I am currently working on my first attempt at Sashiko embroidery. This is a traditional Japanese form of embroidery, which was originally used by by rural communities as a way of recycling old textiles. It has now taken on a new life to become a popular craft as people try to keep alive traditions from the past. The project I am working on is a design for a cushion cover and is a pack that Emma brought back for me from her holiday in Japan.
Working from a pack is a good way to start with Sashiko, as everything you need is in the pack. The special strong needles, the cotton threads, a needle threader and the fabric – a very fine, 28 ct linen. Of even greater advantage for a beginner the pattern is pre-printed on the fabric. I have since discovered that this particular pattern is known in Japan as Hemp Leaf, apparently a very common and popular pattern. I am about half way through the work and here is a section.
As you can see this version of the Hemp Leaf is well spaced out, again eminently suitable for a beginner. Traditionally Sashiko was stitched with white threads on indigo blue fabric. Mine is clearly a thoroughly modern style. The stitch itself is simple enough – a basic running stitch. The difficulty for me at least, is that you are expected to work without a frame of any kind. A further difficulty is that the needle is meant to be held still and the fabric pushed onto the needle in successive pleats at the same time. So far I have not mastered this art. I can just about manage two bits of fabric at the one time.
I am enjoying this adventure into the world of Sashiko embroidery, and will probably try some more. The simplicity of the designs is most attractive and similar in many ways to blackwork. I particularly like the white on blue combination. A good way to use up some of my stash of blue linen.
While away on holiday in Switzerland, visiting Emma and Alessio, I managed to keep up some embroidery. I brought out material for a two more Four Way Bargello pieces. I finished off one, which I left behind with Emma. The other was almost complete, but I ran out of the grey thread and could not find a thread shop in Kilchberg. So I had to bring it back with me and finish it off here. Both are now ensconced in IKEA frames. I used the same design for both – tulip pattern from the book Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. The first one was stitched with purple and yellow threads and the second with blue and orange threads. In both cases the background is in grey. I used three strands of Anchor cotton throughout. Here they are.