My exposure to handweaving, particularly bashofu and Ryukyu kasuri weaving, began when i was very, very young. I was born in Okinawa, Japan where my grandmother was a kimono-maker, bashofu weaver, and natural dye artisan. My grandfather passed away before i was born, so my grandmother was a single mother. She also served as the community herbalist, and local shaman. Hence, all family members contributed to the family means for making a living.
Winding a warp? What better way is there to keep a child busy than to wind a warp around the house…want a little colourful playtime? Dye old cloth in onion skins, of course (i have to contribute that particular play-time activity to my mother).
I didn’t take any of this play activity very seriously during my childhood, but later in life, when i became interested in carrying-on our Ryukyu family tradition, those early learnings and exposure made a difference in my efforts.
After taking a basic introduction to weaving class in the US, i returned to Okinawa again and again (and again) to re-learn what i had been taught before, refine techniques, and to learn new Ryukyu weave structures. So, that was it. The experience was magical for, in the process, i experienced moments where it seemed like all those early learnings came back to me like a flowing river meandering from one generation to the next. I have been weaving ever since.