Sashiko stitchers

Wow, hello! It’s been a while. Is it me or does Summer seem to be rushing by at an incredible pace? So many plans I made have just not happened. But I’m not letting it stress me out, going with the flow and enjoying our current heatwave. Recently there have been alfresco tea and knitting evenings, spending time with good friends, and having a great time at Larmer Tree festival in Dorset with Salle Pierre Lamy. August is even more jam-packed, with multiple birthdays, more trips away and planning for friends’ weddings in the Autumn. Phew!

One of the lovely things that happened this month was having Helen of Trees and Whatnot to visit. She came to teach a workshop at our weekly knitting group, all about Sashiko stitching. Helen is coming to the end of an MA and needed to conduct a workshop as part of her dissertation research. We knitters were more than happy to oblige! We spent a lovely evening learning about Sashiko: hailing from Japan, it is a form of decorative stitching traditionally used to reinforce points of wear with stitched patterns or patches. Nowadays, Sashiko is often used for decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery.

Helen first explained some of the history of Sashiko, and we talked about how society’s view of clothing (at least in the UK) has, in recent years, leaned towards a throwaway culture. With the advent of the online crafting movement, thankfully people are now embracing mending their clothes and other items to give them a new lease of life. We talked about the importance of “upcycling”, and how, by mending something that has been damaged, you can add to its history and increase its sentimental value.

We were then given pieces of navy blue fabric to practice our stitching on. Helen had drawn out our pattern for us already – there are many different decorative patterns to choose from in Sashiko, but we were to begin with the shippo tsunagi or interlocking circle pattern. Helen first demonstrated how to stitch in the Sashiko style, which I found very interesting: it is a straightforward running stitch, but instead of passing the needle up and down through the fabric between stitches, the fabric is gathered up so that many running stitches can be created in one pass of the needle. So simple, and so therapeutic! Everyone got the hang of the stitch really quickly, and we all loved seeing the pattern emerge on our indigo swatches.

After we’d practiced, we began work on other pieces which we’d brought along to mend or decorate. There was a vintage silk dressing gown, a skirt with a hole in it, and I began stitching interlocking circles onto the pockets of a pinafore dress. We had such a fun evening, and all the girls thoroughly enjoyed learning this new skill. Our friend Nia even finished her practice swatch that evening and turned it into a holder for her paintbrushes! Gal got skillz.

If you’d like to learn more about Sashiko, this book is a great resource. There is also a wealth of information all over the internet.

Finally, here are some photos from our evening…

The flower bug

We’ve been doing some wedding planning recently. When thinking about themes and colour schemes, it occurred to me that I am quite obsessed with all things floral. I seem to be drawn to flowery patterns on clothes, fabric, wallpaper, crockery, furniture: you name it, I love it. I’ve been scouring our local car boot sale lately for embroidered floral linens and tablecloths, and my Instagram feed is pretty cluttered up with photos of flowers.

This is all heavily influencing my plans for wedding decoration. I think our wedding “theme” has even become, ever so simply, FLORAL. Maybe I’ve just been noticing it more lately, but sites all over the internet seem to be full of flowers at the moment, so I’d like to share some of them with you.

First off, Brittany Watson Jepsen, of The House That Lars Built fame, wrote just this week about her own obsession with flower gardens. She is a big influence anyway, introducing me to the wonder of giant paper flowers. Check out her wedding: I mean. WHUUT!?

I’ve pre-ordered this book, and come October you will probably find me buried under several layers of tissue paper.

My lovely friend Helen is doing our wedding flowers, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading her new blog about all things floral.

Kate Miss’ floral crown experiments have made me even more set on having flowers in my hair on our wedding day, and flower arranger-extraordinaire Chelsea’s blog is a constant source of floral inspiration.

I also love the Oh Happy Day blog in general, but their insanely awesome floral-themed DIY ideas have made me ultra-excited about wedding party decorating.

Wild Hearts Wedding Photography specialise in dreamy, 70s shots and full on flower joy. I love it.

Here are some more floral things from around the internet sending me Big Time Giddy lately. There will be more posts on wedding stuff in the next few months, I’m sure, but for now: deep breaths. And enjoy the flowers.

top row, 1-r: 1. 2. 3
second row, l-r: 4. 5. 6
third row, l-r: 7. 8. 9
fourth row, l-r: 10. 11. 12
bottom row, l-r: 13. 14. 15