Thursday, December 31, 2015

New year's greetings

A new year and new adventures.

 But the finish of the old has brought the finish of the Masterton museum Arapaki.

I have really enjoyed using the jute string especially this fine stuff. The top has several rows of Mawhitiwhiti (crossed warps) and a plaited top turnover. There are several plain rows at the back before another turning row so that there are no strings loose at the back. The kereru feathers are not the best to work with but that was what the original one had. I tried to makeep this Arapaki along the lines of one they showed me in the museum. I have changed it a bit so it is not a real copy. Here is the one I saw.

I do hope they accept this gift and it gets used occasionally. 

May you all have a wonderful year ahead. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Masterton museum arapaki

I have finally got back to doing the Kereru Arapaki for the Masterton museum gift. It's coming on slowly. This time I thought I would try a different way of doing the shaping. I like trying different things on cloaks as I learn things by trying them out.

I have done the shaping before from the middle ie short rows that cover the middle of the row and subsequent short rows get wider towards the edges.  But this time I tried the other way round, which I had seen on some old cloaks in the Museums.
The first short row is wide and the next starts in a bit further.

It will be interesting to see what difference this makes to the feel of the cloak on your shoulders.

I need to get it finished but will have to wait till after Christmas now. It really seems to be an 'on again off again' piece of work.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


After nearly 40 hours work I have finished this Arapaki (shoulder cape). I am happy with it. I hope the recipient is too. The shaping has made it less rectangular but it feels right and should sit well.

 The storage of Korowai is a difficult question that I haven't found a satisfactory answer to yet. However one of the ways the museum uses for storing their old cloaks is by suspending them rolled up on padded poles. As this cloak is smooth with all the feathers lying down I thought I would try this method to send the cloak away. So I padded a pole with a bit of stuffing and the rolled the cloak on it in acid free paper. Then made some polystyrene ends to suspend the pole on in the box.
I'll get some more bubble wrap and another box before sending it off but we are nearly there.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Top finishes

We decided on a combination. Black/brown twist with cream aho in the mawhitiwhiti. Just a bit more to do. Nearly finished.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Finishing ideas for commission

I have been thinking about what to do at the top of the commission cloak. Trying out ideas by starting the rows.
Firstly just plain. Well sort of plain with the aho cotton (warp) being the same colour as the whenu (weft). The mawhitiwhiti is whale's tail pattern.

Then I tried the twist in brown/orange and black with black aho. 

Now I am wondering if the twist with plain aho might be better. Anybody got any comments? The twist takes a lot of effort but is effective. Is an old technique I have seen on cloaks in museums. 

Monday, November 30, 2015


I have found that a little shaping really does make the korowai feel better and sit nicer. So on the last few cloaks I have made I have endeavored to put in some shaping.

On this small cloak I have done a partial row of plain stitching after a full feather row,  then a bit wider partial row with feathers. Then I have carried on with a full plain row, feather row etc.  The cloak is now a little wider in the middle than the sides. It won't be noticed when worn but hopefully will make it nicer to wear. You can just see the extra rows on the back. The third and fourth rows are shorter.

This is coming on nicely and hopefully will be finished in the next few weeks. Just one more row of feathers I think then some mawhitiwhiti. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

17 hours

Seventeen hours work and my commission work measures 98x19cm.  Target length is 30 cm and I have all the feathers required for the last few rows bundled.  Then some mawhitiwhiti and turning etc.

But tomorrow is my day off,  to rest my eyes, my brain and my bottom.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I've just started doing a commission for a lady in Perth. I am amazed at how quickly it is coming together. Two days were spent on feathers and now two days on weaving and I'm a third of the way there. It's an Arapaki so only 30 cm deep.

The pheasant feathers, especially the blue tips look lovely. 

I'm listening to Philippa Gregory's book 'The Kingmaker's Daughter' while I'm weaving to help me concentrate.  May seem odd but it keeps me going and not wandering off to do something else, like housework or the garden.  Although today I did have to go into Dunedin to get the groceries. And I relax at night by crocheting or knitting. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hākui exhibition, Otago Museum

Four of us from our weaving group were able to go to the opening of the Hākui exhibition.  There were heaps of people and it was great to be part of the crowd. We saw some people wearing cloaks,  including two friends from Temuka. They had determined that they would make something to wear to this exhibition opening and to the hui-a-Iwi on this weekend. And they both achieved very innovative cloaks. So proud of them. They also opened our eyes to different ideas in cloaks. They were very different and showed a very exciting and edgy look.
Donna wearing her wonderful design. 

My albatross one looked quite ordinary.  I am definitely going to try some more interesting ideas. Thanks girls for teaching me. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Been busy

As I didn't get a lot done on Saturday I have applied myself for the last three days and managed to get a bit done.

