All posts by Asa Needle

Newsletter #10, June 4, 2018

Summer Plan

I hope this newsletter finds you well.
Many exciting things are happening in the studio. The bathroom project is underway. I will be around this summer since my Japan tour will be in October 12-22th this year. I set up few workshops for Indigo dye and sewing. Indigo fresh leaves dye workshop will be in September. I will also have 2 one-week-long fiber camp for children in Brookline in July. This is so much fun. More info is included below. Please spread words.
I am always open to any new ideas about workshops and events. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what you are interested in.  
I will hear about the result of the grant for SAORI Bridges of Elm Park on July 1st. Please make finger crossed!
Hope you have a wonderful summer!


Seed to Fashion Program has begun on May 27th

On the first workshop we learned the overview of indigo dye in Japan and dyed a cotton banner in shibori (tie-dye/ resist) method at the studio. It was the first time for everyone to do an indigo dye. They either folded or make shapes the cloth and created a resist with rubber bands, chopsticks, cloth pins and cramps. 

Even though it was cold and drizzling, some of us went to the Winslow Community Garden to plant indigo plants after dyeing. Thanks to Laura Ibanes, the seedlings looked so healthy and grown well. I am checking the garden everyday to make sure they are okay. 

Here is the link to the video clip we watched about the Japanese indigo.




Indigo Shibori Dye Workshop for everyone 

June 23rd (Sat.), July 7th (Sat.) & August 11th(Sat.) at 3:30-6:30pm at the studio
$55 General attendants, $45 Current Students
8 people maximum 

Pre-registered with the payment is required. ($20 is non refundable. There is no refund after 24 hour prior to the workshop time.)  

This workshop is for people who have never done Indigo dye or who want to explore different patterns of shibori techniques. Mihoko will teach variety of patterns you can make. The magic of indigo is changing the colors from green to blue while you oxidize the dye. To get the dark blue, you need to repeat the cycle of die-rinse-dry few times.

Mihoko will prepare a cotton banner for each person. Bring your own short sleeves shirt or T-shirt to dye addition to the cotton banner. The shirt could not be white. It needs pre washed. All natural fiber (cotton, linen,silk,wool and rayon) would work. White T-shirts will be available for purchase if you let Mihoko knows the size.


Sewing Workshop Series in Summer

Pre-registered with the payment is required. ($20 is non refundable. There is no refund after 24 hour prior to the workshop time.)  Limited to 6 people in each workshop.


1. Basic sleeveless top (Placemat vest) 

  June 29nd (Fri.) 10am-4:30pm (1 hour lunch break) 
  $70 General, $55 Current Students  

Bring your handwoven materials (approx.45cm wide and 130cm), sewing thread, and your own sewing machine. Three sewing machines will be available to reserve. Several small pieces would work. If you would like to have bigger size or longer length, bring extra larger piece.

2. SAORI reverse applique on T-shirts

    June 15th(Fri) 10-noon $ July 24th(Tue.) 10-noon
    $40 General, $30 Current students

Bring T-shirts, handwoven scraps, sewing thread, a sharp small scissors and your sewing machine. Scraps will be available for purchase. Three sewing machines will be available to reserve. Ideally cotton & rayon fabric work best. 

3. Sewing Guidance 

    August 17th(Fri) 10-noon & 1-3pm 
    $35 General for each 2 hour time slot, $25 Current       Students 

Bring your own sewing project with your own sewing machine. This workshop is for people who can sew but want to have Mihoko for advice in case when you are not sure or you make a mistake. Some people are telling me that they would be able to focus better when everyone in a class is sewing. Three sewing machines will be available to reserve. 



Fiber Camp with Mihoko at Art with Amy in Brookline, MA
July 9-13th, 9am -2pm
July 16th-20th, 9am-2pm

Participants will explore weaving, spinning, knitting, sewing, felting and more. When children learn new skills, they experiment based on their curiosity, It is true learning experience and it will stay in their mind forever. I will guide them to pursue their interests for the entire week while I introduce new way to play with fiber each day. Last year, participants wove scarves/ banners, and made pocketbooks, stuffed animals, purses, pompoms and artwork with no definition! SAORI weaving is a base and they made other items from their own handwoven fabric. It is a unique, self-directed with guidance and fun camp for all ages!

