On tackling Intermediate Level temari balls

April 16, 2017

I’ve spent the last year or so teaching temari ball stitching to beginners but have recently taken time out to think about new challenges and opportunities. New directions have developed out of having had the pleasure of meeting other temari stitches in my local area. I’d never have imagined it, but local lace makers are very proficient and experienced in stitching temari – a new source of inspiration, far more motivating than interacting with a virtual community of stitchers online with its intrinsic distance and indifference!


When I first started stitching Intermediate Level temari, I adopted the same approach I’d been using with Beginner temari: look at the pattern, visualise where threads are stitched and then jump in.

This approach didn’t work and proved to be very dispiriting.

Since then, I’ve realised there are two options available. The first involves computer technology and specifically software which allows the stitcher to plot stitches on a blank virtual ball. The process is slow, but the chief advantage is that you allow a machine to do the imagining instead of the mind.

I’ve hit upon a second option, which involves the “trial” stitching of an entire ball. The chief advantage is that a “rough” attempt at an intermediate ball can be knocked out in a relatively short period of time – one to three days working part-time. The downside is that it looks rough, is less than perfect and, unless it’s to be used later for teaching purposes, needs to be thrown away or stitched over. Yes, there is ‘wasted’ thread involved. But one can test colours more thoroughly and certainly assess spacing and numbers of threads required with much greater accuracy.

My source for my first two experiments has been Yukio Hisayama and Hiroko Takimoto’s book, Kii temari (Macaw, 1993, ISBN 4-8377-0933-3).


Test ball #1 – Kii temari #7, p.5 and p.44

I followed the recommended size of 36cm circumference, but after that I was on my own. The pattern inside the small squares is standard over-under interlocking, but certainly the stitching inside the hexagons is not standard over-under interlocking and, as shown by posts to the Temari Challenge Groups.io website, the hexagon interlocking requires more appreciation and understanding than I’m capable of.

What I did do, however, was use a standard over-under interlocking in both squares and hexagons. Standard interlocking inside the hexagons is used by the book’s authors in ball #4 on the same page 5, so the experience on my part wasn’t entirely wasted.

I abandoned the ball late in the piece mainly because the division lines were less than 1/32″ in accuracy. And frankly, if your division lines are 1/32″ out, one is are wasting one’s time stitching any “all-over” design and expecting perfection.

The good news is that I feel very confident about tackling ball #4 on page 5 of Kii temari!


Test ball #2 – Kii temari #3, p.8 and p,.32

Again, I followed the recommended size of 30cm circumference, but was left to my own devices after that. I had stitched a similar ball years ago.

I stuck with the same dark green mari, full thickness of DMC gold metallic thread for the C8 divisions, a pure optic white and a slightly darker red than Chinese Red.

What I’ve learned from an afternoon stitching this “trial” ball is as follows:

  • the ball has to be divided accurately within 1/32″ accuracy, anything more than this is fatal;
  • somehow or other the red triangles have to be stitched so they are parallel to all sides at all times;
  • I have doubts about the 1/2 marking required for the initial red stitches because the authors stitch 6 strips of 4 rows each and I only managed three – either that, or the thread is pearl cotton 8 not 5.
  • don’t interweave the strips of red in the ‘carnation petals’
  • the tone of green going around the outside of each square is wrong (and obviously needs to be wider – probably eight rows wide).


I just may have solved the problem of my tackling Intermediate Level balls. It’s just a pity it’s taken me six or seven years to come this conclusion!


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