Sashiko, Japanese traditional pattern stitching, is an interesting geometrical challenge. Equally interesting is discovering the meaning of the old Japanese patterns; some refer to nature scenes. Like ‘Linked Plovers or Chidori Tsunagi’:
‘Wind blowing Grasses or nowaki’,
‘Diamond Blue Waves or hishi seigaiha’.
With the help of transparent geometrical templates bought Aliexpress, I copy and design the Sashiko patterns on paper and later transfer them to fabric. What I also like about the stitched geometry of Japan is the level of abstraction of the designs. Iron Age artists mastered abstraction; think about the Uffington White Horse in the UK.
As I love using details and details in details, abstraction is a great challenge to me. Which lines can you erase and still have a flower, bird, or horse? Which lines are essential? And how does a geometrical design help the human brain to perceive abstract images and connect them to our life?
What have I learned so far about Sashiko? A lot! I should preform 10x better by stepping up in neatness, using better colours, and that the backside of the fabric shouldn’t look like a migraine. I can also speed up by using a longer needle. I wish that I could buy Kazu thread but I can’t read Japanese, so I can only buy Sashiko yarn via the English version of Amazon.co.jp. Last, by posting about Sashiko, I gained some very inspiring contacts, like Watts Sashiko who has ventured into the world of Sashiko much deeper. My artist friend Sybille Tezzele Kramer spontaneously invented Sashiko. You should see her process. And Megan Williams, who makes Sashiko a creative meditation in which she remembers her beloved father. Sashiko is a world that bubbles with creativity.
Sashiko (刺し子, literally “little stabs” or “little pierce”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era (1615-1868). Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches, making the darned piece ultimately stronger and warmer,this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth (said to recall snow falling around old farmhouses) gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread.
The indigo blue fabric, beautiful pastel coloured thread, and traditional Japanese patterns captivate me. I can’t help but finding Sashiko irresistible.
Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era. Sashiko works with modern and traditional patterns. ‘Wind Blown Grass Motif, or Nowaki’, is one of my favourite patterns. Nowaki stands for a late autumn (fall) wind-storm in the countryside, or a typhoon, especially one that blows from the 210th to the 220th day of the year. Sashiko’s Wind in Grass is a static and repetitive pattern, yet it charms.
The last time that I enjoyed looking at the wind playing with grass was during my summer holiday. I was standing in front of a window of a holiday cottage and noticed how the wind was playing with an ochre coloured field. The light was so special because it cause waves of wind to colour the cereal field deep ochre with silvery patches. Swirling patterns kept me wondering whether the wind was sending me a message, an unidentified written message in the most elegant but quicksilver characters that were erased as soon as they were written in the tall grasses.
I liked making a ‘Wind Playing with Grass’ display that is closer to my experience in which the wind was writing a message, playing with the grass. I remembered that I tried to ‘get’ the message that the wind was writing in the grass, but of course I couldn’t. Or maybe I could. I concluded that the wind wrote, with in silvery waves, ‘Happiness’ in all possible languages in that mesmerizing field of cereals.