I always come home from trips with lots to share, but after a few posts, I often drift away from the subject. Yesterday while waiting for a flat tire to be repaired, I was catching up on some blogs on my iPad and was reminded of this piece that I brought home from Japan last January.
For years, I'd wanted to visit the Tokyo shop, Blue & White, established by American, Amy Katoh, 35 years ago. Her very popular book, Blue and White Japan, a decorating book which celebrates the blue and white Japanese aesthetic, was published in 1996 and from my first thumb-through, her shop was on my bucket list. For some reason, I'd always seem to forget about it until I got home, when I'd experience a 'doh!' moment and wonder if it was meant to be. I mentioned it to Molly before my last visit and she told me that I had actually been in that neighborhood on my last trip, killing some time until she had finished her work, not too far away.
I didn't make that mistake in January. Although it's much smaller than its reputation had led me to believe, it's a charming place that will be on my 'must' list on any future trips. Chock full of beautiful, handcrafted items, it's one of those places that you must roam through several times to make sure you didn't miss something. I did lots of that while waiting to meet Molly there and as I pondered possible purchases, this woman who works at the shop was quite engaging. Once Molly, my translator, arrived, the three of us really had some laughs. I have since gathered that she is a regular fixture at the shop ~ perhaps the manager? ~ and she's a big part of my good memories of that morning.
Of all of the drool-worthy items in the shop, I couldn't stay away from a small pile of these rough-stitched mats. Each one had its unique charms, but in the end, I brought this one home. And the bowl. They looked so good together!
The vintage fabric scraps which make up the patchwork top aren't pieced. Shibori, ikat, aizome ~ all kinds of traditional Japanese fabric scraps, in varying shades of indigo blue ~ have been layered and then stitched through in a rough running stitch.
The backing is a loose weave fabric, almost a netting. And the edges of the larger pieces were finished in a rough overcast stitch.
What sealed the deal for me, though, was this small, unexpected patch of pink. With a kokeshi doll!
Molly left with a small piece, too.
So, what did I read at the car dealership that reminded me of this? A post on Keiko Goke's blog, featuring many shots at Blue & White, including a window display of gorgeous, large pieces of this style of sashiko. *Hyperventilating a bit*. I've lingered over these shots several times already. Is that the artist featured stitching in one of the photos?
A Quilter by Night recently wrote a post on sashiko classes she attends at Blue & White. It's author, Cynthia, is an American quilter, transplanted to Tokyo a year ago. Her work and observations are always a good read. Maybe she can add some context to Keiko's post for us.
Blue & White, the shop, also has a blog which regularly offers interesting posts on their goings-on. If you're a fan of Japanese textiles and handcrafts, I think you'd enjoy it.