Wednesday 24 January 2018

at high noon on February One

at high noon on February One this year (central standard time.... a silly zone really, half an hour different from the actual meridian on which South Australia sits and initiated by a bunch of businessmen in 1899, when the speed of communication/travel was so slow it didn't make a difference anyway), the 'bagstories' group on Facebook will revert to secret.

why is this important? it's because on that date (as soon as I return from a family airport run) I shall be posting the next instalment of instructions for a lagniappe project I am guiding purchasers of the 'bagstories' book though for the month of February. (it's a project that is not actually in the book, as it would have added too many pages and thus too high a cost to the consumer.  It is an invention of my own that has roots in Japanese traditions and a few nods to other cultures...that I am very excited to share)

corner snippets

those people who have already bought the book and let me know (via forwarded receipts) that they have done so, have been admitted to the group and are busily preparing a small collection of stitched cloth squares in readiness. well, mostly cloth. One is working with Japanese paper and another will doubtless be using her lovely shifu.

another way of joining is to find the bagstories group (there's a link at the bottom of this post) and to show your proof-of-investment by cutting and pasting details from your receipt into the space that FB provides for answering questions.


I know this is a slightly fussy and irritating beginning...but I think it's worth the effort, as it means you'll have lifetime access to the bagstories group and can continue your conversations there long after the February project is done. Already I'm seeing that people are planning to meet over cauldrons here and there. I'm hoping others may gather for stitching sessions (or coffee, or a cocktail)... the more different people we meet, the more we find we are the same at heart...

'bagstories' already has members from almost all over the whirled...including Iceland, Brazil, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, England, the USA, India, Canada, New Zealand forgive me if you're in and your country is not on the list yet! forming peaceful friendships through bag-making. This is making me enormously happy.

thank you, Jadranka Brown, for this Looking very much like my grandmother.

so whether you invest in a hard cover, a soft cover or the pdf version of 'bagstories', I do hope you will join me for the month of February, making gorgeous bags, having conversations across the whirled and sharing your lovely work.

thanks for swinging by. here are a few side-steps you may enjoy...

Sunday 14 January 2018

celebrating both collaboration and compromise

it's been a while since I had anything really interesting to tell y'all but today I have two things to talk about.
one is the fabulous scarf I was gifted when I visited the Netherlands last (northern) summer, woven from her own exquisite handspun yarns by Caitlin Bongers (she's the one with the voice of the angels who started us all singing by the River Tay a couple of years back).
the other can wait for a moment.

the scarf waited patiently while I sailed in and out of home, emptying suitcases and refilling them, patting the dog, grubbing a few thistles and explaining to my cat just why I had to leave again. it was a busy year. so much so that I consciously cleared my dance card for the first three months of this one, so that I could find some space to breathe, to prepare for the next lot of teaching and to think about what my part of the collab might entail.

I should explain that when I received this gorgeous armful of softness I was quite overwhelmed. I know what it takes to warp up and weave something, and this piece is especially beautiful. I asked Caitlin if she would mind me dyeing it, and being given permission I suggested we regard it as a collaboration.

so this week, in between working on the "other thing" that I will shortly reveal, I sat in the armchair, dogs at my feet, cats and kittens disporting themselves over my shoulders, and decided that I would knot the fringe of the scarf. such gentle repetitive work is good for quieting the mind. while working I listened to a podcast from On Being, John O'Donohue discoursing gently on beauty. it was perfect.

then I was moved to take my needle and do just a little stitching into the piece. just a little.

I soaked it in a diluted iron brew (students may remember it as 'magic potion', made by soaking rusty things in vinegar, and heavily diluted for use otherwise everything can turn black)

it was firmly bundled with Eucalyptus scoparia windfall, and then cooked in a pre-loved dark brew. (it doesn't matter what your bundle is cooked in, it's what's inside the bundle that's important)

when it cooled, I unrolled it, and it just took my breath away.  THANK YOU Caitlin, for entrusting this treasure to me. it will be joining the "essential travel kit".

and the other thing?  that belongs to the 'compromise' part of the title of this post. various people had been kindly urging me to consider making an e-course, but I simply couldn't come at standing and talking into a camera. I'm not good at doing and talking at the same time. something to do with the cerebral hemispheres.

but I do like making books. so the compromise is that I have made a wee book that is a kind of workshop-in-your-pocket (or on your screen if you take the PDF version). it's mostly handwritten rather than typed but I wanted it to feel as though you were looking over my shoulder into a notebook.

what's in it? it contains the secrets of the tsunobukuro, that magical bias stitched bag of Japan that I so frequently share with students. (little ones are perfect for buying vegetables, the in-between sizes brilliant for gathering leaves, twigs or keeping your clothes sorted in a suitcase...and I always carry an extra-large one in case I run out of luggage space.)

it is available at and if you send me proof of purchase (via the contact form on my website) I shall invite you to the 'secret' Facebook group where, for the month of February, I shall be posting tips and tricks and one or three "how to's", and where you can post images of the bags that you make, and have conversations with fellow 'baggers' around this marvellous whirled.

thank you for staying with me and for reading thus far. 
here are some related links to explore.