News, Plans and a Field Trip

For us in central Pennsylvania, as for much of the country, it has been a long, cold, dark and snowy winter.  There has been a lot of quiet time for writing and planning, but like a lot of others, it has taken the few days of sunshine we have had this spring to really get me moving again.  During such a difficult winter, we became like the frozen creeks and rivers around us.  Now we thaw out and start moving around.

A few weeks ago I received the March/April 2015 issue of Handwoven magazine, to which I contributed two articles that have been a long time in the making.  The first, Sakiori:  A Japanese Rag-weaving Tradition, was an opportunity for me to put together some of the information I have found over the past few years.  Other than the major sources I have mentioned in previous posts, it is rare to find any discussion or even a mention of sakiori in books about Japanese history or crafts.  I am lucky to find even one picture or sentence about it in an entire book.  This article is a short summary of all of these gleanings.

The second article is a project article, Western Sakiori Scarf.  It can be downloaded here.  If you already have the magazine in print, you will still want this download for the rag preparation instructions, which are a web-only supplement to the print article.  This project is important to me because it is the result of my first experiments with sakiori.  It is silk rag on a tencel warp and, although it may seem simple enough, it took me a lot of sampling to get the fabric I wanted!  I hope that by using my instructions, weavers can make beautiful silk sakiori on their first warp.

This is the same technique I teach in my Western Sakiori Scarf class, although of course in two days of class we are able to cover a lot more information, see and touch both old and new examples of sakiori, and get hands-on practice and instruction (and have a lot of fun!).  People learn in all kinds of different ways–I happen to benefit most from a classroom environment, if for no other reason than that it forces concentration and removes distractions.

Amanda Robinette I Western Sakiori

I am continuing to weave samples….more silk rag, with a bamboo weft, but treadling for a variety of Bird’s Eye twill patterns.  When I finish this sample, my next project will be to sample a variety of rigid heddle looms.  I have had a number of inquiries from weavers who are interested in sakiori but own rigid heddle looms and don’t have access to a floor loom.  Rag weaving presents a special challenge to rigid heddle weavers because it requires higher tension and a firmer beat than is typically used.  I have seen many examples of successful rag weaving from rigid heddle looms and I know that it can be done, but I also know that some people give up in frustration.  I hope to be able to make some specific recommendations in a future post to ensure success in weaving sakiori on a rigid heddle loom.

Also coming up is another long-planned event….a field trip, open to anyone interested, to Sri Gallery in Brooklyn and Habu Textiles in Manhattan.  This day trip, departing from and returning to The Mannings in East Berlin, PA on May 9th, is being arranged by myself and Tom Knisely (head instructor at The Mannings).  Transportation will be by chauffeured van directly to the sites.  For more information, please contact me or Tom.  I’ll post when I have more details about the times and mode of travel, but space will definitely be limited, so get your name on the list now if you know you want to go!