Temari ball – temari obi yubinuki

December 31, 2013


Here’s a photo of tiny temari balls, complete with a centimeter ruler so you can get an idea of their size.

The ones at left are from Japan; the mari is made of rice hulls and the stitching thread is very fine silk, approx. 12cm circumference.

The ones at right were made by me several years ago. The formal term is temari obi yubinuki, or ‘temari made with an equator band in the style of a Japanese thimble ring’. Like most stitchers attempting this style of temari, I was disappointed at the time by the uneven edges. There are all sorts of different obi designs possible, but these ones are  are taken directly from the yubinuki thimble ring tradition: the purple/orange and red/green are ‘bicolor scales’ (the Japanese use the word uroko, evoking dragon scales which is a common design element in yubinuki and kumihimo). The mari  are approx 18-18.5cm circumference and have been stitched with thick pearl cotton 5. The three are all based on D8 or have 8 equal divisions or segments around the ball.

For anyone with the Takahara and Oonishi yubinuki books to hand, the beginner ‘bicolor scales’ pattern is at page 22 ring 13 and page 81 (Takahara) and page 29 and 60-61 (Oonishi). The chequerboard pattern in orange and white is a slightly more difficult pattern – see page 37 and 81 (Oonishi).


I’ve made teenie temari on occasion, admittedly in a hurry and not with very fine thread. Probably the smallest ‘proper’ tiny temari  I’ve made (that is, with any degree of finesse) is a white flower with purple obi, second from the left, at 15.5cm circumference, done entirely in pearl cotton 8.

Creeping up stealthily on stitching yubinuki thimble rings, I want to develop my competency with fine thread by practising on temari obi yubinuki first. So my next step is this: work up a dozen or so small temari at 14cm circumference with pearl cotton 8, progressing eventually to pearl cotton 20, 40 and 60 if I can find colors which aren’t light pastels, given I’m entering the (Western) domain of crochet.

To this end, the black temari in the centre is a S8 or Simple 8, chosen specifically because the basic yubinuki thimble ring patterns are based on 8 divisions/segments. Why black? Yubinuki stitcher ‘Chloe Patricia’ notes that while red is often a very common color for thimble rings, she prefers black, presumably because the highlighting effect it has on the stitched thread colors.

Previous experience with temari obi yubinuki has taught me several critically important things. These issues are tucked away in Ginny Thompson’s thorough discussion of temari obi yubinuki at http://www.temarikai.com, but are worth singling out here:

* limiting the width of the obi as much as possible – the stitching looks more convincing on a flatter rather than strongly curving base; the temptation for any temari stitcher is to go for a third the way up from the equator to the poles (the common aesthetic ‘rule’), but that will make for too wide a band;

* add (and secure by tacking) division lines marking the desired width of the band – these can in fact be removed when the ball is finished – but above all make sure they are as parallel as possible at all times (since they affect the finished look of the edges);

* stitch above (not around) the outer additional division line marking the width of the band;

* the division lines and equator (here in a gold pearl cotton 20) need to be very securely tacked so they don’t move;

* a pin in the north pole position has to be in position the whole time I’m stitching the ball – knowing which direction is “up” is critical;

* the start position (koma 1 or “1” in the printed instructions) and the direction for stitching around the ball has to be unambiguous – so a green pin will be going above koma 1 and a red pin further away (the one denoting “start” and the other “finish” will become permanent reminders of the correct stitching direction: needless to say, these pins will stay in position until I’ve done with stitching the ball.

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