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What is Saori?

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.”

Misao Jo


What is Saori?

Saori is hand weaving that emphasises and prioritises creativity and free expression. No rules, no fear – just pure absorption and immersion into weaving and working with yarn and threads. This ‘non-technique’ is meditative in nature and aims to build a clearer expression of your human self  from the process itself and the resulting handwoven cloth.

The founder of Saori is an exceptional woman. Misao Jo was born in 1913 in Osaka, Japan and sadly passed away at 104 years old on 10 January, 2018. Misao initiated this journey at the age of 57 after studying and teaching Ikebana and rearing a family. Also exceptional are her sons, and internationally Kenzo Jo has developed and continues to refine the Saori looms and equipment. He is an inventive, creative and passionate person. Traits which stream through the Saori philosophy.

This article was written for Complex Weavers in 2005 and sums up my initial experience in working with the Saori approach.

Is Saori easy to do?

Anyone can enjoy Saori with exceptional results. In fact, the less you know about weaving the easier it will be to explore. You can create a completely unique handwoven textiles for clothing, bags, scarves, banners etc. Textiles can also be created with a group. The Saori looms are small, portable and even foldable. They are designed to free the hands  to select colours, create patterns and use your inventive self.

How is Saori different to conventional weaving?

Weaving with spirit and creativity

Aside from the Saori philosophy involved in the weaving, the looms are quite unique. Most conventional small looms require you to hand operate levers every row as well as weaving. Saori looms are all foot powered ease. Each loom has a bobbin winder onboard and uses a boat shuttle for a smoother more efficient weave rhythm.

There are no technical things to remember and you don’t even have to know how to wind a warp if you use the pre-wound warps from Saori. In fact you don’t even have to know what a warp is to enjoy Saori. Of course if you want to know more you can. Handweaving has an enormously rich and extensive history.


Why does Saori clothing look so unique and beautiful?

Saori Couture with Masako

Saori clothing is exhilarating to create and wear. This is mainly because the heart of a person was involved in its production. Every thread was selected and woven by hand. This creates a base foundation for unique clothes.

Saori originates from Japan. This is the home of the unique kimono, origami and fashion designers like Issy Miyake and Junichi Arai so it is naturally going to be inventive!

The clothing has minimal or no waste in making up garments.  This adds to inventive design features while avoiding any unnecessary waste. The fabric doesn’t have to be cut but can be used in squares and rectangles and draped directly onto the body – like couture fashion –  then sewn into a unique garment. The main idea is to WEAVE, keep weaving and don’t over plan the outcome…until you are ready to create the garment or textile work.

For those of us who need at pattern start to work from Saori and other companies have published several books with clothing patterns. Any of these patterns can be adapted and modified to your own designs or ways of working.

Who does Saori weaving?

Saori is practiced extensively worldwide  by people with disabilities, art therapists, in hospitals, for meditative sessions, in schools, for corporate team building, by textile and fashion designers,  handweavers, artists and crafters…or anyone wanting to experience it. Saori weaving is a freeing approach to handweaving and is built on the idea that all humans are creative and we’re all invited to weave to our own rhythm, based on our style, personalities or experiences in life. Rather than first approaching weaving with ideas of structure and set up, we start from the creation stage and sometimes then work to know more about weave structure, warping and technical details.  These are not essential for learning and enjoying weaving to the fullest, and can inhibit creativity in some. Saori weaving, its approach and simple steps can be applied to any weaving on any loom, however the Saori floor looms are designed to take full advantage of the ability to weave lengths of cloth in the Saori way.

Saori has a global network of teachers, studios and authorised product dealers. Curiousweaver Studio is one of three authorised dealers for  Saori products in Australia.

The SAORI Philosophy in 4 steps

Misao Jo at Saori no Mori in 2014.

1. Consider the differences between machines and people.

2. Let’s adventure beyond our imagination.

3. Let’s look out through eyes that shine.

4. Let’s learn from everyone in the group.

“SA” of SAORI has the same meaning as the first syllable of the word “SAI” which is found in Zen vocabulary.  It means everything has its own individual dignity.  And the “ORI” means weaving.

Curiousweaver (Kaz Madigan)  is an authorized dealer for SAORI Weaving Products in Australia. For more information please contact here.