Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SAORI Tee Shirt: a how to . . . .

Finished Tee Shirt

A Special thanks to “moliche” on Ravelry for lighting a fire under me to get this tutorial written.

The original idea for this tee shirt came from SAORI in one of their SAORI Reports about a year ago.  I saw several different takes on this technique including this awesome skirt by my friend Kimie.

A few people have asked for additional information on how I made the Tee shirt.  So, this post may not be of as much interest as others, but if you are a weaver you may find this technique of interest.  I wove this on a SAORI loom, but I'm certain you could work this technique on any loom.

First, as a bit of explanation, the fabric of the tee shirt, (or in Kimie's case, the skirt), becomes part of the weft of the weaving.  You cut tabs, or fringe, in the fabric and then weave those tabs as part of the weft  SAKIORI style.

Tee shirt Tutorial

This technique can be used for things other than Tee shirts!
       1.       I started with a concept.  It had been rolling around in my head for months.  As I was pulling the treads for the warp, I sat down and sketched out my idea.  The finished garment was not exactly like the concept drawing, but close.   Notice that my drawing is not “perfect”…I cannot draw. The important thing here was that I had a visual on paper of what I had been seeing in my head.

       2.       The Warp was about 2.5 inches in the reed.  All cottons.  If you use wool, and you wash it and the wool shrinks/felts you will get a different effect.  Not better or worse. Just different.   Also, it does not have to be 2.5 inches.  You could take a tee that is too small and put in a wider band, thus enlarging it a bit.  This technique could also be used to add a “peplum” to a shirt, or, as Kimie did, make a waste band for a skirt.

       3.       I marked on the tee-shirt the line I wanted to cut.  A diagonal from right hip to left shoulder.  Then cut that line.  NOTE:  I nearly started to cut with the rotary cutter – that would have cut BOTH layers of the shirt.  I obviously had already had my coffee, as I stopped and grabbed the scissors BEFORE I did that! Lol



     4.       After cutting the long cut, then you need to cut the “tabs” or the “fringe.”  If you are using a tee shirt knit, these tabs will stretch! So, either cut just shorter than the width of your warp or the ends will form a little fringe. 

    5.       I wove close to a yard before starting with the tee-shirt.  But I wanted to pull the warp to create the gather around the bottom edge.  Decide how much you want to weave before adding in the shirt.

   6.       The weaving style is here will be similar to SAKIORI-Japanese Rag Weaving. You will have both a tab of tee shirt AND a pass of thread in the same shed.  The spacing between the tee shirt tabs is up to you.  The closer together the more gathers, the further apart the smoother – but also the possibility of little holes.


    7.       Continue up your shirt, weaving in the tabs.  Important to note here:  ONE side of you shirt is woven into the piece.  It seems obvious once you've worked with this technique, but some folks have asked.  I apologize.  I do not have a photo.  Guess I will just have to do this again so that I can add a pic here!  lol

     8.       At the top, once again you need to decide how much extra you want to weave.  You could stop close to where the tee shirt tabs end, or do a longer piece to create a scarf, or ruffle.

     9.       Now you are done weaving!  Take it off your loom and knot your ends.

   10.   You now have a woven strip going up one side of the initial cut, and a straight (ie un tabbed) cut on the other side.  Line up the woven strip and the cut edge of the tee-shirt with the shirt on the bottom (well, unless you want it on top) and stitch the length.  I actually stitched twice.  I also stitched the woven side – may not have been necessary, but I did it.

There are MANY possibilities with this technique.  I would love to hear from anyone who tries this.  Attach Photos and I'll do a follow up at some point featuring YOUR work.

Happy Weaving.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

RELAX and ENJOY the PROCESS take 2

Disneyland 1/2 Marathon Start Line 2011
Yesterday I wrote about Relaxing and Enjoying the Process.  This morning I had a chance to think on that a bit more.

Earlier this year I registered for my 2nd 1/2 Marathon.  My goal at that point was to beat last year's time. And I figured that the move to Georgia would help because I would be able to get out and train earlier than I would in Minnesota.  (With respect to all of my MN friends who run in the winter -- your nuts!)

But then I tore the meniscus in my right knee.

The good news in that statement is that I have an awesome chiropractor and have been able to avoid surgery.

