Koginzashi

Finishing and Starting

This is the week of finishing things! Yeah! I always feel so accomplished when I actually finish something, especially when the project has taken forever.

This week I finished my koginzashi table runner that I've been working on for, oh maybe, two years. It's done! Just in time for my presentation on koginzashi for the Kansas City Fiber Guild. A better more professional picture to come. I promise. Time to dream up another koginzashi project....

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I also finished my Oma's socks! She only wanted them for Christmas but instead she'll get them for her birthday.

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In other fun news, we started painting on the MUNS mural last night. The whole family is in on the action. That's me standing, bare foot on an ammo can, to paint the seal, finicky part. My right shoulder is really going to be buff by the time this is done. After half an hour of painting I finally realized just how big this mural is. Slow and steady wins the race.

Upcoming Cool Stuff:

The Sogetsu school of Japanese flower arranging in Kansas City is having their annual spring show at the Loose Park Garden Center April 23rd and 24th. They have asked me to come make an arrangement! My arrangement will be down stairs with the tea ceremony display provided by the Japan America Society. Come out and see all the great floral art!

I'm going to be in the Mid Missouri Artists Spring Show on Saturday April 30 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM and May 1st, 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM at the ABC Building at Grover Park in Warrensburg. This is the first time I've attended the show so I'm excited to see all the local art.

I'm giving a presentation on Kogenzashi, a traditional Japanese counted embroidery, to the Greater Kansas City Fiber Guild on May 11th at 7pm. Check out their website for more details.

My next ikebana class at Powell Gardens will be on Saturday, May 14th from 10-12pm. Check out their website to register!

Farm Report: Things are sprouting, I found some more pots so I might get all the seedlings that I started planted. There are white marks on the leaves of my sugar snap peas. What does that mean? They seem to be growing just fine.

Reading: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeen Sahota. I'm learning so much about Indian culture and clothing that I practically have to read with google at my finger tips to look up the meaning of worlds.

Listening to: Birds! I had maintenance come remove the starlings that were living in out dryer duct and we put out a little feeder in the ugly bush. Now I've got birds all the time. This makes me happy. I saw a downy woodpecker!

Cooking: My husband turned thirty this week. He doesn't really do cake but loves oreos so I got the great idea to create a "cake" out of a stack of oreos. Then I forgot to go to the grocery store for some number candles because we were playing an epic game of Firefly with both the Blue Sun and Kalidasa expansions. We ended up using a gardenia candle and stacking the oreos around it. Smelled great. Happy Birthday Adventure Buddy!

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Common Cold

I'm sick as a dog today so I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Not much as been happening around here except for incremental progress on all of our projects.

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I finally stopped procrastinating and started on the last design element of my koginzashi table runner. I'm giving a program in May to the Great Kansas City Fiber Guild in May and I should probably have one completed project. Part of me is worried that I chose a pattern that's too static but I like how it has diamonds just like the border and flowers. There's always time to rip it out later.

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Some good news is that I finally found some sashiko fabric that I can use to finish my origami/sashiko wall hanging series. It's a wee bit expensive and will have to be shipped from Japan but it is so beautiful! I'm going to write a grant for the Surface Design Association to see if they will give me the money to get an entire bolt.

Reading: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. I can't put this book down.

Listening to: The tv show Transparent while I stitch or spin. It's simultaneously enthralling and disturbing how narcissistic these people are.

Cooking: Minion Mac and Cheese. It's my comfort food. Since I'm the only one it the house that eats it I finished off the box.

 

Threads!

We are half way through our sojourn to Wyoming and I've made an excursion to my friendly local thread store, Ewe Count, in Cheyenne. I love love love Penny and her collections of all things stitching and knitting. I concentrated on bright saturated colors and even decided to try out what Penny calls Barbie panty hose. Quite tropical actually. I also got to snoop around the newest yarn store in Cheyenne, Meadowlark Yarns. Where I got a much needed drop spindle. I'm really digging their yarn collection (roving!) and clean chic atmosphere.  

