Kogin – Starting out…

June 29, 2009

My initial experiment with kogin was playing with a wide range of yarn types  – cottons and wools – and different surface designs on a piece of tapestry canvas on a stretcher. The classic monograph on Japanese textiles to my mind is the William Rathbun, Beyond the Tanabata Bridge, and in it there are some particularly good close-up photographs of kogin and Nambuhishizashi. I supplemented this material with the excellent photobook of kogin and sashiko, published as part of the Kyoto Shoin Art Library of Japanese Textiles series. I am as much drawn to the coloured wool used in sashiko diamond work from Nambu, as to the austere blue-and-white classic kogin work of Eastern Tohoku.


From there, it was a matter of buckling down and working with proper unbleached kogin thread on a very dark blue commercial kogin cloth, as distributed in Australia by Sanshi. This particular cloth was almost black; I’d recommend a paler colour where available if you don’t want to work in bright direct light (and a good white cloth underneath your work). I was forever holding my work up to the light to see that I’d stitched the correct row of holes – developing in the process a formidable admiration for the women of Tohoku working in winter and at night by candelight.


Only the second from the top is what might be referred to as authentic-traditional; the others are modern takes on traditional motifs. I’ll dig out my notes from these early days and share them with you.


2 Responses to “Kogin – Starting out…”

  1. Debi Says:

    Wow, Rod that is really cool stuff. I can see what you mean by challenging on the eyes though. I rarely pick up a needle other than for temari these days but exploring this technique will have to go on the short list for non-temari stitching time.

    I love the varied techniques you showcase in your blog!

  2. rodbyatt Says:

    Thanks. I will post some more of my kogin efforts, plus a bit more research info I’ve put together. I’m finding temari less stressful and colourful, notwithstanding the wonderful colour effects found in Nambuhishizashi which is what I really want to work on sometime.
    Over time, I’ll upload more on other textile techniques and traditions.
    Best wishes, Rod

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