I am behind in the training.  And the reality is at this point my goal is the same as it was last year:  To finish in the time allotted.

So this morning, in stead of working on speed, I was working on increasing distance.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are "short days".  Last year at this time I was doing 4-5 miles on short runs.  And I was on a fairly consistent 30:30 run:walk cycle. Today I increased my distance to 4.5 miles.  Most all of it walking.  

Saturday is my long run day.  Last Saturday I should have been at 11 miles.  I did 6.  This weekend I will work to go further.

But what does this have to do with RELAXING and ENJOYING the process?  The knee injury has forced me to slow down this run season.  Understand that slowing down doesn't naturally equate with relaxing.  Relaxing is a state of mind. I realized this AM that I am really ENJOYING the morning walks.  I'm not focused on beating anything.  My focus is on how GOOD I feel; how GRATEFUL I am to the people that have helped and encouraged me to get to this point; and how Appreciative I am of their continued support.  

I realized today that I am RELAXING and Enjoying the process of training for this event.  I don't think I could have said that last year.

Exiting Disneyland (the first time) at about the 3.5 mile mark.
Looking forward to smiling my way through 13.1 miles again this year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Relax and enjoy the process.

My Mom.  She was a card.

My mother was an excellent seamstress.  And completely self taught.  Growing up, she made virtually all of my clothes.  And while some were more stylish than others (esp in my younger years), when I worked for the Riverside County Coalition for Alternatives to Domestic Violence, I had the best wardrobe an employee of a non-profit could ask for!  And for a fraction of the cost (remember when patterns cost less than $1?)

See, Stylish!  She made her dress and my cute little suit . . . . both out of the very hip double knit. . . .

But, as a kid learning to sew this was a LOT of pressure!  None of it real of course, and all of it self-imposed, but pressure none the less.  When I decided I wanted to learn to sew my mother had me cut out a BUNCH of rectangles -- starting with a cardboard one that I would use as my pattern for all the rest.  Then she sat me down at her SINGER sewing machine, showed me the basic operation and said, “Now sew these up.”

I sewed the first few and showed her my progress.  

My seams were not straight.  

My mother could sew a straight seam with her eyes closed.  In fact, she really only had sight in one eye.  And in her later years, as her sight was going, she could still sew a straight stitch.  Providing someone else threaded the needle.  To this day, if I THINK about looking away from the seam I am sewing it will go wonky.  W O N K Y.

In spite of this start in the world of sewing, I have always owned a sewing machine.  And when lived “at home” I often made clothes for myself.  Mom was always there to rescue a project gone awry…or put a problematic zipper in a problematic dress so I could wear it on Easter Sunday…or hem an item (I really dislike hand sewing.)

So recently when a friend on Ravelry was talking about sewing her first SAORI item – a market bag – the best help I could offer was to, “Relax and Enjoy the Process.”  She took that to heart and decided that hand sewing was much more relaxing than using the machine and made an awesome bag.  Check out Debbie’s blog for pics of this awesome creation!  (and be sure to leave her a message telling her how beautiful it is!

At the same time that Debbie was weaving and creating her market bag, I was working on a tote bag.  I’ll call it a “project tote” because I incorporated a lot of pockets…I love pockets.  But I may have gone a bit overboard.

This is the inside of the bag...picture it, well, inside.  I made it out of 2 shades of denim and some floral print something.

I started with a commercial pattern, but it didn't have pockets.  And in the “items needed” section, it called for a lining, but in the directions never talked about actually making the lining…much less actually lining the bag.  So I improvised.  Kinda like when I cook…start with a recipe and then leave this out, add that…you get the idea.

The weaving of the cloth was awesome.  But of course!  

Then came the construction of the tote.  RELAX AND ENJOY THE PROCESS. . . . . .

There were so many things that were not quite right, or as easy as they should have been.  At times I had visions of my mother shaking her head and saying, “Now Denise, you know how to do that!” 

Oh, the things I did wrong...and oh the things I learned.

 I had forgotten how to put a zippered pocket into a piece – I had to go to  You Tube for an instructional video.  I wanted a pocket grouping that I could see in my head, but had no pattern for…so I winged it.   And through it all I kept reminding myself to RELAX AND ENJOY THE PROCESS

And it worked.  I finished the tote.  Well, mostly.  There is still some hand sewing to do – and no one to do it for me!  But through the process I learned a lot. 

