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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Elaine's new doll

Elaine has been busy dressing a lovely new doll. She is 57cm tall and looking very pretty. Elaine has made a dress to go under her lovely korowai. The dress has an unusual embellishment  on the top. This technique had been seen on some old korowai but isn't done much anymore as it is quite fiddly. Elaine has found a way of doing it after the weaving to make it easier.

Well done Elaine. Looking forward to your next project.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Had a great weekend up at Porirua teaching a group of enthusiastic women, staying on Horouta Marae.  Wove to all hours, laughed and slept together. Thank you Horouta for having me.
A few weeks ago I was shown a small piece a lady from central Otago had made using ribbon for tags. I thought this was worth a go so got some thin ribbon while in Porirua.  In a bin I spyed these little red rosebuds so combined them for a wee  Angel korowai.

 I had a few bits of whenu in my bag so started a wall hanging for Balclutha. I was thinking of trying the ribbon again for water but couldn't find what I had done with it so used some blue cotton instead.  It's amazing what you can get through when waiting for planes if you have something in your bag. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July Bags

Well this bag is nearly finished, just handles, lining and fixing up to do.

I am pleased with the top. Surprised myself. 

But while I was working on this I also made a small jute flat bag with left over string. It fits my  Samsung tablet

And the school taaniko is coming on nicely.  Two of the girls,  Georgia  and Nevada have been helping me do the taaniko. We have worked out a system where two of us work together on the stitch. Not very conventional but the girls will be able to say "I did some of that taaniko". So impressed with them. Another afternoon today should almost finish it. Then it's on to the mawhitiwhiti design with tassels which the children designed for their korowai. 

There have also been two REAP Weaving schools since I last wrote.  The last was in Te Anau, with a great group of people.  I enjoyed the trip away taking my mother to see my cousin's son there.  However this weekend I'm flying up to Wellington to take a class at the Porirua Marae.  It has been so busy lately but lots of fun. 

On our Saturday weaving day at Ocean View last week Elaine showed us the wee dress she is making for a doll with a fancy stitch we saw in a book on old cloaks. Very cute. 

Monday, June 20, 2016


I've started on a bag for a display in Balclutha next month. I'm using the finest string working out double (string from Browns Brushware). First I cut 150 strings about 100 cm long and 24 strings 140cm. Then cast on the 150 in pairs in the middle, just one after the other so there are strings on both sides of the cast on row.  Next I worked with 6 longer strings laying them alongside the cast on row and weaving the cast on whenu three pairs of whenu at a time while flipping the long strings over and under the whenu groups of three. Then I did another row like that on the other side of the cast on row. These two rows were repeated. I hope the photos will show what I mean.

You can see the base shaping up.   You could continue using a box like this to work on if you like. The next step will be a turning row all the way round so that a nice edge is made for the base.  I'm considering adding in colored threads on the turning row so that I can do a mesh design for the bag.   Hmm must go get some black cotton to do that this morning at our weaving group at Ocean View. Adding these strings in will help the bag to stay square, I hope,  strange as it sounds. 
Should end up with a mesh patten kind of like this.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Taaniko designing

Just doing a spot of taaniko design for the kura kaupapa korowai. I just use a spreadsheet where I can adjust the sizes of the rows and columns to reflect my tension.

It takes ages and there isn't a quick way of changing colours. But at least it's adjustable and not just squares like graph paper. There's got to be a better programme. Does anyone know of one? It needs to have adjustable rows and columns sizes,  easy fill colouring, and preferably some way of changing the colors with the press of one or two buttons. I would also like to be able to mirror and flip groups of colored 'squares'. I do hope someone out there has a solution. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Peacock Arapaki

Nearly finished, just a few more rows on the back. I have used the threadline silky taaniko thread for the tassels and unraveled them after I had stitched then on.   These made nice wriggly tassels.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Another successful weekend school at Alexandra with 19 new weavers. They all are very keen and nearly all finished and those that didn't had people to help them finish. Two men came and joined in so well done guys. Look forward to seeing more men take up the challenge.
Next weekend is Otago museum on Sunday afternoon then back up to Christchurch on the 20th for a small weekend wananga. Finally a weekend at Mataura to round out the month.
ICB Cleaning supplies are waiting on a new supply of thick mop string so it will be interesting to see what the new shipment will be like.
I have cut thin mop string for two Arapaki and for one full cloak if anyone wants string already cut and waiting to be woven.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kura Kaupapa

Today I went back to school.  Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Otepoti in Fairfield will be my school for Thursday afternoons for the next few terms as we work together to make a korowai for the school. Today we talked about design and had a go at drawing something the children thought would embody their school. Their designs are interesting and hopefully in the next week or two we will have decided on a design, feathers, size and taaniko pattern.
It is interesting going through the process with other people. Breaking down the decisions so that we can look at it all step by step helps me see what I usually do on the spur of the moment. I'm looking forward to this collaboration.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Peacock Jute Arapaki

I finished the black and white Arapaki a wee while ago. It's not too bad but the feathers are a bit fly away and not as good as I would have liked. However is done.  Enjoyed the taaniko.

