Temari balls – Wrapped Bands vs Spindles?

July 13, 2009


A problem I experienced early on was trying to discern from photos of temari, for which there were no accompanying patterns or instructions, whether or not the balls used the wrapped band technique or whether they were in fact stitched ‘spindles’ – I think the word in Japanese is tsumu. The two above, from Cosmo Book 1, are wrapped bands, even though their convergence at the obi looks like they are spindles. They could well be done as spindles, but wrapping the yarn is the simpler method. I started with the white on either side of the silver metallic jiwari, graduated to the grey (which links both balls visually) and then overlaid them with the yellow (and pink on the other). In true Japanese style, the ‘engineering’ of temari balls requires any potential loose elements to be secured, so there is a star pattern of silver metallic around each of the poles. On the one hand it looks like an aesthetic touch, but it really is all about securing yarn to the ball. And Japanese temari often display incredibly ingenious ways at securing potentially loose yarn in this way!


These two were definitely stitched and not wrapped: the top one was done as spindles and comes from the ‘purple’ book. Ideally the end of the spindle reaches the obi or the obi is wrapped over the edges because the eye prefers this level of continuity, with no ‘breaks’ or ‘gaps’ visually. The lower of the two is in the kiku chrysanthemum style and starting a third up from the equator is stitched back to the obi, here in an ungen or graduated colour scheme, from green through yellow to white. Though of course this could also be wrapped to the other pole! Which leads me to the next style…


This is the traditional North-South pole wrapped band style, where the stitch is at one pole and the thread is wrapped down past the obi to the other pole – called Merry-go-round in the West. In the lower of the two, the bands are wrapped one on top of the other, whereas in the top of the two they are interwoven,i.e. each thread is woven with the next. The colour scheme of the top I’m not so wrapped in, but the second is a delight – green-yellow, pink, maroon and white – taken straight from the colour wheel. There is an Australian beading company which is big on a similar ‘black olive-and-pale green grape’ colour scheme, which is irresistible.


The top one here involves wrapped bands to form a pattern on the two poles, but the second involves interweaving while stitching spindles. You’ll see here the subtle use of beige or cream as a background colour in the lower of the two, and the not-so-subtle use of bright white in the top. And lastly, the noshi style:


Where we have wrapped bands interwoven at the poles and creating a ‘sheaf’ like motif at the obi, this represents the traditional noshi motif, enormously common in all Japanese textiles. Originally strips of dried abalone, they have become over time, strips of paper tied in the centre. So this ‘sheaf’-like motif becomes noshi or what we call Wishing Papers in the West. Obviously to retain the noshi motif, there is no wide obi; instead a very thin, knot-like tie. In the top one I used a vintage synthetic rayon yarn as the defining outer edge of each wrapped band as well as the jiwari guideline for the equator; I retained this guideline and used orange thread to tie the ‘knot’ around the middle point of the noshi. I opted for some gold metallic thread as both the defining obi around the equator of the second, slipping around the wrapped bands to form the noshi tie there as well. These two were worked from the Anne Diamond book. The key is having a graceful and even-looking intersection of bands (and band outlines – top here in pale yellow and lower in white) at the noshi-tie at the equator!

I’ll return to add dimensions and details about source pattern information. Tomorrow I’ll return to the kiku theme with some photos of real chrysanthemum flowers on display in Japan!


2 Responses to “Temari balls – Wrapped Bands vs Spindles?”

  1. Barb S. Says:

    Interesting, Rod! You’ve turned out some nice temari in your study.

  2. Alice Maynez Says:

    This is awesome. Thanks so much for all the information. I take Lessons from Diana Vandervoort. She developes her patterns from the japanese books.

    I agree with you. There is a great lack of patterns from those who share their photos in the Temari websites. Thanks for bringing that up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: