Not-Laharya: Sample 1

This is more like it; I can now see what I've been doing and until I see things, everything I think/say/type is hypothetical. And, lo, I can kind of see the weaving pattern for the first time!

The idea for this warp is to have one weft color, or three or four in longer increments, in horizontal stripes. The only color I had in mind from the start was the yellow-green seen about one-third of the way from the top. I also like the three highly saturated yellow/orange/pink at the bottom; these colors existed in the original cloth; if I go ahead with these, I would use all three in said stripe and may even bring in the yellow-green as a fourth color. There is also one nice purple, where you see ends sticking out on both sides, but I'm not sure if I have enough, or if I want to weave a generous-length piece with this skinny weft. And while sampling with that purple, I thought a darker mid-gray would be nice, so I sampled two towards the top. 

I'm not sure about the weaving draft. Among other things, I allowed weft floats of up to 9 warps in an 18EPI cloth. I can't remember what I usually do, but probably a maximum of 7. The stability/snaggability doesn't concern me as much the "wrong side of  the cloth" look.

Dinner next.

Japan Debrief 2 of 3: What's WAS It All About


Yesterday would have been my dad's 86th birthday and after pondering what to do for most of the week, I ended up doing nothing special. I still have too many specific regrets as regards Dad, I don't like to think about them too much lest I get bogged down and curl up in a fetal position, figuratively speaking. But I did have one lovely experience just before I left.

I have a cousin who lives in California and I hadn't seen her since late 1987; her sister lives in Tokyo and I hadn't seen her since 1995 until a couple of days after I got home. These two are my mom's older brother's daughters and we lived in two halves of a duplex until I was 10 when they built a new house two minutes away. They are two months my senior and 1.5 years my junior, so they were more like my sisters than my own, 6.5 years my junior, until I had less contact with my cousins and my sister grew older.

Spectacularly luckily, the California cousin came home during my last weeks there, so we had lunch, and later they came to visit Mom. Among other things, the elder cousin, without prompting, said Dad was a smiley guy, (I'm still struggling with this, but so many people whose first comment is his smiles can't be wrong,) but as kids we could never show him our weakness lest he'd dig his heel in. Beautifully put; in some sense he treated everybody alike, adults and kids, so everybody was fair game.

This is what I've been wanting to express, but much less eloquently, and which Mom took as evidence of my paranoia; then Lovely Cousin went on to say exactly what I had been telling Mom; Mom had an adult-to-adult relationship with Dad, we a kid-to-adult one. What a confirmation that in spite of what my mother tells me, I was right all along, from our perspective.

* * * * *

A couple of days ago I embarrassed my brother on his Facebook page and he was irate as he claimed it was not the first time I did it; I thought I was being funny. Dad said a lot of things he thought was funny but offended us, me in particular, and he knew when we didn't like something. Anyhoo, in a funny twist, I recalled how different Dad was before my brother came along, and how our family changed entirely with the birth of The Boy. 

I often recall one morning in Minneapolis, perhaps a few months after Dad, Mom and I moved there, when Dad looked up from the stairs, (we lived in a second-floor apartment,) and sang out: "By the time you grow up, even girls will have to work, and when you do, if you are only as good as boys you won't be recognized, but if you're better than boys, you will be seen as a valuable member of the workplace." Like that. And he went to work. Not preachy as he tended to be, no "therefore, study hard," at the end. 1961; he would have been 34, me 4. This stood me in good stead in my work ethic, in school to some extend but definitely in the workplace, but also made me more competitive and abrasive than desirable of a Japanese female person.

He practiced emancipation, too, in his way. I don't remember instances of his actively promoting women or a specific female staff, he didn't tell us, but he really struggled whenever he had female candidates for his lab. (He was a chemistry professor and during the last year of BSci, all chem majors must belong to a lab lead by a professor and publish jointly with that prof.) As a professor he wanted to encourage all students, but as a Japanese man of that era and perhaps as a dad to one, and later two, daughters, he didn't want girls in his lab because experiments in his labs were dangerous, (they had the occasional explosion,) if not "bad for the complexion," and should something happen to any daughter, he wouldn't know how to face the parents. (I didn't have the gumption to ask about the sons.) Earlier in his career, he debated this with Mom for days and then explained to each candidate why he was declining them and recommended less dangerous labs; later, after the late 70's?, he accepted female candidates and had at least three or four I'm aware of. So in the workplace, he improved as he aged.