Now I am starting a peacock Arapaki. I got some green silky taaniko thread and have based the colors on dark green. Of course when you look at the feathers from different angles they look blue rather than green. Oh well we'll see what it looks like with blue near the top. It has green tags in between the blocks. The feathers at the bottom are also peacock from a different part of the bird.  The feathers are lovely to work with as they are big and flat. They sit nicely when worked in and I have been using only two in a bundle and it seems to have worked well. 

This weekend I went up to Christchurch to teach one lady who had flown down from Wellington. Next weekend it will be twenty in Alexandra. This month will be busy.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Two Christchurch weaving classes

I will be up in Christchurch to take two beginner weaving classes one at the end of April and one mid May.  These will be small classes but anyone interested please email me on robin.korowai@gmail.com for details.  You will learn all the basics on a small piece so that you can scale up to a family cloak later.  Places limited.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April Saturday weaving

A small group today but interesting work.  Helen has used some variegated silky thread which made for a different idea for the rows. I'd like to investigate the possibilities of varigated thread.
It could be fun

Judy carries on with her perfect mawhitiwhiti

Elaine finished her little piece and is now thinking about what to make next.   Some people have wool or patchwork stashes. Elaine has feathers. So now she wants to use up some of her stash

And I have finally turned the corner on my black and white elbow length Arapaki or shoulder cape. The feathers are barred plymouth rock chook feathers. I enjoyed doing the taaniko even though it was two rows for each 'row'.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Flying Feathers

On my trip to Napier I set about making a small korowai for the hospital. So I took some string, cotton and feather bundles ready to go. I started at the Dunedin airport. Continued on the plane, at Wellington and on the flight to Napier. By that time I had got up to the taaniko. I couldn't cut the cotton as I wasn't allowed scissors but tidied it up later. It became a teaching tool during the weekend.
Then on the flight home I did the taaniko, the turning and mawhitiwhiti on the back, poke through most of the whenu for a fringe and still had an hour to do games before landing at Dunedin. Again I had to tidy it up later but that only took a half hour.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter weekend wananga

I have had an absolutely fantastic time with the wonderful folk in Napier.  Such a great venue - Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Ara Hou.  Such a great feel and buzz. Ladies weaving raranga,  harekeke all over the place, beautiful kete. And that was just the background.
I managed twenty learners, and they were all so enthusiastic.  Mind you they already had a lot of skills just not korowai weaving ones. I was so impressed and glad to be spreading the skills to these wonderful people.  We covered so much beyond the normal with some ladies and I know they will pass this knowledge to the others as they met together each month.  I have never known such endurance either. I know you some of them had been up late and they worked hard all day and I know they didn't stop when I left.

Thank you to Diana,  Fiona and all the others who organised,  raised funds, cooked and made it such a successful weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Jute arapaki 2

After much umming and aahing I have finally decided on these few rows at least. I have a whole bag of these barred feathers but unfortunately most of them are long skinny ones and so I am trying to decide what to do next. As usual I don't have enough of any one thing to keep going. I never seem to be able to get throughly organised before I start. Anyway so far so good. Next week I'll have to decide the next step. I have a few black bundles and a good few white and heaps of skinny barred ones. Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jute arapaki

I have started another bleached jute Arapaki. Yesterday I finally finished the taaniko on the bottom. I used the ordinary knitting and crochet cotton I usually use for the aho and it worked well for the taaniko as long as I tried hard to keep the two strings flat. There are a couple of mistakes I need to fix but generally I'm pleased with it.
Now comes the bit I thought I had sorted out. The 'black and white' feathers I was going to use turned out to be more brown and grey which now I come to think of it is probably normal for natural black and white feathers. So now I need to think again. I hope to do this one completely feathered. Time to rummage in my feather stash.

Monday, March 7, 2016

March Saturday at Ocean View

Just a small group meet this Saturday but we had managed some interesting work. We had one new lady start which was great and she is flying ahead with her first piece.

Then everyone had different things they were working on.

Helen's interesting piece with a long taaniko project. 

Judy working on a twisted rope between mawhitiwhiti patterns. 

Elaine pretty rope effect in taniko on a lovely duck piece

And Lyann deciding what to do next after her marathon taaniko so effective in hand dyed, home spun wool on home spin alpaca whenu. The interesting thing is that we couldn't decide whether to make the taaniko at the top or bottom. Either option would work well. 

And I am finishing my big jute korowai. 

All done. It drapes well because of the shaping. Now to find someone who wants to buy it.