I started a new project a few days ago. I used a natural linen for the warp with hand spun indigo dyed cotton and kudzu for the warp. I am pleased with how it is coming along.
This summer I planted a few ramie plants in the hopes of being able to harvest some ramie fiber next year. Ramie is a member of the nettle family and has been used throughout Asia to create a beautiful and strong fabric similar to linen or hemp.
Here are some examples of ramie fabric from a small komebukuro. Komebukuro are small patchwork bags used for giving gifts of rice and beans to friends, family, or a temple. The fabric was woven using a double ikat technique and may have originated from the Ryukyu Islands located at the southern end of the Japanese archipelago. Here is a short Japanese video about how ramie plants are processed into beautiful fabric. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIGscKahEqY
Over the last month I have been trying to get better at taking fiber from kudzu vines. This was my last attempt and I’m pleased with the results. I gathered the vines from the forest floor where it was easy for me to find vines that were straight and were growing with almost no leaves. I boiled the vines for one hour and then allowed them to rot under a piece of old roofing tin for about 4 or 5 days before stripping the fiber from the vines and washing it with warm water and castile soap. The fiber is a very light golden color and the remaining bark is easily removed.
Kudzu fiber can be purchased from my web shop here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/204322779/raw-kudzu-kuzu-fiber?ref=shop_home_active_1
This small kimono for a baby was made out of old material called boro or “rags” pieced together to make usable fabric. The boro material was intended to be the liner but, I have decided to show it off as the shell. the boro material probably came from an indigo dyed tsutsugaki furoshiki or “free hand resist dyed carrying cloth”. These were traditionally given in sets to a new bride and groom and were often dyed with the families mon or “crest”. I love the idea that the newlyweds used it until it became tattered and then remade it into clothing for one of their children. The outer fabric shown below as the liner has a design of small dogs. This fabric was factory made and was meant to replicate a double kasuri or “ikat” material. This fabric shows patches that do not make their way through to the lining material meaning that this material had been used and repaired at the time that it was made into this garment. More than likely it was also a hand me down.
This antique katazome of overlapping squares has been hand dyed with indigo on beautiful well worn machine woven cotton. I love the bold design of this fabric and I think there is something really modern about the design. The fabric was more than likely created for a nuptial futonji given to a bride and groom on their wedding.
This vintage Japanese cotton plaid was hand woven using machine spun thread during the first half of the 20th century. The weaver included chunky silk threads in the weft to mimic the texture of hand spun threads. The deep indigo colors are great and the fabric has a wonderful worn feel. this fabric had been used as the top of a futonji.
This furoshiki can be purchased at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/179480547/antique-japanese-tsutsugaki-indigo?ref=shop_home_active_7
I recently found this very worn zanshi fabric. The warp is hemp and the weft is cotton and hemp. It has a beautiful worn feel simular to antique linen. It has been dyed with indigo, but the natural color variations in the hemp thread also lend to the design. Zanshiori is fabric that has been woven using the threads left over at the ends of numerous bobbins. due to the use of thread fragments the fabric has a random pattern and a varied texture because of the knots used to bind all the threads in the weft together. Zanshi was often woven at the end of a bolt of fabric to make use of any remaining warp.
I have listed some of this zanshi fabric for purchase here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/178807794/antique-handwoven-japanese-zanshi-indigo?ref=shop_home_active_3