At home, however, it was a totally different story. The Boy was born in 1971, weeks before I turned 13. First it started with Dad telling my sister and me to, "help Mom with the baby." Reasonable enough, and what little girl doesn't want to help with a baby, yes? But then it became, "Your brother would love it if would..."and then, "Do ... for your brother," (even if it was really for him,) then finally, "Do it."

I think, hope, at the start he was ordering us in a tongue-in-cheek way, a typical Dad-with-a-glint-in-his-eye, "There, I said it; whatchugonnadobouthat," mind frame. But as he kept repeating this, either the Neanderthal in him awoke, or he convinced himself this is the way he should be, or he took the easiest way out. At any rate, by the time my brother knew what's what, he was saturated in Dad's sexism, easily dismissing his sisters' impotent protests. And it wasn't just sexism.

When I was young, there was a very clear distinction in what/how a person does something and what they are, that is, their physique. Dad was ruthless about the lazy/stupid/unethical, ergo digging his heals in any soft spots. And he never suffered fools. But then he never commented on people's physique. He had a very old acquaintance who was physically disfigured, I think, and he felt so sad for him but he refused to comment about it so we never learned much about the man. We only leaned of him because years later Dad bought a wonderful leather couch and two chairs through this man's connections.

It started with Mom commenting on suits donned by men on the telly. Because her dad is still the biggest clothes horse we know, Mom and her sisters know a lot about fabrics and tailoring. Then tthe critique expanded to include actors' and news casters' faces around the time we got our first big screen TV. Actors, well, their physique was part of the package so we felt free to like or dislike. And this was in the 80's when pretty folks started to front shows retelling serious news without the training of a journo; they read news off paper, and without the scripts some couldn't even speak proper Japanese. Remember when that was new?

Dissing folks' physique on the telly had become my parents' pastime, and they were scathing, to the point of assuming they know the person and even judging them. (And I admit, I do that with politicians, a lot.)

I don't know if Mom and Sister remember this transition. Or how much politer and spoke in better language before The Boy came along. I don't blame my brother if he couldn't possibly believe me, but cause it was always thus since he's been a cognizant human bean, after Dad lost that glint in his eye.

I have always been, and remain, forever grateful I knew my parents when they were young, energetic idealist. I may have problems accepting things/people as they are, as too often pointed out by my siblings, but I strive harder to make things, and myself, better, IMHO. 

* * * * *

So what was it all about? Ostensibly I stayed with Mom for four and a half months to help her clean the house and get rid of things to make her eventual move easier. In truth, I ended up being the biggest obstacle because every other step she tried to make I prevented her. I was dismayed by her unwillingness to recycle, (she's old, doesn't drive, and never looked up charities); I disagreed with her values about material things, especially about their use-by dates, (but there was so much stuff in the house compared to when I lived there), but most of all I was disgusted she was so ready to throw Dad's things and some of the photographs so soon after he passed, (she has to move house, not me).

I am more like Dad than Mom; we are tightwads except where it's important; Dad traveled, I accumulate books and yarns. Mom had a more comfortable upbringing, and perhaps as one ages, that comes back to the fore; she can help herself as much I can; not a lot. Suffice it to say, though my family tend not to be attached to material things, Dad and I measure by if something can still be used, whereas Mom would like it/us to look nice, in person and socially. I'm happy to report, however, that I got Mom around to think about recycling when we discovered a good friend of hers is very involved with a charity and her husband can come around any week and load up his car with whatever Mom discards.

I'm still puzzled by the kind of man Dad was, with the gap in my perception of him vs. his past students', colleagues'', neighbors', and relatives'. I think my view of Dad was colored by Mom's perception/interpretation/criticism of his character, and lament that in my adulthood I was unable to observe/judge him for myself. But then we saw him the way he was, too, after retirement, in his illness, as a physical invalid, with us in the caretaker role. And I do so lament treating him as one. He may have been physically frail, but he sure wasn't in the head, and oh, how frustrating it must have been to have his presence squeezed into a type by his daughter. And then we are all going through a continuous and rather vast revision of Dad, so it's too early to beat myself with strands of colorful cotton thrums.Yet.

