Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Yesterday I took my cloak to show Margery Blackman the taniko she had inspired. It was loosely based on an old korowai she had seen in Stockholm. And thanks to her I am in the process of learning how to do the two directional taniko. Not that I have it yet. There is more practice required. A lot more. She was pleased with what I had achieved but showed me some of her samples which only whetted my appetite for trying more textural taniko next year. 
Then down to the museum to give them the gift. Migoto and Vicky were pleased with it. Not only will it be worn but can be used to dress a table on official occasions. So that is good that it can be used. Lyann came down to support me which was very kind of her. Thanks. 
I forgot to get a photo of us though. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014


It's done. I have enjoyed this one, learnt some new techniques, used up some feathers and made some people happy. What more could you want. I hope the museum folk can use it. I will hand it over tomorrow afternoon. 
Then I can relax for Christmas. 

Although I am now thinking about what to make next year. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Learning new things

For the taniko on this cloak I am attempting something new for me. And that is multidirectional taniko. When the taniko stitch is done it usually has a forward diagonal slope like tapestry stitch. This means a slope going in a forward diagonal has a nice clean slope but a backward diagonal is stepped.   However Margary Blackman showed me pictures of an old korowai kept in Stockholm that has the stitch changing direction so that both forward and backward diagonal lines are clean lines. This is not actually hard to achieve BUT figuring out when to change direction has been very hard and I think there will be a good number of corrections made later. 

It all looks a bit rough at the moment but I hope will look better when finished. It had better as I want to finish this week. Early mornings and late nights. 
Anyway here is the finished feather but with the paper taniko design on it

So far so good. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Last Weaving Day 2014

At least it was the last day for the group. And a lovely day too. So great to see how happy and enthusiastic everyone is with weaving. We all enjoy meeting together even if the only thing that gets done is a cup of tea. 
Elaine brought the doll she is making for her sister. 

So spectacular in red and black. 

Lyann has got her black alpaca homespun korowai started and is doing her taniko on the bottom. 

The alpaca doesn't have the stretch of wool so hopefully will make an interesting and stable cloak. 
I have started a couple of rows in another of the peahens feather types to finish off. After a bit if discussion with the other girls I think I will do three rows of the round tips then one of blue-green, then a row of mawhitiwhiti each side of the taniko. 
After some discussion with the Otago Museum I will finish this for them as a cloak to wear on official occasions. 

Next year I think I will concentrate on tags and taniko rather than feathers although I have heaps of feathers to deal with. Its time to dispose with a good deal of my stash. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh dear

Oops I have discovered I am not going straight. 
As you may be able to see in this photo I am going down a little on the right hand side. About 2 cm out. This happens and only 'constant vigilance' as Mad Eye Moody says can stop it. So now I will adjust my rows over the next few rows to make it even again.  Using measuring tape to try and get rows even. 

I am also running out of these feathers so think the top rows of feathers might be more coloured peahen feathers. Not too many rows to go anyway. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


My latest work is growing slowly. 

I'm probably half way down the main body. While I think of it here is a picture of the row ending I am using. 

I whatu along to the end of the row and then turn it back and whatu back for about 8 stitches, then knot and cut. The feathers will cover it and the back is kept clean of knots. 
The feathers are quite big so the work grows quite well. 

I am listening to 'Lord of the Rings' audiobook as I work. It's great and quite compulsive so I always look forward to weaving times. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Something new

I have started something new. I got bored the other day so started sorting feathers and found a bag of big peahen feathers that were languishing in the cupboard. Then it was making feather bundles till my fingers were had it. So I thought I'd better start something. By the end of the day I had it underway. 

The next afternoon I did some more. 

And yesterday afternoon some more. 

The feathers are actually quite big so my rows are further apart than usual and the bundles are further apart too along the row. 
I am listening to a story as I go so I am always keen to get weaving so I can hear more of the story even though I almost know it by heart now as I have read or listened to it so many times over the years. 

Oh I forgot to write about the day at the museum where the ladies got to see some old cloaks in storage. I didn't go down as I was teaching but the others came back astounded by the craftsmanship of the old weavers and by the fineness of their work. Thanks to the folk at the museum for showing them around.  We had a few new ladies come and they are keen to come next year so that was good. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday 16 th Nov

This coming Sunday 16th Nov we will be meeting at the Otago museum for our last Sunday weaving class this year. We still have two Tuesdays and a Saturday at Ocean View though till we finish for this year.  On Sunday 2 pm we will be able to visit the store rooms to see some of the old cloaks. We will also carry on with our korowai and new people are welcome. Books and kits will be available. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Starter Kits

We have made up some starter kits which contain everything you need to make your own small korowai for a frame.  They contain a block, the string required, aho cotton, taniko cotton, soap, feathers and the book ' Making your First Small Korowai'.  We can also supply these kits without the book if you already have it.  The cost is $47 including postage within NZ or $27 including postage within NZ without the book.  They have become really useful for people starting out on their weaving journey.