Spaces are limited. $500 for each week including all the materials. Please email Amy Solomon through the website or View similar products »

Call for Fiber Artists  Healing Fibers: Picture Medical Justice

Studio member Bayda Asbridge is looking for fiber artists for an exhibition at the Sprinkler Factory in July. Artists are invited to submit art that addresses personal health stories of themselves or relatives. Read more about this amazing event and its history here. Share an entry here. 

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18 Winslow Street

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Newsletter #9


Spring brings many news!

Hi! I hope this finds you well.
I wish I could give you only good news, however, I have one sad news in this newsletter.

 PASA Yarns, a wholesale yarn store in Uxbridge, MA which has served us for many years is finally going to close by the end of March. Paul at PASA told me that he rather sit at the beach in FL now. Also, since many mills are closing in US, it has been getting harder and harder for him to find mill end yarn to keep the business alive. He sets a day for having us to do the last shopping there as below. He will give us a good discount which is a probably once- in- a- life time deal. He expects one more shipping coming in sometime next week. So if you rush to the store now, you might not get to see the new yarn. Please be patient and go shopping together and have lunch at the Depot Cafe after. If you want to car pool, please let me know.

You are welcome to spread words! 

Trip to PASA Yarns, 175 Elmdale Rd, Uxbridge, MA
March 12th (Mon) 10am 
Cash only (Bring a checkbook just in case./ No credit card accepted)



SAORI kai on April 7th (Sat.) 3:30pm

 Kai means a gathering/party in Japanese although the word has never been used as itself in Japan. The word is usually used with other words such as Tanjou-kai (Birthday party), Kangei-kai (Welcome party), Nomi-kai (Drinking party) or Ocha-kai (Tea party). SAORI kai is a show & tell gathering which you will meet other fellow weavers who come different class time, share ideas and get inspired. 

 In the past we had few SAORI kai in a year but last year we had only once. We had many dying workshops instead. I will try to have the SAORI kai few times this year since it is a great opportunity for people to have feedback and new ideas. Although you might have seen many works on screens everyday, it is not the same to spend time with others face to face. There are a good number of newer students who have not experienced this gathering yet. It is time to do it again! It is free and open to public. It is a great chance to check the studio and what SAORI weaving is all about.

 Yarn swap and Warp exchange are not mandatory. Warp exchange is a traditional way to have challenge in Japan for years. We had this in the past Canada-US conferences as well. Everyone is encouraged to participate. 

What to bring
– Your recent work (1-5) for show and tell
– Yarn if you have yarns that  you want to get rid of for Yarn Swap 
     We will do this in casual style. Please mark the material (for example. cotton or wool) each yarn as            much as possible. 
– Wound warp without cutting edges if you want to exchange.
    100-120 ends and 2.5-3 meter long/ Make sure to tie the cross and few chokes.           Materials are not limited.  
– Snack for sharing if you want.



Grant for indigo “Seed to Fashion” community project

I have received the 2018 project grant from Worcester Arts Council for my project!!!

It is a six month project using the community garden on Winslow St. to grow indigo plants, dye fiber and weave a scarf at the end with the dyed fiber. I will recruit participants of all ages (15 people) in the immediate neighborhood, however, my plan is duplicating the project at my studio as well. I am asking volunteer assistants for the project who will be invited to my studio workshop with discount rate.

Also, I would like to know who can help growing indigo at your own space this year. Just like last year I ask those who bring seeds back home to bring harvested leaves in fall for the workshop. If you have last year’s seeds, you can still try planting them this year. Please let me know if you seriously want to have seeds your own project. I will be happy to distribute some.

I am still middle of planning the details of the projects including dates of monthly workshops. Once the details get scheduled, I will post it on my website. Please stay tuned! 



Japanese Festival on April 29th 11am-5pm
at Boston Common

I have been attending this festival from seven years ago.This year I will be under a tent and focus on selling finished products. Please stop by or spread words to check out my work. 