* * * * *

As to how long I should have stayed home, I'll never know. Ben thought late June might be good, in late may; I thought late July-ish may be good then and afterwards I lamented not leaving much earlier. Mom would have preferred if I left in May. Or June. Or July. But the clincher was this: we had a truly hideously hot and humid summer and I was afraid to leave her amidst it; I could see she was making progress physically and emotionally but came July and the heat, and it was as if both Mom's and my mind and body shut down and every day became an urban survival game.

There were days when Mom was more than OK; there were days when we sat, by 8AM, heaving and panting in the heat and humidity watching the telly gives us all kinds of previously-unheard-of weather-terror warnings; and there were days I wondered why I was subjecting myself to Mom's tantrums, or worse, her to mine. A couple of times when the subject came up, I told Mom I'm doing this for my selfish sanctification, and I'd leave when I was read; what more was I to say, it was too hot to pack up and leave immediately.

By then I had started to go to exhibitions and art classes and I was making the most of my time in Japan and set my departure date so I could go to my last session of the Cubism class. And though it was a little longer away than either of us thought suitable, once decided we lived with it.

The weather started to give out hints of the autumn by the time I was packing. Mom was feeling better because she could see autumn approaching, and I felt better leaving her. Even though we had a tropical storm the day before I left and the heat was up again the day after.

Dad's illness gave us a temporary truce, but Mom and I never had a television-mother-and-daughter closeness. We've always been different people, and weaving was our almost-only common interest. But then I sense my stay didn't damage our relationship, either. My having been home make us veterans of the same war, and I hope that's going to count for something.

So I don't know what it was all about, I probably won't settle on one answer for a long time, but there, I did it. With a glint in my eye, I have to stop second guessing fate and myself, and declare, it was the right and only thing for me to do at the time the way I did it.

I should know by now life seldom gives us clear, television closures. 


Not-Laharya: A Matter of Taste

I became less and less, (is that "increasingly less", or "decreasingly"?) attracted to the colors in this warp so it took me a while to thread. (Plus, I weeded for an hour and a half three days in a row, and I was shocked how tired I got; I used to garden in seven-to-nine-hour stretches.) So far I'm not keen on the weft colors I sampled, but then I saw them mainly under florescent light last night; they offend me less in natural light today. I hope to sample with more purple, light green and gray wefts this afternoon.
Meanwhile, I have been thinking about drafts in this post, (I don't like either, to tell the truth,) and reflecting on how my taste has changed, at least for the time being.

I used to love regular, fine, intricate drafts like the first one in the post, and fussy patterns one can make in networked twills. I wouldn't say I dislike them now, but the intricate regular patterns in two colors or values, I've seen enough of for now.

Dot and I were wondering why my taste has changed so quickly/noticeably; whether it's because of my collage experience; of having seen many paintings I didn't used to pay attention to, of the Cubists and Surrealists persuasions; or having thought so much about color planes via my Cubism class. What I would like to see in my cloths are bigger and distinct color patches and bigger graphic/geometric motifs. I think.

I only have vague, blurry visions of what I think I'd like, but one of the ways I thought to try is to use the tapestry technique and, say, have three separate color areas horizontally, in erratic shapes and sizes. Something like this, though more organic:
Unfortunately the current warp is not suitable for this experiment. The colors are mixed randomly, in parts frequently, and some of the yarns I used are outright unsuitable as warps, too soft and prone to break, (Mom and I discussed how these should be used only as wefts in Feb,) but oh, the red was so saturated and I couldn't help myself. Anyhoo, some of these warp yarns wouldn't tolerate the handling required in tapestry technique, at least not in the way I do it. My next warp idea may be more suitable?

Cashmere Conundrum

Some years ago a woman who travels back and forth between Europe and New Zealand told me my cashmere yarns are of OK quality; I think she wanted to say mine are crap. I was heartbroken because I pay two arms and two legs for mine, but I think she let me see/feel hers then, and I thought hers were "nicer".

My cashmeres: the animals are kept in Inner Mongolia, and the yarns are spun and dyed to the specs of a Japanese garment maker, Fukaki, either in Japan or China; I can't remember even though I asked Fukaki and got a lot of good information in 2010.

