Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yesterday I was very saddened to hear of the passing of one of the ladies I taught to weave in Dunedin.  Maryanne was a very determined lady who didn't give up despite having arthritis in her hands and cancer in her body.  Our sympathy and love go out to her family.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

last for 2011

Well it's December at last and we are all finishing up things.
In the past month I have finished a big korowai

and a small one with peacock feathers I got from 'Feathergirl'.  I am convinced this is the best way to get feathers and highly recommend them.

Also made another knitted doll and a few other small things I forgot to photograph and have forgotten about.
Now , of course, I have sore wrists and will rest up a bit although I really would like to finish another big one I have on the go.  It has a large taniko at the bottom and other than that is quite plain.  I would like to finish it before the big move to Dunedin in January.  If you know of anyone in Dunedin or come to that anywhere in the South Island who would like to learn to weave, I am open to getting a group together.  Also if there is a marae where ladies (or men) would like to learn and also make a large whanau korowai I am open to travelling and helping out.  My e-mail is robin@softsystems.co.nz.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Well the family have come and gone and it was a delight to see them.  So I have only had a few weeks to do weaving since last post.  However my big korowai is nearly done I am up to the top part now and trying to decide what to do.  Here it is after about 80 hours.

The seagull wallhanging turned into a kite with rooster feathers because I didn't have any white feathers and took a fancy to the kite shape.  It was done in time for the family to see but never got put up on the wall so it will go to be displayed in Rangimaire at the Papakura marae.

Also I knitted while the family was around so I have two dolls to take to the group too.   They are quite cuddly.

Now I have to clear up all my bits and pieces, feathers, string etc because we are moving south again soon.  What a job.  How to sort out all those loose feathers, pack them and dispose of rubbish?  How much weaving will I do in the south where I don't have as big a support group and there will be lots of other things to do?  So many questions and decisions to make - I'd better get on with it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September has been busy making Nannies and sorting out some shops in town to take a few things for the world cup crowds.  We shall see whether they have anything else on their minds.  I have also designed and started a big korowai.  This time I am keeping a record of time spent on it to see just how long it really takes me to make.  The start is always the slowest so after 20 hours or so here is what I have achieved.
The idea on paper
So far so good

It took a while to get my head around how to achieve the look because of course feathers aren't squares on paper but finally I am away.  This has been a learning experience and that's what this korowai is about.  The steps which when finished will go upwards both from front and back view speak about all the steps in my life that have brought me to the place where I can design and make such a thing.  I am also doing a Mauri Ora course with the Open Wananga  which I hope will help me understand the Maori world view better and so do better with my weaving.  The group Whiri Aroha which I attend  each week are a great source of encouragement and thus are part of my steps in learning.

I also have ideas of a wall hanging that I want to make representing a seagull.  The idea is there, the feathers and string are there but the conflict with what I have already started - shall I or shan't I start another at the same time.  I would like to have it finished a a couple of weeks when family come - is that possible??  Maybe with big string and big feathers.  We will see.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I have been busy this month trying to organise some commissions for big Korowai but as soon as cost is mentioned people back off.  I know they are expensive to make as they entail hundreds of hours of work but people still expect to pay peanuts for them.  Oh well the joys of being a craftsperson.  However I was taught many years ago by a craft shop owner that to reduce the price reduces the value in peoples eyes as well so I just have to hold on till someone really wants an heirloom and will pay for it.  It will cost between $2,500 and $4,500 depending on what people want but in the shops you are looking at $8-9,000.  I really want to get started on a big korowai as its a few years now since I made a big one last and it's time I did.

One exciting thing that happened this week though was a bag of Canada goose feathers landed on my doorstep.  Thanks to the duck shooter who left them there - sorry I wasn't home to thank you personally.  I have spent a long time sorting through them into big and small feather piles, washing piles and rubbish piles.  And I have only sorted the very top of the bag.  I can't see any further down than the goose feathers but there maybe duck in the bottom.  The goose feathers are a pretty grey colour and quite curly.  I suspect when I come to use them they will need to be used every row instead of every second row if used curled but it would make a very luxurious korowai.  They are much like the swan and duck feathers and they had to be used this way like on this small korowai.

