Temari in pastel colours: Unique Star

November 19, 2012

I have a whole bunch of relatively unused #5 pearl cotton in pastel colours. Sticking to conventional vivid colours in my temari, there’s little call for them. A design has come up, dubbed “Unique Star”, based on a temari book from Japan published in 2010. Most of my colleagues have attempted complicated versions involving #8 perle cotton thread and large mari. I could tell straight away a lot of thinking had gone into their colour schemes and size of thread, so I dropped everything today to see what I could come up with something a lot simpler: a conventionally-sized ball (30cm circumference) and the pastel #5 pearl cotton I had on hand. With some experience up my sleeve, I can progress to the more difficult ones involving Combination 10/C10.

I started off with a 30cm ball wrapped in off-white and then just picked a range of nine pastels and mid-colours. I wrapped the colours randomly, ensuring no band of similar colour (e.g. two greens) didn’t cross over more than twice at any one “intersection”. I picked yellows, greens, mauves, blues, setting aside all the reds for my main ‘flowers’, largely on the basis of Chijiwa (“Colour Harmony: a Guide to Creative Color Combinations”) who suggests that when working with pastels to have a last one dark colour as an accent. Some of more colleagues have gone for brighter colour shcemes; in this case, they have opted for achromatic colours (black and white) as part of the colour accent or highlight.

What size of ball? I opted for a 30cm circumference in C8 division, aiming to keep things as simple as possible at this stage.

How many rows to lay down in each band? I was concerned about leaving lots of space in the “free-space” triangles on each face (8 triangles on each C8 face and 10 on each C10 face) thinking that was the clue to getting a nice big flower in each centre. Counter-intuitively, it’s not the size of the triangle that matters, but the width of the band that counts – the wider the band, the bigger the flower in the centre. That realization was to come later!

How many rows per band? The overlapping of the bands is a nice variation on ‘plain’ wrapped bands. I opted for 3 rows on either side of a single strand of ecru #10 perle cotton in lieu of metallic thread. I followed the advice given at the temari Yahoo! Group site, Temari Challenge and the bands were done in a lot less time than anticipated.

When it came to the centre flower on each face, I got my mid-colour pink (quite dark against the light background). I started with a strand of white, going over the first band and under the next two in the same direction, stitching in a straight line. I ended up going round and round, merry-go-round style, till reaching the point where I’d started. It was then simply a matter of adding the mid-coloured pink. It’s important to stitch in the middle of each triangle of negative space as you come to it, otherwise your flower petal point will drift. Also the first row, the white in my case, needs to be big – longer than you might think.

It then struck me that if the bands are just 6 rows wide (7 if you count the marking thread), then the maximum space for the flower will be 6 (or 7) too: it’s not possible to fit in any more stitches, though I sneaked an extra seventh one in white #8 pearl cotton. So, as I say, counter-intuitively, widen the bands and you’ll have more space for the flower.

To counter all the white negative space, I stitched identical flowers where there were intersections of six and eight bands. The intersections of six were easier and I came to stitch two ‘triangles’ separately.

I will probably alter every aspect of this ball when I stitch it again: white instead of off-white mari; mid-colour bands rather than pastel on a darker coloured mari; only five rows per centre star (six looks too “strained”); dark pink for the “main” flowers contrasting with a lighter pink for the “minor” flowers; much wider bands; DMC rather than Madame Tricot #5 perle cotton yarn.

Certainly, I  can now safely proceed to larger balls (some are 50cm circumference) as well as finer #8 perle cotton. I can also experiment with stitching the flowers under then over the adjacent bands.


Dream in Temari 3. Japan Temari Cultural Association, 2010.

Chijiiwa, Hideako. Colour Harmony: a Guide to Creative Color Combinations. Rockport, Mass.: Rockport Publishers, 1987.

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