Temari ball – Masu (square)

September 27, 2011

16cm circumference, perle cotton 5

The masu or rice-measuring cup is often seen in Japanese textiles. It is also one of the first designs that temari stitchers learn, especially those of us in the West who learn from books. Ozaki’s My Temari Beginner’s Course presents the basic building blocks – masu, triwings, merry-go-rounds, spindles, five-pointed star – all using a Simple 4 (S4) division. In this book, Ozaki presents five variations on the masu, all with one square at each pole and with different stitching around the obi equator area. It’s a good way to start, before upgrading to Complex 8 (C8) divisions and stitching six squares on the ball.

I’ve made a continuity error here in stitching the squares with a single-thread and the decoration in double-thread. I’ve noticed Ozaki doesn’t mix the two.

Colour-wise, I’ve used her red/green complementary colour arrangement, with a yellow highlight, all on black.

Culturally speaking, the masu reaches back in time to Japan’s agricultural foundations and rice as staple food. Rice is embedded in the words used to describe meal times. The wooden, cube-like, measuring cup has long gone as a functional object, though the cup itself lives in on in ceremonial sake wine tasting. It still retains rich overtones of personal success and mastery as well as providing sustenance to the group or team. So it’s hardly surprising that it’s linked to a temari-maker’s own initial steps in proving ability and success.  

Spring has sprung where I am and one’s thoughts turn naturally to Japanese Temari Association certification – how far one has come, planning for the year ahead. Around this time of year, I like to re-visit the masu and other basic surface designs, just to see how far I’ve progressed, or not. Here below is one from 2008. The lessons, then as now, are the same: keeping the jiwari division lines straight throughout; even stitching and even tension, keeping in mind the compensation required for the curve of the surface; alternating effectively between close focus and looking at the ball as a whole. Stitching as well as one can means the six squares gently meeting up nicely, as much a mark of even stitching as of creating a perfectly round ball in the first place, itself a pre-requisite for kousa and Complex 10 divisions of greater complexity. 

28 cm circumference, perle cotton 5 (Cosmo brand, slightly thinner than other brands)

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