Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sashiko & Kogin Workshop, Traditional Japanese Stitching

(Rhonda, our instructor)

At last year's National Seminar of the Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) I was impressed by how happy the students from one class were - those taking Barbara Gilbert's Sashiko class.  While the rest of us were looking a bit frazzled at times, these ladies appeared so happy, stress-free and pleased with themselves.  This was enough to make me want to learn more about this elegant Japanese stitching technique. So when my local guild, Calgary Guild of Needle & Fibre Arts (CGNFA),  recently held a one day workshop on Sashiko and Kogin techniques, I could't resist!
(traditional sashiko pattern)

Sashiko, which translates literally into "little stabs", is a form of functional embroidery from Japan.  It was traditionally used to reinforce garments and provide extra warmth.  Now this running stitch technique is used for purely decorative purposes and the white cotton thread worked on indigo dyed fabric creates pieces with a simple elegance.  The stitches are an even size which are said to resemble grains of rice.  We spent the morning of the workshop working on a piece of sashiko.

(our workshop design)

The second half of the workshop was devoted to learning about Kogin.  Kogin is another traditional Japanese stitching technique that was born in the Northern area of Japan and is considered one of the Sashiko stitching techniques.  The purpose of this technique is also believed to have been to add warmth and strength to clothing.  The designs are unique in their symmetry and resemble pattern darning in the way they are worked up.  The work is simple but the finished designs are very elegant in appearance.  Traditionally, blue threads are used on white background for working Kogin.

(Rhonda working on a Kogin design)

I have been a member of CGNFA for over 25 years and I still love the opportunities it provides for learning and exploring new stitching techniques.  As guild members, we are so fortunate to be able to do this. Sometimes it turns out to be something you will not do again.  Sometimes it is a technique you end up embracing.  The important thing is that we continue to learn and grow in our art and get inspiration from new techniques and viewpoints.

You can find many sites online for information on Sashiko and Kogin.  Here are a few to get you started.

Links for more information on sashiko:

Links for more information on kogin:

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