Saturday, July 15, 2017

July's ups and downs

I have kakahu and korowai coming out my ears at the moment.
The Nurses one is nearly done.  The top of it stalled me for quite a while but I think its coming together now.

I still have the back and finishing off to do.

And I'm on to the feathers in Sandy's kakahu. The feathers are Pukeko.  Because of the nature of Pukeko feathers, cloaks I've seen always look a bit on the messy side.  The blue feathers in particular tend to splay out rather than holding together like other types of feathers. Mine is no exception, no matter how careful I am. The colours haven't come out very well in these photos.  I am doing a poutama wahine pattern.

The third thing on the go is an arapaki (shoulder cape) using one rooster pelt.  I thought I needed to sell some more of Lyann's pelts as they are so beautiful and at $30 each they are worth it.  I am doing a design based on the pelt itself with the long feathers in the middle and the more rounded ones at the side.  I think two pelts might make it easier but shall continue with the single one to see what can be done.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Russell's is finished.

End of May and Russell's Kakahu is finished. The taaniko patterns are his family designs and looking good.

Now it's back to the Nursing school hihima. Looking forward to getting that done. It's so nice to not be using feathers for a change.

This coming Saturday is our June weaving day even though it is Queens birthday. Looking forward to seeing everyone again.

 Last month Anna finished her little muka bag.  She makes beautiful muka getting lovely lengths of the harekeke fibre that she can weave beautifully.
Well done Anna.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mid May and two on the go.

The kakahu for Russell's mother is well under way. The taaniko is finished and the feathers are about halfway there. I am using the Brown Shaver chicken feathers and flicking them up to make a thick feel to the cloak. This does mean every row is a feather row so a lot of feather bundles are needed.

At the same time I have started a korowai hihima for the nursing school in Rotorua. A hihima is a cloak with tags the same colour as the whenu. This cloak had a very specific pattern required by my client to reflect the teaching programme. It has been very interesting to do. I am about a third of the way through.

I have another to start soon too, so it is busy every minute. This one has Pukeko feathers. I have seen a lot of Pukeko used and they always seem to look a bit odd,  not quite sitting beautifully. If anyone has advice as to the washing, bundling and use I would be very grateful. There are a lot of feathers needed. I have 15 pelts coming from feathergirl,  so I hope they are good ones.

These cloaks need to be finished by at least mid September so what am I sitting here writing this for? Back to work. Crack the whip and back to weaving.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Finished Melanie's and started Russell's

Haven't written for a while but I have finished Melanie's cloak and she was pleased with it. It was finished by the end of march as I had hoped.

Now I am on to the next kakahu. This one is for a Kuia's 80th birthday and I hope, for use on her marae. The taaniko pattern was drawn up by her son Russell. It is very complicated and although not symmetrical it gives the impression of symmetry.  I started last Wednesday and a week later I have 3/4 completed it. Approximately 40 hours work with 4 colours. 

But now its Easter and we are due a holiday, so everything will go on the back burner while I enjoy time with my family. 
Happy Easter everyone. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Melanie's cloak 15th March

Half way there.

Remember this is upside down so the tags are pinned up. I am hoping to finish this by the end of the month as it is only to be 75cm deep.

Had a successful weekend at Ohai teaching korowai to some lovely ladies and a gentleman. Next month it will be back to Winton for another beginner class at the REAP offices.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Melanie's unveiling cloak

Two weeks work.
Designing, getting the string ready,  cutting and casting on took a week. Then the taaniko - 33 rows took another week.  This cloak will be 90cm wide by 75cm long.

After the taaniko I will do a turning row to balance the first turning row and to allow me to add more whenu as the kaupapa of the cloak (the body of the cloak) will be mawhitiwhiti.  This always draws in the sides so I'm adding more strings to try and keep it square. At the top there will be a few rows of pheasant feathers and a small taaniko. 

I've just seen a wee black fantail out the window. Looking for spiders I expect. There are lots of spider webs on the deck. Don't get much time for housework as you can imagine from the above paragraphs. I'm feeding the birds! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Finished Lily's cloak

Three months work has finally seen the end of Lily's kakahu. I am pleased with it although the taaniko turned out a bit wider in the cotton I used than perhaps I would have liked. However it has all come together well. Here is a photo mid taaniko to show that the taaniko is really woven and not a tapestry.
 The finished cloak, of course,  does not lie flat as it has shaping in it. Now is just a matter of packing it up and sending it off. Not an easy task.