Dreaming of a real bathroom in the studio…

As I keep telling people about this big dream, I started talking with my plumber and a city inspector. It is getting a real. I am having a loan from bank, however, I would like to ask you to help me make this dream comes true without fail as below. 

1. Keep coming to classes regularly.
2. Prepay your membership for a year (2 or 3 membership in once).
3. Lend me fund without or very little interest.
4. Buy gift certificates.
5. Pre-order wearable items.
6. Rate and write a review of the studio on Facebook.
7. Follow me via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The more people know about the studio, the more people sign up classes.

Once a bathroom is installed, I plan to have artists in residency, work exchange students and students for intensive training using upstairs space as well. Thank you for understanding and your generous support. Any suggestions are welcome, too.

More info 
-Workshops for sewing and painting warp will come in May & June.
-Japan tour of new itinerary will be in fall.
-The Study Group is really rolling.
-Loom in Essence 2018 will be in Dec. at Sprinkler Factory. 

Details will come in next newsletter…..

Newsletter #8

Thank you for your support in 2017 !

It is time to reflect the year of 2017. This year I renewed the website design, created the logo for the business after 17 years, launched Weaving Bonds brand which is a collaboration work with a refugee weaver from Burma, conducted the 7th Japan tour and had a Studio Exhibition “Loom in Essence 2017”. I am amazed with all the accomplishment! It must be all your wonderful support for me and the studio. I am so grateful for that. These things could not be done without your kind words, enthusiasms ,encouragements and all kind of help. Thank you very much for being with me! 

Because of this business I never have felt lonely or bored when I had to face to living in an empty nest this fall. Actually there are a lot of wonderful energy coming into me now. 
I am so happy that I will be able to continue working hard to create a good environment for you to have an exciting journey with SAORI at the studio in 2018.   

I wish you all a very happy holidays and Happy New Year!

Follow me on Instagram (SAORI Worcester). You can see everyday life of the studio. Sign up a trial class  on my website now if you have not woven recently. 

Japanese New Year Party!

It seems the year of 2018 is approaching fast although the winter has not arrived yet. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. For myself I had a personal retreat at home which was what I needed to have. I have meditated, practiced playing the piano, woven. read and listened to music. I’d like to share some of my random thoughts which came to clear to me during the retreat. – I want to install a real bathroom in the studio building! It is very important for me to create a safe, welcoming and comfortable studio space for everyone. – I need create more work I want to make, instead of what people might like. – I am so grateful for wonderful people who come to take my classes. They are my family, friends and teachers. – I want more people to discover SAORI in the world!  – SAORI is a great tool to communicate inclusion, peace, community, and self-awareness. – Life is too short to wait starting something good. One thing I decided to do from the thoughts is hosting a Japanese traditional New Year celebration for the current students. New Year is the most important holiday in Japan. Traditionally all stores and businesses are closed for three days and school won’t start until Jan. 8th. When I was a child, my parents made a plan when they cook what and when they clean what. And the whole family worked to cooked and cleaned the whole house in the last week of December in order to purify the house to welcome a new year with good luck. The first meal on the New Year Day is a special feast with new chopsticks. I have been keeping cooking specific food for the day to pass the tradition to my children. In 2018 I would like to share this tradition with my extended family. Sorry I cannot invite every one of you this time. This is limited to the current students. It is my expression of the gratitude for your constant support. It will be Jan. 7th (Sun) Noon. BYOB (Bring your own Beverage, such as beer, sake, wine or soda) Please RSVP by the end of Dec. Don’t forget to let me know your dietary restriction if you have any. If you are not current students but would like to come to the meal, please sign up a course right now! (lol) If you pay the deposit to save your space for Basic Course, Advanced Basic Course or Membership starting January, I will invite you. If you would like to help cooking or setting up, let me know. I hope many of you can make it.

Fun Friday with Friends

This is a special workshop for people to weave for longer time so they can make a scarf size piece to take home. You can make a gift or treat yourself. Or give this experience as a gift to someone who like hands-on activity.
Sign up with your friends or families to have fun together!

Dec. 15th and 29th 6-9pm
$30 ($55 for two) plus materials $10 each

Please sign up here
If you bring your own yarn to weave, you don’t need to pay for the materials. 
Please feel free to bring your snack and beverage.
No experience necessary. All ages are welcome. 

