Temari ball – “sea anemone”

August 2, 2011

25.25cm circumf, perle cottone #5, Ozaki Cosmo 1 (color photo p.24, pattern p.51)

I’ve always been attraced by the look of this one: a sea anemone crawling over a coral reef, or so my mind works.

This has been useful practice in two ways: working with a double thread and the shitagake chidori stitch. Working a double thread requires a lot of additional grooming to lay the threads flat. Working the shitagake chidori kagari stitch (working under each previous stitch rather than over) is compensated somewhat by the fact you can groom the stitches into a wide curve afterwards.

Ue and shita

Kumihimo braiding on the takadai loom requires constantly juggling of ue and shita (pronounced “shta”), overs and unders. So too in temari, with uwa and shita, as in uwagake kagari and shitagake kagari. I love the word “gake” to describe an embroidery stitch because it comes from “hake” or brush – the idea of an embroidery stitch being equivalent to a brush stroke in Japanese calligraphy is very poetic! Chidori (also used in kumihimo braiding) is equally poetic since it denotes the wonderful plover bird found everywhere in Japanese design. In the West we use a fish reference “herringbone”; the Japanese use a bird metaphor.

Double Thread Stitching

Working a double thread is viewed as being more efficient than working a single thread: you get to double the coverage in the same amount of time. However for me the main advantage of working double thread is that you get a nice “thick” padded look at the herringbone point. Double threading is used extensively in Ozaki’s Cosmo volume 1. It might be just me, but I get the distinct impression that double thread stitching seems to be used less now than it used to be.

My only problem (and this happened with the next ball as well) was in following the pattern exactly I ran out of space for the number of stitched rounds required. The pattern called for six rows of dark purple followed by a gold: I could only fit in four of the purple. My reading of the Japanese instructions was also unsure: I have to assume the lower layer started 1.5cm from the equator and the upper layer 2cm – can’t tell if the measurements should have been the other way round. And my pink/purple didn’t come all the way down the marking threads inside the yellow/green (though may have if I could have fitted in the additional three rows – but would be far longer than the yellow/green). Curious! I would haven’t thought a deficiency of just 75mm in the circumference would make that much difference.

Internal geometric logic  

You’ll notice Ozaki’s wonderful sense of internal balance in this temari ball: the round of light pink imitated elsewhere in the single round of green, with a neat geometric progression in the number of rounds in the yellow and dark purple. I haven’t done it here, but there’s additional visual elegance in Ozaki’s, contrasting two rounds (pink, green) and four/six rounds (purple and yellow); in not following this (mine is 1:4 not 2:4:6) the final look in mine is less convincing.

Colour relationships

It goes without saying that we’re talking about complementary colours here: yellow is opposite violet and yellow-green is opposite red-violet. Two adjacent colours (yellow and yellow-green) contrasted with their direct opposites. Of course a good deal of white has been added to all these colours to tone them down and mix more easily. A suitable colour for the mari to go with this colour combination is interesting: I ended up going for a dark-toned yellow-orange (which sets right next to yellow). I could have used a true green, on the other side of yellow-green.

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