textile adventures

textile adventures

Textile Adventures: Japan Part 1

So while it’s been quiet here on the website it’s not because I’ve been busy behind the scenes getting my new projects underway… instead I’ve been on holidays. Or a textile adventure, as I like to call it.

I’ve just got home from Japan, which was amazingly full of lovely crafts and craftspeople. Some of which I’ll try and cover over the next few blogs.

One of my favourite stops was the village of Hida-Takayama, which is the birthplace of the Japanese embroidery technique of sashiko. 

Sashiko is one of those needlework styles that look really easy. And it kind of is, ultimately its just running stitch. There are things to consider though, like perfectly straight lines, sharp corners and the basic requirement of consistent stitch length. All of which can mess with you, if you let it.

I was able to get a quick lesson from a sashiko master who did in fact make it look ridiculously easy. She was also the fastest hand embroiderer I’ve ever seen! 

Here are the top three tips I learnt about sashiko on my visit:

1.     Never use knots to start or finish the thread lengths. Instead they are left with approx. a 3-4cm end and depending on the finishing of the product the ends are hidden in seams or by backing, allowing the inside of the embroidery to be just as interesting and lovely as the outside.

2.     Instead of doing one stitch and pulling it through the fabric, anchor lots of stitches on a long needle. So much so that the fabric gathers together before you pull the thread through. This will help keep all your stitches nice and straight.

3.     It’s pronounced sa-shi-ko, not sash-i-ko. 

anita chew, knitwear, queensland, handmade knitwear australia, textile adventures

Textile Adventures: Alaska Part2

With musk ox yarn bought what’s next on the qiviut trail in Alaska? That would be this little gem in Anchorage.

The Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’s Co-operative is a Native owned co-op with members made up of women living in various remote villages around Alaska. The members knit garments from musk ox yarn and sell their items through the co-op, with the income going back to the craftspeople.

Established in 1969 it has grown from 25 members to over 200. Interestingly, from what I have read, knitting isn’t a traditional craft of the First Nation people but by using their local yarn and incorporating traditional patterns in their designs they are creating a very unique new craft tradition.

While I was at the Oomingmak Co-op as well as picking up an Alaskan Handknit, I bought a copy of Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas. It is a fantastic book, which includes lots of info on qivuit, the co-op, and has great lace knit patterns. So what have I made with my yarn?

So far I have knitted a traditional Smoke Ring or Nachaq Hood. Which is a short tubular scarf that can be worn a couple of different ways, either around the neck and/or over the head. It’s very lightweight, especially with the lace work, but also very warm. I wish you could reach into the screen so you could feel the yarn, because it really is amazing, instead you might have to head to ‘the last frontier’ yourself for the full adventure.

This Nachaq Hood pattern can be found as a hand knit in Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas. I used the hand knit pattern in the book but converted it to be machine knitted.