I’ve explored some possibilities of a design by Nana Akua, experimenting with ball size, colour palette and thread size along the way.

From left: 28cm circumference, pearl cotton 8 in white and orange and a tan ball; 26.5cm circumference, pearl cotton 8 in white and pale green on a bright yellow ball; 34cm circumference, pearl cotton 5 in purple and white on a burgundy ball and a 41.5cm circumference, pearl cotton 8 in orange and white on a red ball.

The most obvious feature to note is tonality and the need to get sufficient contrast between the background colour and the white thread. The yellow ball fails in this regard, but in the others the white stands out sufficiently. What I found interesting is the need in the red multi-centre ball to use very bright orange and very bright red threads, far stronger colour than I thought necessary. Optically, the orange and red in the border mix to form a general mid-tone orange, which fits the bill tonally.

To make my point about tonality, look what happens when I take the colour out. The contrast between light, mid-tone and dark tones works well with the multicenter; the others are more distinctly dark and light with no contrasting mid-tones.

Of course, if I was submitting any ball for JTA certification, I’d want to stitch it and take a desaturated, black-and-white photo first to check tonality was the best it could be!


One not so obvious feature is the sequence of stitching. After experimenting with stitching the coloured borders first, I found it easier to stitch all the white thread flax-leaf first. That involved stitching the flax-leaf motifs within each boundary, then joining the motifs via a series of triangles and diamonds. Most often, the stitching of the triangles and diamonds sorts out any geometrical issues with the motifs, but (as you can see the photo of my multi-center) care needs to be taken with the hexagons (!).

The next fun part of this journey with this Nana Akua design is an online stitchalong with TemariChallenge. I look forward to seeing what my colleagues come up with!







Exif_JPEG_PICTUREExif_JPEG_PICTUREs02 orange.jpg

A student of mine sought my advice about making a small kiku herringbone temari as a special gift, with particular colours in mind. I gave her the following advice, complete with a 21.5cm circumference sample:

  1. Stitch three balls: the first to revise/consolidate the stitching, the second to think about the number of layers/rows and colours and the third to give away.
  2. The number of layers/rows for each colour is significant: a single row of colour can too often be “lost” in its surroundings, two rows makes a solid statement and three becomes a “band” of colour.
  3. The combination of colours is significant. I urge my students to work with ungen or shaded colour from light to dark in the Japanese tradition. Often the final layer can be significant, as shown in the example I provided: one hemisphere has a final row of dark blue (which seems to “lock in” the petals and reinforces the strong contrast between ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ colours) and the other hemisphere has a final row of orange which moves the colour palette more to ‘warm’ colours.
  4. The overall size of the ball can be significant (because the bigger the ball, the more the layers/rows), so I gave her two divided blank balls to consider, one at 27cm and the other at 30cm circumference.
  5. I like to keep the obi a green colour, in reference to the vegetation surrounding the flowers.

I’m pleased to report the ball my student stitched was exquisitely done!

I took a 17cm-circumference styrofoam ball and prepared a mari 24cm-circumference with Simple 8 (S8) divisions on a dark green background.

I stitched the “basket” first in one hemisphere of the ball. It will be made up of nine rows of stitches in three shades of green. I will add the “flower” in the other hemisphere of the ball later on.

Photo 1. This shows the equator. Adding pins 1/3 up from the equator on all eight division lines, I added extra division lines between all the pins. If you like, you can alter the distance of the pins from the equator as follows: 1cm = four rows of stitching.

Photo 2. This is a shot of the “basket” hemisphere head-on. The orange pin is my starting point for my stitching; I move to the  red pin, keeping at all times to the left of the division line. I continue the stitch around the ball till I end up at the orange pin where I started. Half the round is one side of the division line; the other half of the round is on the other side of the division line.

Photo 3. This shows the ‘basket’ hemisphere after stitching four rows.

Photo 4. This shows the ‘basket’ hemisphere after stitching nine rows.

My next step is to do the same stitching on the remaining four divisions, interleaving each stitch at the equator, so the points at the top of the basket will be overlapping.

Temari Teaching Aid

September 28, 2016

A temari student of mine is currently working on stitching Complex 10 divisions, stitching on a pale blue mari. As a teaching aid, I developed this sequence of three balls, with the same design: a small Simple 10, a larger Complex 10 and also a 32-pole version.



Temari C10

March 28, 2016


Temari March 2016

My three most recent temari balls, 35cm circumference/pearl cotton 5.


Temari January 2016

Two examples of S16 kiku, exploring purple on black.


Temari February 2016


I recently came across a design variation of the classic herringbone kiku, as stitched by a local sensei, Chihiro Kownacki. I decided to have a go.

Up until now, my herringbone kiku stitching has involved a zigzag from one division to the next; these two balls show what’s possible when stitching in the normal zigzag pattern, from pole to equator and back up to pole, but across two divisions.

The paler of the two was the first one stitched and the overly prominent opening at the pole was too wide. I decided to amp up the purple in a second ball and decrease the pole circle to good effect.

Pale: 28.5cm circumference, S16 in Anchor metallic thread on a black mari; pearl cotton 5 – 2 rows each of white, blue, purple then a final, single row yellow gold. 

Dark: 30cm circumference, S16 in Anchor metallic thread on a black mari; pearl cotton 5 – 2 rows each of yellow gold, white, light purple, dark purple.



More preparation for my upcoming workshop.

I’ve prepared all the mari and cut all the stitching threads. I’ve affectionately dubbed these “Burwood 1, 2, 3 and 4”, based on the location where I’ll be teaching.

Building one basic skill after another, they alternate between ‘geometric’ and ‘flower’. They move (anti-clockwise from lower right) from kiku (#1) to interlocked bands (#2)  to interweaving (#3) to combining both bands and kiku (#4). Each introduces a new division: S4, S8, C8 and S6 and two types of obi.

The white background mari will get students to “bury” their stitches without showing. If students want, they can half-complete these in class (one hemisphere) and finish them at home.

I’ll be touching on colour theory as well: complementary colours, primaries and tertiaries, graded colour (ungen), as well as combining colour with monochrome.