Recently my usual source introduced a new yarn, 15% cashmere/35% silk/50% lamb's wool, 10/2, at roughly half the price of 100% 20/2 and 26/2. Mom got three balls in early Sept, but none in colors I like, so I didn't bring any home. They were nice, sufficiently fluffy, but felt "wooly" and I thought it would suit larger pieces if I wanted to make something with cashmere in it, but they are no substitute for cashmere.

Opportunely, Doni helped me get a hold of some lovely Italian 15% cashmere/25% silk/60% superfine merino mix, 2/28 I think, from this company at approximately half the price of the Japanese yarn. And this feels silky and gorgeous and more grown-up. It's more like my 70% cashmere/30% silk, but with more body. 
Now this is going to be a little tricky because I don't have the Japanese yarn on hand so I'm comparing apples with, well, invisible apples.

Mom and I didn't have a chance to sample the new Japanese yarn; I didn't even wash a short length to see how it transforms, but my memory of it is fluffy and wooly in comparison to Doni's yarns, which are silky and, I keep coming back to this idea of "more grown up", less rustic, more cosmopolitan in appearance and hand. And again, I haven't washed a short length of Doni's either, but she says it becomes more luxurious.

In Japan, the most desired quality of cashmere textiles is lightness and my 100% yarns do a pretty good job of it. They are airy, soft, and weigh nothing relative to the appearance of their volume/mass. But as I said, they cost a lot, which is why I've only woven small scarves in cashmere so far, and even the new yarn costs a bit compared to Doni's lovely yarns.

I wonder if the issue is not a linear "quality" issue, but "quality" needing to meet the expectations of the people who buy and make things out of those yarns, in which case in Japan anything with "c" word on the label would have to be light, and no amount of silk would make up for it the absence of fluffy airiness. Though personally I think really good merino can carry the burden a bit.

Like I said, I don't have the Japanese yarn so I can't sample and compare, and none of these yarns are entirely comparable in their constitution/size. What I need to consider is what kind of products I'd like to make in conjunction with, and my perception of, the word, "cashmere"; something that suits the Japanese or European taste, to simplify, or somewhere in between, or something different.

Doni's yarns will no doubt be great on its own, but I'm going to sample it with my cashmeres and cashmere/silks, maybe with silk yarns, and perhaps even with 100% New Zealand merinos.

Lots to explore.



I love this name. I thought it was Laharya only because Mom bought it near there, along with a whole bunch of real Laharya cloths. But this one has the most uplifting color combo. Until yesterday afternoon, I thought I should put on a "simpler" warp to practice weaving on my big loom. But what practice? I've been weaving on it for a fair few years and I'm eager to get back into action, so I decided to dispense with the Convent School frivolity and jump right in. So, to recap:

The original inspiration, this being the only photo of the cloth I have:
The warp, where the colors are a little bit truer than yesterday's pic:
Color proportion and distribution, but too much yellow:
From the start I had in mind these small irregular triangles lined up and going up and down, irregular size and alignment being an important part. I want clusters of triangles. This was my starting point.
If I'm going to play around with weft colors, it's no use making the draft overly complicated, and if I can make the threading simple, all the better. But the above, I'm afraid, doesn't have the cute vertical clusters of triangles I had in mind.
The appearance of the cloth is too complicated, not innocent. So now I'm asking myself; how much do I want to stick to the look and feel of the original cloth vs how much do I want to "develop the idea".

So after one day of working it, this is what I've come so far.
A wee bit of detail.
And I'm a little tired now, but I just had another idea. LOL.


Japan Debrief 1 of 3: Making

I made a bunch of collaged postcards.  Some were pretty, some not; none contained any "intention" while I made them, which turned out to be a great way to switch off and I can imagine continuing to use collage for this reason. I wondered if it would contribute in improving my weaving, and Kaz seems to think there is. I must investigate the Saori philosophy at some point, but I'm not weaving plain weave at this time.

I wove a commission piece.

I wove a small show piece; this I left with Mom. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it; Mom found the distortions intriguing; she's woven a few tapestries so she doesn't get curves, while I just let the wefts go every which way they liked.

Then I made my first ever bag with leftover warp; this one is hanging on the stash room door knobs; I like it.

I dyed some fabric scraps and then moved on to two larger pieces of planned shibori dyeing. I dyed them once in "olive", according to the label on the tin, but it turned out to be obnoxious tea ceremony tea green. Yikes. But I always intended to apply at least three colors on these, so I will post as I progress.

