Thursday, March 10, 2011


Well its been a long while since I have last blogged. I spare all the details but say that I am still sewing, sitting and studying - lots of studying. Lots of change - yet still the same!

August 19th of 2010 I received the precepts as a novice Zen Buddhist priest (Shukke Tokudo) from my teacher Taigu and along with my fellow ordainees at Treeleaf. Since then I have been rather busy with practice-life-training, working along side my friends and fellow novice priests, family stuff and work. All good though.

On the sewing bits I am currently completing a rakusu, and starting another kesa. I intend to complete this rakusu in the next couple of weeks and post a picture or two of it completed.

I have also located some instructions on how to stitch up a koromo and kimono as well I may give that a try after the next kesa.

Here is a pic from after the day of the ordination ceremony taken by my friend using her cell phone, It just turned out it was the only available camera at the time so I had to wait a day to get my hands on a regular digital camera for a few more clearer shots.

This is the next day with wearing the Nyoho-e kesa.

Also Looking forward to an upcoming sesshin in December. It is to take place in Brussels with other members of the Sangha as well as some others. Lots to plan for, lots to do and lots of zazen! I know its some time from now but I am pretty excited for it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Zagu (bowing mat) was completed a week ago or so. \o/ (that's me with my arms up in celebration fyi).

I decided to do it by hand and follow the Study of the Okesa, Nyoho-e Buddha's Robe book from Tomoe Katagiri. This, in tandem with my teacher, Taigu Turlur's blog have been incalculable help. Anywhootle it was very painless and best off all I learned a very valuable lesson and here is the long way to it: (Scroll down to the short version below if you'd like its okay... I understand)

I bought many metres of black and white material as a very very kind coworker offered to make a back up kimono and koromo for me. I already have a set coming from A very very patient Buddha on this path named Yuko Conniff of Great patience Zen stitchery in L.A and She agreed to sew a winter and summer koromo (Gets cold up here ya know) and a kimono, which should be arriving any day (hehe I swear no more emails, for now :D). that said... I know me and anything meant to stay clean and white or just clean...
So I snipped off a the white part i need for making the Zagu from the material i was purchasing and while waiting to be rung in a kind sales person tried to up-sell me some supplies... I thought meh I'm good...until she said... "do you need thread?, Gutermann is on sale...blah blah... I blanked out while thinking about thread. I did... so off I went and whilst there I found it:

...or the answer to my thread problem....
100metres of heavy duty thread!! this stuff looks like manly rope for pixies or something... AWESOME SAUCE!!!

Got it home... cut my stuff marked measured and ironed. Threaded the new thread into a slightly larger needle as the eye on my ol' trusty was too small. Started sewing and omg ... no matter how long I made the strand it didn't knot up when drawing it slow. Not that it didn't start just never fully did I could easily right it with a flick of the needle. Not only that the stitches were clean and tight as a slight variance on the stitch was hidden by the the thickness of this thread!!
I brought this up with my good friend Fugen who said...with a smirk i might add "Ya, I already knew that". Added bonus is its heaver and can stand up better to wear and tear... sheeesh wish i would have learned his 1 Rakusu, 2 Kesas and my sanity ago :D

Short version:
Heavier thread saves time and looks good and of course last longer.

anywho here is a bad picture of the Zagu:

The Zagu looks a bit wonky in the photo but its just perspective, the folds and some wrinkles ...seriously...and a bit of wonkiness too I'm sure :). Start to finish including measuring ...this took 8~ 9 hours by hand. Thank you to all of you whom have stitches in this Zagu and the Kesas!!

Shukke Tokudo is less than a week away and though its a ceremony recognizing what already is... I feel honored and a bit nervous...and humbled. Many amazing folk in this life life...some amazingly helpful caring and kind, some amazingly difficult, trying and down right irritating tones in between...all of them teaching me regularly some very important lessons.
To all my teachers, all Buddhas, Thank you. I vow to keep listening and learning from you all.

smack me up side the head if I'm not ;)


Friday, August 6, 2010

Aitken Roshi, June 19th, 1917 - August 5th, 2010

For those who haven not yet read or heard, August 5th, Robert Aitken Roshi passed away.

Endless thanks for your teachings.

My deepest sympathy to his family and friends who may suffer with this loss may they find peace.

If any one reads this here please pass on your heart-felt sentiments and kind words of support for his family and friends Here, on his blog.

Deep bows

Kesa again

Here are some "slightly" better pics of the kesa finished up.
I had to remove the daiza from the BOTTOM of the kesa once and switch their respective places once too (after having them fully stitched on of course :)).

Helpful tip- sew with what ever comes, but get your sleep.

Interestingly (to me) this fly in near the front right tie,
and I have been sitting together the last couple of days
and its fitting it dropped in for the pic here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well, never really finished, but its all together and Im now sewing my Zagu (bowing cloth).Had some ups and downs in the stitches (and they show of course!) and learned plenty in doing so.
Sleep is important, PSTD can be stitched through, impatiences will cause you alot of grief requiring waaaay more patience to complete the task at hand (Daizas kicked my butt a couple of times as I had to remove them and put them on the top :D).
I had intended to keep things up to date as I went but I ended up focusing on the tasks I already had in preparation for the upcoming Shukke Tokudo ceremony. With just over 2 weeks until the the ceremony I have to say I'm glad to find the time to write up a little bit here. I noticed a heck of alot of spam piling up in the comments of my last post some 4 months ago (oops!) so here's a new spot folks, go nuts! :)

Here are some pics through the process to completion:
first two sets together

close up of the stitching this time around

the kagami before marking it up

completed kesa shot with my cell phone (sorry for the quality)

Ill take a new shot of the finished one with the better camera soon.
Anywho thanks for reading I will be updating more often and not always about sewing.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Just an all around fool!

April be damned I'm a fool 24/7! Anywho I fell for the idea I could build a panel and after a bunch of sewing... I turned up still just short of enough for a complete and last panel. I spent 3 hours carefully fixing 2 pieces to the large in a Dr. Frankenstein manner. So i dug in to my bag of scraps found a big not chunk...same material wrong colour etc..sticks out like a sore thumb. There. Perfect!

Sewing Time!

May mean some pictures soon as promised earlier on (ooh exciting :D LOL)


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Close doesn't count...

Nearing the end of cutting (yes... I took my sweet old time cutting very, very slowly and carefully) I could see the end insight last night. I resisted the urge to just start hacking away using another bit as a template.

I stared at the remaining bit of material left to be divvied up among some panels, and after some head scratching I realized there was no way I could get the last panel, in its entirety, out of this last large hunk. How close... my last panel to cut needed to be 36cm wide by 54.5cm...I had... 33cm x 56cm left! lol So close yet So far!! Outcomes again not what I expected or wanted - Ha! but definitely what I needed.

I luckily kept all but slivers of fabric and im going to patchwork my last panel.

Next up its measure, measure again and one more time for good measure - mark and iron.

Sewing will come eventually :)
maybe ill have a pic or two for the next post of some stitches as promised earlier on! (ooooh the suspense! ;D)

Thanks for reading...makes a good sedative.