Textiles: Indigo, Japan to Indiana

3c665b69-ddc6-4b1c-9250-889d338d5fb2When I was in grade school, my parents would travel around the world for three months at a time. They left my twin brother and I at home. When they came back there was big excitement. Their luggage smelled like world travels and my mother had gifts for us. From Japan, she had chopsticks (of course), a pin cushion for sewing, a pearl ring and the big surprise was a kimono. Keep in mind, in the 70s, unless you traveled around the world, you would not find these special items.

I fell in love with the color indigo when my mother gave me this special kimono from Japan. My mother loved kimonos. The kimono was a lovely white / indigo pattern with a bright pink sash. For those of you who might not know, indigo is a color between primary blue and violet. It’s a very majestic color.

A few years ago, I went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for the “Mood Indigo” exhibit and learned that a man, Rowland Ricketts, had an Indigo farm in Indiana. He had a beautiful exhibit at the museum. It was in one room, he had textiles hanging in a tall circular direction (see here), so we would have to walk in a circle viewing the shades of indigo. Brilliant idea to add the plants around the room that produce the indigo color. He wanted us to connect the fact that the blue dye comes from plants.

This was such a surprise, because I am from Indiana, not a lot goes on in Indiana. We do have farm lands with sweet corn, cabbage, sunflowers, etc., but I would never have thought a farm for indigo. This was interesting! Oh, HOLD ON, Mike Pence our Vice President is from Indiana. Forgot about politics. Otherwise, just corn.

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Indigo plant

Ricketts’s story is that in 1996, he apprenticed in Japan for 2 years to learn the art and process producing the indigo dye color. He was looking for a job that would bring meaning to his life, creating indigo dye was it. The process is a long and laborous one, because the dye comes from a plant, which needs to be grown, dried and fermented. He met his wife, Chimani, while they apprenticed together. They make a good team, he does the farming side of the business and Chimani weaves the yarn into fabrics.

Ricketts is an Associate Professor in the School of Art, Architecture & Design at Indiana University.

Clearly, I am excited that with so many art forms dying out that Ricketts has brought the Japanese textile art of indigo to our home state of Indiana!

Kate Spade… We will miss you!

09CB115E-2D8B-42DD-9416-B808F4C021EBBy now, you’ve heard the news about Kate Spade’s passing. We refer to her as “Kate Spade,” when really her name was Katherine Noel Brosnahan. This is a sad day!

Why did we love her handbags so much? Back in the 90’s, when we started to see her purses, they were special because they were different. She used bright colors, different patterns and when we opened her purses they always had beautiful colored linings inside.

Kate Spade’s attention to detail was top notch. You can see from this original purse I have of hers. The material for the giraffe pattern was high end, the leather piping was perfectly sewn, the leather strap was thick, not thin. Look at the lovely gold feet with rich dark brown quality leather on the bottom of the purse, the stitching is faultless. Notice that in the beginning, she did not have her name placed on the outside of the purse, I liked that. Instead, her name was on the inside, creating mystery as to “WHO” designed such a rich looking purse.

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I have other purses of Kate Spade’s, this was an all time favorite. I always received compliments on it for it’s unique style. She was the mystery designer back then. Who was this marvel with a bright preppy fearless style? When walking through the department store, we had to smile at the colors, patterns and textures she chose. Simply wonderful!

Katherine, you were a beautiful and talented designer. Your memory will live on through your handbags, accessories and now shoes! I’m sorry you were suffering, you will be missed!

India: Rescued elephants wear knitted jumpers made by villagers.

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Credit: Roger Allen for this wonderful photo showing the villagers who have knitted colorful jumpers for the elephants.

Did you see the story recently where villagers in India were knitting jumpers to save rescued elephants from freezing temperatures?  This is such a wonderful project. Apparently, an organization called, “Wildlife SOS: Elephant Conservation Care Center,” has been rescuing elephants who have been abused and mistreated. The stories are sad to read. The good news though is that once the elephants are rescued with the help, love, and support of special people the elephants are being nurtured to bring back their emotional and physical well being.