I wove four merchandise scarves. The first two were on a warp with an extremely dodgy tension; the second two slightly better. I'm not happy with the overall look of all but the white one. The Ashford table looms do not allow me to weave under the high tension I prefer, so they look loose and lazy. However, they all have the most luxurious hand I never get when woven/finished at home; if what I make in Nelson are wonderfully polite meringues, these are cotton candies, and guess what I consider to be the most desirable quality in cashmere? I think I'll experiment with a) looser drafts/longer floats, and b) not-as-rigorous wet-finishing and pressing.
I was besotted by the colors in a piece of Indian silk that wasn't Laharya but shibori-dyed, so I made a warp "after" it. From the start I oscillated whether I should buy saturated orange and dark pink yarns to make the warp look more like the fabric, but desisted and used yarns from Mom's stash and a small amount I brought. It's just been wound on the loom, though I don't have a draft yet. It's not as yellow as in this pic.
Something new I've ended up doing is I didn't take gazillion pictures of the original fabric, my modus operandi. In fact the linked one is the only one I have. I think this was the influences of Mr Kanamori of the Cubism class and what I've read about van Gogh. Mr Kanamori reminded us we were not recreating the objects in front of us, but aiming to produce charming lines inspired by them; Vince "copied" works by many artists, but he never exactly copied them but reworked/modified them in his unique ways.

I've always felt my designs are... er, circumscribed; inside my head the "final" work is never too far from the original objects/inspirations and so are "not developed enough". Fingers crossed, having looked at the fabric every day for nearly five months but having only one picture will help in regurgitating the idea of the piece of cloth and move beyond it. 

I drew some naked ladies, (two afternoon classes) and spent an awfully lot of time and energy on the Cubism class; this last is a whole other post.

What I didn't do are: 1) I didn't sew a sun dress and I wished I had sewn something, because though Mom will tell you otherwise, she knows a lot about dress-making and I wanted to pick up some tips, and ; 2) I wanted to dye yarns with Mom as she knows a lot about dyeing.


Day One, or is it Two?

I've been home about 25 hours now. It's been cool, between 12 and 15C,  good for thinking and sleeping soundly. And it's incredible how quickly I slipped back into my easy life. (No, I haven't done the laundry nor sorting of stuff from this trip yet, and come to think of it, not completely from the last trip or the book purchases made in the month in between, but they will come.)

It's cooler than usual for this time of year, I think; the garden looks like nobody has lived here for years, but then it's not that unusual here; I'm embarrassed, but in a more stoic way. I decided feeling embarrassed or regretting takes too much time and energy away from improving or making amends. The good thing is, from between the weeds, paid plants, (horrible but apt description,) are showing lovely spring colors, tulips, hellebores and my lovely big cherry tree are in bloom. I think the cool spell is a gift for me to get out there and start working, but not worry about rushing, as bugs come out from about lunch time so I can garden only in the mornings. Oh, I ordered sunflower seeds, many dark reds and browns, this morning; definitely Vince's influence, but something I've wanted to do for several years.

I have a vague idea of what I want to do in my weaving in the next little while, frustratingly vague because I only started reading about van Gogh's use of complementary colors, and I can't see what they describe in the printed reproduced paintings and better postcards, so, so far they are only concepts. But from what little I understand, placement of complimentary colors makes Vince's colors intrinsically brilliant?? I've at least one book that had pretty good descriptions, and another specifically on post-impressionist colors so fingers crossed, after half a dozen readings, I'll have some starting points for my experimentations.  I'd be most grateful if you can explain this to me, or give me links to anywhere where they may be descriptions with some illustrations, please!

Meanwhile, I think weaving might be in order. Good thing I have a lovely, cellared, three-years-13-months-and-eight-day-old warp that fits the bill.  But first I have to remind myself how Summer & Winter works.
Exiting this door one last time. During the last few days, Mom and I talked about how ready we both are for her to leave this big old house; for me, this is my parents' place, and without Dad it feels "wrong". It's time for Mom to move on to "her" place!
It was lovely of my sister to meet us for lunch and send me off; if it were just Mom, the occasion would have taken on a much more somber tone. She also brought me two largish plates and two Japanese tea cups I had ordered; we decided they were too heavy altogether so only the teacups came home with me; she might try out the plates while she babysits them.
I forgot I'd planted several purple hellabores some time ago. Another day, I'll show you this incredible dark gray-purple one.
Cherry. Oh, joy.


