What a brilliant weekend I had. I attended my local quilting group in Norfolk on Friday and as well as completing the BOM (Spider's Web) for the sampler quilt I learned how to stitch wavy seams. It was so good and so straightforward (forgive the pun) that I think I'll do a little tutorial post in the next couple of days so look out for that.
On Saturday I headed to Fleggburgh in deepest Norfolk to join about 50 quilters and Jenni Dobson for the Quilters' Guild region 9 area day.
During the morning Jenni enlightened us about the kimono and all it's layers, detailing and tradition. Apparently a Japanese Emperor once restricted the Court to twelve layers of kimono to curb displays of extravagance. Jenni explained that she had bought her kimono at a quilt show in Tokyo a few years ago where they were being sold to be cut up for quilting - aaaagh! The talk reactivated my love of things Japanese and I decided to post my Tukusan Tsugi (many patch) quilt for the Blogger's Quilt Festival.
In the afternoon Jenni taught a sashiko taster workshop. I was quite worried - all that accurate handstitching - but I loved it and can't wait to get started on another project (but I must do a UFO first). We learned that our stitches should be twice the length of our spaces and that they represent grains of rice. Sashiko (little stabs) is worked on a double layer of fabric without a layer of wadding between. It was traditionally used to strengthen and even to repair fabric and it is possible to find garments with one pattern worked over another. The pattern we learned is called Shippo (Seven Treasures) and is worked, not in circles but in diagonal curving lines across the fabric, starting and finished with a little knot. With the addition of four tassels to hold it closed the sashiko sampler piece became a furoshiki - a cloth to wrap - for a small pin cushion in a contrasting fabric. I filled mine with fine sawdust and lavender flowers and it's a lovely treat to use it. Jenni told us that furoshiki are used to wrap a gift and the recipient would return the wrapping to be used again - how very environmentally friendly that is. She also said that a Japanese friend of hers uses a furoshiki to keep all her underwear in when she travels which I think is a lovely idea - much nicer than a plastic bag.
There are many websites with information on sashiko and, very generously, some free patterns available online. I have a wonderful book by Susan Briscoe called "Japanese Quilt Blocks to mix and match" which includes sashiko designs among many other blocks and ideas.
Of course I bought some fabric from the trader at the area meeting. He had intelligently brought a lovely range of Lecien fabrics, all taupes, greys and lovely soft shades and also some sashiko needles and threads. All in all a great weekend (except that I didn't win anything in the raffle!).