Monday, January 31, 2011

Weaving Designs for Fill

The TemariChallenge group "Flower Challenge" is still challenging me! I'm working on the third of 12 pentagons to be filled with some of my favorite flowers. I've chosen the cute, little forget-me-not flower for the next one. For the background, I've stitched a hexagonal weave and will place the blue and yellow flowers on top. What's a hexagonal weave? The topic for today's post - that's what it is.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunflower - Flower Temari Challenge

Sunflower Temari

I can't count the number of sunflowers that I've stitched on temari - so many! This is the first one with a woven center. Usually, I fill the center by stitching a lot of French knots or by just stitching around the guidelines (around and around and around from the center outwards). This version is more stylized than the others with having so much open space for the petals. I did a lot of frogging (rip it, rip it) and restitching to experiment and am finally happy with the result. Since I might use this temari for my JTA Level 4 certification one day, I want to make each flower look new and different by combining some traditional temari stitches with some traditional Western surface embroidery stitches and other fiber techniques.  So far, so good.

First post on Flower Temari Challenge gives info on making and marking the ball. 

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures in progress! I have a really nice set up in my office/studio/sewing room. My desk is by a window so I can watch the birds and squirrels gorge themselves at the feeders outside. I have a computer on the desk and a light box with camera set up on a table just to my right. The table is actually and old interior door that sits on top of two filing cabinets. So I can sign on to Netflix, watch an instant download TV show or movie, stitch, snap photos, and make notes on my computer, all within easy reach. I'm in heaven!  When I stitched this sunflower, I was so wrapped up in watching Doc Watson on Netflix that I totally forgot about stopping to take pictures. Sorry about that! I know they are a big help. So I've done some extra drawings to replace those photos. I lived in Cornwall, England,  for a few years during my wild and impetuous youth so I love the scenery, the villages, and even the characters in Doc Watson. They remind me of some fun but challenging (dirt poor) times.

Back to the sunflower - here's the quick version of what I did. All thread is Caron Watercolors.

1. Woven center: pin a 1.75cm radius paper circle guide to the center of the 10-part pentagon. Outline the circle with inconspicuous thread (stem stitches). Remove paper circle.  With #164 Cinnabar, stitch parallel rows of single thread straight across to fill the circle (like a satin stitch shown on Sharon B's site).  Next, use the same thread to stitch and weave at right angles to the first stitching. Weave under 2 and over 2.

2. Layered pentagons: pin a 2.0cm radius paper circle guide to the center. Place pins at the edge of the paper circle next to all guidelines. Remove paper circle. Stitch 2 pentagons, layered, with #275 Daffodil (7 rows on each pentagon). Make sure the first pentagon rows cover the edges of the woven center.

3. Herringbone: first add extra guidelines. With copper metallic thread, stitch on top of the original 10-part pentagon guidelines, going under the woven area in the center.
First row herringbone: place guide pins for the outside points of the herringbone 1cm inwards from the end of each guideline (from the edge of the triwing stitching). The inside points of the herringbone begin in the woven center, near the edge. With #275 Daffodil, stitch one row herringbone on each set of guidelines to make a layered herringbone design.

 Second row (same thread): stitch 1 row  kiku herringbone, placing stitches at inside points under and around the previous row. Place stitches for the outside points very close to the triwings (leave room for one more stitch).


Third row (same thread): stitch around the outside of the flower, connecting the outside points.

That's it! A new sunflower.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace - Flower Temari Challenge

Queen Anne's Lace 

In our TemariChallenge Yahoo group, we have a challenge going to stitch a flower sampler with 12 different flowers. Each person picks their favorite flowers and shares pictures and tips on making it. This is definitely advanced stitching so if you are new to temari, please don't be blown away! You can stitch the same flower on a ball that isn't marked or you could mark a simple division and stitch a flower on the north pole and another on the south pole. This idea with the challenge is to work at your own level, learn from everyone else, and enjoy stitching flowers. I realize that we don't all speak the same temari "language" so if you have trouble understanding me, have a look at the glossary on my website. I hope that will help.

Here's the first one I've done - Queen Anne's Lace.  This has been one of my favorite flowers since I was a kid. It's also known as a wild carrot. Yes, you really can eat the root.

Step 1

Here's a quick overview of how I made this one. Wrap a 51cm circumference temari with MaxiLock Spruce thread. Mark in a combination 10-division with inconspicuous thread. All the stitching is done with Caron Watercolors separated so you use just one strand in the needle. With #206 Guacamole (yellowish green), stitch a solid hexagon in the center of each 6-part triangle (4 rows). Then stitch continuous triwings ( 2 rows #065 Emerald and 1 row #089 Caribbean). Now the ball has 12 pentagons ready for filling with flowers.

