Friday, January 27, 2012

Japan - Part 12: Loot

Or, gazillion reasons why I don't need to shop!

Books on design and Japanese culture, (some I bought for 1 yen plus shipping,) one fab memoir by picture book artist Anno Mitsumasa, three booklets on Oribe-yaki pottery, one how-to book, patterns for simple bags for children; I have a few of these, but this book had illustrations of some parts I find tricky.

There are two lots of strange, stringy, papery silk yarns towards the front left; I forgot the story on these, but Mama should remember. Not the kind of thing I would normally rescue or contemplate using, but Pat in Group R is making leaps and bounds on her thinking and making, and that I even looked at these tells me her energy pushing me.  

The blue skein in the front has a story: Mama bought it, along with the purple variegated, and a whole bunch of similar silks, from a kimono weaver who comes to a craft market in Yokohama every year. But she couldn't stand the screaming, in-your-face aqua blue variegation, so first we dedyed portions of the skein using bleach in a spray bottle.  That got us nowhere, so we put some bleach in a tub of water, didn't mix it much, dropped the skein and left it for a while. I also sprayed some areas additionally later. Anyway, it became a kind of strong aqua with a few pale bits; Mama thought it's tolerable; I wasn't sure.  But I wanted to put it on the 16-shaft and create swirly or fussy shapes, so brought it back.

Without knowing I've been into golds and dirty yellows and oranges, (which originates in Mama's love for brick oranges anyway,) Mama also had three or four or five golds and dirty yellows of the same silk, and I had intended to pinch some of each to use as wefts, but I forgot. But I have enough gold and dirty yellows I'll manage. 

I might still do something with the color before I make the warp, though. Just wondering...


  1. Curious about the bleaching of silk, Meg. I have always been afraid to do this. Is this the first time you've done it?

  2. Third time lucky, I hope.

    No, I wasn't for two reasons: one, Mama said it'd be OK, and she has a bit more experience with silks and dyes. Second being Randy Darwall and Brian Murphy were quite casual with bleach when demonstrating with bleach, except for one type of fiber. (Now, was that wool or silk, I wonder... I need to go and check my notes, but my money is on wool...)

    We did keep a close eye on the experiment, and rinsed it in vinegar water, but my general impression was, silk, and wool, is a lot heartier than I give them credit for. Mind you, the bleach was diluted both in the spray and in the tub, and we repeated applications rather than used stronger stuff, if that makes a difference.

    Beyond that, we both need to consult someone with more experiences with dyeing silk. Myself, I've never used a pure silk yarn that I can remember, and never dyed/discharged it myself. :-<<<

    Too scared and too mean!

    Anyhoo, good thing I don't teach!

  3. But you just taught me something! Thanks :-)

  4. So, there's been a wee bit of a discussion on my Facebook Page as to the wisdom (or not) of using common kitchen bleach, (which is what I think what I used but am having Mama go check,) on silk. And now I'm not even sure if it was she or I said it'd be OK. What is marketed as kitchen bleach in Japan can be anything from the bleach group, ( of which I did not know there were so many varieties; I had assumed they were all of one type. Silly me.

    And the mystery is, the "bleached" skein feels the same as all other unbleached skeins from the same source, in different colors.

    Goodness, I hate chemistry, but the more I want to learn about dyeing, the more I need to study it. Yikes.

  5. I had a wee talk with my parents last night, and Dad thinks it was probably hydrogen peroxide we used, a) seeing as the silk skein doesn't feel damaged, b) because we used what is marketed as "kitchen bleach spray", and c) in Japan we've traditionally used mainly hydrogen peroxide to combat germs, and if it was recommended for use in the kitchen, it is the most likely content.

    Mama, on the other hand, didn't remember our little experiment, though she knows which skein we were discussing. "Very generally speaking, I don't think it's a good idea to use bleach on silk," was her comment.

    So, it was a very busy November, and her life remains the same. I'm just glad we used whatever it was that we used. End of story. For now.


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