Temari Maltese Cross

November 23, 2012

24.5cm circumference, #5 perle cotton.

I noticed the traditional Japanese burgundy-gold combination used in a sageo sword belt on Flickr recently so I decided to use these colours in a simple, straightforward design I call “Maltese Cross”, from the shape of the cross at each pole, creating a visual illusion when one stitch thread colour is the same as the background mari colour.

The one on the left was done a few years ago, the one on the right is a re-visit nearing completion.

I wrapped 21cm circumference balls and picked out DMC colours 815 burgundy and 783 old gold, a bit more than half a skein each by the look of it. I ought to do them in Kyo thread sometime for added sheen.

I’ve noticed that I stitched the one on the left with 15 rows of both colours, creating a lovely curved shape to the ‘flower petals’, whereas I’ve stopped at 10 rows on the one on the right. For some strange reason, I’ve already reached the equator on my latest one, but theoretically it’s possible to add more rows because the equator will be covered with an obi band. I started the herringbone stitching 1/2 way between the equator and the pole; perhaps I’m “stretching the points” better these days.

You’ll notice with the one on the left the single threads in both colours added at the centre and on each of the ‘petals’, to complete the visual illusion. This “covering” technique is not common; it certainly, here, throws the focus on to the lustre of the metallic thread at the centre of the flower. I think use of metallic thread for division lines is something that is quite necessary with this ball.

Ways of developing this pattern?

(1) I’d like to stitch some six-petalled flowers (six-pointed crosses). I’ve seen this four-point cross created with eight petals/points, but I think that’s a step too far (see Ozaki, Beautiful temari,/Utsukushii temari  “purple” Olympus  book, ball #15, p.7). though it’s all a matter of personal taste and making the centre of each cross as interesting as possible.

(2) There is a certain austerity in any temari stitched in just two colours. The same Maltese Cross effect can be done using three colours: a two-coloured cross against a background of a different colour (see Ozaki, Beautiful temari/Utsukushii temari, “purple” Olympus book, pp.32-33). You’ll notice that Ozaki uses gold metallic thread as the last row on all the herringbone ‘petals’ to good effect.

(3) As for stitching additional design elements, I’m hesitant because they might detract from the overall simplicity. You’d have to add design elements if working on a C10 – some sort of framing device around each cross; I’ve never seen a Maltese Cross adapted to a C10 division.

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