Anyway while I wait to make a big one I have been making other things like 3 half-size figures for displaying korowai and lots of bags for various people and for raffles to raise money for the group.

One of my Nannies

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


It has been a while since my last post but I haven't been idle.  We have had family visits and a wedding and lots of nice family times.  But I have still been weaving.
This week I finished a small child sized korowai for the marae to auction to raise funds for the kaumatua. It has rooster and pheasant feathers and mawhitiwhiti patterns inbetween the feather lines

I also have two bags on the go.  This one is nearly finished just lining and handles to go.  The other is just started with the woven base finished.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Here is the korowai picture that I had trouble with last time.

and the bag

Friday, May 27, 2011

A third mokopuna korowai

And now a  third Korowai I have made in 5 weeks.  This one is for an auction at a fundraising breakfast for held on the 26th May at the Papakura Marae.  It raised $245. I also made a bag which raised $45.  So that was a good weeks work. Now I will make some more nannies and do some more knitting for a rest. I am having a problem putting in the photos so will try again later.  I have been doing all the same style because this uses less feather bundles so is quicker to make and the pattern is easy so I don't have to spend much time designing.  And for rush jobs that is all good.  But I hope I can do something different now.  I am always looking for things to make for others.
Good news this week is that the really good mop string may now be available again so I hope to get some soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another mokopuna korowai

I enjoyed making the last korowai even though the deadline was so tight that I started another one for the group.  But before that I made these two bags for a raffle and these knitted dinosaurs for my Aussie granddaughter.

Then over two weeks I made this korowai from one rooster pelt.  No taniko made it a lot quicker and I fringed both bottom and top.  I also tried a bit of shaping in it to see how that would work.
One rooster pelt made all the feathers I needed for the mokopuna  korowai - just.

And now I am making a third one for a raffle at the marae next week.  I am making it a similar pattern and again won't have any taniko work as that takes too long for this tight schedule. It is made from pheasant feathers.  Three in a month or so.  I must be mad.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Korowai in a Week

On Sunday I learnt that my Granddaughters kindy was having an ERO inspection soon.  I wondered if they could do with a small mokopuna korowai for the kindy.  So Monday morning I rang them and yes they would be very pleased to accept such a gift but the inspection was the following monday.  Not promising anything I wondered if I could possibly make a korowai in a week.  So this was the challenge I made myself.  Monday is our Whiri Aroha day at the Papakura marae so at 9am I turned up to start with my bal of mop string and a new ball of aho thread.  The other ladies thought it would be a stretch but encouraged me by saying if anyone could they were sure I could.  So I cut the whenu required.  300 double whenu as the mop string is thin.  After group I went home and wove till I made tea and then in the evening carried on.  So by the end of monday I had worked for 10 hours but had got halfway through the bottom taniko pattern (which I spent about 1 hour sorting out during the day).
Tuesday I was able to spend an uninterrupted day weaving and by the end of the day I had woven for another 10 hours and produced this.  The taniko was finished and the feathers bundled for the next day.

Wednesday arrived and after the first row of feathers right across I remembered a korowai I had seen where the feathers in the body were in diagonals.  I worked out that this would require only 16 bundles per feather row instead of 60 so that seemed a good idea.  By the end of wednesday and another 10 hours I had done 14 rows and the korowai had grown to this length. 

Thursday was more of the same only I was a little worried that I wouldn't make it.  Another 10 hour marathon ( with an hours break to go catch sprats in the net with my husband)  and another 15 rows and I was thinking another few days would do it.  But I was tired and each night dragged myself off to bed as soon as I could after stopping weaving. So glad Malcolm made dinner tonight.   Here is Thursdays effort.

At last I could see an end was coming but knew from experience the last bit always takes longer than you think.  So Friday was an even longer day as I realised that ERO would be coming early Monday morning so I really needed to deliver the cloak as soon as anyone would be there.  12 hours later I had got to the turning row but decided to leave that for the morning.  I still hadn't decided how to do the top so it sort of sorted itself out as it grew.