Now I have started a new cloak for an unveiling. It will only have a few rows of feathers so I have started on the taaniko already.  I'm almost up to the middle row. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Saturday weaving Ocean View, Dunedin

This coming Saturday will be our first meeting for the year. Everyone welcome to come and see what we do,  to learn to weave, join in with your own korowai weaving projects or come for a cup of tea.
I will have Lily's kakahu there and our other weavers will be there with their projects.
The venue is the Coastal community church on the main road to Brighton at Ocean View. Time from 10 am to 4 pm but come whenever you like in those times.  Cost $5

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lily's kakahu 2nd week

This week has been a two steps forward one step back kind of week.  After a lot of undoing I'm back on track. I found a way of undoing quicker by doing three rows at once.

Now that I am 60 cm up from mid calf length I am starting a few rows of poka or shaping for the hips.

You can see where my first short row has started, where the feathers on the right start. That short row went along to the same distance from the end (80 whenu). Now I am starting a full length row which will follow the line up and over the short row.  Then the next short row (40 Whenu from the ends) and then back to long rows until I get closer to the top where I will do some more poka for the shoulders. I really like these poka for making the cloak sit well and feel 'right'.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lily's kakahu week 1 weaving

Finally able to start weaving this week. But it's been a mixed up week with helping family shift house. Cleaning bathrooms with old toothbrushes,  chasing escaped sheep in the rain, and feeding troops of in-laws.

But I did manage to get some weaving done. In fact I got about 30 cm finished. At 60 cm I'll do a few rows of poka shaping for the hips. It helps having a story to listen to when working on my own because I want to hear what happens next. The rows fly by.

It took at least 3 weeks to get all the feathers done in December but I think I like having them all done and being able to concentrate on weaving alone.

I have had another enquiry about a commission so it's all go this year. I'll be a busy bee all year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Trying to get the string the right colour for my next big project. The first lot turned out too pink for the yellow toned feathers so I am trying again.

While waiting for the string to dry, my fingers are itching to get started so I made this angel korowai yesterday afternoon.

The fluffy feathers are the under feathers from a peacock.  As they are very fluffy I tried cutting the fluff off both sides of the feather up as far as I wanted then used the bareish stalk of a single feather to stitch in to the row. The feathers were so fluffy I didn't need to bundle them at all. The top row are some feathers I had bundled years ago for another unfinished project. The taaniko pattern means a couple and child amongst the stars, to me.  It shows the love and heartbreak of a family when a tiny baby dies. At least that's what I was thinking about. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I have made myself have 7days off weaving. But I am having withdrawal symptoms. My sister in law gave me a needle felting kit for Christmas so I have been having fun with that instead. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Feathers, feathers and more feathers

This month's task is to make all the feather bundles for a big kakahu. I have been busy every day for 5 or 6 hours to get them done. I'm dreaming feather bundles. I now see why I don't usually have them all done before I get started. To make the task less tedious I am listening to a series of stories read on YouTube. As the series is very long it is perfect for this job. I have already got through 4 books.  The story makes me want to get bundling so I can listen to it.

These feathers come in four sizes so there are sorted as I go. I am planning to start with the biggest ones at the bottom and work up through to the smaller sizes.  I might look at staggering the bundles too, as the feathers are quite thin. Any one know why they shouldn't be staggered? The only reason I can think of is that then you can't fold it in half neatly,  but then I don't think it should be folded anyway, preferring to roll my cloaks.   I'll go to the museum before I start on them, to examine some old kakahu. So much to learn from the old weavers. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Kirsten's Arapaki

All finished.

I do hope kirsten likes it.

Today I go to te Kura Kaupapa o Otepoti to give them the kakahu and other special gift at the prize giving. It was an interesting process making this beside the class. They helped a bit but mostly it was a learning by osmosis type process. However it was their design and colours.

Now I've started making feather bundles for the next one. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Kirsten's taaniko

Finally finished the feathers and now on to the taaniko. This design is one Kirsten's mother had done long ago. It seemed appropriate to have it on her Arapaki.

Should finish this week. We have two more weaving days at Ocean view for the year, Tuesday morning and Saturday. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Kirsten's kakahu

Mum and I had a wonderful holiday catching up with some of the family in Australia. But now is back to work and all the fun of creating.  I am finding more people are commissioning me to make their family cloaks or special occasion korowai for institutions. This is exciting but I'm finding I now have to make time slots (by three month periods) or I would overwhelm myself. This happened this year with Kirsten's cloak. I have come back to it now and am going to be able to finish it in the next week or two.
Unfortunately the camera on my tablet has gone all fuzzy so the photos are not good.
So here I have continued on from where I left off a few months ago.