The haul 

The haul 

Finished my Sashiko project for Kei. A little polish and it'll be in the mail soon!  

Japanese Horned Beetle

Japanese Horned Beetle

Moving forward on my koginzashi table runner. I'm giving a program at the Greater Kansas Fiber Guild in May so I should have one finished piece right? 

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Reading: Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Bud. A Chrismas present from my SIL, another knitting enthusiast.  

Listening to: The grinding of a small motor in my daughters Loopin Chewie game. Her new favorite past time. 

Eating: Lumpia from the Philipino restaurant on F. E. Warren. So delicious! 

Happy New Years!  

Ammo

This week I've started a mural project with my husband for the 509 Munitions squadron on Whiteman AFB. The squadron works with everything from bullets to nuclear bombs so there's a large span of subject mater that we can work with. Our major challenge is to show all the different equipment they work with besides showing the standard B2 and nuclear explosions. Then my own personal challenge is to design a mural that is current, artistic but is also something that the military can connect with. A tall order.

I'm still in the research phase but I'm feeling sun rays, serious repetition and all the working colors the guys use on the flight line. Maybe steering clear of olive drab. I'm really into hot pink at the moment but that probably wont fly.

My other project this week was starting another origami inspired embroidery. I've wanted to continue with this series for so long but I've been unable to find the right backing fabric. Something with an even weave in a deep indigo.

Finally I just started pulling linens from my stash and went for it. The read fabric is actually koginzashi fabric. The back ground is hand dyed linen. The threads are indigo koginzashi thread, some mystery fuzzy white thread, and gold thread from my grandmother's stash.

Japanese Horned Beetle

Japanese Horned Beetle

I can't quite figure out what to do with the stings at the edges.

Reading: The Textile Reader ed. by Jessica Hemmings - it's just came to the library and I haven't gotten a chance to do more that peruse the pictures.

I heard somewhere that if you do an hour of reading a day in your given profession then you would have a PhD in seven years. Since I'm no where near a masters or doctoral program that I would want to be in I've started myself on reading everything that I can get my hands on written about textiles and art history.

I got asked by the librarian at the base library (free ILLs!) why I was requesting all these academic materials. Not the usual ILL for this library.  So I was explaining my plan and she was like "So you are just doing this for myself". It crushed me a little bit. Yes, I am doing all this research for myself but I also hope that future employers will realize that I might not have the degree but that I've done the reading and that I know a lot about the history of textiles.

Then I got to thinking that I should be proving in some way that I've done the reading. Maybe I should be writing reviews? Researching and submitting papers? I'm just not sure. Now I have to wonder which direction to begin moving in.

Listening to: More America's Next Top Model. I have a problem.

Cooking: Salt roasted beet salad with tahini dressing. I really need to find a reason for the bitterness in all these tahini dressing recipes. Has my tahini gone bad? Surly that kind of bitterness isn't a cultural preference.

Kogin-zashi Table Runner

Seems we survived Christmas and our first visitors to our new house. My sanity is still intact and projects that have gotten started or finished.

I finally finished up the pair of socks that I brought with me on our move and vacation back to the states. The pattern I chose had this butterfly type design to it. I finished the first sock to find that I couldn't fit the sock over my heel. There didn't seem to be enough stretch to the pattern. After a few choice words I started a new pattern. One that I liked better because it is lace. Surprise. Surprise.

Here are the lovely new pair of socks. The yarn is dyed using bugs but the tag neglected to say what kinds. That's half the fun of choosing the yarn right? Unfortunately I've lost the tag to the yarn somewhere so I don't have a dyer name. The pattern is on Ravelry from Suzi Anvin and is called Blackrose Socks. I'm really digging a lot of her sock designs. Lace!

The next big project is my kogin-zashi table runner. I've really bit off more than I can chew with this one. Mostly it's just that I'm picky and I don't just want to pick patterns out of my books and put them down in blocks. So now I have to figure out color changes and pattern changes without someone to tell me I'm doing it all wrong. Which is the frustrating part because I want to do this correctly.

