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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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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…..

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?

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.

Weaving with strands of pearls but being spoiled in others ways beyond that

Weaving at home on a borrowed 4 harness jack loom taught me how spoiled I am. Like Ann’s “teachers”–pieces of experimental weaving–but the experience coming from somewhere perhaps more unexpected. First, that cute little Le Clerc 40cm loom was far less gazelle-like than the SAORI looms I’m used to but still provided the magic that weaving generally does–whoa! I made fabric outta strings!!I kept finding myself stomping on the ground to switch the harness even though it was hand operated. I was thinking how nice it would be to quietly concentrate on what I was making but honestly I felt a bit too caught up in my own ideas or seeking out a plan in contrast to what I feel is the dangerous mistake of applying limits to what you assess yourself to be. I’ll see people’s work who I admire artistically (or even  cosmically) and be entirely befuddled by their finesse at creating something glorious with so little intention. Things just come forth with a blank state of mind. But when weaving in  a group you get the ultra forte of increased awareness and fluid inspiration. It rules! With this scarf, i had really only myself and my materials to put in and it felt surprisingly different! I wove in strands of plastic pearls and am finishing the fringe off in groupings of friendship bracelets!   –Annie

annie pearl scarf

annie pearl scarf 2annie pearl scarf 3
















Adding SAORI patches on bags

I have had several vinyl bags which were samples of a manufacture. They are just simple designed bags and I thought that they would look nicer if I decorated with SAORI fabric. Time has passed by and finally I started working on this project last week. (A Street Craft Fair is next Sunday!)

As you know, I have so many scraps. I have three big bins full of scraps from left over from my own projects and years of demonstrations . It’s one of my on-going projects to use those scraps.


I dug and picked some pieces I liked and laid them out on the table. Then waited for a good idea to come to me. While waiting I moved those pieces around to look at them in different angles.

heart patched bag




For this bag I put some stuffing under the heart pieces. I used straight stitches except for the small heart. Since I didn’t use interfacing, I had to be careful not to pull any woven threads. However, zigzag was needed for the smaller piece.






I used #100 universal threading needle for these thick fabric and saw slowly. 013 SAORI handle bag
I tried not to loose SAORI’s playful aspect when I was patching them here. I didn’t cut the long piece and patched it on both sides.







Blue SAORI patched bag

Rayon Chenille patched bagSomeone said that she had many reuse bags and tote bags that some company’s names or advertisements on.  If you cover them up with beautiful SAORI fabric, they will turn to a unique bags like these. Please try!

Upholstering dining chairs

This was my long time dream. In this long cold winter I felt I really needed new colors in my life besides white and grey. It’s true that I have many wonderful colors in my studio but I needed more colors in my living space to cheer me up. So I took this project. Our dining chairs were so old and had been taped because the seats had got ripped.



When I started to take the tucks off a chair, I realized it was not a small project. Oh, well. I started so I had to finish.






While removing tucks, the covers and the stuffing, I understood that a person whoever  made this chairs did a wonderful job. They were covered well. The stuffing was cotton and some kind of firm fiber. I have read somewhere that sometimes people used to use horse hair for stuffing chairs. How interesting!
























Then I painted chairs in a snow stormy day so nobody would disturb me.












I wanted to use this color for the covering.



214The lime green has been popular color for a while and I like it. I was not sure if I liked it in the kitchen but I desperately needed a different look there. I found this fabric at Jo-Ann Fabric store. The store person told me that  it was new. I knew I had never seen this kind of vibrant vinyl fabric anywhere before and there were other colors such as orange, pink, turquoise, and sky blue. It was not as thick as the ones on the chairs before but it was close enough. She said people used this fabric for covering a yacht or a boat. Sounded sturdy enough to me.






I didn’t use a staple gun because I wanted to do the same way as the chairs were done before. I used tucks so I got a bleeding nail. Just one. I used cotton butting and not- too-soft poly stuffing.































I am pretty happy about the result. Yes, I painted the kitchen wall, too. Now I am thinking curtains and decorations. Spring is here now!! Hooray ! (Outside is covered with snow again today.)

Someday I might try upholstering chairs with SAORI fabric!


New Kitchen look