Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another way to play with colorful string

  Several of my hobbies involve playing with string: knitting, kumihimo braiding, crocheting. Just before we left Wisconsin for Costa Rica this January, I had finally taken action on a long-standing interest in temari, Japanese embroidered thread balls. Regretfully I decided that it was impractical to bring a lot of temari supplies with me due to luggage limitations. However, once I got here I found that I could find everything I needed here and my personal temari craze took hold.
   The first thing I found out was that making a nice round ball isn't the result of years of practice. My very first one came out very round. Balls just want to be round because of the tension of wrapping and a ball made this way has a much friendlier feel than one based on a styrofoam ball.
I've used various things for the core: strips of rags, a wadded up recycled plastic bag, or the husks from coffee beans. (In Japan, where the craft has been practiced for some 1000 years, rice husks are a popular material.) I like to put a rattle in the center. I make these from 2 recycled soda bottle caps and some seeds from local cloud forest plants.
   The inner core is wrapped in yarn and then a lot of thread. These are both available in an array of colors from the local general store. The selection of embroidery floss available is staggering because one of the few local handicrafts done to produce souvenirs is embroidery. Most temari stitchers use a heavier thread than floss, but even though it requires more care and time, the results with floss are really lovely. It has a nice sheen and delicacy so I'm glad that circumstances have forced me to try floss.
  The only thing missing was instructions on embroidering the ball. I had brought copies of a few pages explaining the absolute basics of making a ball and dividing it into different segments. The internet came to the rescue. I found Temarikai, a marvelous source of information including many different patterns. There are a few blogs concentrating on temari embroidery. A good post for beginners is on marking the divisions of the ball. My favorite blog is by Barbara Suess. In addition there are a couple of Yahoo groups that fill the niche that Ravelry fills as a social networking site for knitters and crocheters. One is Talk Temari and the other is Temari Challenge. The latter also has a gallery of many photos that can serve as inspiration or eye candy.
  I've been making temari like crazy. I find that wrapping the balls is very relaxing while watching a video. I love playing with the colors and designs when I stitch. Fortunately, giving away temari as gifts is a part of the tradition—or our small house would soon run out of places to put them.


Trudy said...

Yowza! Terrific, Carol. Thanks for the inspiration. I'm sharing it with two of my embroidery floss friends.

Carolina said...

Hi Trudy. I would like to know why you have embroidery floss friends... The thing that amuses me reading blogs by people who do temari is when they talk about their stashes I just have to think they are really tiny compared to those of the average knitter.

TECHknitter said...


Mt. Mom said...

I have made some simple attempts with sportweight yarns, but yours are breathtaking.

Carolina said...

Thanks! The best part is they aren't as hard as they look.