Snow and Fiber

It snowed last night, so I got up early this morning and took a few photos of the boro quilt on the back porch. A flock of Canada Geese were flying overhead at the time, and I watched them get caught in a sudden gust that sent them heading in a different direction… they’d been heading west, but ended up going south, which is probably where they should have been heading several months ago, but I digress.

“Echigo Jofu (hemp fabric for kimono) and Yuki Sarashi” video

The above video is in reference to Echigo Jofu and the practice in northern Japan of weaving ramie or linen fabric during the winter, then taking it out in early spring to bleach on the snow. The combination of reflected white light from the snow and direct light from the sun bleach the fabric, with the aid of humidity from the melting snow. The textiles are woven during the winter, traditionally in unheated rooms due to the humidity requirements of the fiber. Today it appears that the weaving is done in (presumably heated) demonstration studios by both men and women, but historically it was done only by women.
But back to the boro. Here are the front and back shots. As to which is front as which is back, that’s up to you.
All of the cotton is hand woven, some of it simple plain indigo, some of it more complex stripe patterns. I rather like the mix of light, medium, and dark indigo blues. You can also see some orange threads holding bits of it together. I tend to pull them out, though, as they don’t really do much.
The mix of different width stripes and how they are layered give it a lot of character.
Definitely not “tourist” sashiko, this rudimentary work is the real thing. I’ll be adding my own to it soon enough, as the fibers are rather weary and wearing thin in many places.
I intend to continue using this as a family blanket, not to fix it in place as an interior decoration as I have often seen done with old boro. It’s not a spectacular piece by any means, but it has a lot of charm and is certainly warm. As the fabrics wear out I will patch them with other old indigo cottons I come across. I figure if it has survived 100 years already, why not another century?

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Regal Beads says:

    oh, what a neat way to photograph!!

  2. FranIAm says:


  3. coralea says:

    100 years! that is great. I love it when things are made to last (and are still useful despite their age)

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