I was puzzling how to do the poka shaping while keeping the pattern.  At first I tried hiding it under dark finishing Feathers. 
However I thought that looked too heavy on the short cape so I undid it and tried just keeping the potama pattern but doing the short rows of the shaping anyway. Then finished with one row of dark feathers. I think it's worked well and am happy with it. 

Next step is Kirsten's taaniko which is based on one her mother did. It is patterned out and all ready to go as soon as I've completed the finishing rows on the feathers. 

But today I'll have to clean feathers and make soap etc for some starter kits ready for Christmas orders. We find people are getting these sent as gifts to other family members. 
 Maybe I'll get them done quickly and get on with the taaniko. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Finished at last

I have finally finished both school cloaks. So pleased that they have all gone well. The shaping (poka) certainly can be felt and makes them fitting so much better. I hope the school will be happy with them.  The principal's one looks nice too but shhh is a surprise. Glad that's over now on to the next.  But first I'll take my 89 year old mother on a trip to Australia to catch up with her family.

Classes are all over for the year but more are planned for next year. Let me know if you would like one in your area.

Monday, October 10, 2016

What a mistaka to makea

Sometimes we make mistakes.

But that is just an opportunity to try methods of fixing them. This week I realized my jute cloak was going to be too small. This was really due to the mawhitiwhiti drawing the cloak in more than I anticipated.

I made the decision to put more strings on the end, redo the end of the taaniko on the bottom/top and lengthen all the taaniko threads and aho cottons. Meanwhile I didn't have any of that batch of bleached jute left over so would have to bleach some more till I got a similar colour. Easier said than done.

Of course I couldn't wait till I actually had the right colour jute but immediately set about undoing and redoing while the jute bleached. Four or five bundles later I think I've got a similar colour. It would be easier if it was covered in feathers but this has only tags and mawhitiwhiti. I'll see tomorrow if I need to keep trying.  
Anyway I continued down the cloak going 3/4 of the way across the rows. Hopefully it will be OK. I should of waited but. ....

Some people will never learn!  In this photo all the tags are drooping the wrong way as it is hanging bottom up. 
But it does show some lessons I need to take to heart. 
1. Measure, make allowances for mawhitiwhiti width-ways as well as length-ways
2. Make sure you have enough materials should something go wrong. 
3. Keep a record of the things made,  so they can be referred to later if using the same materials. 
4. Wait till you can do things in the right order instead of jumping in. 

Oh dear, never mind. Next time I'll do better. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


We have been away for a couple of weeks seeing family in Tauranga. Unfortunately I came down with a bad cold that really set me back with lack of energy and coughing. However the show must go on and six days later I took a beginner group for korowai weaving at the Tangatarua marae at the Rotorua Polytechnic campus. A big thank you to all the ladies for helping me cope and being such great learners. Thank you to Tangiwai Doctor for organising the weekend so well.  I was so impressed by the carving in the wharenui. It felt like we were sleeping in the forest, but with a warm floor. A great weekend.
On the way back through Wellington we stopped at the Dowse gallery to see the exhibition of Erenora Hetet's korowai and other creations. What an inspiration. Such fine, fine work. Made me want to have a try at fine weaving again instead of working with double threads. And her work in wire and paua was so interesting and freeing.
Now we are home again and back into the work I need to get done before we go away again. Next weekend I'll be at Gore for another beginner weekend before family arrive from Australia for my mother-in-laws 90th birthday.

Busy times

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Busy times

Well its been a busy year and my head is spinning with all the things to be done this second half. I've got three projects on the go and enjoying each one.
Firstly the school korowai is coming along nicely. But it's at that middle stage where it seems so slow and the rows drag. This is where I have to dig in to my reserves of perseverance and patience.

Next is a commission which I am excited about, but then I've only just started the feather rows. At least this one has a pattern in the feathers and isn't so big. I am enjoying working with the pheasant feathers again. They are so beautiful and sit nicely.

Thirdly I'm doing a secret extra for the school principal. I'm off on a road trip which includes a teaching weekend in Rotorua so I will take it with me and hope to get something done on it in the evenings.  I know, I know,  fat chance but it can serve as an example while I'm there anyway. 

Then, of course, there is the preparation of all those starter kits etc that I make up for all you lovely new weavers to buy. It has been a very busy year for these as well as teaching weekends. I've just had a Tips and Techniques class at Winton this weekend. It was a lovely day but very busy and concentrated. I seem to be away almost every other weekend. So glad my family copes so well without me.