Every year I wait for the circus to come to town. Just like a kid. This is Cirque du Soleil. The parking is terrible and if you don't pay the $10 parking fee you have to walk a mile but then there is the big top.
We went to a matinee and I think having all those children there made it even better. Of course you couldn't take photos but the costumes were wonderful. The show was Ovo, lots of insects.
It took me some time to come up with a design this week but I finally arrived at the point I wanted to be.
I tried my usual model for testing a stitch. Different thicknesses of thread, different spacing, different directions.
It wasn't until I tried to the stitch in a circle, first inward and then out that I found something I liked. I added a few french knots and there it was. But what to do with it?
I have a little bowl on my desk that I bought from one of those cheap dollar shops. It is made of plastic and cost $2.99 but I think it must have been copied from something else because it is so beautiful. The colour on the inside and under the pattern is the same as some dyed thread that I have. I then thought that what I really needed to stitch was a lid for this bowl. It all came together.
Now I just have to wait for the woodworker to cut the ply wood so that I can cover it with the embroidery.
I have been embroidering Kogin patterns for some time now. I love the contemplative aspect of this stitching, you have to concentrate on the pattern and think of nothing else which at times I love. If you like counted thread work you will love this stitching.
This form of stitching originates in the north of Japan. An area that has a harsh climate and terrain. In the past it was synonymous with poverty and hardship. To look at this technique in isolation from the culture and the other stitching traditions of the area is to lose it's meaning, and I feel, divorce it from the spirit of those generations of women who practiced this art.
So what are these stitching traditions? They include Boro (shit) Textiles, Sashiko and the various types of Kogin, Mishima, Nishi, Higashi and Hishizashi. Kogin is a form of needle weaving. (The first three varieties are stitched over an uneven count, the last an even count.)
Since I have started this technique I have found it very hard to find charted patterns. There are some Japanese books that have some of the patterns but nowhere can I find a definitive guide. So I have started on my own quest to collect and chart as many of the designs as I can find. From my reading I know that all the traditional designs had names, some I know, most I do not.
I intend to break them into two groups. One for the Hishizashi and the other for the three other groups. I expect this to take years, unless I have a breakthrough and find that definitive source. I am publishing them here on my blog under creative commons copyright. Once I build up a collection of projects I will publish these as an ibook. I expect that I am not the only embroiderer who likes this work and is unable to find patterns.
So, today I am publishing the first of my Hishizashi patterns. I have collected about 40 but I know that there were over 400 different patterns originally. Unfortunately I know non of their names. As I discover them they will be added. The samples are all stitched on traditional Hemp even weave fabric in three strands of Kogin stranded cotton. I bought these from importers of Olympus Fabrics. (I had to purchase the fabric on the bolt, I know of no shops that sell this fabric in Australia.) Emma creations are the importers in the USA and they have a collection of free patterns on their web page.
Well I finished that TAST sampler that I put aside with such haste. Then, when I was removing the blue marker pen, in my rush to finish I added too much water and the colour ran. So I decided to make it a feature and add a bit more colour to the run.
It was another lovely day today. I spotted this pot plant up on a balcony. Just an ordinary pot plant but the angle of the sun made it look specail.
And there was a camelia tree covered in the most delicate pink blooms.
Doesn't it always happen? Well it does to me. I checked that I would have enough printer ink to print all my workshop notes but someone else used it. (Inset husband for someone else). I then had to rush out late on Friday afternoon to get some more before the shops shut.
To get to the supply shop I had to walk through a furniture store and there I saw this cool mirror.
I had to get up close to look at how it was done. I'm not sure if the rope had been pre-dyed or was that colour before it was woven but it looks good. Actually I think it is twisted rags.
We are having a wonderful run of clear, cool winter days. It is the time to sit in the sun and warm up a bit. Just like this straw-necked ibis. These birds are pests because they raid the garbage bins and are so brazen that they will even try to take the food from your plate. But this fellow looks quite beautiful taking the sun. Look at that ruff.
The sun on his feathers makes them look like opals.
Oh dear I got too close and he's off and he's put away his ruff.