A special Birthday detour ….

It’s April the 27th and the birthday of Misao Jo who for those of you who don’t know is the creator of Saori Weaving. Misao would have been 105 today but sadly on January 10th 2018 Misao passed away.

Today’s blog is not going to be the second part of my Wingham Wool Works Ashford days but I am taking a slight detour to talk about Saori Weaving in honour of Misao-San.

One of life’s mantras we so often hear and often speak is “oh I’m too old to start that” or “I can’t do that at my age” but Misao started a whole philosophy when she started weaving at 57. I too spoke the words of the “too old” mantra when I wanted to weave until I read Misao was 57 and this in itself was magically inspiring. I started weaving when I was 41 and I’m glad I started as Saori Weaving feels like I have come home….

I had knitted before and done crochet usually alongside my best friend and knitting partner in crime Michelle. We have been friends for 15 years now and also along the way we tried various crafts, but knitting was something I did at times but could leave it. Michelle is the knitting queen and has needles everywhere she goes (except yesterday when she finished her weaving she pinched mine) and has multiple projects at any one time. I wanted to be as passionate as Michelle for knitting but just could not find that groove, and knew there was something out there for me but I could not put my finger on it. Eventually I found my groove and it’s the groove of the Weaver and even spinner and Dyer has found its way in. The biggest groove, the loudest music and most graceful dance I have is for Saori Weaving. In my second blog there is a bit of how I found Saori so I won’t repeat it here and continue with what Saori is …..

Weaving is weaving at the end of the day and there are people who like to weave complex structures, people who like to follow a pattern, people who like to do bands of weave, people who like rug weaving, people who do Dobby (computer) weaving and the list goes on… what we have to remember is weaving has been here for a very very long time and it’s the process of making cloth. Saori Weaving is still weaving but it’s not about followed patterns but your own patterns which are in your surroundings and in your mind. You weave what inspires you or weave your emotions. You can weave grief and you can weave happiness in fact you weave yourself.

The reason for this is behind the philosophy of Saori Weaving and why it’s so free and that’s due to Misao weaving an Obi and missing a warp thread. An Obi is the belt worn around a Japanese Kimono and Misao showed a person running a factory her Obi even with missing warp thread and they said “it was no good as it was not perfect”. Misao again inspires us with her answer to this as instead of walking away feeling she was no good she loved the missing warp thread and loved the effect and started then intentionally weaving flaws in cloth.

Saori Mantra number 1 ….

“Consider the differences between a machine and a human being”

Everything around us these days are made in factories all over the world by machines with very little human input. The world is striving for nothing short of perfection but what is perfection? Non of us have a perfect life and perfect family and we love them and ourselves for who we are including our mistakes. Mistakes can be beautiful and mistakes can lead us to new ventures (remember how they discovered antibiotics) and we should embrace these as part of our lives. What’s the point of telling people your a mother of three then trying to brush out the stretch marks on photoshop. Be happy in your skin and be happy with whatever you create as it’s one of a kind and totally unique like we all are.

Number 2 “Be bold and adventurous”

How many times do we do things that keep us in our comfort zones? I did for years and never looked and if I was staying in my comfort zone I would not be flying alone to Japan and would miss the experience of a lifetime. So often we are told we can’t do something or should do things this way usually to appease someone else? We need to be bold, we need to start something, throw ourselves into it, be adventurous. Try new things and with weaving this is what we do… we don’t just weave with one type of thread or with everything lined up uniform but we throw things into it like new colours, new fabrics, new fibre, design, how we beat the cloth, how we throw the shuttle, how we wind bobbins and how we use resources we have around us.

The picture above was a weaving I did using £5 worth of odds and ends I found in a charity shop.

Number 3 …. “look through eyes that shine”

How many times do we do things with no awareness. How many times do we walk the same path only one day to look up and say “oh when did that get put there” ? We go through life switched off and so this way we have started as a society to treat people with disrespect as we don’t see them truly or their potential. When we start to look at the beauty in people, in our spaces, in our community then we see beauty in everything including ourselves. When we weave we should weave everything with eyes that are showing us beauty in everything.

Number 4 … “Inspire one another, and everyone in the group”

Weaving should be a journey for yourself but also should be with others. If you see beauty in things then they will start to see that beauty too and then they will pass this on. If we in life weave something and someone thinks it’s beautiful then be grateful and tell them the story of it. This will then spark something off in themselves and then this spirals outwards.