I've made this project hard for myself in three ways. The first being that I want an asymmetrical pattern between the two borders. The second is I want a flower type pattern that changes from pink to grey. But where it really gets challenging is that the only flowerish type pattern that I like isn't even in the pattern book. It's on a small picture on the back of the cover. I have to squint at this tiny picture and try and re-imagine the whole thing. My neck and shoulders are aching. Did I tell you I am a masochist?

That hexagon inside the red circle? That is the flower design that I want to replicate. I tried doing it free hand on the fabric but ended up pulling out so many stitches that I decided to plot it out on paper.

The first step is creating smaller graph paper by dividing all the squares into quarters.

 

Plotting out the stitches with purple marker. Lucky for me, the stitch lengths are all in odd numbers, 1, 3 and 5. Much concentration and cappuccino (made by my handsome and talented husband).

Finished pattern after two hours. This is only the pattern for the pink. I've still got to figure something out for the grey leaves that will surround the design.

This is as much stitching as the brain and child would allow today. Already the work is going a lot faster and smoother.

I completed the borders while on vacation. They are plotted out on graphs in one of my pattern books so they didn't require much thought to put on fabric. When this is finished, it will be edged with biased tape and backed with fabric so you won't be able to see messy strings.

More stitching to come!

Koginzashi Girl's Day

I got to go back to Hirosaki for one last chance at gathering koginzashi materials. This trip involved trains and no kids or spouses! A rare occurrence these days.

But then I made us miss our train from Aomori to Hirosaki....and then we got on the train going in the wrong direction. So I'm not allowed to navigate anymore. We ended up having a really nice lunch at the A-Factory in Aomori but we missed out on seeing the Hirosaki Kogin Institute. We got to Hirosaki too late in the afternoon to make it before they closed. I wanted to cry. I've watched all their videos on Tohoku Standard and I really wanted to meet Sadaharu Narita. Fan girl to the end.

Koginzashi design on the floor of a tunnel that leads under an intersection in front of the train station.

Koginzashi design on the floor of a tunnel that leads under an intersection in front of the train station.

The spoils...Now all of us want to make koginzashi table runners. Which for me is a little bit more of a functional take on a wall hanging. I'm just usually doing wall hangings or bags. My friend is inspiring me to get into home decore. Pillows. Table runners. Place mats.

I really love the bright red but there just weren't any colors that really went with it except white. It just way way over powers navy. Which is hard to believe. I didn't buy much of it because I just wasn't sure how I would use it. The grey fabric is a beautiful linen. I really love blue greys. That's the background for the table runner with maybe the navy, pink, and dark grey.

Interesting side note: The owner of the shop gave me a paper explaining koginzashi in English! He has been so nice about giving any pamphlets he has on koginzashi in the area but they have all been in Japanese so far. From what I understand, kogin-zashi is worked using odd numbers of stitches. Groups of three, five, seven and one. Hishi-zashi, which originates in Shichinohe area, or also in Nanbu area is worked in groups of even number stitches. Nishi-kogin is stitched on cloth with thinner choma threads so it is much more delicate. Higashi-kogin is stitched on coarser fabric with thicker thread. It's almost rug like. There was an example at the shop. Mishima-kogin comes from the area around Kanagi in northern Tsugaru. It is characterized by three horizontal stripes across the shoulders of a kimono yoke.

On the way back to the train station, laden with our spoils, we happened upon a used book store. I've been meaning to get some Japanese books for my collage work. My friend just kept pulling one book off the shelf after another and they were all so beautiful. I had to tell her to stop because I would take the whole store with me. Which still lead to carrying twenty pounds of books back to the train.

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Now to get them translated so that I do not collage embarrassing things accidentally.

On another note. I designed a new bag for a commission. She wanted a quilted project tote large enough for her quilting hoop made from kimono fabric. I think it turned out pretty well. I'm even considering making myself one.