Kogin Projects Feed

New Book

I was on duty at the Embroiderers Guild Stand at this years State Quilt show this week and had a wonderful time catching up with old friends, past students and other people.  I had to check out all the stalls and at Be Be Bold, who specialise in Japanese materials (they were my importers for materials when I was teaching), Jane said "I have a new book".  So I bought it.

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Nothing I don't already know as far as the contents is concerned but it is a lovely book and I do like the use of Counted Sashiko as the title.  Western stitchers understand this far better than Kogin.

She has 200 Hishizashi patterns included in the book.  You can find 700 Hishizashi patterns that you can download for free here on this blog, so I don't need those but the names of the patterns are all there.  I searched forever for these and only found confusing results.  The history section is also good but the Kogin from the west coast isn't included.  (It was only used for making straps to remove wood from the forest.)  The other useful section was the traditional and substitute western fabrics that can be used.  I ended up having to import my threads and the fabric by the bolt when I started stitching Kogin as nothing was available here.

The book has lots of basic beginner projects for those who want to try this technique but I think I will make this bag for my grand daughters.

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I made a similar shaped bag that I taught as an advanced Kogin class some years ago but it was for teaching techniques and I think the girls would like the one from the book better.  (My bag was a sampler of all the Hishi Zashi patterns.)

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Covid Negative - finally

It is a red letter day today.  I have finally tested negative to Covid.  I have been positive for the past 14 days.  I knew that the virus would give me trouble, having an immune system problem, but I think that all those vaccinations, (5), probably helped me to survive.  There was one period where I was hospitalised, because my blood pressure was out of control, that I think was the most dangerous. And as much as I am grateful to the Doctors and Nurses at the Hospital I hated the Covid ward, it was like being locked up in prison.  The ward was separate to the hospital.  A locked concrete block building with windows up at ceiling level, I was so glad when they said I could go home.

I got the virus from my husband, who isn't thinking properly because of the onset of dementia.  He probably forgot his mask and I know that at least one of his rowing mates had the virus.  Jut shows, you can be as careful as can be but there just has to be one person in your close circle who isn't thinking about spreading the infection and you have it.

So now I want to sew again.  I don't have a lot of energy and am still not thinking clearly but if I can get all this "out of my head and into my hands" I am sure I will gradually get better.

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I made a start by sewing the gathering around my little cushions for the pin cushions and attaching them to the cardboard bases.  Not a lot, but it is a start.

My Kogin project

The bag I designed for my last Kogin class has been bugging me.  I'm just not happy with the finish.  It is the interfacing I used that is the problem I think.  So it needs to be redesigned.  As usual I always write and evaluation of each project and when I went into my journal to do this I found some other notes I had made about interfacing.

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The prices have increased a bit since I wrote this up but I have selected 3 or 4 I want to test out.

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At the end of the other class I had some fabric left over so I am stitching another 4 bags which are all based around the original design.  I still have a couple more to stitch up but as I find this stitching so pleasurable that isn't a problem.


I will use Japanese fabric for the cuff on all except one and I want to see what my daughter can do with a leather cuff.

I came on some lovely plated leather cord.  It wasn't cheap but I think it will add to the finish. 

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I have to stitch up the other bags first but I will let you know the results.


So, the experiments with stitching the Kogin patterns with different threads and fabrics continues.

I tried using 4 threads on this one and although I don't mind it I think that 3 threads works better.

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I used linen fabrics back some time ago and dismissed them because I found that they shredded the cotton thread I was using.  So I tried again with this thread and had no problems.  It is a 28count fabric and I used 2 strands of cotton to stitch.  Only problem here was with my eyes that found the higher count of thread hard to see.

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Then, looking at all those pieces I got from my friend I found that one piece really was not repairable so I have unpicked the stitching and cut out the pieces I can use.  I haven't finished the layout of this just yet but it is starting to come together.  It is for a book cover.