Monday was spent finishing the last feather row and getting the fancy decoration done on top.  6 rows



Gradually it grows although I have had various people applying for a commission so I'd better get on with this while I can.   Must give my fingers a rest though or I won't be able to crochet.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Our last Saturday for the year

Thursday I took the big albatross korowai in to give to the Otago museum director.  There were very kind words said about it and I think everyone was happy with the gift.  As usual I forgot to get a photo of him in the cloak,  but I hope it will be worn at the opening of the Haakui exhibition in a few weeks so hope to remember then. I was gifted a beautiful book for which I am very grateful and some tickets to the butterfly house at the museum which will come in handy with family.

We had a lovely day on Saturday to finish our Saturday weaving for the year.  There were four up from Invercargill,  which is very encouraging for us.   Robyn Ashton brought some harekeke and there was a lot of discussion and practice in making muka.  We had a lovely shared lunch.  There was also a lot of mutual sharing of information and we all learned something. I found another decorative feature to have a go at in one of the books.  I look forward to using it on a cloak soon.
There are a few more Tuesdays and one more Sunday afternoon at the Museum next weekend.

On the first Saturday in December we will be at Balclutha with a stall in the craft market to let people know about weaving and encourage interest.

Next year is shaping up to be busy with teaching opportunities.  Easter looks like a beginners group up at Napier and there will be six or seven weekends in Southland towns. Our family hopes to do a bit more travelling overseas next year as well so if there are small groups around who want to learn to weave korowai get in touch as soon as possible so we can book dates.

I have started another big cloak using bleached jute string with brown and cream feathers from Lyann's rooster pelts.  Also the Arapaki for the Masterton museum is coming along although I have run out of kereru feathers.  I have applied to DoC for some more so hopefully I'll be able to finish that before traveling up to Auckland in January.  Lots of ideas for new skills, decorations and ideas have been keeping me awake at night.  On the brown/cream one of like to try vertical side taaniko panels if I can figure out how to add them and deal with the leftover whenu ends. Anyone got the answer? I'm not wanting to do the taaniko as I go but to do it sideways and add  it later.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Today I finally finished my big cloak.  I have had another week away with my mother, so that had put back my finishing date again. We had a lovely two days away at the Hermitage hotel up at Aoraki Mt Cook. Living the high life, and thoroughly enjoying it.

However it was back to work this week and now it's done.  The last few feather rows are made with Tui feathers. I was surprised at how good these were and so very soft. For a small bird there were a  surprisingly good number of usable feathers.

I am very happy with it, but hope it is acceptable.  The shaping has made it a good fit, but I need someone big to try it on.  Looking forward to handing it over in November.

Now I need to make a few small things to have ready for Christmas sales like little Kuia and Koro,  books and starter kits. These are great as Christmas gifts and people may want them soon so I had better have them ready.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Museum cloak 2 more weeks go by

Time seems to be flying. Two more weeks have gone by since the last post. Not that I have done that much weaving what with both my mother's and mother-in-law's birthdays (88, 89), my mother's and later my sister-in-laws visit. Still I try to get some done whenever I can. So here I am now

I have got into my usual trouble - running out of feathers for my design. Not to worry, I'll just change the design.  I will now have to carry on using all the feathers I can get from the birds both dark and light then perhaps a few tips of kereru. I have to find out if the Museum needs  a special permit from DoC to hold this cloak or whether it's covered in permits they already have. 

This Saturday is our weaving day at Ocean View.  I have received the Kereru from DoC so perhaps we will look at pelting them there. 

This month I am working with southern REAP teaching, hopefully, at Gore. We will see where this leads next year. This is getting exciting seeing so many people getting interested in korowai weaving. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Museum cloak one week on

Gradually it grows, row on row. The darker feathers have given way to a pretty grey patterned feather. Looking at it now I wish I had enough dark feathers to have made the change of colour more gradual, but never mind.

  The bird has most of its back feathers of this type, very densely packed so the majority of the cloak will be of these feathers. Then I think there will be some white at the top plus kereru. I hope I can get as much done next week. It is now 45 cm and I hope to go to 110cm so I'm a third of the way there.  The middle bits can get quite tedious so I need to encourage myself somehow.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Saturday weaving September

A quiet day on Saturday with just the five of us. But it was a great day for working and getting things done.  Glenda has finished her white and pink baby cloak for a friend. This was only her third piece and you can see the improvement. On Saturday she cut the whenu for her first bigger cloak and started to cast on. This first row takes ages but persevere, Glenda, and soon you'll be on to the taaniko. She has designed her own taaniko which takes into account her European heritage and name.

 Elaine told us her daughter cried when she was given her cloak, she was so touched.

Some weren't there because of this wretched flu that is going round and we wish them good health.

And I have finally got started on the feathers for my cloak. Early days yet but I think it will work well. Remember this is the bottom of the cloak and the feathers will be flicked up to make a thick feel. It does require feathers every row but because of the size of them there is only 36 bundles per row.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


I have been doing a bit of pelting lately as birds have become available. This is one of the smaller grey albatross that I received from DoC. A friend helped me pelt it as such a big bird requires more than one pair of hands. It is thick with feathers which are tough to get off. But having them on a pelt means I can pick off the size and shape I want rather than fluffing through a big bag of feathers.

