Lucky for me, one of my friends in Hawaii asked me to bring her back some sashiko thread. And lucky for me, Kiyo listened to all my requests and fit in everything I wanted to do.
Since we were already in the textile district, we got there easily.
Japanese indigo used for dying is unique. No other dyes give the dark eggplant blue color. The dye actually strengthens the fabric and repels snakes and mosquitoes.
In the shop I got to see what looked like a huge ceramic garden pot, huge and tall. It was bubbling over a heat source. Foam floated on top and it had an unusual odor. Not unpleasant but not an odor that would make you want to eat it. The foam and the liquid were dark blue. The son of Aizen Kobo stirred the vat with a long stick. He said it is living and he had to stir in oxygen to keep it as he wanted it. These are my words. In an article from Wingspan, the inflight magazine from All Nippon Airways, it tells about a living bacteria that must be kept warm and is fed a special diet of wheat bran, limestone, ash lye and sake.
The fabric is costly because it can take up to 4 months of dyeing and drying in the sun to obtain the darkest blue color.
In the shop I saw various pieces of fabric that were tied for dyeing and many beautiful finished products and bolts of fabric.
Here is the sashiko thread I bought.
They felt so healthy next to the more anemic one I bought later at a fabric shop. I was sorry to part with them. I felt the connection to history and human touch in them.
© 2010 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.