at the end of the year

four wonderful days in the garden, pruning, weeding and enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and occasional showers

next month’s monochrome colour study is easy – green

hope Spring is coming your way

one year and counting

March 1, 2021

fifty two hexies – one year – to mark the passage of time

a celebration of sorts!

Littlebear wanted to do the honors

as he looks out on a “new reality”

and the mailperson came

silk hankies from Sanjo Silk on Granville Island in Vancouver

and a new book

the silk arrived in 3 days from time of ordering and the book took 49 days from the U.K.

mother always said “patience is a virtue”!

silk hankies are made by stretching out each individual cocoon

placing them on the corner pegs of a square frame, layering them and leaving them to dry

they peal off easily in thin layers and when drafting them out, ready to spin, are as light as a feather

the silk is wonderful, I couldn’t wait to start spinning

the book – Threads of Life by Clare Hunter

” A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle”

an absolute must read for anyone who loves textiles, history and cultures throughout the ages

“An astonishing feat, this patchwork of history, culture and politics, which takes us from Saxon England to colonized African tribes, Palestinian villages, rural China and the cramped homes of American slaves.…..  Sunday Times U.K.

it will have you cheering on the suffragettes on the streets of London

(my ex-husband’s grandmother chained herself to the railings with Mrs. Pankhurst, so family history goes)

it tells the story of the Kuna Indians and their Molas, a form of reverse applique

years ago we sailed through the Panama Canal and spent a month anchored off the islands they call home

they paddled out in canoes, some came aboard for tea and cookies – and to sell their work

I cried while reading the story of woman who became Japanese prisoners of war in Singapore’s Changi prison

(we lived in Singapore for 2 1/2 years, son Paul played in the tropical waters at Changi Beach)

stories of the Miao people of China and their history told in stitches

for more reading Imprints on Cloth and Spiritual Fabric both by Sadae Torimaru

in English and Japanese

and the more recent two-volume boxed set Every Thread a Story – the Secret Language of Miao Embroidery

from Thrums Books

and of course stories of many different quilts and specifically hexies

I’m only half through reading the book and could go on and on but I hope you get the idea

now Littlebear and I are going to have lunch and read while we eat

do you have a treasured textile with a personal/family history?

this is a scrappy quilt made by my grandmother, with the initials MBS and date 1949 in one corner

it’s a bit rough and the backing is a very course, unbleached cotton

my mother then did some of the stitching because she said it was falling apart

I love the old dress fabrics, their patterns and colours

it is so fragile it lives in the trunk now

bear – it’s cold outside!

February 26, 2021

thinking about projects to keep me busy

I had one of those brilliant ideas – ha!

finally finished spinning and plying all the Romney wool

could I weave it, felt it and use it for bear fabric?

so start small and experiment

four squares woven on the pin loom and stitched together

then scrubbed energetically on the old scrub board

(from a time when we lived on a sailboat and the family wash was done in a bucket in cold salt water)

lots of soap and very hot water – then rinsed in cold water and repeated several times

well you would think that would do the job – how many times have you accidentally felted a favorite sweater?

but no – it needed to be felted enough so when cut it wouldn’t fall apart

so then it went into the washer – and then the dryer

and finally into the dye pot

being a bit frustrated I threw in several handfuls of onion skins and a skein of yarn

well what do you do with a small square of un-felted wool?

make a bear sweater

Littlebear loves the colour and the madder dyed crochet matches his scarf

I’ve been saving the little blue flower button for something special and it matches the flowers in his ears

the sweater is a little bit too big but we hope he’ll grow into it