Regular trial classes are available in the regular class time as far as the class is not full. You can sign up on website.

Study Group 2018 

Since I have some requests I plan to have a study group in 2018. It is 2015 when we had it last time. It is about a time to have a new one. This is a six month program that people work on a same assignments each month and study together in a monthly meeting. The assignment will be determined by the group members. Last time we had challenges such as weaving with one color, weft-faced weaving, loose weaving and so on. 

This is for people who want to develop their creativity further without specific projects in mind AND who can commit to work seriously for six months and attend most meetings. It would be a great opportunity to make you be in the zone and gain  a-ha moments. You will develop your sensibility (Kansei as Misao Jo mentioned) As a result you will obtain knowledge and skills. I guarantee that this will accelerate your understanding SAORI philosophy.
Of course I will be one of the members.   

If you want to join the group, please let me know ASAP. 

Fee :$60 for the entire program (non-refundable)
Sign-up Due :Dec.20th
Meeting: Second Saturdays 3:30pm in January- June
                1/13, 2/10, 3/10, 4/14, 5/12, 6/9

Wayland Winter Farmers Market

On January 27th at 10am-2pm at Russell’s Garden Center the Fiber Day of Wayland Winter Farmers Market will be held and I will be there. It is very nice to be in the green house in the middle of winter. Please stop by. There will be wonderful organic vegetables, and other fiber vendors as well.


Happy New Year!

Please forgive me for the belated Happy New Year to you.  I hope you had a good holiday.

I had a good relaxing New Year’s Day with my sons. The New Year celebration is the biggest holiday in Japan. I have been trying to maintain the custom here as much as I can. The first meal of New Year’s Day is a feast. In Japan, I used to prepare it with my mother and sisters, starting a few days before. Now I usually cook a small portion of that traditional special food on New Year’s Eve and have it for brunch on the New Year’s Day. We had mochi, which can be translated as sweet rice cake. It is pounded sweet rice and very gooey. When it is thinly sliced or made into small pieces and cooked fully, they are called rice crackers.  The main dish of the the first meal of the year is ozouni, a soup with mochi in it. The broth and the ingredients vary depending on the region of Japan. What I grew up with and cook for my family is Kantou (Greater Tokyo area) style. Its base is kelp and bonito (fish) and there is chicken, daikon radish, and carrots in it with baked mochi. I put a snow pea on top in a bowl instead of mitsuba (a kind of Japanese herb) as an additional color to make it good looking.  I am grateful that my sons look forward to this meal with me every year. The past several years we have had friends over as well, but this year it was just the three of us. I enjoyed spending the day catching up on each other’s lives, chatting with our family in Japan via Facetime, watching a movie, and just talking in Japanese all day.

Last year I tried teaching a course on Japanese Culture at a college for a semester. I was so nervous and stressed about it. It was all a learning experience, however, I decided to focus on my own teaching through SAORI Worcester this year. I will have a Japan tour at the end of May and a studio members’ exhibition in July. I was invited to talk and give a workshop for Boston Weaver’s Guild in October, on top of which I have several more events lined throughout the year. Does this sound busy enough already? I am so happy to have such things I am able to be excited about.

I will continue gardening and playing the piano. I will continue getting involved in community movements. Developing my English skills is another priority in this year.

I wish you all a fulfilling year. Life is a continuous journey of learning and letting go. I would like to be more attentive and to cherish things I can not see, but which remain in the heart.

About Japan tour 2017

It’s time to post the announcement for the next year’s tour. I can not believe this will be the 7th SAORI Worcester’s friendship tour. Each one has its unique character to me. I am so grateful that there never has been any serious accident or issue during the tour. We have never had earthquake or typhoon either although throughout Japan there have been so many natural disasters. Although I have gained experiences, I do need to have cooperation from tour members to make it a successful journey. Thanks to the past tour members it seems to me that there are variety of talents to make the tour a fun, exciting, and memorable one to everyone.

I look forward to new one in 2017. We will visit Misao Jo, the founder of SAORI, Kenzo Jo, the loom designer, Eiji Jo, the director of SAORI Hiroba and so many others.