For more information on Saori Weaving please do go to http://www.saorinomori.com/eng/index.html

Now I have spoken a lot today and still not told you about the wonderful looms Saori make, the way it’s for everyone as I feel today is about the philosophy. Everyone can weave it just depends what kind of weaving or kind of Weaver you want to be.

Saori has enriched my life just by the philosophy alone. Who would have thought that Saori has helped me come to terms with the loss of my sons Alec and Lennon by allowing me to see things differently. Weaving and the philosophy has allowed me to start healing and this is starting to heal people around me. This is why I am off to Japan and I hope one day to be an instructor as I want to inspire more people and keep that spiral flowing outwards.

Today I celebrate the Birthday of Misao as even though I have never met her I feel she is always around with her words and through the weaving. I am celebrating a lady who never walked away from what she wanted and that today has inspired so many people.

So today I want to wish you Misao Jo a Happy Birthday and thank you for Saori.

So now with tears in my eyes I am going to go and sit with these thoughts, be thankful and mindful about my day.

With the most kindest of blessings have a peaceful day LM 🌹

Down the road ……

I am no spring chicken and I thought I had known about, and visited places not that far from me that had historic interest. It just so happens I have been missing one of the most amazing places with a huge historical significance and, it was only an hour and 15 mins down the road.

Elsecar is in Barnsley which is situated in South Yorkshire in the UK. It’s an unusual name and actually comes from an old English name Ælfsige and old Norse word kjarr, which means marsh. It was farmland mostly but the area did mine coal. 1750 the first colliery was built and by the end of the century several pits had been opened. The first furnace was opened at the Ironworks and this is where I have been for the last two days. In 2017 Elsecar was given a heritage action zone grant and it’s been booming up the area as with the last mine being closed in 1983 the area suffered economically.

The Ironworks are now a heritage centre which is a living history centre. The old buildings were once the ironworks, forges, distillery and it has a steam railway.

Wingham wool works were holding a Spinning and Weaving event which was over two days and I was lucky enough to attend both …..

Day 1 …. Spinning

Ashford are a company based in New Zealand that make products for Spinners and Weavers and every two years Kate from Ashford’s New Zealand, along with the UK Ashford team do an event. The range of equipment is brought along so people can find out more about the products, how they work, the differences and some tips and tricks along the way.

One of the things I own is a blending board so being able to see the demonstration and able to ask questions was excellent. It gives you a sort of validation that “yes I was doing that right”.

One of the things I don’t own is a carding machine. I have hand carders but never thought about a carding machine as I have not ventured in to doing many fleeces yet, and the ones I do are only in small batches so I use hand carders. You learn that carding has a very useful place in the whole system and is now something I’m going to do more of. I decided to give these new things a try as the event lets you try out different things and has help on hand. Sooooooooooo to the carding machine I went and I decided to go with the Standard 72 point carder and the fun began. I started with placing fibre into the machine to blend it with another colour and turned the handle. You start to see the fibre get pulled in then onto the big drum and then you add more and different colours and you make a batt.

Now folks here is the bit I would like to stress ….. if you think you know things believe me you will never know it all as you think surely they is not much more to just getting fibre and twisting it…. oh my it was brain frying time in the most wonderful way. The way the sheep is cut, the way you place the locs, the way you card, they way you blend, the way you spin, the way you ply etc etc will all have a different effect on the yarn you produce. This has not even account for different sheep breeds, animal breeds, plant fibres etc….. the list goes on. They all take dye differently, they all get processed differently and they all then get used differently. In fact the world is your oyster when it comes to experimenting and that’s just what I did.

I ended up just picking two colours and blending it once through the carder and it was not until I took it out and looked at it than I said “hey folks I was shearing Sully from Monsters Inc …

Now with my freshly Shawn Monster I then learned about Worsted and Knitted spinning, rolags, batts, roving, long draw, short draw, three bags full draw…. only kidding. This one monster batt now can be spun differently depending on a variety of things…. I could take it to the blending board, blend it with something else and make rolags and spin directly off them. These are good depending on how it’s blended to make intermittent stripes by spinning straight from them. I could just separate strips and spin worsted or roll in a batt and spin woollen. In fact I’m going to do this and then blog about the process and results. So watch this space for more on the Sully stuff soon……

Back to the blog though for today ….. I then had a go on the bigger carder which is the same standard 72 point carder (means there are 72 pins on the roller per square inch) but a wider one. Ta da….. I found the one for me and now this item is on my list of things to get after I am back from Japan. There is something therapeutic about drum carding I did not think possible as the last time I carded I was doing it for the Fleece to garment event and was fast and production stuff.