And a peacock that I got from a local farm park. It was my first pelting for ages so I'm quite proud of it. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Better photos

At least these were taken in daylight. Hope the daycare will like it.

Finished childcare cloak

The childcare cloak is finished and looks OK. Now I can concentrate on my big cloak for the museum.  I received the birds for it from DoC today and I hope to pelt them tomorrow.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Problems and solutions

At Te Tomairangi marae I was shown a cloak made about 15 years ago. It was a very nice design and used lots of different feathers.  I saw Pukeko, kiwi, kereru, titi, and weka. It had a lovely taaniko pattern and am interesting way of attaching a tie that I haven't seen before.

 But they were having problems with feathers falling out. Partly this may have been caused by use, but on close inspection there were problems with construction that may have added to the rate of the feathers dropping. This was a very useful teaching tool and I learnt a lot about why we make things a certain way.

Firstly I noticed that the ara (rows) were done in taaniko stitch. The simple twist of taaniko was often used for the kaupapa or body of the cloak in old korowai but I don't think I have seen it done with feathers. This stitch may not be sufficient to keep feathers in.  The aho thread was wool and this was broken in a few places so the feathers were falling out as the row was compromised. Make sure the threads are strong enough and the row ended well enough so that nothing comes undone.

Secondly we saw that the aho cotton was too thick for the size of the whenu. This meant that there were gaps between the whenu so the feathers and their stalks poked through the fabric. This required a lining so that the wearer didn't get scratched. If the proportions between the thickness of whenu and aho are good, and the tension is good then there will be no gaps and a clean back is formed which will not require a lining.  The thinner the whenu the thinner the aho. The old kakahu and korowai used a very fine aho, each thread only 4 muka fibres thick.

Thirdly the feathers had not been trimmed. This may have meant the feathers were knocked out as people's arms caught on quills which stuck out. If the feather quills are trimmed to about 2.5 mm before being woven in it is lot easier as afterwards they can get forgotten or the feathers or whenu are in danger of getting cut by mistake. It also helps with feathers sitting well.

I have found such a lot to learn from all sorts of cloaks if you know what to look for. However I think for this cloak the best idea is to preserve it in a cabinet and make another to be used. It would be a pity to change it in any way in order to keep the feathers from being lost. Some of the ladies there will soon be good enough to attempt a big cloak for the marae.


What a lovely excursion to invercargill I had this weekend.  I went down via Gore where I visited the art gallery. What a treasure.  The most interesting store of statues and masks from the Congo, which I didn't expect to find,  and the art of Theo Schoon.  Now his work resonated with me because here was a Dutchman being inspired by maori art and becoming so immersed in it that he helped to keep some traditions alive. I feel very privileged to be able to learn korowai and then to teach it,  even though I have no maori blood.
Such a great stop, and a lunch at a cafe in town with plenty of gluten free choice.

Then on to Invercargill where the Museum visit was most inspiring. There was an exhibition of cloaks made by schools and kindis. This one made with material children's hands was fabulous and such a simple idea but very effective. 

Then after a quick visit to Bluff to see the entry to the wonderful marae there, ( I was too chicken to find the office and ask to see inside. Maybe next time), it was back to invercargill to Te Tomairangi marae.
This marae was where we were having our wananga. There were about a dozen ladies who came to learn the basics. And I was amazed at how much they got through in the Friday night and Saturday. Everyone worked at their own pace and because we will have another wananga next month there was not the pressure to get through the work before the end of the day. Hopefully everyone will have finished their last feather row by the next session. Running the weekend this way was a new trial but it was a very good alternative to a single weekend. I am very happy with how it went and grateful to Sharne and the others who made it happen.  I loved being able to stay overnight with some of the girls in the marae. Thanks again

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Getting there slowly.  It takes ages to do all the feather bundles but only another 200 to go.  What do you think Pauline, how long does it need to be for kindi kids?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Little korowai

As it will be another week before I can get the feathers I need for the Museum cloak I have started a small korowai using the hen feathers from the strings of feathers used in the starter kits. Using them flicked up gives a nice thick feel to the cloak however it takes lots of work and feathers as they are on every row.

This Saturday I will be at Te Tormairangi marae in Invercargill to teach weaving. If anyone is interested to pop in between 10am and 3 pm to see what we are doing or ask any weaving questions I'm sure that would be fine.  I will be down again in late October if anyone wants to book a space.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thursday night in Temuka

I spent a lovely evening with some of the Temuka girls weaving at the marae weaving room on Thursday night. I had been up in Timaru looking after my sick mother so was able to meet up with them again. It is great to see their enthusiastic and adventurous approach to weaving.  Debs had made a lovely little basket for a tiny baby with matching korowai.

She had a great idea for making kete too. She was weaving the sides around a cardboard box the exact size of her bag. It seemed to keep it straight and even. 

Lavinia was also making bag and Vicky had some really interesting string from a trade aid shop that she was experimenting with.  
Well done girls. Great to have been with you, your enthusiasm is catching.