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.
Hishizashi pattern 1