I had a walk around the heritage site with my phone on a video call to my husband as I was impressed with the beauty of the step back in time place. I had some lunch in a very beautiful little cafe on site and just enjoyed the whole experience.

I made another batt using more colours and again I will experiment and then show you the results in another blog. Then it was drive home though beautiful villages until I reached the M1 then I realised I was back in the 21st century BOOOOOOO. Im happier in the country, happier at a slow pace and so that’s my goal …. slow down. I am going to leave day one here and then will post day 2 on weaving on another blog as I have soooooooo much to tell you.

As always my lovelies whatever you do be safe and be happy. Until next time hugs and blessings LM 🌹

9 weeks to go…. Saori Experience

In September 2016 I was a very happy Libellemoonlady about to embark on my second year in my BSc in Herbal Medicine. My life was mapped out, plans made and off I was going, at a fast pace may I add. November came and I was struggling with my health and this also was going downhill at a faster pace… something had to give. I have always had problems with my lungs and allergies but this year as other years it got much worse and every year more issues. Uni had to give and they gave me some time off for a couple of weeks and then I was going to see how I felt. I really rested and then thought “ok I can do this but maybe I need to go part time”. For those of you who have never ever embarked on a degree in herbal medicine you may read this as “who can’t do that”!!! then let me tell you that it was the hardest thing I had ever done. Not only are you learning skills the same as a Dr but you need to be a botanist, pharmacist, DR, know your interactions in the body, with plants and I have not even got started on the plants and compounds and chemicals… what I am trying to say is it’s hard.

I wanted to enjoy the experience not like with the nursing degree which was just three years of being very tired, very stressed and you did not get a chance to enjoy anything. I decided I may go part time ….. NO… I had to take a year out. This was all thanks to a pipe that had been leaking behind a wall for so long and not being noticed went pop.

Water damage everywhere. Ok I thought no big deal, call insurance company, clean up mess, replace parts and carry on…. NO…. the damage was huge. In fact so huge the entire kitchen had to be pulled out, thrown away, walls chipped, floors ripped up and dryers brought in. It was December, it was cold, we had five dogs at the time, son and now everyone had to live up stairs as the downstairs was ripped out. Yule just slipped by as the new kitchen was not arriving till January…… anyway to cut this short and get to the point I ended up taking a year out of uni.

There is a saying “when one closes another opens” which I never really took on board or actually thought anything of it until January 2017….

An old friend came back up to live in the area again and with her came a collection of looms, spinning wheels and you name it she had it. One of these things was a Saori loom SX60h and she was kind enough to let me have a go. At this moment a sort of synergy happened and a sort of “BANG” fusion moment and a feeling I had not felt for a very long time. Not just happiness but a happiness that made me realise that actually I was not happy 100% before and that for the first time in a long time I needed to heal.

All this from a loom and a bit of weaving….. it’s meditation is freeweaving and Saori is not like other weaving it’s a time just for you, a time which freezes all around you and you just concentrate on yourself. This then led me to visiting a Saori studio, weaving, buying a loom and just living and breathing my weaving I got into spinning my own fibre too and dying fibre from plants. I still have a massive connection to plants and will return to the Herbal Medicine when I am well enough in body and mind and spirit to help others. I will tell you more about what SAORI Weaving is as this blog grows. Today is Earth day and like the earth over years of bad food and rubbish and stagnation I need to start to focus more so this blog will grow…. just like plants grow. It will only grow if I tend to it also and tend to myself.

So back to the title 9 weeks to go

In 9 weeks time I am all on my little ownsome setting off from my home with a suitcase and rucksack and heading to Manchester for a night in a hotel next to Manchester airport. I will fly in the morning to Helsinki and wait for an hour or so before my next flight which takes me all the way to……. Osaka in Japan. This is the home of SAORI Weaving. I am spending three weeks out there and hoping to be able to one day open my own Saori studio so other people can experience this beautiful art. I hope to bring it to people in my area who need extra help with connection to themselves if they have been unwell. Saori is for all and is really a beautiful for people with a disability so I would like to engage with people in a way to bring out a creative side and show their true selves in the cloth they weave.

I am nervous and excited but I know this journey will not only be amazing but I feel it will be the life changing moment when I realised “I can do this”. For the time being I am going to be writing the blog before this journey starts, whilst I’m in Japan and when home and beyond. This tree has now begun to sprout, I’m giving it time to take root and then eventually lots of amazing branches will appear. My leaves will come, they will die, they will come again and if anyone try’s to take a branch then do so… I will grow another. Hug this tree and I promise I will hug back.

Until the next time I wish you many peaceful hours.

Always blessings to you LM 🌹