Last Day

We received a lot of flower arrangements for Dad in these triangular paper bags this summer. For some reason I wanted to show you this all summer. Record hot summer was unkind to fresh flowers, though.
I made a warp inspired by Mom's Laharya cloth that turned out to be not Laharya but a simple shibori-dyed she bought in/near Laharya. Never mind. I didn't have the saturated oranges and pinks seen in the original cloth, so mine is redder, but I'm looking forward to weaving this warp. It'll be a wide cashmere piece.
We had a tropical storm travel most of the length of Honshu Island in one day today. And a wee quake and a tornado. It's quicker to list cities and regions not affected by it, but as usual, we had a bit of rain and a bit of wind and a fab sunset. This is most likely the last sunset I'll see from this house, as next time I visit, I'll probably be staying at Mom's new apartment.

And this is the last transmission from Japan this trip. Unless of course the storm decides to come back tomorrow. Yikes.


We were Impressed

Yesterday Mom and I went to Iwatate Textile Museum to see Indian embroidery/quilting, mirror work and appliqué. It's a tiny room chock full of older, (late 19C to mid 20C) handiwork made to be used by the maker or her family, most of which were garments or decorative cloths for special occasions, mostly weddings. We were super lucky because one Mr & Mrs Aida had made an appointment to have a staff give them a guided tour of the wee exhibition when we arrived.

Mrs Aida trained as a weaver but it'd been so long she doesn't usually offer that information, but her father owned a Tsugaru (a region of Aomori Prefecture at the top of Japan's main island,) art-craft shop, which Mr & Mrs Aida took over. Among other things, Tsugaru Kogin came up in our conversations in contrast/comparison, mostly importantly, the length of time it took to make one piece, the private nature of the finished items, family/regional uniqueness, and the recycling aspect. Good thing, then, that I had some info to fall back on as regards Kogin, because I knew what he was talking about, and Mom's India textile fever was fueled even more; she's been wondering if she can go to India one last time before she gets older. She'd seen and visited most (all?) of the regions represented in the exhibition. I only know what she told me but was impressed with the fine embroidery/quilting, and touched by the very personal/regional motifs.

One of the things that came up in our conversation was how we don't appreciate textiles and particularly our used clothes because so much variety/quantity/quality is available for a relatively cheap price in our modern life. Ben and I try to think of ways to recycle old clothes, and so far, rags for cleaning the house, looms and cars have been the extent of our bright ideas, (a bunch of not-too-old ones are given to charity,) but I have in mind keeping old T-shirts, cutting them up and quilting/connecting them in two or three layers to make a summer or picnic blanket for us to use, embroidering whatever motifs that come to mind and not worrying about the finished, overall look. Worth a try.
Admissions here is mere 300 yen, apparently unchanged for years. Mom thought even if they raised this to 500, she wished they had even one A4 sheet with a brief history/description and a photo of their representative works to give away; not a bad thought.

Mom wanted to visit a newly-discovered yarn shop just up the road from Iwatate, so we hiked up an upmarket residential street. And then we got so we lunched at a tiny soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant, which turned out to be quite good, and afterwards asked for directions. The shop was a block away. Where we ended up turned out to be the Jiyugaoka branch of the Saori no Mori establishment, and the manager is the second son of the senior Mr Jo in Osaka.

I had never heard of Saori until I "met" Terri Bibby before the first SSVE, and when Kaz Madigan signed up, I was almost uncomfortable about this cult-like group because the members appear utterly and uniformly enthusiastic about Saori philosophy. (I, a lapsed Catholic, Agnostic/Skeptic, stay far, far away from organized religion and political groups.) I still haven't read the Saori philosophy, but follow enthusiastically Kaz's description/explanation of their equipment/tools. So I went in with a bit of skepticism, hoping if I can pick up some good quality yarns the short hike would have been worth it.
The yarns were good. In fact, we didn't spend nearly enough time looking at them, because Mom focused on their good 100% cashmere only, but we brought home with their sample book. Above is their classroom.