Step 2
Make paper templates for 3 flowers. One should be a full circle about 4cm diameter; one should be an oval about 3cm by 2 cm; one should be a half circle that is a 5cm full circle folded in half.   Fold each into 8 sections and mark the section lines with a pencil. Arrange the paper shapes in a pentagon. Place pins at the outer edges of the circles at the pencil lines.

Step 3
Remove the paper templates and use metallic green thread to stitch guidelines. For each flower, stitch a  herringbone with #206 Guacamole. Add lots of French knots (3 wraps for each) with #078 pearl.  Use #206 Guacamole to make the flower stem (stem stitch, of course!).

 I'm not sure which flower is next. I have lots of favorites. Maybe I'll go for a sunflower.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to make a temari ball

To make a temari:
first, dress in kimono (just kidding!)

Isn't she lovely?! My daughters always loved to dress up and were happy to wear kimono for an afternoon and let me take some photos. I took this about eight years ago to show how to wrap the core with thread. There is a lot of information on my website about making temari. The list of temari techniques is on a How-To page.
Tips on making the ball are on a separate page here: How to make a round Japanese temari ball.

Back when I took that picture, I used to place cones of serger thread in cups on the floor for the last steps in the wrapping process. Now, I don't use the cups since the cones stand up just fine without the cups. The trick is to keep the cones of thread close together and hold your temari directly above them. Then wrap, watch TV, watch a movie, relax, listen to music or whatever you like to pass the time while you cover the ball with thread. Click on those links above to learn more about making a temari ball.

Hometown Temari by Tomokazu Arai
One of the best investments in temari I ever made was getting this book translated. It was published in Japanese in 1990. The author traveled across the country and interviewed temari makers to document how they learned the craft as well as their techniques and designs. By the photos of the artists in the book, I can see he interviewed a lot of old ladies! Furosato no Temari is filled with photographs of temari and the stories behind them. 

The ingredients they used in their temari were mostly natural and taken from what was abundant around the residence of the artist. A traditional way to make the core in Tsuruoka City was to take a clamshell, fill it with sand, pack wood chips around it, then wrap it again with zenmai (fern fibers), and complete by wrapping the core with thread.

In the old days of Matsumoto, people went into the mountains and collected cocoons to use as cores. They rolled fern fibers around them, then stitched the design with thread dyed with plant extracts such as indigo. In many cases, the stitching was only the last, small part of the whole process. 

A temari maker from Muraoka used grass seeds for the core to make her temari hard enough to bounce.

In Shuugetsu temari, a seashell with a small stone in it was used as the core, then wrapped with rice husks. This temari made a very light sound when shaken. 

I hope these little stories inspire you to look around your home and garden to select ingredients for the core of your temari that will not only make a good ball for stitching but have some meaning when it's all done. When making temari as a gift, that's what I do. Think about the recipient and look for meaningful ingredients. I might make a little noise box and fill it with sea shells, shiny beads, or beans. Drop that into a sock filled with dried lavender or a rice hulls/rose petal combination. Wrap with yarn leftover from an old craft project. And finally cover the ball in a thread color I think he/she will like. It seems I'm usually making temari in quantity for publication or teaching projects, so I don't take the time to do all this "feel good" preparation. But I sure love it when I do.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Obsessed with round things"

Obsessed? Yes, that's me. My publisher Anne Knudsen once said to me in her lovely British accent, "your books are wonderful for people obsessed with round things!" Coming from someone who has published many quilt books, her comment was well received here. And I was really happy to think there would be enough people "obsessed with round things" to buy our books. I love everything about Japanese temari - stitching them, studying photographs, writing patterns, and sharing them.

Early one vacation morning, I was sharing a sofa with my brother, a psychologist and an avid golfer. He was reading the paper and I was drinking coffee, watching the morning news, and trying to wake up. Quietly he said "you know it's okay to be obsessed with some things." Thinking he was talking about his passion for golf (so strong that he wins a heck of a lot of  amateur tournaments), I think I may have grunted and gone back to sipping my coffee. Later, it occurred to me that he may have been slipping a comforting, psychological nugget into my mind in case I was concerned about being so obsessed with Japanese temari that I spend hours each day "at work" with them. I smile at the thought that we are both obsessed with our balls - he with his little white golf balls and me with my brilliantly hued, handmade embroidered ones :)

I haven't yet figured out exactly why temari are so addictive to some of us. I've got a few ideas, though, and think a blog like this is a super place to share those ideas and also share the path I follow down the road of my "obsession with round things." Later this year, that path will lead me and two good buddies to Kyoto and Tokyo to meet with some temari masters. We want to share the tale of  our journey and to inspire many stitchers along the way.

BTW, those are kokeshi dolls holding temari in the photo. I'm obsessed with them, too. I think my brother would be okay with that.