Saturday morning I got up at 6:30am and did the turning row before breakfast.  Then it was just another 4 rows to go.  But then there was dealing with all the aho strings I hadn't dealt with as I went - most of them I had left and they needed to be woven in on the back.  And I had wanted to pull through the last of the whenu to be a fringe on the right side.  So I started doing that. I found out that the manager of the kindy would be there till noon so the rush to finish was on.  My dear husband plaited the tie cord for me and the drove me into New Lynn as I frantically pulled through the fringe.  Finally by noon we had caught up with the manager and I finally finished the korowai by 12:30, another 5 hours of weaving work.  And here it is.
And here it is on my granddaughter and with the manager.

So a mokopuna korowai can be made in a week but NOT by me again.  55 hours of weaving in a week is quite enough and I am not keen to repeat the experience.  However I did learn that this diagonal pattern is very good and I will do that again.  The feather in the following row covers the shaft turnover of the prevvious feather row mostly.   I also like this size.  I only just got tired of the monotonous rows and it was nearly finished.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Day Another Bag

Well it took two days really by the time I had lined it.  Another bag for Whiri Aroha to raffle.  Made from feathers from a rooster.  This one has a plaited top edge.  The first time I have done this finish. Easy but not the way I imagined it would be done.  Found the instructions in "How to weave a Kakahu".

Monday, March 21, 2011


This month I have been making arapaki (shoulder wraps) for Kura.  Two have gone down to the Kura shop in Wellington.  My friend from Whiri Aroha gave me the name arapaki for shoulder wraps.  It is great to find a maori name for these at last.  Here is the latest one.

Today though I will make Nannies - small maori ladies with sewn 'cloaks'.  They are very popular and I like making them.  I hope to sell some at a festival day on  the 9th April at the Papakura marae.  Good for a mother's day present.

I also need to finish this bag for a raffle for Whiri Aroha.  It just needs lining. It has duck feathers on it and whales tail mawhitiwhiti.  I did up to the taniko pattern on Friday but it took another day or two to finish the bag to lining stage.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back at last

Have been busy and away so haven't blogged for a month.  But I haven't stopped weaving.  Have finished the last two stoles and made two more.  This first one is done in the circular and just slips over the head and sits on the shoulder.  It and the next 2 stoles will go into Koru, a shop in downtown Auckland.
The second has duck feathers and white cook feathers.  They flick up and so give a luxurious feel to it.  However because they have such a big flick I needed to put feathers in every row.

This third one is made with pheasant feathers and a catch instead of a string 

I made this bag for Whiri Aroha with fluffy Pheasant feathers and a woven base.
This stole was made with the leftovers from the bag whenu.  It has pretty black and white feathers from a rooster pelt. It will go to Whiri Aroha too, for exhibitions.
Something odd - a neckpiece with flicking duck feathers.  Not sure what to do with this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Latest work

I have managed to do the last feather rows on my wrap and started the last mawhitiwhiti row before turning.
I am pleased with the way it has come together and tried various tops including a plait across the top but I have decided a normal turning will be best.

However I have had to put it on hold so I can make a bag for Whiri Aroha for a raffle.  I have just started weaving the bottom.

But the excitement that is really making me think is seeing a korowai in Auckland city yesterday at a shop called Kura and by an artist called Gary.  I didn't get his last name but hope to sort that out.  It was wonderful.  It was made of a light coloured jute but looked like muka.  It had small blocks of weka feathers and very close rows much closer than we are used to doing.  But the ends of the rows were just so neat.  It was as if the aho just disappeared.  He only backtracked on the rows about 4 or 5 whenu and I couldn't see the knot or cut aho or anything.  It was so beautiful I felt my work was bad next to his.  But it has certainly motivated me to improve my technique.  And I might try the jute if I can find it.

Here are another few things I made for the group.
This is a neckpiece

jute string (actually looks browner) and pheasant feathers

My first piece of muka that I made myself