In Yufuin there was a huge earthquake this spring. People in Flora House were alright but visitors got decreased which made an impact on the business. I hope our visit encourage them to keep going.

I am longing for the smiles of many familiar faces and smells of good food and rice fields. Will you join us for the special experience next late Spring?

Indigo dye 1

I was so happy that I successfully grew a small butch of indigo plants in my tiny yard this year. This was third time that I attempted. Indigo required a lot of water. I asked my friends to be indigo sitters while I was traveling in Japan in May. When I came home, I kept making sure to water them every other days.Indigo plants growing 205 (1)



Indigo flesh leaves in a bowlIn mid Sep. I decided to dye with the flesh leaves. I picked leaves which were three times the weight of the silk scarf I was going to dye.





The scarf was about 20 grams and the leaves were 60-70 grams. I put them in the blender with 700 ml room temperature water and mix them for a minute.Indigo mix in a blender






It came out just like foamy mattcha tea. Looked so delicious! I used a laundry net to drain the dye water into a bowl and put a silk scarf gently into the bowl.





Indigo flesh leaves dye 1Indigo flesh leaves dye 2


I was mixing the scarf by hands in the bowl so it would dyed evenly. My hands got dyed, too. lol

Indigo flesh leaves dye 3Indigo flesh leaves dye 4









Two minutes later…









Five minutes, ten minutes and fifteen minutes passed…


Indigo flesh leaves dye 6





Indigo flesh leaves dye 7Indigo flesh leaves dye 8Indigo flesh leaves dye finished
















Rinsing the scarf changing water three or four times in a sink, the color remained and appeared brightly.




The color had changed so dramatically in front of my eyes that I was touched deeply by the magic of Indigo nature. I am sincerely grateful for all the science and crafts that people had discovered to pass on generations.

I will plan to plant more seeds next year to share this experience with all the studio members! Indigo rocks!!!

Dreaming indigo dyeing in my yard

I have tried planting indigo seeds in my yard for few years and have never succeeded. I thought it was not warm climate for indigo to grow here in Massachusetts.

Last year when I was Artist in Residence at Searsport, ME in August, I saw beautiful indigo plants growing healthy in the dyer’s garden. Yes, this ocean camp ground has an artist studio and a dyer’s garden in the camping site.(Searsport Shore Ocean Campground)  I picked the fresh leaves for my experiments.  Although the dye experiment didn’t come out in a way I expected, I enjoyed doing it. And it made me realized that the reason that indigo seeds didn’t come out in my yard was not temperature. Since then, I researched more how to grow and how to dye with fresh leaves to determine to try it again this year.


I waited and waited for the frozen temperature to go away for a long time. This past winter was way too long and bitter for all of us. In April we had two days we had snow. Finally I planted the seeds I got from Japan at the end of March and kept them moisturized everyday. After two weeks, the seeds started sprouting! Hello, my babies! They are currently inside in my kitchen floor. I might need thin-out and replant them in a couple of week.

I am dreaming of the indigo dyeing!!!

It would be challenging to keep them growing while I am away to Japan. I have few people to take turns to watch them for me. I will cross my fingers….. I will report about my babies in June.

(I have a picture of the indigo, however my technical limitation, I can not figure the error of the uploading it here. It will come soon, I hope.)




Great Lessons

These past couple of weeks were eventful for me. I lost a key to my mailbox so I needed to put a note on the mailbox asking mailmen to leave mails inside the side door. My iPhone got recovery mode right after upgrading the phone and it didn’t function as a phone. I brought it into Sprint store and Apple store. They could not help me. I was not able to use the phone for three days. When I realized most of my pictures were saved in a different place safely, I restarted the phone which meant that all the data would be lost. On top of that, I was locked out myself at home. All my keys were in the kitchen table. I was in a hurry to open the car door, I noticed I was in trouble.

It is my nature that I am forgetful.  All my adult life I have been working on it and I thought I have building a skill not to forget important things. But these incidents reminded me of what I came to this life with.


