Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fresh start

Sorry I haven't posted for a few months. I've been busy with a death in the family. But now I've started weaving again. Yesterday a few of my weaving pals and I delivered quite a few angel korowai to the hospital. It was interesting hearing how they are used and the other options available to families dealing with little people's deaths. There are other groups like embroiderers making wee garments etc. I hope we all help at a very sad time in people's lives.

But now I have started a new cloak to practice an idea for a friend's new cloak. She wants panels within the  cloak with taaniko patterns. Quite tricky. I'm having to train my brain to weave in both directions. It was done by Rangimarie Hetet and I'm trying to replicate her technique.

It would be easier if I did a whole block of taaniko but I'm trying to work on the angle. And each row is double so forward and back are the same colours.  If anyone has done this and has some suggestions I'm all ears. It looks straightforward till you actually try it. Quite a slow process too, so I think it will take a while to achieve length. 

The other news is that while up north I found two ladies importing string to NZ. One is cotton and I haven't seen it yet to determine quality. The other is jute and I like the look of it. It is already washed and though not as light a colour as I would like it's not as dark as unwashed $2 shop string. It is also a little thicker than the fine string so could be used single. I will have a go soon so I can report on its quality but it looks good.  It's great to see people getting on and doing what I was thinking about but didn't get around to.  

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rotorua Nursing School Korowai

Last week I delivered the korowai hihima for the nursing school in Rotorua. I was on a tour of friends and family with my mother for her 90 th birthday. It was the first time she had been on a marae so another new experience for her. After the powhiri and blessing the past students and lecturers of the school tried on the cloak and lots of photos were taken. It was well received, which was a relief. 

Even my niece, Rachel, got to try on the cloak as a past student. We are all so proudof her doing so well in her nursing so I'm glad she got the chance to wear it for a little while. 

Now that's all over I'm having a rest from a lot of weaving until next year. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


The Pukeko kakahu is all finished.

Ready for you Sandy.

At class on Tuesday Glenda showed us her finished taaniko which looks so good. It was done on the old thick string which fluffs terribly but she has done an absolutely beautiful job of the taaniko with no fluffy white showing through.  Well done Glenda.  Now for the rest of it.

Also I want to point out the little tweak we are sometimes including in our work now. The turning row used as decoration  worked backwards.  You can see that the turns are going in opposite directions on the top and bottom of her taaniko.

This makes an interesting effect when done one after the other too. It takes a bit to get your head around doing it backwards but it is the same method as front wards but starting from the other side. This also means the edges are straight instead of slightly moved sideways as they are when only one turn is done.

We are getting more little korowai done for the hospital and hope to have a pile to take by the end of the year.  These are to commemorate the lost babies - the still borns and early death babies in the maternity hospital. There is another group who make wee woven coffins and knitted woolen wraps. Just hope it helps a little with the grief experienced by the bereft parents. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The Pukeko kakahu is coming on well. However I have used up the 15 pelts from feathergirl and it is only 73cm long, 11 cm of that is taaniko. I would like a few more rows of Pukeko but I'll see if I can cadge some from my friends. However it will soon be time to do the black and green for the top which will give more of a tui look to the cloak. There are feathers still on the pelts but they are too small for this project. As well as using the black from the Pukeko I supplemented them with three black rooster pelts from Lyann.

My other project was making an Arapaki cape from one rooster pelt.  It has turned out to measure 115 cm long by 22 cm deep.
So I think if you were doing a longer cloak you might need about 3 or 4 pelts depending on how clever you are at working a pattern with the feathers.

The first weekend in August was spent teaching korowai in Queenstown at Lake Hayes. It was lovely weather, views and people. But to keep me occupied at night I started another little one for the hospital. I have used the fluffy feathers from the bottom of a white and black pelt.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July's ups and downs

I have kakahu and korowai coming out my ears at the moment.
The Nurses one is nearly done.  The top of it stalled me for quite a while but I think its coming together now.

I still have the back and finishing off to do.

And I'm on to the feathers in Sandy's kakahu. The feathers are Pukeko.  Because of the nature of Pukeko feathers, cloaks I've seen always look a bit on the messy side.  The blue feathers in particular tend to splay out rather than holding together like other types of feathers. Mine is no exception, no matter how careful I am. The colours haven't come out very well in these photos.  I am doing a poutama wahine pattern.

The third thing on the go is an arapaki (shoulder cape) using one rooster pelt.  I thought I needed to sell some more of Lyann's pelts as they are so beautiful and at $30 each they are worth it.  I am doing a design based on the pelt itself with the long feathers in the middle and the more rounded ones at the side.  I think two pelts might make it easier but shall continue with the single one to see what can be done.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Russell's is finished.

End of May and Russell's Kakahu is finished. The taaniko patterns are his family designs and looking good.

Now it's back to the Nursing school hihima. Looking forward to getting that done. It's so nice to not be using feathers for a change.

This coming Saturday is our June weaving day even though it is Queens birthday. Looking forward to seeing everyone again.

 Last month Anna finished her little muka bag.  She makes beautiful muka getting lovely lengths of the harekeke fibre that she can weave beautifully.
Well done Anna.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mid May and two on the go.

The kakahu for Russell's mother is well under way. The taaniko is finished and the feathers are about halfway there. I am using the Brown Shaver chicken feathers and flicking them up to make a thick feel to the cloak. This does mean every row is a feather row so a lot of feather bundles are needed.

