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.