I learned so many lessons from my mistakes. That’s why I can help others by telling that it would be OK. It’s really true that I had a great feeling of liberation when I could not use my phone. There was nothing bad happened. I had time to read and do other stuff. I had to borrow my friend’s phone but it was fine.

On my weaving journey I made so many mistakes, too. Especially the first few years of my teaching SAORI at my apartment, I made many mistakes. Let me tell you a story. I used to make my own warp for trial sessions. I usually set up 120 threads and 13 meter long. One day because I was in a hurry, after threading to the reed, I wound the 13 meter warp without threading heddles. When I tied all the warp to the tying rod over the front beam, I noticed there were no harness on the loom. After I thought through every possible way to avoid taking the warp off the reed, I had re-threaded all the warp both heddles and the reed. This is just one example of my mistakes. For all these years I also experienced many unfortunate events that my students had.

Now I know all the mistakes would nurture new skills and ideas. That’s why I have many tips when something unexpected things happens. I don’t like to give suggestions and information to people who are beginner weavers since they have great innocent ideas. But I am grateful to be able to warn them when they are going to go too far.


I recall a SAORI kai (gathering) at loop of the loom studio in NYC that I attended several years ago. People had talked about Wabi-sabi as an element of SAORI weaving. I remembered that I was confused by how people understood Wabi-sabi because it didn’t sound the same as my understanding. Then I happened to watch this Japanese TV show called “Cool Japan” a week ago on Youtube. In this show several foreigners who were living in Japan discussed about different aspects of Japanese culture and this particular show focused on Wabi-sabi. It was very interesting. It made me think more deeply about Wabi-sabi, Japanese beauty. It’s true that it’s hard for a person to analyse its own culture because he/she feels that he/she gets it while he/she is living in it and he/she never has had time to define it with words. I felt exactly like that.

Oribe pottery, An example of wabi-sabi


Wikipedia says, Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence , specifically impermanence , the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature .

Then it continues,  Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

Naturally SAORI weaving fits in this category! Misao Jo is clearly influenced by Zen Buddhism principle.

My weaving has still my ego in it in many levels. That’s why I keep pursuing my practice to remove that and keep trying to weave with Mu-shin (absence of self-nature). Misao said SAORI is a weaving with Mushin.

The show is about 44 minutes. I recommend anyone to watch when you have time.

Thinking of Japan Tour

Worcester is the snowiest city in the US now. There are huge mounts of snow at every corner of streets and drive way entrances. We had three huge snow storms in two weeks then one after another while the temperature has been single digit to 20F. My back room is colder than a refrigerator. It’s great to think about walking narrow streets in Japan in May which is a blooming season.

I remember that my dad used to say that he wanted to be a tour guide in Japan for visitors from other countries once he retired. Every day he was used to listen to the radio program of English conversation lessons with me when I was in a middle school. Unfortunately he passed away before he realized his dream, however I feel like he has been with me while I guided the tour for all these years. In 80’s my dad had organized a small tour group of family (my mom, her sisters and their familymembers) to Paris. It was very rare for a Japanese business man to take such a long day off but he did. He used to tell us a story with gesture how he was terrified to had realized that he forgot to re-confirm the flight back home. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and I enjoys guiding tours and I did had those moments on my tour in the past, too.  I can write a book about those moments some day.(lol)

This year’s tour is going to be my 6th Japan tour. Each one is very different and memorable to me. Although the details of the itinerary has been made by tour members, I have few places I always go (or at least tried to go) on my tour.


One is Flora House, Yufuin, Oita prefecture. It is a family business B&B in Kyusyu island in south. You can see this Mt. Yufu from a big bath house through a window while soaking your body in a smooth warm tub. DSC00644




Another one is Studio Yuu, Himeji, Hyogo prefecture. It is a SAORI studio and a workshop for young women with developmental problems. This was a time when each weavers showed us their work in progress at the studio.322



Another one is Mom’s Hand, Kakogawa, Hyogo prefecture. It is a guest house of Mr.& Mrs. Fukushima. They grow many flowers and vegetables all around their house and feed us with them from their garden.

I am looking forward to the new adventure in May this year. The deadline of the deposit is Feb. 22nd. If you would like to jump in, you are welcome to do so.