 I discovered through trial and error things that should make the next tote bag easier to make.  And these lessons are ones that I probably would not have been able to learn if I had been stressing about every little misstep.

I am working on applying this to other areas of my life:  Healing my knee; losing weight; running.  And I can see that it is working... when I will let it.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd . . . . . .

. . . . . .At least according to Roger Miller       (You can listen to Roger sing this classic song here,)               

And while I generally take the words “You Can’t” as a challenge to prove the person wrong, I think Roger may have been onto something.  Especially when you get to the chorus…because the thing you can do is to, …be happy if you've a mind to; All ya gotta do is put your mind to it;  Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.

I was headed somewhere in the car this past week when this classic came on the radio (Sirius 60s on 6) and it got me thinking about happiness.  What makes us happy?  Is it as simple as Roger makes it out to be?  A choice we make in spite of our circumstances? 

Ok, this is not the car with Sirius, but it's a great pic of Steph & me in Hanley's Caddy.

I’m sure I know many people who would argue with the idea that happiness is a choice.  They would tend to say that they would be happy IF something in their life were different – If they had a job, if a particular person would change, if their health were better… you get the idea.

But if these people are right how do they explain people like my friend Linda?  She’s battling breast cancer – and she’s barely 40!  She is happy.  And positive!  If you are going to beat cancer, you HAVE to be!   

And then there is my friend Erin.  She’s battling MS.  Every time I see Erin she has a smile and a positive outlook.  She and her husband, Jack, have taken her diagnoses as an opportunity to educate others about MS.  And they have an ever growing number of friends and family who have joined them in  Erin's Fight

This dedicated group, with Erin and Jack leading the way, participate in numerous events to raise money for MS research and education.  They will be riding the  Bike MS: Cox Atlanta Ride 2012 .

I’m sure we can all think of people who fit in each of these camps.  And when I think of them, the difference is attitude: Being positive in the face of adversity.  Choosing happiness as a life style: Accepting the challenges in life as just another hill to climb, and enjoying the view along the way.

Now at this point many of you may be wondering what on earth this has to do with weaving.  Well, to be fair in the beginning I did warn that these posts might not always be “on topic”.

But when I think about SAORI, I think about choices.  I make a conscious choice to weave without the constraints of perfection, or pattern.  

I make a conscious choice to be a part of a group that learns and grows together – as a group; a group that willingly shares ideas and techniques in order to enhance everyone’s knowledge and skill.  

Some members of Studio Fun in Chaska (where I learned to weave) with Chiaki.

I make a conscious choice to explore new ideas and techniques and styles with all my heart and without fear of failure.  

I make a conscious choice to sit at the loom and to weave with a happy heart.

SAORI is so much more than just an International Company.  It is so much more than just a style of weaving.  It encompasses a philosophy that teaches many lessons for living a life where happiness is the attitude of choice.

So, maybe I can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd, or drive around with a tiger in my car.  BUT I CAN CHOOSE to be HAPPY

What is your attitude of choice today?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


What a journey. . . . . . . .

In the fall/winter of 2010/2011 I started weaving a 6 yard warp.  This may not seem like a huge undertaking to experienced weavers with their own loom, but at the time I did not own a SAORI loom so the warp was on one of Chiaki's looms at her studio ( in Chaska.  And my weaving time was limited to 2 hours /week (although I may have worked in one or 2 extra weaving sessions)!  Oh, I might add that I decided to weave the ENTIRE length in 3 color interlocking and you'll understand why Chiaki calls this my "winter project." It took me the winter to weave the cloth. . .  .

I wove this length and width because I wanted to make a specific piece of clothing from the SAORI: Self Discovery Through Free Style Weaving book.

Once finished, you would think I would have washed it and cut it right away . . . .but NO!  Now, I kept telling people that I had not washed it because I did not have the room to stretch it out to dry in our townhouse in Mn.  I think the real reason may have been I was afraid that I would mess it up. . . .and it wasn't like I could just run down to the fabric store and purchase more!  This was a one of a kind piece of fabric.  

Two weeks ago, I finally washed the fabric.  Ironed it, and stretched it out to dry.  And while it was drying, I read and reread the SAORI book . . . . . 

