Rev. Dai-En Bennage, abbess of Mt Equity ( http://www.mtequity.org/), had the kindness to send a wonderful and touching email in which she tells about her very inspiring experience in Japan and manifests clearly her boundless devotion to Tataghata's teaching and his kesa. You may read more about this funzoe in Zen Friends : http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/friends/zf16_2/practicing.htm
"(...)Twenty-seven years ago, on takuhatsu in Nagoya, I received discarded bolts of silk of all kinds from a bankrupt kimono shop. I guess it was an inner voice that meted out to where and how much cloth should go to others. For last year, we found we had just enough for the funzoe`. It could be a small book to tell of what we went through to make it. And Okamoto Sensei (will you be having fukudenkai with her?) telephoning us: "Now you blue-eyed ones. Don't forget. This robe is not for human eyes. It is for the Buddha's eyes. Do not make it too bright." We sent panels to people in Japan to sew on, and to eight states in the U.S. It was wonderful. The granddaughter disciple of Sawaki Roshi, Wako Sensei of Myogenji gave me linen material in a "dried grass" color. It took me 17 years to complete it! I started it in Japan, then got too busy pioneering our temple here. When it was needed, it was a French disciple now in Ales who helped me finish it. I first made a robe for my teacher from some of this donated silk. Being from a poor temple, he'd given me his colored robe when I was given Transmission. The material I had was white. I did not have money to have it dyed. So I went on the alms round for seven months asking housewives if they might have some onion skins to spare. When I had the proper weight of onion skins (LOTS of onion skins!) I dyed the cloth with them, and set the color with the mordent of rusty nails. I boiled it outdoors with a long stove pipe supported by a step ladder, pointing the smoke away from the dye vat! It turned out to be "mokuren", like Soto robes generally are. I would never have had the courage to take on this challenge, except for being poor, and because the result was to be "mottled". How could I lose? "
17 years! I was quite proud of my four years, but I think you are now and by far the winner of the competition.
Thank you so much, Dai-En.