Monday, November 19, 2012

Sashiko Stitching

I find the Japanese technique of sashiko fascinating. Sashiko is simply a running stitch. However, what appears simple belies the difficulty of making stitches even and creating a design with stitches only.

Hundreds of years ago in northern Japan, fishermen and farmers' wives used sashiko (translated as little stabs) to repair and insulate clothing. Later, as cotton became available, sashiko was done on indigo fabric using white cotton thread. First utilitarian, now sashiko is an art form to decorate quilts, wall hangings, pillows, clothing or wherever your imagination leads you.
Sashiko stitching creates striking designs that can vary from geometric patterns, to family crests or stylized motifs from nature like flowers or animals.
I enjoy making gifts using sashiko. I think of the person to whom I'm giving the gift while I stitch - like incorporating symbols of love and longevity in a wedding gift for Brian and Loren, the cranes for Sarah and Al. For Martin and Ghislaine, I reproduced their golf carts which they used on their wedding invitation.
During the cold winter months, I recently made a wall hanging which I named Dreaming I was in Hawaii. Stitchng the sea turtle, shells and waves helped me pass the dark days. While white stitching on indigo fabric is traditional, there is now a huge variety of colored sashiko threads and the fabric on which one stitches can be any color - only limited by what the creator wants to create. 

I've recently taught sashiko classes here in Rochester, New York. My students are eager to learn and help me expand my own understanding of sashiko.