Friday, 8 November 2019

Kimono through History - at Dalgarven Mill

There is an excellent exhibition of Japanese kimono on at the moment at Dalgarven Mill, Kilwinning, until 15th December. As kimono are so varied in design and it is very rare every to see two identical designs together (even for modern kimono), another person's kimono collection is always a 'must see' for fellow kimono collectors like myself. Before we went, I'd seen a few photos online, but somehow had failed to spot the owner and curator of the exhibition - Sue Selwyn, who was one of my original group of sashiko students at The Studio, Loch Lomond, back in 2013, and we were in the same class for our City and Guilds Patchwork and Quilting Diploma class at Gillian Cooper's studio a few years ago. I knew about her kimono collection, but I didn't know how many she had. Sue has a very good eye for design and, since she began collecting about 10 years ago, has assembled a beautiful collection on numerous trips to Japan.  The exhibition shows mainly the more formal end of kimono, houmongi and up in formality levels, with a focus of yuzen and embroidery. This kimono, with yuzen dyed aoi (hollyhocks) leaves on a very large scale rinzu silk damask, with embroidered details, is early Showa era (1930s).

There is plenty of information about each kimono. Some are displayed on tailor's dummies while some of the more fragile ones were hung at the back of the displays.  Everything was raised on on staging and well lit, so the details are easy to see.  Below, two uchikake, wedding robes - the white one with the cranes and plum blossoms is 1960s while the red one, with peacocks and pine boughs, is 1990s.

Heisei era houmongi (below) with sparkly lurex in the weave and tsujigahana tie dyed decoration.

A beautiful example of meisen dyeing (above).

Late Showa era furisode (left above) and houmongi (right) - the darker furisode has Bingata inspired designs, while the shibori tie dyed houmongi looks like it was originally furisode, but had the sleeves shortened when the original owner married.

Late Showa era red bridal furisode, with machine embroidered designs (below).

The green furisode below is 1960s, while the pink houmongi in front of it is very early Showa era.

The crested houmongi on the left was stunning.

This Heisei era houmongi has quite modern embroidery.

The earliest kimono in the exhibition were late Meiji era.  There were many very fine examples of delicate yuzen dyeing.

Worth a visit if you can get there!

The mill has a large costume collection of its own and a complimentary exhibition of export kimono and kimono influenced robes, with parasols and other accessories made for the Western market, was in another gallery upstairs.   There are also extensive exhibitions of rural life, including room sets, on the upper floors.

This 1/16th scale dolls house was in the kimono gallery. It was completely hand made for the owner and is a modern build, but with great details.

The museum owners have just finished restoring another building on the site, which may be used for other events or as a gallery, and we are talking about having a boro and sashiko exhibition there sometime in 2021. As soon as we have something arranged, I'll let you know!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Exploring Boro at Greenbank Gardens

Last Saturday, I had a creative day with Renfrewshire Embroiderers' Guild, when we 'Explored Japanese Boro' with new versions of my Mt Fuji boro inspired picture in the morning.  After lunch, some group members got started with a boro bag panel, but for others, the picture had grown a bit bigger! There was some great use of fabric scraps with various colours and textures, with views of Mt Fuji (and maybe a few other moutains) in various seasons, weathers and times of day.  There's a lot more stitching to be added to all these panels, and I'm looking forward to seeing photos of some of the finished works.

This longer panel, which is going to become a bag, reminds me of glimpsing Mt Fuji in the far distance when flying into Narita airport!

Greenbank Gardens is not far from Glasgow and is the site of a neo classical mansion.  I didn't get to see the actual gardens and it was quite a damp and soggy day.

We were in the cosy and comfortable Coach House, to the right of the mansion in this panorama. I'd like to visit again, at a time of year when the gardens would be full of flowers.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Celebrate Autumn - 10% off on autumnal coloured fabrics

My first online 'sale', last weekend's free UK shipping (and reduced overseas rates), was over so quickly, several people didn't spot it - sorry! So I decided to have a special sale to celebrate the autumnal colours, with 10% off all autumn coloured fabrics, running right up until November 17th. You can find all the fabrics grouped together on my website, including the last of the limited edition 'Autumn colours' sashiko panels.

Although I identify more with Spring time, I love the gorgeous Autumn colours! When I went to work in Japan, I really looked forward to seeing them, but in 1991, they weren't as good as usual, due to Typhoon Mireille.  These photos were taken in Yamagata city in mid November 2013.

The colours here in Perthshire are maybe not quite as dramatic, but are still lovely.  A lot of our Autumn colours locally come from our beech trees and hedges, which become a beautiful russet colour.

Oops - I just found this photo of Glyn holding some hand spun knitting yarns in autumn colours, which reminds me I have a jumper to finish!

Friday, 25 October 2019

FREE UK shipping in my internet shop (and internationl shipping rates reduced)

I've had a lot of customers asking if we will be at the Autumn Quilt Festival at Duxford this weekend, but I'm sorry, I'm teaching my sashiko course in Stockton! So I have changed the shipping rates on the website to FREE UK shipping for today, tomorrow and until 10pm on Sunday 17th October 2019, and reduced the international rates by £3 too.  Orders will be sent out on Tuesday 29th October.

So, have fun shopping online! Here's my website link -

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Fun with hitomezashi - the 'one stitch sashiko' that looks like blackwork

Hitomezashi (one stitch sashiko) is what really drew me in to wanting to learn how to stitch sashiko. I found the small geometric patterns totally fascinating, even more so when I found out that they are created with straight lines going back and forth - not with 'stepped' lines or cross stitches as you might assume.

I love the way that numerous patterns can be created from one simple grid - a quarter inch (6mm) or a 5mm (a scant quarter inch) works just fine. The smaller grid is better for either a medium thread used singly or a fine thread doubled, as a medium thread doubled looks a bit too chunky on the smaller grid but fine on the quarter inch one. Some patterns, like komezashi (rice stitch, below) look good with a combination of doubled thread (the crosses) and single thread (diagonals).

Most patterns are simple but some, like igeta (well curb, below), take a bit more concentration!

You can have a lot of fun making little samplers - the one above was from a class with Heswall Quilters a few years ago.

All the patterns on my little sampler are done on the same quarter inch grid.

As are all these samples from one of my workshops.

Even the basic running stitch, yokogushi (horizontal rows), is a pattern in its own right and forms the foundation for many others. The detail below is from an antique kotatsu table cover from my collection.

The antique piece above shows several variations on jyuuji tsunagi (linked cross).

You can combine patterns to make little samplers...

And there are many variations on the same pattern.

The not so exciting part is having to draw the grid.  But now you can skip that step. Olympus Thread Mfg. Co. have fabric printed with dots at 5mm intervals, so you can just start stitching straight away! The dots have the same function as the crossed lines in the grid. After stitching, they just wash away.  I have just added some to my shop, in blue (above) and black.

If you prefer softer fabric, I also have hanafukin cloths with square and isometric dots, in dark blue.

Or you can go one step further, and get a hanafukin with the whole hitomezashi pattern already marked out for you. It couldn't be easier! Click here to go to my internet shop.

Whatever you choose, hitomezashi is absorbing and relaxing.  I've been told it is great for mindfulness too. Just stitch and relax!