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Posts from the ‘Handweaving’ Category

Bengala Natural Mud Dyeing

Bengala Dyed yarn


I’ve been experimenting with the Bengala natural, sustainable mud dyes from Japan. These are used a lot by Saori studios around the world, such as Loop of the Loom.  I now have a limited number of packs in stock.  They are costly to import as Australia has tariffs on them but they are worth the colour. 

I wanted to effectively use them in warps rather than completed fabric for shibori which is their most common use. They are VERY easy and safe to use. I didn’t need gloves (you may with sensitive skin) and it only took about 15 mins to get it all to the drying rack. 

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The Stones of Old Bar Beach

Old Bar beach is a bit unusual on the coastline of NSW in Australia.  Its incredible cover of stones seem to come from the nearby Manning River, and they gather everywhere then disappear for a few days. Everyone who comes to the studio comments on them. Old Bar Beach is a beachcomber’s delight. The thing with the stones is that they are all so different. With this double weave piece I just had to focus on one shade of the stones but there are plenty of others. How did they all get so, so different. 

Old Bar beach

I know stones happen on other beaches and I certainly saw an overload on Brighton Beach in the UK. But on the coast of NSW the sands vary dramatically from beach to beach but there isn’t much in the way of  stones happening. South of Sydney the sand is super fine and white, in some of the Northern Sydney beaches the sand is orange and full of shell grit. Here we have lovely whiteish sands AND stones.

On the loom the weaving was slow and exacting and easy to make a mistake. It is a 24 shaft double weave which was threaded over time. And this was the last time the design was on the loom in 2009!  This post outlines it’s original intent and inspiration. So it’s been a long time in the pipeline. The good thing about this type of work is it takes a long time to get the design established, although not usually 10 years!  But once that’s right I can then weave and weave. On the minus side is the physical energy needed to weave this work, it takes alot and isn’t the usual pleasant sitting at a loom, it’s work.  The energy take up is good for anger though! I can never sell this type of work because of the cost, at least in Australia, despite the art that it is. So it’s ok to take my time and not look at it as a production, which it isn’t.

Most of the magic in this weave is the fine lycra/wool weft in one of the layers. This makes everything buckle up and the fabric has a stretch factor to it. Finally I’m very happy with this piece and I can look at the next one which will pick up on other stones of Old Bar Beach.


In the News…Studio Spaces of the Manning

Video is courtesy of Manning River Times

I’m thrilled that this  video of Curiousweaver Studio has just been published.  This is part of a joint project with Fairfax and Manning Regional Gallery on the Studio Spaces of the Manning Valley. I join other artists and studio owners from a broad range of disciplines talking about their craft/art or studio set up. This project culminates in a joint exhibition at the Manning Regional Art Gallery from 4 April, 2018. Read more

Make loads of clothes with your weaves – start with the Huipil inspired Maya top

Maya Top Handwoven
I think I take my sewing skills for granted. And I image everyone else has the same skills.  But increasingly, because we haven’t had to make our own clothes, we don’t need those skills.  I understand that others have more valuable skills to earn money. But to make your own clothes…that’s a freedom. To weave the cloth for them…even more so. You can save money, value what you make more, choose your fibres,  have less clothes, and have clothes that actually fit you. This year I’ll be taking more about clothing, sewing and how weaving fits in with it all in the Saori way.


This is the Maya top with versions of the huipil overlayed on top.

As a weaver, I’ve always made some clothes from my cloth but I haven’t been as productive in cloth yardage as I am now with the Saori loom. In the ’80s there were many books on clothing from rectangular and narrow widths which are often found in other cultures who use the backstrap loom. One of these is the simple and elegant Huipil. Like the Kimono, the beauty of the clothing is in the design of the cloth rather than the cut. It’s also about not wasting the energy and resources that go into the weaving and making the most out of the cloth without cutting it.

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Farewell Misao Jo sensei


Misao Jo – Saori Founder (1913-2018)

“All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color.  Because of this difference, “all are good”.

Because everything has the same life, life cannot be measured by a yardstick.  It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates the tapestry of life.”


Sadly Misao Jo, the founder of Saori has passed away peacefully in Osaka at 104 years of age. Saori no Mori have a tribute to her on their site. Her presence will be sorely missed within the world’s Saori communities and beyond. The philosophical concept of Saori was promoted by her work and the way she saw ‘gems’ in everyone and used the skill of handweaving to convey that in a tangible way.  Saori is a very personable and open invitation to weaving and art.  Everyone is invited.  Unlike some previous other visionaries in this area, which felt more exclusive. Read more

Childs play

Weaving can be child’s play, for both children and adults. It’s the time of year where my little people converge in my studio to play with all things weaving, art and pasting.  I don’t have much courage with glitter but maybe tomorrow.

This is a woven piece, almost accidentally woven together by my 4.7 year old grand daughter.  The pink roving got her going and the fluro pink kept her there. I purposely sought out a pack of fluros for her because the colours are so instantly appealing to young eyes. 

I’d like to do a bit of food colour dyeing on the corridale wool too. One great thing about the grandma job is the time to play with children. As a mum I didn’t experience time in the same way and was just too busy with everyday needs for my children. I’m sure that isn’t everyone’s experience and I can see that most mums can juggle everything today, including earning good incomes,  but I couldn’t.  Hopefully my grandma moments can fulfill some of this. And having lots of looms helps alot!

I hope all my readers have a wonderful 2018, full of the utter joy that Saori weaving and handweaving in general brings us. Saori weaving is growing and there is a real community of us out there. My weaving is temporarily stalled by the fluro pink slivers around the studio but I like looking at others weaving just as much as doing it myself.

2017 – Where did it go?

Cloth fresh of the loomI’ve just seen the finish of the last workshop for 2017. Where did that year go? 

The weekend workshop was intimate and great.  Such different weaves created by the participants.  At one point they were all so engrossed in the task that there was no talking! 

We see lots of weaving words making connections to other aspects of life, such as the tapestry of life, and I thought this article referring to facebook tearing apart the social fabric was an interesting one. Fabric can only be such because each thread intertwines with the others. If you start hacking into a few of them the others start to fray and gradually become consumed by the hole. The construction of fabric implies a dependency and trust that the other threads will work with each other to remain intact. I just hope facebook doesn’t start on the saori fabric too.

Although now, none of us seem to be comfortable being ordinary, it is what most of us are. Well at least me. Our lives can be restricted and luck plays a large part in what is available and possible, often despite your alternate goals and expectations. Social media makes us think that we should be something different, more this or less that and no ordinary moments. I came across this quote recently by Shin’ichi Suzuki (1898-1998), the violin luminary. (BTW,Violin is my other love!)

“The real essence of art turned out to be not something high up and far off: it was right inside my ordinary daily self.”

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Getting your feet on the ground

The annual fire hydrant test in Shirawa-go.

Japan has the most majestic scenery.  Up to about 70% of its land is mountainous and natural. So even though there are large populations in the flatter areas where the cities are…the rest is breathtaking.  Seeing the natural scenery in Japan adds to our adventure because the Japanese, even citified people, have a constant reference to this. It’s always pretty life affirming that nature and commanding vistas seem to connect humans. Whoever we are we are united when we see these sights. We’re all enthralled with it – it is part of us.  Read more