A C10 after Nana Akua – work in progress

May 27, 2017

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Here’s a relatively straightforward pattern by the renowned Japanese temari stitcher, Nana Akua. I’m replicating her original C10 design, as well as considering simpler C8 variations.

Complex 10

The original is in a C10 format and my work-in-progress is the one pictured on the far left. I’ve chosen a dark burgundy red because a strong contrast between the background and the white thread of the hemp leaf pattern is a must. You can see from the yellow C8 version pictured far right how important this tonal contrast is – the white thread won’t stand out if the background is a light or mid-tone colour.

I need to proceed carefully with this size ball, 34cm circumference, because a border involving three diamonds done in pearl cotton 5 can mean the small triangles surrounding the big squares become too tiny, resulting in a “choked” look.

Colour choices

You’ll notice how the colours are adjacent on the colour wheel. Nana Akua’s original is white and orange on a red background, so I’ve replicated this colour format with my yellow/green/white and red-brown/orange/white. I haven’t chosen dark blues or greens because flowers are rarely blue or green. The burgundy ball will be worked in very light purple (instead of a bright white) and a mid-purple (too dark a purple will blend in to the dark background).

Interlocking boundary – the flower & foliage

Nana Akua references the traditional flower temari with her large flower (white stitching on a dark background) surrounded by foliage/leafs/vegetation (two-colour border). I’ve experimented with a boundary made up of either two and three triangles (I steer clear of four because of link to death in Japanese numerology) and in one and two layers. The green-and-white single layer border looks too “thin”.

Asanoha hemp-leaf pattern

The two smaller C8 ones are done in pearl cotton 8 because of the ball size – 26 and 28cm circumference. The yellow one involves single layers of green and white; the brown one involves two layers each of orange and white. The key factor here is keeping a nice balance between the big squares and the surrounding tiny triangles. In working the traditional asanoha or hemp-leaf stitching pattern, two things are important: the inner white square needs to be at 90 degrees to the C8 division lines and two-thirds the distance out from the pole to the C8 division lines forming each large square.

Method of working

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of working. My preferred sequence of stitching is as follows:

  • division lines (either C10 or C8);
  • inner square in each of the six big squares (see picture below – the North Pole is at the top of the photo);
  • starburst inside each inner square – aiming for the dead centre of each of the eight triangles, using pins if necessary, and aim for a symmetrical hemp leaf “square” inside a square (later stitching will correct any mistakes here!) – see picture below;
  • stitching connecting the starburst with the inner square outline – start with the inner square outline and “collect” each starburst stitch as you go (this will enhance the starburst stitches;
  • stitch the interlocking two-colour ‘boundary’ (starting with the middle of each large square) making sure you go over-and-under to get the best possible interlocking in each of the three triangles (two triangles doesn’t look as effective);
  • extend each of the asanoha stitches, passing beneath the two-colour boundary. This magically “pulls up” the previous stitches.
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