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novelty shifu yarns

June 17, 2011

I’ve decided to use a portion of the linen warp on the loom for some shifu experimenting. Old Japanese textiles woven with a shifu weft occasionally show a random patterning of black spots, the paper used was often from old ledger books, the black is sumi ink. 

I’ve been practising Japanese calligraphy on washi,will now cut and spin it to use as weft thread. There are a couple of secret messages included.

other yarns are, from left to right, my shifu thread which I plan to ply with an extremely fine reeled silk, Habu textiles paper moire # A-62 plyed with my spindle spun cotton,  leftover balls of shifu thread in natural, indigo and walnut husks and finally a shifu yarn from Japan – paper plyed with linen.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2012 4:42 am

    I’m new here, and found you when I entered ‘shifu’ as a search request in my WordPress reader… I am enjoying doing some catch up reading! What a wonderful blog…
    I have been researching and teaching myself shifu… I’ve made my own drop spindle and having practiced with fleece first then yucky newspaper, I have my first pieces of washi sitting in damp towels waiting to be rolled and then spun! I can’t wait…
    Along the way, whilst researching, I read that japanese ‘spies’ (i think i read about samurai) were sent to secret locations wearing shifu clothing which was made from paper with messages written onto it. When the samurai arrived at their destination, there clothing was unwoven and unspun, and the messages therefore once again readable! I love that this amazing technique I am teaching myself, is so old and so steeped in incredible history!


    • July 19, 2012 8:28 am

      Samm – thanks for visiting my blog, good luck with your shifu and enjoy the process. I have a big stack of calligraphy paper I brought back from Japan, as soon as we get some sun I hope to dye it with kakishibu and then spin it. You could visit Velma at as she does amazing shifu – and she has just returned from teaching in Australia.


  2. June 19, 2011 12:03 am

    Love the shifu yarns and the message in the yarns such a beautiful idea.


  3. June 18, 2011 3:43 am

    i have been looking here, jean, and had a thought: what if you wove a book or a cover for your book, with the shifu/linen? i mean, you already have your text, hidden though it is–i wait, ok, i can BARELY wait to see the results!


  4. Ruth Griffiths permalink
    June 17, 2011 9:43 pm

    I love the notion of a textile with a secret message woven in.

    Inextricable and always there, no matter that no one else can read it!

    Giving “to spin a yarn” all possible meanings.


    • June 17, 2011 10:12 pm

      hi Ruth – I like the secret thing,too. never thought of it that way but love the play on words. Plan to do some more and my calligraphy practise definitely needs to be hidden!


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