Robyn Ashton

Congratulations to Robyn Ashton and her father for being honoured in this year's Coastal Otago Conservation Awards.  They have done so much over the years to turn Motorata Island at Taieri Mouth from a denuded rabbit infested, eroding island to a place where the vegetation is recovering, rata trees have been planted and the ground stabilised.
Martin Palmer and Robyn Ashton. Photo: Dan Hutchinson/The Star.
Robyn is one of our weavers and has made a beautiful korowai from muka. She wore this to the presentation of the awards.   We are all so proud of her.  Well done Robyn.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Yesterday the Ocean View group brought along some of their years work to put up a small display to show the people of the church where we meet what we do. We are grateful for the hall being available to us so we thought this was the least we could do. The people were very pleased to see our display and glad we had made the effort. 

So thanks, ladies, your years work has been much admired and I am so proud of you and your things. Well done. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I was asked 'what is mawhitiwhiti?'  Mawhitiwhiti is where the downward strings- the whenu- are crossed over each other in patterns and stitched in a different order. 

Here you can see groups of 5 paired whenu are crossed to make a pattern. This is done by holding the first of the five out of the way, stitching the fifth of the five first, then the second , third, and fourth, and then finally the first of the group of five is stitched. 
There are many patterns that can be  produced by crossing the whenu in different ways. 

And mawhitiwhiti can be used in many places in korowai, wall hangings and in bags. 
Here it is used in the kaupapa of this cloak along with the feathers and here in a bag. 

In my book ' Mawhitiwhiti patterns and woven bags' I show how to stitch the various patterns and how to make a bag like this one above 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Visiting Margery Blackman

Yesterday I had a very interesting visit with Margery Blackman. Mrs Blackman wrote a chapter in the book 'Whatu Kakahu', a wonderful book about Maori cloaks. In it she deals with the construction of cloaks which she has discovered from an in-depth study of old cloaks kept in museums and collections around the world.
 She has focused primarily on taniko and I was astounded at the craftsmanship of these old cloaks and the detail that would go unnoticed by many.  She described reverse-faced taaniko, fine-line recessed taaniko which are variations of black on black areas where raised or recessed areas create a three-dimensional look to what might ordinarily be flat. I am glad that I have the book at home so I can work on these interesting possibilities new to me. 
In this photo you can see the black on black lines 
There were other interesting features she showed me like the reversing of the taaniko twist so that smooth lines are produced going at two different angles. 

Another construction feature that fascinated me was the two or three layers of taaniko on some cloaks. 
This is not one very wide taaniko but three layers of taaniko on their own extra piece of weaving. 
Another one with two layers. 
This picture shows the way the side panels are incorporated. 
In the very early cloaks feathers weren't used. However if they were they were put in upside down in groups. This cloak was worked from the top down. 
Such a fascinating woman and study. 

Then today Robyn Ashton and I went to teach weaving to a small group of PPTA members in Dunedin at a conference. 
We started with them making feather bundles. Then they learnt the basic whatu stitch on trial pieces. After they had mastered one row they tried another putting in the feathers they had made. They seemed to enjoy their time and some bought starter kits to continue in their own time. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ocean View Group

Had a lovely morning with the girls. Elaine has finished another wee korowai for the hospital. 

Such a pretty one. Now she has started on a small Paradise duck feather one for family. 

What a lovely contrast with the brown feathers and the white. Clever girl. 
Several others of us are working on more small ones for the hospital and Lyann has started her big black homespun one. One thing I can see from hers is that it is difficult estimating how many whenu to start with if you haven't done a practice piece with the particular yarn you are using. Because hers is a chunky uneven thickness we aren't sure of the tension further down the korowai and so of the number of whenu to start with. I tend to get tighter as I go up so I always over estimate the number I need. It is going to be hard work with the black anyway.  Good luck Lyann. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday weaving again

Just a small number this week enjoyed our afternoon of weaving. But it was a glorious spring day so I can see people would have lots to do outside. Our ladies have got on very well with their mahi and one is on to her mawhitiwhiti on the back. Well done. Lyann had dyed some feathers with red food colouring and some wool. It looked great but it did stain our fingers a little when we soaped some bundles. 
I have finished the korowai for the hospital kite basket for photographing new babies. 

I photographed it on a large piece of pounamu at the museum.   I hope they like it. It has been made from the fluffy feathers from a pheasant. We will have to arrange a day to pass over any small korowai we have got ready before Christmas. 
Our next weaving morning is on Tuesday 21st October at 9am, then Saturday 1st November at 10am both at Ocean View. The next Sunday weaving day will be Sunday 16th Nov at the museum at 2pm. We hope to arrange with the museum to see their special korowai stored where the public don't normally see. This will be very special so mark it on your calendar. It will also be our last Sunday weaving day for the year but I am assured we will be able to continue meeting at the museum next year. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tuesday 6th Sept

A friend from Tapanui travelled a few hours to see us today and showed her finished first project. Well done. 
She collected some string and feathers and we all talked ideas for her next big project. So much fun thinking of what can be done. 
Lyann brought her two korowai to show too and her blue pelt. 

