Temari Mobile Project

As we head into the third year of the pandemic, and therefore the third year of me doing temari demo streams on Twitch, I decided to theme the new year of streams around a project: finally doing the temari mobile I’ve had in the back of my mind for several years, based on a kimono the head of JTA gifted me when I was in Japan for the extremely surreal experience of being on a reality TV show about people from other countries who do Japanese crafts/hobbies.

The first step was to get the kimono hung up on the wall so I could actually see the colors properly, which we managed to do a few months ago. I’ve now chosen my color palette, threads have been ordered and are on their way, and I’ve started wrapping cores of all different sizes. This is also giving me an excuse to go back to basic techniques for my first temari for this project, because I want a mix of simple and complex balls for the eventual hanging.

I’ll be chronicling all of this over on Tumblr (temarikagari.tumblr.com) this time, because it’s come to my attention that WP is now massacring all my images on this blog, and until I can figure out a solution for that, I think this will be a good way to keep this photo-heavy project all neatly in one place.

Temari: Inward Stitched Fire Medallions

This weekend I taught a Twitch class on how to use inward stitching on continuous path shapes. Previously, I’d only really ever used this technique for starfish* (like this one I did for my brother’s wedding), but since I already had a C8 base with interlinked offset square frames, I decided to demonstrate with an 8-point star this time instead. I love how it came out.


Also, since this type of frame leaves little open triangles around the edges as well, I filled those in, too.


This is the first design in a while where I’ve felt that immediate urge to do it again in different colorways just to see how it would turn out.

These shapes could all honestly be fuller, with more rows of stitching and no space left between them for the edge of that first yellow row to peek through, but I kind of like the effect here, where it keeps everything glowing like fire.

*Oh, I lie, I used it for “leaves” on the Factors of 12 ball!

Temari Materials List

What do you need to have on hand to start making temari?

Choosing your core materials

You can put very nearly anything in the center of a temari core. Remember, this is a craft of recycling, so if you’ve got lots of shredded paper, thread ends, or fabric scraps, don’t be afraid to throw them in there!

A variety of possible core materials to use for temari.
A variety of possible core materials to use for temari.


  • scrunched up plastic grocery bags (I recommend scrunching up two together, because they compress quite a lot)
  • a styrofoam ball (not cheating!)
  • rice hulls (a traditional option)
  • shredded paper (easily accessible)

What the plastic bags, rice hulls, and shredded paper all have in common is that they’re malleable, which I prefer, as I think it ultimately results in a rounder ball. However, some people quite like starting with a styrofoam base, and there’s nothing wrong with that, you just have to be very careful that none of your wrapping layers get piled up too much in any one spot, because you won’t easily be able to squish them down without breaking the foam underneath.

Wrapping the core

Once you’ve chosen your preferred core material, you’ll need to turn it into a ball!

Materials needed to make and wrap a temari core.
Materials needed to make and wrap a temari core.


  • a stocking for containing the rice hulls or shredded paper options (not necessary for the plastic bags or styrofoam ball)
  • optional: a rattle (ex: one made from bottle caps, plastic beads, and tape; one a jewelry chime ball)
  • soft baby yarn (get whatever is cheap, don’t waste nice yarn here unless you really hate it)
  • serger thread (get a variety of colors)

Serger thread notes: It doesn’t actually have to be serger thread; any fairly fine sewing machine thread will do. Serger thread is frequently used for temari because it comes on large cones and in a wide variety of colors, which makes it convenient for our purposes. You do NOT want to get anything with stretch in it, nor do you want anything shiny. (I know it looks cool, but it will only slide off the ball. Many have tried before you. Learn from their mistakes.) Go for regular polyester or cotton.

Marking the ball

Once your core is wrapped, the next step will be to add the division lines, which we call marking the ball.

Materials needed to add division lines to a temari.
Materials needed to add division lines to a temari.


  • 1/4-inch strips of paper (quilling paper is an easy source for this)
  • ball-head pins
  • long darner needles (search for sashiko needles or the extra-long size used for Brazilian embroidery)
  • embroidery scissors
  • marking thread (a wide variety of threads work for this purpose, from metallic to plain)

Metallic thread note: While DMC’s pearl cotton is great, their metallic “pearl” cotton is not, and unravels while you’re working with it like mad. Good alternatives are Rainbow Gallery’s Nordic Gold line (comes in many colors despite the name), Kreinik’s many metallic braids, and YLI’s Candlelight.

