The good news is that I’m making sense of the stitching process. Here are four tiny temari, 14cm in diameter, stitched in pearl cotton 8.



The bad news is that I’m not making any progress at all in making bases for the thimble rings. These are approx 3cm in diameter; the stitches are visible and the surrounding bias binding is rucking at the join.




I recently came across a design variation of the classic herringbone kiku, as stitched by a local sensei, Chihiro Kownacki. I decided to have a go.

Up until now, my herringbone kiku stitching has involved a zigzag from one division to the next; these two balls show what’s possible when stitching in the normal zigzag pattern, from pole to equator and back up to pole, but across two divisions.

The paler of the two was the first one stitched and the overly prominent opening at the pole was too wide. I decided to amp up the purple in a second ball and decrease the pole circle to good effect.

Pale: 28.5cm circumference, S16 in Anchor metallic thread on a black mari; pearl cotton 5 – 2 rows each of white, blue, purple then a final, single row yellow gold. 

Dark: 30cm circumference, S16 in Anchor metallic thread on a black mari; pearl cotton 5 – 2 rows each of yellow gold, white, light purple, dark purple.



C10 temari

December 13, 2015

Here are two recent temari, both C10s. They are practice balls – revising divisions and stitching methods.


Left: 34cm circumference, perle cotton 5 on a black mari. A C10 division with 42 multi-centres. The mari was divided using ecru perle cotton 20, providing too strong a contrast between the black and cream.

Right: 34.5cm circumference, perle cotton 5 on a dark red mari divided with ecru perle cotton 20. A C10 division ‘all-over’ design stitched with two single rows at a time.

Commentary. The first was inspired by the current stitch-along focussing on C10-42 centres on the weblog of Barbara B. Suess; see…/step-1-marking-42-cente…). My general problem is wondering what exactly to stitch on multicentres; the approach involves choosing one of three methods: ‘making it up as I go along’ (sometimes works, sometimes not), trying to follow a pattern from a Japanese book (extremely difficult) or resorting to tried-and-tested methods (as in this one, stitching HGG in six colours, each colour patch centred on a hexagon – rather than the pentagon which is the normal design focus). I was keen to disguise the glaring cream mari lines and the maximum number of rows possible on this size ball was just four: two dark, one mid and one light colour. I learned that the design really calls for additional division lines (the pearl cotton 20 was too thick for this to happen).

The second was inspired by a colleague creating a White Plum design. My practice temari reinforced the need NOT to stitch an all-over with a less-than-perfect sphere. Measurements have to be millimetre-perfect. More careful thought before stitching about the colour scheme is also called for: colours more analogous (red-purple-blue) than complementary and a warm colour palette (or a cool one) works better than a mix of warm and cool colours. Using a metallic thread for division lines helps the overall final look appear less “flat”.

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.







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