It has been dyed with food colouring and fixed with vinegar. It will be interesting to try out the feathers. We were thinking of doing them on white  whenu. Should be really nice for our angel korowai. Speaking of which I have finished another. 

Judy has also finished a piece for a frame using her moulted budgie feathers and small duck feathers. 
She has done some really interesting contrast features with the yellow wool. 
Our ladies are striking out now from the norm doing quite different and exciting things. Moving from garments to art. 
We are so glad for all those that come as we all learn so much from each other. Even if we don't accomplish very much on our morning we are always inspired by each other and go home full of ideas. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Second Sunday Weaving at the museum.

What a wonderful afternoon I have had. Our second Sunday afternoon weaving saw some new faces and some from last time. Everyone seemed so enthusiastic. It was great to see what those who had been before had done or not and to start new folk off. Many thanks to my helpers without whom I would have been in a frenzy. Edna, Judy and Lyann thank you so very much for coming. It's great to see everyone working together to help each other learn.
 I also had the privilege of meeting whaea Anna and Margery Blackman.  So pleased to catch up with these ladies from whom I can learn more. 
Now I need to get on and make up some  more starter kits. Busy busy. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sunday Korowai Weaving at the Otago Museum

This coming Sunday 21st September will be the second of our korowai weaving classes in the museum.  We will meet at 2pm in the foyer outside the Tangata Whenua room.  Please bring your starter kits or work in progress.  Anyone else interested in starting or joining the group would be very welcome. 
The next meeting at the museum will be 19th October but we have Saturday 4th October at Ocean View Coastal Community Church from 10am.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Angel korowai

Here are our first two korowai for the hospital for our little lost angels. The ladies at the group were interested in making some too. So if there are other maternity wings around the country who would like a small supply of small korowai as gifts for parents who have lost their children stillborn please let me know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wedding white

At last I have finished my white korowai. All sewn in and ready for a wedding. 

I adapted the bottom taniko for the top so that the hearts were more prominent. 
I'll probably take it into the Koru Gallery in Dunedin for a while next week. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tuesday group

People have been busy since last we met. Elaine has finished a big korowai for her family. 

Note the use of taniko top and not quite bottom. She has a few rows of feathers at the bottom and then a taniko before scattered ones throughout the cloak. The taniko pieces are the same but with colours reversed. A neat trick.  And the top taniko is outlined by turning rows. 

Now she has nearly finished a small piece using some coloured feathers which were given to the group. 
Such a pretty one. 

Judy has nearly finished a small piece using some budgie feathers and duck.  
She has used the two dollar string and has yet to sew in the ends of her aho.
And we had a new lady come who had been to the museum on our Sunday there. She has got up to the taniko so has done very well. A very warm welcome to Glenda. 
And I have nearly finished the penultimate row of my white korowai. It is very disappointing so I won't show you a photo till I have managed to fix it a bit. Still these things can teach us what not to do.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

September meetings

This month we have Ocean View weaving group on Tuesday 2nd and 16th at 9am- 12:30 and Saturday 6 th from 10am - 4pm (bring your own lunch). There is also weaving class at the Otago Museum on Sunday 21st at 2pm.  All welcome. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Babies and korowai

Yesterday I dropped in to see Aroha at the Maori Liason office at the Dunedin hospital to talk about how korowai might be acceptable for use in the maternity wing. I have had friends who have had stillborn babies and thought that maybe small korowai might be given to parents to wrap their little ones in.  These might help give comfort to bereaved parents. I thought that maybe baby could even be buried in the wee cloak. A sad thought but I wanted to make something that might make a difference at a sad time. Aroha thought it a good idea so next year that might be my goal. To make a number of small korowai to be given. 
Another idea was that the maternity wing has a lovely basket that newborns can be put in for photos. Adding a korowai to this basket for wrapping baby symbolising wrapping the baby in the aroha of the family might make the photo session even more special. So today I dropped off a temporary one- the brown one I have just finished- and measured up for another. I hope it will add to the happiness of new parents with their babies. So that's me sorted for a good while. I need to get on with the school one which, by the way, is coming on nicely. I am using kereru feathers which I always thought were unsuitable because of the thickness of the stems. However I am managing quite well. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Weaving Classes

Nearly ready for our korowai weaving class at the Otago museum today. Malcolm and I have been busy making up the Starter Kits for new weavers this week. They have everything needed to make a small korowai to learn the skills.  We have been looking at making them up to sell on line too. 

I went to the museum on Friday to check out the space again and was very surprised to nearly stumble over this outside. 

It was a cold day and I was all rugged up so don't think anybody could have recognised me snapping myself!  What a giggle. I am looking forward to this afternoon and hope it goes off well. The only problem is the ladies will have to come through a bunch of zombies to get to our space. The museum is open to all sorts!!