|Sashiko in progress|
Sashiko is a type of Japanese embroidery that was originally developed to reinforce fabric, and traditionally uses repeating geometric designs worked in white thread on dark blue fabric. I like the simplicity of the patterns and colors so I wanted to try it for myself, even though I'm not very good at embroidery. So, I got a sashiko sampler kit and just finished it the other day, after a couple months of working on it on and off.
I found it both easy and challenging - easy, because the whole thing is running stitch, worked in straight lines, and the guides are printed onto the fabric to follow. And challenging, because as with many Japanese art forms, there are very precise rules about how to do it right. The stitches are supposed to be all the same size, maintaining a certain proportion between the stitches on the right side and the wrong side of the fabric, and there are particular ways you're supposed to do corners that make them look tidy. Since this was my first try at sashiko, and one of the only embroidery projects I've ever done, I spent a lot of time fiddling with my needle and working very hard to get my stitches as close to the same size as I could.
I'm sure that once you get good at it, or even if you're already used to embroidery, it's easy to handle the mechanics of it and you can just enjoy the process. If you're interested in sashiko, there are a couple of websites dedicated to it: Studio Aika and Sashiko Stitchers. My kit was purchased from TaDaaStudios, which has a nice selection of different kits that include instructions in English. There are also kits and a tutorial available from Purl Soho.
Now that my sampler is finished up, I'm not sure what I'll do with it. The kit suggests making it into a pillow, which is a nice idea but I don't really need another decorative pillow right now. I'm thinking about framing it and maybe hanging it along with some other pictures and art - in some combination that will distract from my not-so-even stitches!