More preparation for my upcoming workshop.

I’ve prepared all the mari and cut all the stitching threads. I’ve affectionately dubbed these “Burwood 1, 2, 3 and 4”, based on the location where I’ll be teaching.

Building one basic skill after another, they alternate between ‘geometric’ and ‘flower’. They move (anti-clockwise from lower right) from kiku (#1) to interlocked bands (#2)  to interweaving (#3) to combining both bands and kiku (#4). Each introduces a new division: S4, S8, C8 and S6 and two types of obi.

The white background mari will get students to “bury” their stitches without showing. If students want, they can half-complete these in class (one hemisphere) and finish them at home.

I’ll be touching on colour theory as well: complementary colours, primaries and tertiaries, graded colour (ungen), as well as combining colour with monochrome.


More prepping of mari balls for my upcoming class. I like to alternate between geometric and flower balls, so the ‘flower’ chrysanthemum kiku comes next in skill acquisition after the ‘geometric’ bands.

This is a chance to move from S4 division to S8 division, as well as moving from interlocking stitches to interweaving stitches. The obi will be green, symbolic of the flower sitting in vegetation.


I’m prepping mari balls for an upcoming one-day class: a Simple 4 division in multi-coloured bands. Essential for stitching obi since about 80-90% of all temari have an equator “waist sash”.

Apart from the skills of starting/finishing stitches and wrapping a band, there’s also the skill of interlocking, best achieved by reversing the needle as you pass under a previously stitched band.

Stick around for more images of my class preparation in the coming days and weeks!


Where’s Rod?

August 16, 2014

Dear Reader

Apologies for not posting recently. I have two excuses.

The first is that I’ve taken a year off to go to Art School and so I’ve been knee-deep in Photography, Sculpture, Printmaking, Drawing and Painting since the beginning of the year.

The second is that I was inexplicably locked out of Yahoo some months back. Yahoo! ignored my customer complaints so my active participation in the online temari community is now up in the air. A severe blow was my having to abandon the Japanese Textiles Study group of Complex Weavers which had a private Yahoo! email group as its centrepiece. I am no stranger to changes in the virtual world: I began my kumihimo commentary with LiveJournal and posted photos of my temari religiously at Community Webshots for many years. The loss of nearly a thousand images on Flickr was a blow, but I’m not done-and-dusted.

While Fine Art has taken centre-stage for the moment, I’ve not abandoned my commitment to craft methodology. Not that there’s any difference between “art” and “craft” when it comes to things Japanese – what is functional is beautiful and what is beautiful is functional!

Stay tuned for more of my work in the kumihimo and temari fields.







Some works-in-progress from the last month or so of stifling heat and humidity…

[Top} 36cm circumf, pearl cotton 8, an experiment in C10 multi-face. It is helping enormously to work the foundation C10 divisions in one colour (here red) and then additional divisions (e.g. 32-, 42-face, etc.) in an alternative color. Barb Suess’ book has clarified for me the most efficient ways of stitching multi-face division lines, over and beyond the initial layer of C10 threads.

[Left] 28.5cm circumf, pearl cotton 5, a C10 using basketweave. This is really basic basketweave, but works as a good introduction. The hardest thing is to be patient with the seemingly endless amount of grooming required when working double-threaded. They say double-threaded is ‘quicker’ but I’m finding it no so much.

[Right] 28cm circumf, pearl cotton 8, a more complex C10 design variation on the basketweave at left incorporating the color scheme of the ball at top. This is the ball at left pushed to a higher level of complexity, with extra faces. While the basketweave works for a succession of pentagons (e.g. the ball at left), problems arise with combining pentagons with hexagons in this one. I can’t quite see my out of this for the moment, but I’ll see where it takes me.


Preparing to take an online tutorial shortly on C10 multifaces, I experimented with laying down stitches on a 36cm circumf ball in singles of pearl cotton 8, with yellow (42 faces), then purple then pink, finishing with double-threaded white and red surface stitching. I think the progress from 42 to 122 and 322 (which my progression is not) is referred to as “M3”, a multiple of three based on the foundation of 12 faces.


The first step involves laying down a routine C10 (12 faces) and pinning/tacking according to Barb Suess’ excellent instructions on the website of Temari Challenge at Yahoo! Groups. I tacked the yellow lines with the same black sewing thread used on the mari.

The second step involves going from pentagon to pentagon, filling in the blank spaces (half way between each yellow) with purple thread, but without tacking. I’ve learned to leave pins in the center of each pentagon as I work.

The third step involves filling in the available spaces with pink, again halfway between the previous yellow and purple. On this occasion, I move around the ball, renzoku-style, rather than inside each pentagon by pentagon. Stitching these starts and finishes at the sides of the pentagons. The threads start at the pentagon sides, veer towards the centre of a pentagon, then veer away at an angle of about 120 degree, on to the next pentagon. This involved tacking as I went, securing the last thread to go over all the others. The downside of this is it creates not straight lines but wave-like whip-stitched tacking. Hopefully the online tutorial will help me re-think this process.

The next step was to remove the black tacking thread of the yellow threads: it shows given the fine lacey-look of the whole.

The final step was to add some surface stitching, here in white and red, a minor consideration on this occasion given the focus on laying down (correctly) the rows additional to those for 42 faces.



Inspired by a traditional hemp leaf pattern (asanoha in Japanese) done on a S4 structure by Barb Suess in her latest book, I decided to ramp up this design to a Complex 10.

I decided to jump straight to a 42-faced C10 instead of ramping up via a series of potential intermediate steps: Simple 4 to Complex 8 to Complex 10 (12 faces). Why 42 faces? Working in either pearl cotton 5 or pearl cotton 8, I decided 42 faces was an appropriate number for the relatively small, 34.5cm circumference, ball. Perhaps with a 40cm circumference ball, I could contemplate doing 92 faces.

Mari. I started with the 34.5cm mari wrapped in a warm grey colour. Not a cool grey (battleship grey with a distinctly blue tinge), but one which tended to a redder “brown”.

Division lines. I used a pearl cotton 8 in light blue (color #799).

Here’s the S4 model in the background and one of the twelve pentagons of an ordinary C10 highlighted with white pins:


Here’s the addition of division lines for a 42-face.  After doing all this work, I discovered an easier way of adding 42-face division lines proposed by Barb Suess on the Temari Challenge Yahoo! group.


Surface stitching

Then it was a matter of adding some hemp leaf/asanoha stitching in a very dark blue pearl cotton 8. I added pearl cotton 8 off-white/beige in the center pentagon, though it’s not strictly an asanoha shape. Stitching asanoha requires some careful thought about how the pointy star points project out from the six corners. I’ve learned to stitch around the main axis and not around the two side spokes projecting away from the corner. This applies to both the pointy stars and the framing stitch around the small hexagon.


I then extended some of the dark blue beyond the first pentagon so I could stitch a border around the pentagon with two rows of pearl cotton 5 in a mid-blue, allowing for a tack in red at each corner.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers