Fun with temari flowers and Uwagaki Chidori

One of the easiest and fun things you can do as a temari stitcher is to look for unique Uwagaki Chidori patterns, (also known as kiku herringbone stitch) or experiment with  kiku flowers.

As you can see, with the temari in the first two photos, some of the petals have been elongated to stretch over the obi and some were shortened, this gives the temari a unique look from the side, This pattern is available on ; I changed it a bit by adding an obi before stitching the kiku.

The third photo is of a temari I adapted from a photo of a C10, The boarder simply comes up and interlocks with the flower petals to give it a little more visual interest.

Photo four is of a temari I stitch a while back, but it needed something more. It sat for quite awhile before I finally came up with the “W” kiku top layer. I really like the result.

Photo five is a combination of two patterns available on Temarikai. It can be a bit tedious to stitch because you have to keep changing the color of the thread, but the result is worth it.

I don’t remember how I came to stitch the last temari shown. It is not an original creation but I have included it here because it does show just how much you can do with Uwagaki Chidori. I hope this inspires you to experiment with your temari stitching, after all it’s only thread.

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Transiton from Book Pattern to an Original Creation.

I am often asked how I come up with so many personally created temari patterns. I guess the old adage, “Necessity it the mother of invention”, is most likely the first factor that applies. I found it so awkward trying to follow patterns from a book and, at the same time, keep hold of my in progress temari, that I just started to memorize the steps I needed to stitch a temari before I started. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a easy transition, I had to look back at the pattern often in the beginning, but after awhile I was looking back less and less.

The second factor? I also liked to change thing up a bit when I stitched, such as asking my self, “How would this temai look if it were interlocked instead of interwoven?” (In those days we didn’t know the Japanese words, nejiri and kousa.) Then I would stitch the pattern again with whatever modification had occurred to me.

The third factor? I watched what I was doing, really concentrated, right from the start. Even when I was dividing the ball. I noticed that a C division is made up of all right triangles. They are turned every which way, but it is these single right triangles that make up all the other shapes on the mari. A C8 and a C10 are both made up of 4 part diamonds and 6 part triangles. I also watched how things fit together after I started stitching.

That brings us to the fourth factor. I had a lot of trouble dividing a C10 accurately, so when I saw a pattern I liked on a C10 I adapted it to a C8. This really helped me in understanding how different elements fit together on a temari.

All of these factors came together and I found I could pick and choose from the basics that I had learned and put together a pattern of my own, no book necessary. Now I look at books and cruse the internet looking for new (to me) elements that I can put together to come up with a new pattern. I can read how to stitch most temari from a photo, although there are some that give me a very hard time.

The photos show a couple of patterns that I have adapted. The C10 rose and the C8 kiku at the top of the post were adapted from a book pattern of the C8 rose at the bottom of the post. In the photo of 3 temari the simple 16 came from a book pattern, the other 2 were adapted from that pattern.

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Renzoku Flower

This is a Renzoku I stitched more then a year ago. I did not have a pattern, only two photos from an out of print Japanese book. It took me more then a week just to figure out the extra guidelines. This temari requires 5 extra sets, four stars and one hexagon to help me place the stars.  I stitched each set of star guidelines in a different color to help me keep track of where I needed to stitch.

To figure out what guidelines I needed I printed out a photo and looked for the places where the thread changed direction. By looking carefully at the “shadow ridge” left by the stitching I could figure out the angle of the extra guidelines. After that it was a mater of figuring out their spacing (placement) on the ball. Spacing is critical to the final outcome of the pattern, not enough room and the stitching will be crushed in together and undefined, too much and the negative space is to big and not pleasing to the eye. I had to do a lot of ripping out and starting over with this temari, but in the end it was worth the effort.

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Flowers on a C10 temari

I have been asked to talk about my thought processes and decisions when stitching a temari that is a personal creation (not from a pattern). I thought that this  temari would be a good one to talk about because I got a few inquiries about it when I first posted the photo.

After deciding what kind of pattern I am going to stitch I think about mari color. I like dark green for flower patterns so that is what I choose for this ball.

Next I think about the colors of thread I will use. There are a lot of factors that go into color choices. Experience limits many color combo’s. (I have learned that green and blue on a ball is a tricky combo. They tend to blend together and look alike from a distance.)  I choose a bright green because I like to have leaves represented when stitching flower patterns and I needed a color that would show up against the background. I also like to outline my stitching so I knew I would also need a dark green; by laying several shades of green against the ball I could be sure that I got colors that would have enough contrast to show up after stitching, but would still remain pleasing to the eye on the background. I choose 2 or 3 green combos and set them aside. The final decision was made after I chose the flower colors.

Choosing flower colors is usually a tough decision. I have some favorite combos, but I don’t want to get into a rut so I try to change it up. I have learned to look at flower colors in stores, gardens and magazines for inspiration.  When I find a color combo in nature that I like I often force myself to use it. For this temari I choose 3 different color combos, keeping in mind that I needed highly contrasting colors. Next I compared them to my green possibilities and made the final choices.

At first glance this temari looks like the classic kiku on a C10, but there are a few differences. The green was stitched as an HHG. (HHG is a way of stitching half the shapes from north pole to south pole and then come back stitching the other half from south pole to north pole.) It allowed me to stitch without the need to keep track of the stitching order of each individual shape, because all the stars are stitched as one stitching element. I had originally planned to have the “cone” part of the kiku (Uwagake Chidori stitch) covered by the flower but I found that the ball wasn’t large enough to allow it so I adapted and stitched the green kiku right up close to the center of each shape.

Once the green was done it was time to stitch the flower. This was the second layer of stitching. It is a normal 5 pointed kiku element. The most difficult part of this element was getting the stitches up close to the center of each pentagon. It took me years to learn enough needle control to stitch in such limited spaces.

The third layer was one that had been planned right from the beginning. I had experimented with stitching different kiku elements on a C8 and knew I wanted to transfer it to a C10. Space was limited so to get my extra petal points I added rows to the cone part of my stitch but started new rows for the petal points. I had to modify to a “braid” on every other cone to save space.

When I finished the flowers the temari did not pop the way I wanted it too. That is when I decided to add the pentagon frames. I choose a lighter shade of purple then used on the flowers, to set the frames apart, and outlined them in the dark purple. I had to pass my thread under all the green diamonds, but if I were to stitch this temari again I would do it in the same sequence as the frames would have interfered with the HHG if I had stitched them first.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Questions and comments are welcomed.

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My name is Joan and I stitch temari. Temari is the Japanese folk art of embroidery on a ball that goes back 600 years. I discovered it about eleven years ago and knew immediately it was the hobby I had been looking for all my life.

I enjoy investigating various stitching elements of temari and would love to share and discuss my investigations with other stitchers, or just introduce temari to people who have not yet discovered it.

I hope you will enjoy reading my blog and viewing the photos of the temari I stitch.  As we say in temari circles, together we can “share the wa”.

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