I’m excited to share with you that my next book, KAMI-ITO: JAPANESE PAPER YARN and BEYOND will be released in early 2024 by Schiffer Publishing!
If you’ve never heard of kami-ito – and especially if you’re an artist, crafter or a lover of art and craft – you will be THRILLED to read this book! Filled with photos of art created by long-time paper-based artists, and 12 How-To projects for knitters, weavers, crochet aficionados, quillers, and even those who just like to create, you’ll learn the origins of this ancient technique and how to use it in your own work and play.
Kami-ito refers to yarn made out of handmade Japanese paper, or washi. In the distant past, such yarn was used to make garments, or shifu. A sheet of paper was cut into very narrow strips, zigzagging back and forth across the sheet to create a single long strip, which was then spun into paper yarn. To make cloth, these papers were woven, either as the warp or weft or both.


Members of Japan’s imperial court had access to soft and luxurious silk fabric for their lavish silk robes; it is unlikely that they wore shifu clothing. Most of the surviving examples of shifu are garments of the type worn by farmers, fishermen and other workers. These jackets (haori and the thicker hanten) and sashes (obi) were often dyed indigo blue.

Shifu garment

I wasn’t always interested in paper and paper thread. That is, until I attended a museum show traveling across the country, called Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper.
By far my favorite pieces in the show were the knotted, lacquered sculptures created by Kakuko Ishii, an artist whose paper works have been shown in fiber art exhibitions around the world since 1978. She made her sculptures of twisted stiffened cords called mizuhiki.


Laquered, handmade paper yarn
Kakuko Ishii

Please join me in exploring the ways artists have used paper yarn in their imaginative work and try making washi and kami-ito for yourself, then employing it to make your own fabulous creations!

Nebulae 1

Handmade yarn, metal hoops
Jennifer Davies

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