Stitching the design

Once your division lines are in place, you’re ready to stitch a design!

Many colors of size 5 pearl cotton.
Many colors of size 5 pearl cotton.

While there are endless possibilities for thread that can be used on temari, for beginners I really recommend size 5 pearl cotton. (For reference, size 3 is too big for most temari, and size 8 is too small unless you’re making a mini or something extremely complex.)

Color recommendations: Wherever possible, try to buy colors in sets of three, with a light, medium, and dark shade to allow for nice gradations. At minimum, I would recommend getting at least two colors you’d like to use together in both a light and dark shade. Or get a whole bunch of colors, so you can try mixing and matching! Don’t forget coordinating neutrals as well, because they’re often good for division lines, outlining, or equator (obi) bands.


Where can you buy these things? Since I’m writing this in the middle of the pandemic, I’m going to list places you can order online (at least if you’re in the US), but if you have local crafting/sewing/quilting stores near you, please give them some business! They’re a dying breed.

  • Wawak – serger thread, sashiko needles, pins, embroidery scissors
  • 123stitch – pearl cotton, metallic threads (Nordic Gold, Kreinik), embroidery scissors, sashiko needles (might be on the shorter side)
  • Herrschners – pearl cotton, yarn, pins, embroidery scissors
  • DMC – pearl cotton, especially if you want to order a variety pack of colors
  • YLI Candlelight – metallic thread

Temari Livestreams

So how are you all doing with the pandemic? All being responsible and stay home as much as possible? Good, good. In case you’re looking for something to do, I’ve started livestreaming beginner temari classes, basically videos where I talk the entire process of making a basic temari through from beginning to end. So if you’ve ever wanted to learn to make temari, or if you took a class a while ago but forgot some of the steps, now’s a good time to get into it!

I’ve done three streams so far, covering wrapped bands, spindles, and kiku herringbone. Links to the recordings can be found on my Temari Classes page up in the header bar, as well as the projected schedule of upcoming streams. Tomorrow I’ll be doing triwing, which is often a technique people need a little refresher on if they haven’t done it very often. All streams have been happening at 4pm US Eastern time, and then the recordings are stored on Twitch for 14 days.

Why am I not exporting these directly to YouTube, you may ask? I’m personally of the opinion that 1.5-2-hour real-time streams make for terrible how-to videos after the fact, so I’m also probably going to be making some more polished instructional videos for a more permanent archive. Having the stream recordings available for a limited time for people who couldn’t make the live session I think is a good compromise option in the meantime.

The current plan is to do these initial four streams of what I consider the foundational beginner stitches and then take a little break. (My throat wasn’t ready for all this talking!) After tomorrow, I’ll take a few days of just doing “office hours” streams, where I’ll work on finishing up some of the demonstration balls I started in earlier streams without talking very much, but available to answer questions. This will give people a chance to try some of the stitches on their own, as well as receive any supplies they might have been waiting on, and will give me a chance to do some off-air recording for more formally edited videos.

Temari: Christmas Wreath


Merry Christmas! I’m finally posting this year’s Christmas temari, though I technically finished it back before I went up to the Campbell to teach. This year the temari class was scheduled for Christmas Craft Week, and I had a great group of six beginner students. Being up at the folk school for Christmas week was also a great experience!


There were holiday activities all week, including a reading of A Christmas Carol and a performance by the local Morris dance troupe(s).



Back to the temari, though: If you’d like to recreate it for yourself, it’s an inward-stitched S12 kiku in two shades of green with red colonial knots for the berries. (I personally have never had a lot of luck with French knots on temari, but the colonial knot turns out to have the same end result, but uses a more secure method of fixing the thread around the needle before pulling through to form the knot.)


The obi gets its plaid-like look from doing two rounds of decorative herringbone overstitching, rather than just one. (To be honest, the obi only got this ornate because I was procrastinating doing the knots, but I like the end result!)