Then I measured and measured again.  Finally it was time to cut . . . . . .

                                                                                                                                               that first cut is always the hardest!

I won't bore you with the step by step  . . . .  here is the finished "poncho" (that's what it's called in the SAORI book)

Chiaki named this cloth while it was still on the loom.  She said it reminded her of Kyoto, Japan.  Mihoko Wakabayashi  of SAORI Worcester (  told me that she lived in Kyoto for a while and that the colors remind her of "beautiful cherry blossoms in mountain sides. Also it reminds me a Japanese dessert. It’s pink rice sweet dyed pink with cherry and wrapped with a pickled leaf! Yummy colors!



I now have visions of wearing this in Kyoto and eating this yummy dessert!

I learned that Cutting your fabric isn't so bad.  I can hardly wait for the opportunity to wear this.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Weave with a happy heart

I’ve been thinking a lot about this slogan this past week.  Even on days when I have not been weaving.  But before I go into that I should explain where the slogan originated.
SAORI –the company, the philosophy, the weaving style – is built around four slogans.  Some might call them concepts, or tenants or principles.  I was taught they were slogans.  Might be it’s in how you translate.  Might not.  Since I don’t speak Japanese, I’ll go with slogans.  These slogans come from Misao Jo, the founder of SAORI.  I’ll have to write more on her later.  And I’m certain that these slogans will come around often.
Anyway, the slogans:
1.   Keep in mind the differences between what machines can do and what people can do.
2.   Explore with all your might.
3.   Weave with a happy heart.
4.   Learn together as a group.
Simple.  But spend time pondering them, and they are deep.  If you want to read more about the 4 slogans, SAORI  Worchester has some great thoughts on the, you can read it here.  And there are other concepts from SAORI that are equally as deep.  But we will get to those another time.
So back to Weaving with a happy heart.  Misao Jo came to this while weaving.  As much as she enjoyed weaving, the push for perfection and the lack of individual artistic expression in traditional patterned weaving took the joy out weaving for her.  When she set aside those pretexts she wove with a happy heart.
OK, well most of my fiber weaving experience has been SAORI.  So why was I thinking about Weaving with a Happy Heart so much this past weekend?  Because I was mowing the lawn. 
And I was HAPPY about it!  Yeah, sure, It might have something to do with the music in my ears (ear buds in the ears with those big noise reducing ear protection thingys over top make for some EXCELLENT sound!) , or the fact that riding a tractor/mower is just plain fun.  But I really think it had to do with the fact that I let go of pretexts.  Who cares if I follow the mowing rules?  As long as ALL the little blades of grass (and their weedy counterparts) get cut off, I’m good.  So I worried less about which way I was supposed to be going and concentrated on enjoying the experience.
That led me to another thought.  If in weaving we WEAVE WITH A HAPPY HEART, maybe in life we should DO WITH A HAPPY HEART.  I was thinking about that as I washed the dishes.  I can’t say that doing dishes brings joy to my heart, but having a clean kitchen does. (hum, maybe I should think about that while I do the floors . . . .)
But really it’s more than that.  It’s living purposely and purposefully living – with a happy heart.  My heart is happy.  I hope your's is too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's about time . . . .

I've been thinking about starting a blog for sometime now.  And now that HanDen Studios: SAORI Weaving Peachtree City is about to launch, it seemed that this was a good time.  My reason for starting this blog is to share the SAORI philosophy with others; to be able to meet new people interested in SAORI, and connect with other fiber artists.

My first SAORI weaving. The piece of 
Driftwood is its permanent hanger. 

Of course, SAORI Weaving is not my only art form.  I also spin, knit, play with hot glass, and create jewelry.  I am working on incorporating the SAORI philosophy in all of my art.  

Hand formed fibula with Lapis bead

 Malachite Madness. This piece won grand prize in a jewelry contest the year it was made.

Howlite.  This one I kept for me!

And then there is Hanley's Art.  From Time to time I hope to feature his latest creations.  He is working on getting his shop/studio set up.  But here is a peak at two of his hats.

 Mini-Hat  Looks good on a shelf

Full Size Hat.  Looks good on your head.

Of course, every now and then, a post will be completely off topic. . . . .cause, well, that's life.

That's all for now.  I am new to this blogging thing, so please be patient with me.