At Shizuka Ryokan we have an insatiable appetite for Japanese traditions. Whether it be Japanese cookery, Boro stitching, Sumi-e painting, Calligraphy, Ikebana, Seasonal Yoga Retreats, Sake tasting, Furoshiki, Japanese gift wrapping, Wagashi, Origami, Mizuhiki, Temari, Japanese book binding, Japanese tea ceremony, Kokedama, Kimono wearing, or SAORI weaving–you will find a workshop at Shizuka.
On Sunday, February 10, we were thrilled to host Leanne O’Sullivan from Kimono House for a 1-Day Sashiko Intensive.
Sashiko is a form of embroidery that originated in Japan during the Edo period (1615-1868). Originally, sashiko stitching was used to reinforce points of wear or to darn tears in clothing with patches, making the clothing more durable and warmer. (Japan has a culture of reusing and recycling, and a word, mottanai, which conveys a sense of regret over waste.) By the Mejii era (1868-1912) sashiko was a common form of winter work in farming communties, when it was too cold to work outdoors.
Sashiko evolved to become a decorative quilting and embroidery stitch that features white cotton thread on traditional indigo blue cloth. The word sashiko means ‘little stabs’ or ‘little pierce.’ There are two main styles of sashiko: moyozashi, in which geometric patterns are created with long lines of running stitches—and hitomezashi, where the pattern emerges from the alignment of single stitches on a grid.
The artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), published New Forms for Design in 1824, and many of these designs are used in sashiko patterns today. Sashiko stitching depicts things such as Yarai (bamboo fence), Uroko (fish scales), Amime (fish nets), Kaki no Hana (persimmon flower) and Hirayama-Michi (mountain passes).
About the teacher
Leanne first visited Japan in the 1980s, where she lived and worked for 5 years. It was during this time that she became interested in Japanese textiles, and the kimono in particular.
“Whilst living in Japan I was constantly inspired by the extreme contrasts around me—everywhere I looked there seemed to be a mix of traditional and contemporary co-existing beautifully.”
This contrast is evident in Leanne’s pieces, which combine new and vintage fabric, and traditional and contemporary design. These days, Leanne runs Kimono House Japanese Textiles & Craft —where she trades Japanese textiles and craft kits, teaches workshops and exhibits her collection of Japanese textiles.