Thursday, March 3, 2016

California Weaving

NOTE: all the pictures in this post were taken by Jill Nickolene Sanders of SAORI Santa Cruz.

Last week I got to spend a day with the lovely Jill Nickolene Sanders of SAORI Santa Cruz making myself an amazing SAORI style jacket.

When I knew I was going to California, I checked to see if there were any SAORI studios in the state - there are three. I was most excited when I found that Jill's studio was in California. You see, I already knew that Jill was a SAORI garment genius. If you've ever looked at on-line pictures of SAORI garments, you've probably drooled over some that were made by Jill. I know I have.

Some of my favourites include her "Parrots of Telegraph Hill" jacket (my own jacket is based on this design):

her SAORI sun umbrellas (I'm pretty thrilled that Jill saved a bit of my left over cloth to use in a future umbrella)

There are so many others, that I could go on all day about how much I love the clothing and accessories she designs and makes. I was so excited when I realized that I might be able to visit her studio and see some of her gorgeous creations in person. I had no idea that I'd even get to try some on:

Here I am trying on Jill's Portals tunic. It coordinates so nicely with what I was wearing that day:
Jill collaborated with her friend Sue Tye on this tunic, and it was recently featured in an issue of PLY magazine.

Well, this trip almost didn't happen. You see, Jill's studio is not right in Santa Cruz, it is in a town called Felton, in an area called Zayante. I thought I would have to fly to San Francisco and then rent a car to get to the studio - that would have been much too expensive. I could have gone to one of the other California studios where I'm sure I would have been able to make a nice SAORI garment, or perhaps do a bit of weaving, but I knew that I would be abe to make something really incredible with Jill.

When I told Jill my problem, she generously offered to arrange a much more affordable ride to and from the San Jose airport. After being a passenger on Hwy 17 in the dark, I'm so very glad that I didn't have to match wits with the crazy maniacs on that road. I also got to know Jill's wonderful husband, who not only shuttled me to and from the airport, he also made sure I got to and from the studio and took me to pick up food for my supper after my day of weaving. Jill included a delicious lunch and snacks for me during the day. This lovely couple just took care of me so well.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures of the cloth I was weaving to take with me. Here's a close-up of one section. You can see that I was thinking of sunny California weather!

Jill had asked for 10 yards! That was a lot of weaving, that almost ended in another disaster. I was supposed to "soak" the cloth, and I thought I'd cheat and do it in the washing machine. My machine has a "soak" setting, but I somehow set the dial to the setting that was directly opposite. Oops! When I realized what I had done and rescued it, some of the fibres I had used had shrunk and felted. The cloth was no longer the full length and the sides were all wavy. There was some interesting texture, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to make anything. Since this was the day before I left for the trip, I did not have time to weave any more.

I shoved the cloth into my backpack where it got a liberal sprinkling of the coconut snack I also tossed in the bag, and set off for the airport.

In a very SAORI way (remember "there are no mistakes"), Jill and I managed to make a stunning jacket with the almost failed fabric that I wove. Here are some photos of the process. You can see more of the pictures that Jill took during the day over on her blog:

The finished fabric complete with bubbles, waves and puckers caused by the shrinking and "fulling" of some of the fibres:

 Pinning and cutting - I've done this before with my handwoven fabric, so I wasn't as freaked out as I was the first time.

Sewing outside in February! It was such a lovely warm SUNNY afternoon.

 The finished jacket - I'm calling it Santa Cruz (for obvious reasons)


  1. You and your jacket had quite an adventure but it looks wonderful! Happy Saori weaving and sewing :-)

    1. Thank you Julie, yes we did. Saori weaving always makes me happy.