The young Mr Jo is one of the loveliest young man I've met; extremely soft-spoken, genuine, and super enthusiastic about Saori and, perhaps because I kept asking only about the equipment, knowledgeable and confident about the superiority of aspects of their products. And did I mention he was lovely? Even though there were two students working in the classroom, he spent over an hour with us explaining why a certain mechanism was employed over another, how it came to be, etc.

Though there's plenty of writing about how Jo Misao started weaving, their looms started when senior Mr Jo, (Ms Misao's third son,) started building one for her. And because there are other folks who have been weaving on Saori looms for over 30 years, as they age, the looms get modified to make it easy on the body. In recent times they began focusing on physically handicapped folks, making the looms and warping boards accessible by wheelchair, for e.g. Senior Mr Jo lives, eats, and dreams loom improvement, and the best ideas come on the bullet train, apparently. We were so impressed, both with the quality of the equipment, (basic but sturdy,) and the Jo family's thinking, and their business acumen. Andwith the looms being improved to suit the physically not-so-robust, it's become a very attractive alternative to a trip to India for Mom for when she needs to downsize her loom room. Which is not too far in the future, fingers crossed.

Me, I always imagined visiting Kaz and Sampling in Australia some day. Lately, with Kaz's posts on her workshops, I've started to feel a bit curious, (get it?), about her Saori workshops as well. Now I'm thinking I might even be curious enough to piggyback when they visit Saori no Mori in Osaka in a couple of years. For my work, I wove only plain weave on a rigid heddle for the first seven years and for now I'm over it. I'm now far more interested in multishafts and complex weaving design, if not structures, and given the chance, I'll jump at an opportunity to try more-than-16 or a jacquard. I've also been and remain lukewarm about what I preconceive to be the representative aesthetic of Saori cloth. And I don't want to teach weaving, at least not now. But I can't deny I sense a more basic, (primordial??,) pull in the Saori/Jo Family attitude/posture towards weaving and creating that's worth investigating. 

Bonus: my nephew's high school stands across the street from this Saori outlet and it was great to see it. It's so near the convent school I went to but I had never heard of his school even though it's possibly older than mine. Said soba restaurant, though on the expensive side, is a block further up the hill from Saori, on the same side of the street.

If you visit Tokyo and are interested in Saori or their equipment, go to Kichijoji on the West side; Saori's other outlets is there, (though the walk from the station is a bit longer,) as is Avril, (their shop link doesn't work,) and Ananda, who started out as an Ashford dealer in Japan, I think, but also has strong India connections.

Then I went to Tokyo Art Center because I wanted to return a shuttle I bought in March; it just didn't balance well in my hand, so I wanted to return it as soon as I went back to Nelson. They said it's missing a piece, (the center wire bit that holds the bobbin fell out, which I hadn't noticed but would have thought they'd worry about,) and I was happy to buy a new one right in their shop or have the cost of that reduced, and anyway they can't take back a used item, (which it wasn't). The manager didn't even bother to come out of the back and talk to me, so I was a  bit miffed considering how much yarn I bought in March, (and had the receipt). But I understand their position, so I'll just keep. Or sell it online later.

I went back to Bridgestone Museum to buy possibly my last van Gogh book this trip. This one claims there were at least 18 van Gogh works in Japan at the time of publication in 2009; I'm glad I'm not rushing around trying to cover all "nine" around Japan; Daubigny was the perfect last piece for this trip.

Mom and I sauntered down the Ginza shopping strip, which Mom has frequented since she was a student in the early 1950's but not in recent years, and I as her daughter thought it a default shopping area in preference over other places in Tokyo even though everything is so expensive I only ever bought greeting cards, pens and, ummm... shoes. Then we had a light supper at a lovely Indian restaurant recommended by the Indian importer who lives in Kyoto.

Lovely day, but intense; Mom's satisfied with the India injection and is dreamily walking around the house weighing out the practicality and cost of a trip to India or a lovely new loom. Me, I need a few not-talking days, to be honest, to ingest and organize thoughts. In reality, I need to tie loose ends, (including fringing two scarves), look into the Cubism thing one last time, and continue to pack.

Five days to go.



Ronette would roll on the floor laugh until it hurts when I tell her I've become quite a van Gogh enthusiast; I read half a dozen books on him in the last three weeks or so and have about that many by my futon upstairs. I've just ordered a bunch from Better World Books so I can continue this path.

