Monday, September 27, 2010

Gallery - Barb Saunders

One of the things I really love about my job is getting to see some of the beautiful things that  customers create with fabrics from the shop. The pieces in today's post are all recent works handstitched by Barb Saunders an accomplished Hobart quilter and textile artist who has been a customer since well before we even had a shop.
This first piece is a tied patchwork cloth based on old patched 'boro' futon covers and also influenced by the wonderful stitching books by Junko Maeda (unfortunately only published in Japanese).  Barb has beautifully integrated original old patches and mends with her own stitching and has lifted it and brought it all together with pieces of red and orange and traditional alternating long and short running stitch.  My husband Takashi also loved this piece when Barb brought it in and commented that it has 'good balance - not too much - just enough'.  The second photo is the reverse side featuring a panel of Barb's sashiko.

The second piece is a small wallhanging featuring fabric origami and also lots of old buttons that we got from a farmhouse fleamarket in Japan. I love the colours in this and  the stripes and checks together which remind me of the stunningly simple design of a humble old Australian 'wagga' as well as the  subdued autumn tones that you often see in contemporary Japanese quilting.

I equally love the subtle colours in this drawstring bag made from strips of kimono fabric. This striped design is based on old 'komebukuro' rice bags which were traditionally made from old cotton remnants. I'll write more about old Japanese drawstring bags in future posts.

Many thanks to Barb for letting me share her very fine and inspiring works.

Monday, September 20, 2010

FAQ... Japanese thimbles

One of the questions I'm most frequently asked in the shop is how to use the traditional Japanese ring type thimbles ( called yubinuki in Japanese)  The 'correct' answer is that it goes on your middle finger between the second and third knuckle and is used to push the needle through like this:*

But I think the best answer is that because they are so flexible you can use them however it suits your own stitching style. We have quite a few different types in the shop at the moment - including some old handstitched 'kaga yubinuki'. I particulary like the leather ones because they are soft and flexible. I often find customers with arthritis like them because they can fit over knobbly fingers. You can replace the thread if you want to make them looser.

Here are some old thimbles from my collection. They have traditionally been made from tiny  remnants of kimono fabric and silk thread. Some are just a simple piece of fabric stitched over a paper core, others are very finely and  beautifully embroidered.

These last few (as well as others in the previous photos) are 'Kaga yubinuki'  and feature this distinctive style of all over stitching which originated in Kaga (the old name for an area centred in Kanazawa and which  is now part of Ishikawa prefecture). Kaga had a long history as a textile producing area and so presumably had plenty of leftover threads for making thimbles...

*Illustration from John Marshall, 'Make Your  Own Japanese Clothes'

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Some of the characters that keep me company in the shop each day...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In store... old indigo

This week I've been ironing up more antique  indigo cotton and I'm in the process of pricing it and putting it out in the shop at the moment.  These  are mostly lovely old katazome and kasuri pieces that have come from clothing and futon covers. (The futon covers fabrics often take a very long time to iron because even if they've been well-washed they always have bits of old cotton wadding stuck to them!). These are mostly from the  late 19th - early 20th century but I'm  putting out some more of the newer (1950's  - 1970's?) kasuri as well. Here are some of the older pieces....

Quite a lot of the old indigo comes to us in less than perfect condition so today I'm making up one big basket of all the old faded, holey and patched pieces.... it should be a real treat for those of you (like me) who  love  the character of textiles that have already had a long full life...