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I found all these little mirrors tucked in amongst the threads.  When I get the layout how I want it i will use a Kantha stitch to hold the pieces in place.  I am having fun with this piece.


I have only spent a week on this design, I thought it would take a lot longer to get the bugs out.  But, I now have a working version and have completed the finishing.

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I wasn't sure how I would get this to be functional as both a needle keeper and a container for pins.

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I have added a little ribbon tab between the embroidery and the lining.

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You can pull on this and the little cushion just pops out.

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I found a scrap of Liberty cotton fabric to act as the lining at the back of the cushion.  Liberty is a fine lawn and easily manipulated fabric and adds a nice touch to the piece.  I think that I can improve on the construction of this pillow.  I only had fibre-fill, cardboard and tacky glue but I think I will make one with a balsa wood frame.

Now onto the next design.


I can see these experiments continuing on for some time.  The stitching is based around the threads I bought in South America.  The plain cotton, great, the resist dyed, I'm not sure. It looks like a piece of marled, tweed, kind of weave.  Interesting but I don't think it is worth all the effort that goes into preparing the thread.

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I think that these go back into the bag for another day.

There was another lot of thread that I bought, again one hank of every colour, that they(Mayan Indian) called 'silk'.  I found the same kind of thread in Brazil and after I did a burning test on it found that it isn't protein based, as in silk worm product, but carbohydrate, and is probably rayon, but to those in South America this is silk.  This doesn't detract from the beautiful colours or the lustre of the thread.  (I have some similar type of thread from India that I bought from Prudence Mapstone for Knitting.  I will have to test that for composition as well.)

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I prepared this the same way as the Sashiko thread also and this worked well.

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Then I tried to stitch.  Just like flat silk it caught on everything.  Finger nails, any rough piece of fabric, just anything.  I thought about bees wax, but this was a CHO based fibre and I knew it wouldn't work so I improvised and moistened my fingers in water running the thread between them.

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This worked but I still have to refine just how I stitch.  The edges of the linen fabric catches the thread, the moisture in the thread drys after about 4 passes of the needle through the fabric and to lay the thread flat you have to stab the fabric and pull the thread through for each part of the stitch.  This is very labour intensive so they would only be for very special gifts. I also think there is a slight dulling of the lustre caused by the application of water to the thread.  But, I like the finished product.

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The next job is to refine the shape of the dome and the way you would remove this to reveal the pins.  As I live on an island and access to shops requires a lot of organisation and time this could be quite a process.

A town with a name like a song.

The experiments with the needle keepers continues and I got to wondering just what the cotton threads I had bought in South America would look like stitched into these Japanese patterns. 

I bought these in the town of Chichicastanago.  (I see there are several songs of the same name.)  I was blown away by the colour and the whole atmostphere of the town.  These same markets have been held for 100's of years before the Spanish arrived.

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There were threads up to the ceiling and beyond and the colours were just so vibrant.  The shop was on the balcony level of the market with the downstairs being for fruit and vegetables.  The markets are held two days a week and the women come in to buy their threads for weaving.


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It wasn't until I got to Solola that I realised that the threads in this shop were for weaving, not embroidery.  Everyone was dressed in their best even the shop vendors.  The colours and bling made the heart sing.

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So, thinking I could use these threads for embroidery I bought up big, knowing that I may never pass this way again.  I bought a hank of every colour that was available.


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It wasn't until I got home that I realised that the thread was too fine and unmercerized.    But now that I am using a linen base for my stitching my thoughts returned to these threads.  I decided to use 4 strands and got stitching.

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The thread is beautiful.  I am in fact stitching 'needle weaving' and weaving is what it is made for.  I prepared the thread they same way I would prepare a sashiko thread, cutting the hank and plating it.  Worked like a charm.