Japan has always reciprocated this besotted-teenage crush with Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, and Cubists/Fauvists/Surrealists by extension, and we all go though our Monet and Renoir phases as sure as puberty. And around the same time. I myself never progressed to the van Gogh phase because I didn't like the brash, animal-like brushwork most of my life until I saw Simon Schama's documentary a few years ago.

At first I was more interested in his depression, but I became interested in his whole life, and this summer, finally, into his art. In face, I don't mind his paintings as much as I used to, but I still can't say I like all, or most, of them the way I like, say, Matisse's.  

There are nine oil paintings in permanent collections in seven institutes in Japan, (and possible others in private collections.) I've seen three so far, (this, this and this, though I understand there are doubts as to the last one's provenance;) plus one visiting, (go 4/5 of the way down and click on the colorful portrait;) and one's in Canada now.

Mom and I may make a day trip to go see three in one gallery, (their website don't show the works); I may travel a whole day to go see another though it's rather far; and I'm not sure if I'm interested in this one enough to contemplate an expensive one day trip.

I've been trying to learn about the Japanese love affair with van Gogh, and if "we" view his person and his art differently from the "Western" views. I'm not sure where I'm going with it, but not knowing is half the fun.

So, after finding out about the exhibition in Hiroshima a fortnight ago at the architecture park, I actually made a mad dash overnight trip. There were 52 works from the Paris years, (plus a few before and a few after,) from the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and it was wonderful. There were so many pieces I wasn't sure where to look at the start, but I became more interested in how he tried out thick and thin layers of paint, the directions and the lengths of the brush strokes; that he used such cheap paint some started fading as early as ten years after the being painted, and a more general transition/changes/fashion in Western painting in the late 19th and early 20th century. And I walked down to another museum to see "Le Jardin de Daubigny", the second link above. (I also took an early morning walk around the Peace Park and the Dome so I'll post some pics in a couple of days.)

I've also become interested in Manet and Bonnard. But as I said, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Which is half the fun. If it turns out to be just a hobby of mine, what a glorious hobby it is!

Home in a Week

I'm leaving Japan next Tuesday. And I'm looking forward to getting back into my normal life; my looms, Ben, and my own mess of a garden. Well, maybe not that. I am a little worried about Mom, but nothing specific; just that she'll be living on her own for the first time in... well, her life... of 83 years. 

I've been busy some of the time. Exhibitions I recall going to since the last post are:
* le Corbusier and company exhibition I stumbled upon at the National Museum of Western Art, (mind-blowing; might go again);
* their permanent collection, though their van Gogh is in a show in Ottawa, Canada at the mo;
* an exhibition of collections from the Louvre, which I just assumed were paintings, but turned out to be historical artifacts, 4000 years of the Mediterranean, which I would have been interested if had I been prepared but I just ran through this one, but I did stop by two Byzantine tile work from Roman floors, (did I say it right?);
* permanent collection of dinosaur bones hung beautifully at the National Science Museum;
* permanent collection at the Bridgestone Museum, (their van Gogh was not as fabulous as his post-Paris work);
* an industrial design exhibition at the Setagaya Art Museum way in the boondocks, because I misread the brochure advertising Japonisme paintings from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. That exhibition takes place a year from now and will include this van Gogh piece;
* and a hilarious "So-en fashion magazine annual student awards since 1956" show, which included student work by Kenzo and one other Big Name even I recognized;
* more Rodin and Moore sculptures than I care to recall;
* and more than enough dioramas and recreations of old rooms and portions of buildings at history museums large and small around Tokyo.

And I saw two live panda bears for the first time at the Ueno Zoo.
This is the girl that was suspected to have been possibly pregnant in June/July, but who wasn't. She's behind bullet-proof glass. Oh, shame; there are eight live cams on these panda bears but because the URLs are in Japanese, I can't post them on blogger.

My niece came to stay overnight; she's a bright, lively one. After she went home, I got sick and was out of action for five days.

As regards that Cubism thing, I go to my last, sixth session on Sunday, so I'll have to summarize what when on in there after I go home. Because I'm still not sure if I'm making progress there.

I finished weaving the white "Snowflake" piece; it took me five pieces on the Ashford table looms to learn how to control the tension and beating on them, and now I'm finished. I still hope to dye two pieces of cloth a second time, but I can't decide what to do with one.

I've been working on the very last "postcards"; I hope to send them out before the end of this week.