Fingers, thimbles, dancing needles

I’ve been busy sewing, both by hand and machine, as many kimono scarves and obi bags as I can this week. Preparation continues for the show this Thursday, then the one after that. During this time my mother is also preparing for surgery, so we’re all anxious to see that come out well. I confess my mind hasn’t been totally on task lately, what with my mother’s illness and the imminent split of my 6 year relationship, but I am working hard to keep things going.

No excuses, just get the job done. That’s the way I was raised.

I took a break to do some weeding in the yard this afternoon. The sunflowers look magnificent, but two these images really grabbed me more than the vibrant blooms. They convey how I feel right now: a bit withdrawn and somewhat adrift.

After I took that shot, I just aimed the camera at the sky. Here in the desert we often get the promise of rain, if not the actual deluge we anticipate. I watched these clouds fall further west, but by the time they were overhead they’d completed their task and were moving east. No rain for my sunflowers today.

I had a picture of one of the scarves I sewed today, but it was too blurry to show. I must admit that it was relaxing to sew by hand instead of by machine, mostly because if you’ve ever sewn kimono silk you know how frustrating it can be to work with. Most Chinese silks are just plain slippery, but Japanese kimono silks, especially the formal black silks, are so tight they can break needles and bring strong sewing machines to their knees. This appears to be due partly to the fine weaving, and partly to the dyeing process. I found the following to be quite interesting. From The Traditional Crafts of Japan, vol. 2 (1992), p. 150:

The rise of the warrior caste, from the twelfth century on, led to an increased demand for black dyed cloth. Black robes became their preferred everyday costume. The color was derived from imported betal nuts, with iron as the mordant. The color and mordant were applied repeatedly to reach the desired hue; in the course of the process, the grain of the fine habutae silk fabric became so tight, it is said, that a sword could not penetrate it. That invulnerability appears to lie behind the custom of habitually wearing black.

It certainly gives one something to ponder.

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