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layers of thinking

November 6, 2014

in a period of 12 hours the weather can go from windy, pouring rain and chilly to bright blue sky and warm sunshine

P1050909the Japanese maple is splendid

P1050910the cyclamen are still blooming

P1050912and the hydrangea are putting on their own show

P1050914colour is everywhere

P1050916it took 2 days to wind this fine silk warp

blending many natural dyed yarns

I’m only half way finished threading the heddles

I’ve always been attracted to boro fabrics


sashiko and kantha are stitching cousins

and bojagi pieces from Korea using tiny pieces of precious fabric

they’ve become trendy in the West

I wonder how many people consider the poverty and desperate need that required using every scrap of material

they were not made exclusively to recycle but to survive

I wanted to understand those tiny stitches and the hands that made themP1050922starting with a well-worn cotton sheet of my Mother’s

layering an old, thin cotton futon cover

orange isn’t my favorite colour so most of it will be covered with more scraps

P1050920a guild member gave me a pair of very threadbare linen pillowcases

I cut out the worn centers, mended them and placed them between the layers

and indigo dyed the less worn pieces of fabric

P1050919I love the texture running (kantha) stitch gives to the layers

and look how it changes the shibori

the thread is thrums

I’m layering raw edges

no ironing (that was very difficult)

and I’m trying to think of those woman, possibly tired and hungry

using only the meager supplies that they had

making something beautiful for their families

P1050921included is a piece of the embroidered pillowcase that my Mom stitched

some of you may ask “why is she doing this”?

I ask myself that every time I pick it up

it is good sometimes to stop and appreciate the abundance we have

27 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2014 10:34 pm

    Your silk warp is glowing, Jean! And I hope you’ll show us the continuing story of the boro piece. How could you not appreciate the colour orange with all those lovely fall leaves about?


    • November 9, 2014 8:12 am

      Louisa – the leaves are marvelous this year, I’ll have to learn to appreciate orange textiles. Worried the warp is glowing a little too much!


  2. November 8, 2014 3:44 am

    So much color, indoors and out! Your post is very thought-provoking–I can definitely relate to your desire to feel the connection with other makers who created under very different circumstances than ours. I just finished a novel, kind of so-so overall, but the main character was a home weaver in America in the 1700s. The weaving aspect and the ways weaving related to the story line kept me reading.


    • November 8, 2014 8:07 am

      Kerry – it is interesting that so much of what our mothers and grandmothers did out of necessity we do as a “hobby” to fill free time.


  3. November 7, 2014 8:56 pm

    so true! about so many cultures and traditions that have since been appropriated and glamorized. even now, many koreans i know scrimp and save everything. maybe because i hang out with an older generation, but it’s deeply embedded. thanks for sharing!


    • November 7, 2014 9:00 pm

      Aimee – the planet would be much healthier if we all did more recycling and re-purposing. Our mothers and grandmothers did it out of necessity, we need to do it too.


  4. November 7, 2014 6:18 am

    some thoughts: profound dislike for what the west has done regarding boro by emptying it of meaning and making it an aesthetic statement.
    kantha on shibori: what a find!
    those tiny stitches hold so much of life/lives
    momiji turning is such a blessing from nature. enjoy.


  5. November 7, 2014 12:49 am

    This is indeed a great post. It hits things in many places. I feel like sviewave, but i like challenges, so i’ll try to put that into words. I’ll let you know.

    You touch this thing I’m digging, that is why textile, because of the objects it’s used for, allows to connect to other people through space and time.

    “I want to know what they were thinking, how they lived. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I work on this “, a link beween one people and other people minds, using the route of the hands.

    Thanks again.


    • November 7, 2014 8:00 am

      Guillaume – it is wonderful how scraps of fabric can hold so much meaning, cross borders and centuries and connect people of all cultures.


  6. November 6, 2014 8:36 pm

    Beautifully moving post, Jean…and I enjoyed your presentation to our guild on Salt Spring very much.


    • November 6, 2014 8:38 pm

      Lorrie – thank you. I always enjoy a trip to Salt Spring and a visit with the guild makes it even better.


  7. myrajdunn permalink
    November 6, 2014 6:10 pm

    When we do projects like this I always think we are acknowledging the sisterhood of all women through the ages who struggled to keep their families warm in cold climates. I remember unpicking a fragment of an old kimono sleeve and wondering whose hands had set the stitches.


    • November 6, 2014 7:00 pm

      Myra – our younger woman and girls no longer need these skills and don’t understand that sisterhood, such a loss. It is interesting to unpick another person’s work, all sorts of little tricks to be learned.


  8. November 6, 2014 6:02 pm

    Whenever I start something and realize that I don’t have all the modern tools that are deemed necessary, I find myself wondering how those that came before us did it. How did the work get done so the knowledge could get passed down, so that they had clothes on their backs and blankets to sleep under?
    It makes you think harder and yet simpler. Because really, it got done. The evidence is there. And I think to myself that it means I can do it too. And it connects us.
    No iron. That is my dream.


    • November 6, 2014 6:07 pm

      Renee – I think we are far more creative when we don’t just go and buy more stuff! yes, it does connect us, something we need more of. Not only did most not have an iron – they didn’t have electricity. btw – I love to iron.


  9. November 6, 2014 5:29 pm

    You have such empathy for the cloth – magic, beautiful work. We are so fortunate to be able to approach cloth in this way – I was going to say without need, but I think you are speaking to a deeper need that goes beyond the material, to have that compassionate connection.


  10. November 6, 2014 5:26 pm

    I am unable to put into words how much I appreciated this post; so I will just say, thank you.


    • November 6, 2014 6:11 pm

      sviewave – thank you. I am surprised at how emotional I am feeling about this work. I am so very happy that it seems to have touched some of my readers.


  11. November 6, 2014 4:02 pm

    jean, now THIS is thoughtful work. and powerful. very.


    • November 6, 2014 4:55 pm

      Velma – it’s the people, the makers of textiles that fascinate me. I want to know what they were thinking, how they lived. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I work on this.


      • November 8, 2014 7:23 am

        every stitch a prayer…or a conversation? a thought, a hug……or perhaps a way of connecting to life…in any case, you have me thinking and many thanks for that!


      • November 8, 2014 8:05 am

        Velma – it has me thinking too – and so have the comments here.


  12. emilysuzanna permalink
    November 6, 2014 2:44 pm

    Hi Jean,

    I’m back from my trip now and ready to make the decisions about the tea towels…sorry it has taken me so long to write…I hope some are still available. I love the red ones with the green, and the red one with the yellow, the green…actually I love all 3 green ones, but probably cannot afford to get too many. I hope this is the best way to email you.



    • November 6, 2014 4:58 pm

      Suzanna – my email is Think that is a better way to do this. I’ll send you close up pictures. The towels are $24 Canadian each, I’ll figure out the postage when I know how many you want.


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