Temari: Rubik’s Cube

I finally finished a temari I started over the summer! This one started because I saw a very cute pattern for a crocheted Rubik’s cube, but when I thought back to my last attempt at crochet, I decided it would probably actually be easier for me to make up a temari pattern for it on the fly instead. (I appear to be one of those people who can knit but not crochet, alas. It’s fine; I don’t have time for another hobby anyway. *gazes sadly at all the cute amigurumi animals I can’t make*)

The completed Rubik's cube temari staged with other children's toys
Completed Rubik’s cube temari

The reason it took me so long to finish is that I wasn’t satisfied with just stitching big flat squares and then running dividing lines over the top. Oh, no, I wanted the individual faces within each color block to have dimension! This meant I ended up using doubled thread (not my favorite) and a back-and-forth hatchwork that resulted in a lot of thread build-up at the edges of each color block.

Rubik's cube temari in progress
Rubik’s cube temari in progress

I did a lot of the color stitching in the car on the way to Michigan and back, and let me tell you, there were blisters on both the pad of my thumb and the side of my forefinger from trying to force the needle through all that thread for the final rows. Worth it? Probably, but I’m definitely not doing a repeat of this pattern.

The edge frames were also challenging because the anchoring stitches needed to be taken down in the valley between each of these built-up color faces, but fortunately I did all of that after I got home and found my jewelry pliers to help pull the needle through. (It’s really not a good sign when you have to get out pliers for temari stitching. I definitely recommend anyone else interested in doing this pattern consider going the big solid squares of color route.)

Completed temari: yellow, orange, and green faces

Completed temari: red, white, and blue faces

Completed temari: red face straight on

Temari: Baseball Season

I am reliably informed there is important-ish post-season baseballing going on right now, which I have clearly not been paying any attention to this year, but it did remind me that I never posted these two baseball-themed temari I made for some friends who are big Houston Astros fans.


The background of the C8 interwoven bands ball really is navy in person, as per Astros colors, it just always photographs as black. The C8 asa no ha isn’t necessarily baseball-y in and of itself, but the red stitching-on-white worked with the theme, and with the C8 pattern class series I was teaching at the time. (As I recall, I had vague plans to also do one in green with white squares around the corner intersections to somehow evoke a baseball diamond, but the design never quite coalesced.)


Temari: Emerald Isle

Been a while since I posted a temari! This is one I did as a test pattern for Barb and only finished to the point of being able to see what it would look like finished on one side before I got distracted by other things. But I was looking for something to work on while watching TV last weekend and found it waiting patiently in my WIP bin.


Emerald Isle is one of the “Challenge Designs” from Barb Suess’s Temari Techniques (pg. 153), featuring a C10 marking, solid hexagons, continuous triwings, and layered kiku herringbones.

Illuminated Letters

One of the perks of teaching for the folk school is getting to take a free class for yourself later that year, which I finally got to do this past week. I signed up for a calligraphy class on illuminated letter decoration and gilding. The emphasis was very much on the decorative patterns and learning to use a variety of media for color application, rather than actual letter forms, so it was open to people of all levels, which is good, because I haven’t practiced any actual calligraphic writing in forever.

Things I learned: Celtic knotwork is a fun brain puzzle, I have apparently been drawing Gothic ivy leaf vines all my life without knowing it was an Official Calligraphy Technique, and laying gold foil is way easier than laying real gold leaf.

Media used: Microns, gel pens, fine-tipped felt pens, brush pens, watercolor pencils, gouache, gold foil, gold leaf.

Also, I realized I hadn’t been at the Campbell in the spring before, as the temari class is usually held in the fall, and while we did have a lot of rain, it was also very, very green.


Art in Bloom 2019

We went to Art in Bloom again this year, once again conveniently scheduled around my birthday! I posted a few of preliminary pictures off my phone on Twitter, but here’s the full set of “best of” pictures from both my real camera and my phone. (We went on Saturday this time, which meant peak crowding, alas, but I still managed some decent shots.)

Do you have a favorite? Mine was the next-to-last one, the modern painting with all the stripes, which was, amusingly, directly across from the painting that was paired with my favorite floral interpretation last year.