I have ordered more little bowls as I now have a huge stock of threads.  The bowls themselves are not expensive, but, the freight is.  I will use them for classes and for gifts, they are quick and easy to stitch.  And I was asked by a friend if the lid lifts off for storage of pins below?  It is now, that is a great idea.  This has led to some changes in how I am preparing the bowls.  They come as raw wood and I have been spraying them with a clear varnish.

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I will now spray the inside of the bowls as well so that the pins slide out easily and I will have to look at the finish of the embroidery under the lid.  Maybe a lining?

The next thread I want to experiment with is this one which is resist dyed.

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You would see the men (not the women) wrapping the thread ready for dying.  This was done on a frame and there seemed to be a method in just where the ties were applied.  I think this was done for a form of Ikat weaving.  The ties were not random but they were terrible to get off.

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And what a tangle from the dye vat!! I managed to stab my finger with the scissors tying to do this.  I'm sure they had a method behind all these processes but, as my Spanish is so rudimentary and most of the Mayans speak their own indigenous language and Spanish as a second language, it is all a  mystery to me.

Watch this space.


The first prototype

Well I have made my needle keeper and I think I have worked out the best way to construct it.

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I need to increase the size of the area I stitched to allow for an overhang around the cardboard shape I made the dome from.  It will make gathering up the fabric a bit easier and allow me to make that dome a bit higher.

I couldn't find anything on the net much about these little cushions other than they are called 'Hinoki' and the wood is usually carved from a sweet smelling wood.  I did however find a retailer of this kind of pin cushion on Instagram called 'Hanakogin'.  (Here an I thinking I am inventing the wheel when it had already been invented!)   Here is an image of some of her work.  (I think, because I found some of the same images on Ali Express' website.)

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This piece has been stitched on Hemp fabric, I am stitching my version on 18 count linen.  I got this linen from some CWA  (Country Women's Association) ladies some time ago and have been keeping it for something special. 

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The gloss finish on the wood makes it really nice to handle and matches the sheen on the cotton.  The pattern that I choose for this prototype is called 'Hanako Flower"

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And I am using an artisan, hand dyed Sashico cotton for the stitching.

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This is all for a short 4 hours class I have planned for 2022.  The problem is that these cushions are addictive to stitch and make.  I will have to be very stern with myself and just keep them for the class, but, they would make great little gifts for my friends.



Stitching my Kogin bag got me thinking about Tomiko, my on-line friend who died in the 2011 Tsnami.  She gave me such a wonderful gift when she introduced me to Kogin stitching.  I love the process of stitching, how the needle threads the cotton through the weave.  I love the colour difference between the blue fabric and white thread. I love the weight of the hemp fabric.  It was indeed a gift in other ways as well.  It introduced me to how 'healing' this kind of stitching can be.

I was looking around the web for more information on how the fabric is dyed and came across this wonderful video about the making of indigo dye.  This looks at the work of making the dye which has been carried on in the same family for 20 generations.  The video runs for 15 mins and is itself a little meditation. (I had to add the video as a link so just click on that not the image.)

A Treasured Creation: Today's Treasure - Ai, the Natural Indigo of Japan

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It is coming to the end of term so working on assignments with my grand daughter on her home schooling takes up a lot of my time and has taken over most of my space. (Maths has changed a lot since I was at school and she is far better than me at Japanese.)

I am stitching a new Kogin piece for next years class.  My computer with the drawing program got replaced with a new computer for Monique and I have nothing to draw those types of designs on.  The drawing program I have does great vector drawings but doesn't print a grid.  I might just have to learn how to use illustrator, which is super expensive.

So it is back to the graph paper but I still find stitch and see just as good.  I am using an old design but am adapting it to fit the fabric I have.   Allana used the same design in it's original form on one of the bags she stitched.

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My version is similar but my space is smaller.

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A lot of trail and error, then reverse sewing.  But I think I have got it now.  I'm sure this is how the old people did this work.  They didn't have computer programs or even graph paper to work out their designs.  It might have been easier to just cut a larger piece of fabric!