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March 15, 2013

spinning shifu thread

after the paper is cut it has to be torn alternately from the top and bottom of the sheet to create one long continuous thread

shifu 077

I layer it carefully into a basket to keep it from tangling while spinning

shifu 078

the bobbin holds 3 full sheets ( 25″ X 39″  – 63.5 X 99 cm.) of paper thread

shifu 075

one more dip in the indigo, the green skeins are darker, the colour more even. It is interesting to see that the cotton ties are much bluer than the silk yarn

indigo 115

these are all that is left of two cuttings of fresh indigo

indigo 116

two very small sukumo balls. I’ve never done this before and may have left them too long, not sure they will dye but it was fun trying. I’ll dry and store them and try dyeing in the summer.

shibori 133

the difference between the pole wrapped shibori and the simply gathered piece was too dramatic to ignore. I am reluctantly undoing all those tight knots, removing the 3 yards from the pole and gathering tightly.

natural dyes 253

a garden savvy student gave me a good-sized root of bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis)

the Native Americans used it as face paint, to dye fibres, porcupine quills and leather

it can be poisonous and needs to be handled carefully, it is reported to give orange and red-browns

I need to be patient and let it spread before using.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2013 3:23 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I’ve just read Dorothy Millers explenations about shifu, and she’s writing about how the paper has to be cut to be torn from both sides to be spun into an endless thread. I tried to imagine what she’s writing about – your photo just made it crystal clear…
    Kind regards


  2. March 16, 2013 5:24 pm

    your bloodroot is not very deep! here, native bloodroot is very much underground, 4-10 inches, and spreads slowly. i wonder if my bloodroot (what i transplanted from the side of the road to here) would be like if i had it shallower–probably would freeze right through and die.


    • March 16, 2013 6:13 pm

      Velma – I covered it up by several inches after taking the picture, wanted to show the colour of the root. I know I’ll have to wait a bit before harvesting some for dyeing.


      • March 17, 2013 9:17 am

        ah, so that’s it. plus yours is in wonderful soil! byt he way your post title is the BEST!


      • March 17, 2013 10:10 am

        Velma – that little area of the garden gets a top dressing of leaf mulch every year so I’m hoping for good results, and the root will have a leaf blanket in the winter.glad you like the title!


  3. March 16, 2013 7:22 am

    keep us posted on the bloodroot. sound very promising


    • March 16, 2013 8:43 am

      Neki – the bloodroot is also a very pretty ground cover in shady places
      Kjerstin – I am a compulsive spinner
      Guillaume – I never stop learning when it comes to dyeing


  4. March 16, 2013 4:11 am

    So interesting, fascinating.
    You are right, it’s always astounding how different materials react to the same bath of dyeing, same time, and though it gives different tones.


  5. March 15, 2013 7:00 pm

    It looks like fun.


    • March 15, 2013 11:07 pm

      Kjerstin – picking out 3 yards of knots definitely is not fun but I enjoy making shifu thread.


      • March 16, 2013 6:50 am

        I like untangling things, and weaving but am not fond of spinning – maybe we should join forces!


  6. Renee permalink
    March 15, 2013 5:50 pm

    I love to see every step of the making of shifu.


  7. March 15, 2013 5:29 pm

    The indigo silk is much improved. I can’t wait to try some shifu, probably with Lokta.


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