June 28, 13 | Chiaki Uzurahashi
"Tokachi Bou's" - Shikaoi Town The charm of hand crafted wool charms.
I recently visited a workshop in the town of Shikaoi, where a group of female artists work together to create unique wool products. They call themselves "Tokachi Bou's." (The word Bou means 'to spin.')
The wool used is chiefly from the eastern-Shiranuka region. The raw material arrives at the shop where it is washed, dyed using local plants, spun into yarn, and then used in production. Each work completed here is made entirely by hand, from start to finish.
Although the original wool's color is sometimes used, there are various shades of color obtained by using natural dyes. Sweaters, vests, scarves, and felted accessories are all available in the shop, and you'll surely be tempted to reach out and feel the texture of each.
Ms. Kikuchi, who manages the workshop, explained, "Long ago there were many farmer in Tokachi who raised sheep. I would spend the winters spinning yarn to make my family clothes to wear. I want those who visit our shop to feel the importance of the wool used in the products."
She first became involved in the yarn community after joining "Obihiro Knit" almost 30 years ago. She has been actively working with textiles and dyeing her own wool since then.
During my visit I was showed where the spinning happened. The wool is held in the left hand while working the pedal to turn the loom's wheel. The right hand helps guide the wool into the machine and, before you know it, yarn is made!
I asked Ms. Kikuchi about her fascination with wool.
"It's fun to be able to make such a variety of products from just sheep's wool. I think my fascination began when I first noticed the pattern in my skirt. I hope that visitors are also fascinated by the process and are inspired to try making something themselves!"
The handmade works available from the Tokachi Bou's all have the air of the loving care with which they were made.
The workshop also offers short courses on felting, spinning, weaving, and dying for visitors. Although usually held on Tuesdays, be sure to call first! If you're interested be sure to stop by, or you can check out the contact information below!
●とかち紡'S (Tokachi Bou's)
(11-3 Kita 7-Sen, Sasagawa, Shikaoi)
Open from late April to November, 11:00 to 4:00.
Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
※Interview from late May, 2013.
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Chiaki Uzurahashi)
Photographs by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Megane.