At the same time I have started a korowai hihima for the nursing school in Rotorua. A hihima is a cloak with tags the same colour as the whenu. This cloak had a very specific pattern required by my client to reflect the teaching programme. It has been very interesting to do. I am about a third of the way through.

I have another to start soon too, so it is busy every minute. This one has Pukeko feathers. I have seen a lot of Pukeko used and they always seem to look a bit odd,  not quite sitting beautifully. If anyone has advice as to the washing, bundling and use I would be very grateful. There are a lot of feathers needed. I have 15 pelts coming from feathergirl,  so I hope they are good ones.

These cloaks need to be finished by at least mid September so what am I sitting here writing this for? Back to work. Crack the whip and back to weaving.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Finished Melanie's and started Russell's

Haven't written for a while but I have finished Melanie's cloak and she was pleased with it. It was finished by the end of march as I had hoped.

Now I am on to the next kakahu. This one is for a Kuia's 80th birthday and I hope, for use on her marae. The taaniko pattern was drawn up by her son Russell. It is very complicated and although not symmetrical it gives the impression of symmetry.  I started last Wednesday and a week later I have 3/4 completed it. Approximately 40 hours work with 4 colours. 

But now its Easter and we are due a holiday, so everything will go on the back burner while I enjoy time with my family. 
Happy Easter everyone. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Melanie's cloak 15th March

Half way there.

Remember this is upside down so the tags are pinned up. I am hoping to finish this by the end of the month as it is only to be 75cm deep.

Had a successful weekend at Ohai teaching korowai to some lovely ladies and a gentleman. Next month it will be back to Winton for another beginner class at the REAP offices.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Melanie's unveiling cloak

Two weeks work.
Designing, getting the string ready,  cutting and casting on took a week. Then the taaniko - 33 rows took another week.  This cloak will be 90cm wide by 75cm long.

After the taaniko I will do a turning row to balance the first turning row and to allow me to add more whenu as the kaupapa of the cloak (the body of the cloak) will be mawhitiwhiti.  This always draws in the sides so I'm adding more strings to try and keep it square. At the top there will be a few rows of pheasant feathers and a small taaniko. 

I've just seen a wee black fantail out the window. Looking for spiders I expect. There are lots of spider webs on the deck. Don't get much time for housework as you can imagine from the above paragraphs. I'm feeding the birds! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Finished Lily's cloak

Three months work has finally seen the end of Lily's kakahu. I am pleased with it although the taaniko turned out a bit wider in the cotton I used than perhaps I would have liked. However it has all come together well. Here is a photo mid taaniko to show that the taaniko is really woven and not a tapestry.
 The finished cloak, of course,  does not lie flat as it has shaping in it. Now is just a matter of packing it up and sending it off. Not an easy task.

Now I have started a new cloak for an unveiling. It will only have a few rows of feathers so I have started on the taaniko already.  I'm almost up to the middle row. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Saturday weaving Ocean View, Dunedin

This coming Saturday will be our first meeting for the year. Everyone welcome to come and see what we do,  to learn to weave, join in with your own korowai weaving projects or come for a cup of tea.
I will have Lily's kakahu there and our other weavers will be there with their projects.
The venue is the Coastal community church on the main road to Brighton at Ocean View. Time from 10 am to 4 pm but come whenever you like in those times.  Cost $5

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lily's kakahu 2nd week

This week has been a two steps forward one step back kind of week.  After a lot of undoing I'm back on track. I found a way of undoing quicker by doing three rows at once.

Now that I am 60 cm up from mid calf length I am starting a few rows of poka or shaping for the hips.

You can see where my first short row has started, where the feathers on the right start. That short row went along to the same distance from the end (80 whenu). Now I am starting a full length row which will follow the line up and over the short row.  Then the next short row (40 Whenu from the ends) and then back to long rows until I get closer to the top where I will do some more poka for the shoulders. I really like these poka for making the cloak sit well and feel 'right'.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lily's kakahu week 1 weaving

Finally able to start weaving this week. But it's been a mixed up week with helping family shift house. Cleaning bathrooms with old toothbrushes,  chasing escaped sheep in the rain, and feeding troops of in-laws.

But I did manage to get some weaving done. In fact I got about 30 cm finished. At 60 cm I'll do a few rows of poka shaping for the hips. It helps having a story to listen to when working on my own because I want to hear what happens next. The rows fly by.

It took at least 3 weeks to get all the feathers done in December but I think I like having them all done and being able to concentrate on weaving alone.

I have had another enquiry about a commission so it's all go this year. I'll be a busy bee all year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Trying to get the string the right colour for my next big project. The first lot turned out too pink for the yellow toned feathers so I am trying again.

While waiting for the string to dry, my fingers are itching to get started so I made this angel korowai yesterday afternoon.

The fluffy feathers are the under feathers from a peacock.  As they are very fluffy I tried cutting the fluff off both sides of the feather up as far as I wanted then used the bareish stalk of a single feather to stitch in to the row. The feathers were so fluffy I didn't need to bundle them at all. The top row are some feathers I had bundled years ago for another unfinished project. The taaniko pattern means a couple and child amongst the stars, to me.  It shows the love and heartbreak of a family when a tiny baby dies. At least that's what I was thinking about.