Earlier in the year, the elephants who are still ill and in recovery needed protection from bitter cold temperatures. A group of villagers near the northern part of Mathura, north of Agra, starting knitting big jumpers to keep the elephants warm. They look beautiful.

You can see more photos and read the story about the elephants in The Independent, story called, “Villagers knit jumpers for Indian elephants to protect the large mammals from near-freezing temperatures,” by Mary Bulman.

Too bad when we turn on the television to listen to the news, the media is not sharing more inspiring stories like this one. There is so much “good” going on in the world, it’s sad that we must dig deep to find these stories! Let’s keep sharing!

The Wildlife SOS organization plans to rescue another 50 elephants this year (2017)!  If you are traveling to India, you can stop by the Elephant Conservation Care Center for a 2-hour visit with the elephants. It looks like a very heart warming experience for sure!

The Pantone Color Institute has spoken. The color of the year is GREEN!

pantone-color-greenHave you ever thought about how the color of the year is chosen?  I’ve always wondered, but as I am not in the design industry never looked into it. However, throughout the years, I would walk through stores “thinking,” I guess this year it is egg plant purple, sunny yellow, cherry red, etc., because every store was using the same color for their products.

I’d either be excited and spend money on a new pillow I didn’t need, because I loved the color OR I would frown and say, “NEVER would I buy dishes in grey.”  Not my color palette. Good way to save money, if you don’t like the color of the year, you don’t make frivolous purchases.

So, you are thinking, “How is the color of the year chosen?”

There’s a company called, “Pantone Color Institute,” and they are known for color forecasting. Companies hire them for help with understanding color trends, color branding, and choosing a color strategy.

They came up with the Pantone Matching Color System as seen in photo, which standardized the ability to reproduce exact shades of a color between companies/manufacturers by using a specific Pantone number for each color created. So, basically, if you want to have a specific “blue” for the print on your business card, you would email the printer the specific “Pantone #” for the blue shade you want. No need to go into the printer’s office. Your blue color would print out perfectly!

The Pantone Color Institute started choosing the color of the year in 2000. Why were they chosen to choose the color of the year?  This is not clear in my research. It seems that since they own the Pantone color palette, they are considered color experts. They make their yearly choice by looking at color trends during the year. This year they chose green as they had the feeling people wanted to be closer to nature.

If you want to learn more about “the color of the year,” do a quick Google search. There are several interesting articles on this.

I hope you like green. We will be seeing GREEN in everything, i.e. fashion, home goods, interior design… probably cars too!

Luckily, I don’t mind green, it’s the color of nature. I can live with that!

Can you?

Seattle Yarn Shop Tour…

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This week started The 2016 LYS (yarn) Tour. Great idea, see the map. In five days you have a chance to visit 28 different yarn shops. At each shop you have them stamp your passport and then your completed passport is entered into a drawing to win prizes.

As I moved to Seattle, maybe because of a lot of rainy days, I suddenly had the urge to knit again. It was my Italian grandmother who taught me how to knit and crochet. Imagine that – she spoke no English. I considered it “on the job training.” I didn’t speak Italian and I didn’t know how to knit, so with a lot of hand movements and facial expressions she taught me basic knitting/crocheting. She kept saying, “Hai capito (you understand)?” I did a lot of head nodding for YES and NO at that time.

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Stitches from my first cowl neck project.

Starting up again, I was getting tired of the basic knit / purl stitches, I was ready to challenge myself.  I was at one of the yarn shops looking at different scarf samples and settled on a cowl neck pattern. I found knitting instructions on YouTube.com for different stitches (good thing for rewind, pause and fast forward). Before I knew it, I had completed an intermediate project, which was a proud moment…  EXCEPT that now it is Spring/Summer, so I have to wait for Fall to wear it. Well, knitting is like that, you don’t always finish your project in the “right season.”

imageYesterday, I ventured to Bainbridge Island to visit the Churchmouse Yarns and Teas store. What a lovely store, I felt like I was in New England. The Ferry Boat ride was fun.

If you are doing the tour, there is still one day left!

Try not to go broke (grin)!

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