This week I played with Temari Balls.

I belong to a couple groups online and one is doing a beginning study. While I have been doing Temari Balls for a long time, I do not consider myself anything but a beginner. I think in order to advance you should work at the art regularly and I am sporadic at best.

I can do most of the simple divisions and some of the complex divisions. I am not at all familiar with the terminology, especially the Japanese terms that true Temari artists use. I call a ball stitched with spindles and “spindle Temari”; while a true Temari artist calls this “Tsumu kagari.”

But I like to keep my beginning skills up and so every now and then I join in rather than just lurk all the time. If you would like to explore the two sites I frequent most, here they are: they just recently changed web hosts and I think you have to ask permission to join but that should not be a problem.

Temari Challenge for Everyone:

Temari Talk Companion group to Temari Kai (see below)


And here are the Temari sites I explore most:

Barbara Suess:

Temari Kai:

Temari Obsession:

This study (Beginning Basics) appealed to me because it was the perfect opportunity to explore some concepts that I had been tossing around in my head while also honing my beginning skills and practicing stitching  a spindle.

In my Temari Ball mind I have wanted to play with DMC #3 and #5 perle cotton to see the differences in making a ball. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore this concept.  I learned that two rounds of stitching with #5 perle is about equivalent to 1 round with #3 perle. It is kind of an eyeball adjustment and a judgement call but at least I have an idea now.


In the past some of my spindles seem to pop out of place and now I know why. I was not allowing enough space between the stitches. I have decided that a good rule of thumb for stitching spindles is that there should be at least the diameter of the thread between stitches. And if you lay the thread where it should be placed you can see where to take the next stitch. Following these personal observations, my Temari spindles turned out very well.


Another thing I gleaned from this study is that if you are using more than two threads of the same color from one source, make sure they are the same or at least compatible. I used #3 and #5 perle in three colors: the white and dark blue were the same but the light blue was two different colors (even though they were the same number). When placed next to each other under a bright light, one had a blue-green cast while the other was a true blue tint.


I also experimented with stitches at the pole points. This one I used a Smooth Spider Web stitch.

I also tried using a double silver thread and twisting it in the needle before stitching. Both of these experiments worked fairly well.

This was a fun experiment and I considered it a great learning experience, so  I am going to try and continue following along and practicing…never know I might consider myself an intermediate Temari Ball stitcher when I get.

I am going to get back to needlepoint and I have been stitching. I’ve been stitching on a secret project but I did take pictures and so when it is completed and given as a gift I will post all about it. And as a matter of fact going to do another one as an experiment. More later.

Would also like to get back to finishing needlepoint as it is mounting up. And I haven’t told you everything I did last summer and this summer is already about half over. I made a list of things to write about and I don’t think I’ve covered more than a couple….see how I get distracted. Okay off to finish another non needlepoint project….but next week I will share needlepoint.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.


Mini Temari Class

This is one of those instructions every one reads but few do:

Please read all instructions before beginning.

 Some people in the TIF Challenge have ask for a how to, so I think I will try a mini Temari class here…If you are really interested in Temari there are two very helpful web sites and both are open to the public :

Barbara Suess: Ginny Thompson:

 Everyone has their own way of making a Temari ball. It’s like most things, you do it the way you learned it. I learned this way and I have tried the rice hulls but didn’t care for this method, I never could wrap an even ball starting with a styrofoam ball, so I use the method I learned and it works for me.

 drawing core     I start with either a wad of cotton or 8-10 packing peanuts in a sandwich bag. When I use a sandwich bag I poke it with a pin to eliminate air pockets. Begin by winding very tightly sports yarn around the core material. Once this core begins to take form loosen the tension on the yarn but still keep a firm even tension, turning the ball often to keep from making a lumpy ball. I try to keep the yarn in the middle and wrap and turn at the same time. This takes some practice but if the ball is wrapped with a firm even tension. Occasionally I mold the ball with the palms of my hands or by rolling on a firm surface with the palm of my hand. I wrap the yarn (between 75-80 yards) to the approximate size of the ball…I like to make my Temari between 10 and 12 inches in circumference (25-30cm).yarncrochet thread

Over the yarn layer I wrap a layer of crochet thread. I do this because I don’t want the fuzzies of the yarn to work their way to the surface while I’m stitching the Temari. I also think it makes a smoother, flatter surface for the spool of thread to be wrapped. I use enough to cover the ball and keep the yarn from poking through, about 50 yards. I wrap in the same random zig zag  way with even firm tension. This layer should not add more than 1/8th -1/4 inch dimension to the ball. In the pictures I used a different color yarn to show the different stages of wrapping; when I am making a Temari I try to use light colors for light threads and dark colors for dark threads.

making-temari-thread.jpg Over the crochet thread I wrap at least one 250 yard spool of thread. I have been known to use up small spools of  leftover sewing thread from other projects …usually these are from the same hue family, but not necessarily compatible—Example Yellow- green on a dark green ball.  I also use serger thread cones, not the fuzzy kind but the sewing thread weights…then you have to guess when you’ve used 250 yards off a cone. I did notice last time I was a fabric store that Coats and Clark is not making 300 yd spools anymore just 250. When you get to the 12 inch size ball you’ll need more thread, so you’ll either have to do large and small spool or 2 large. Just remember to cover well.

 As you are winding remember to keep tension consistent and to turn the ball. I mold the ball two or three times as I make it also.

Next time, I’ll help you divide and mark a simple 4 and 8 division Temari ball. Practice making those Temari Balls. I will also post a Bibliograph of English written temari books.

TIF project

I have been working on the TIF project this week between other non stitch related things. I have gotten some computer work done but haven’t spent any time learning more about how to blog.  I could use a month of uninterrupted time to myself and I still would be so-o-o-o behind I’d look like I was winning the race.

It’s been a long time since I stitched a Temari, probably a couple years…But like riding a bike you don’t forget how. I learned how to make Temari Balls from Betty Kernaghan in 1990. She had learned the art when she had lived in the Orient. She was a master of Temari art, but I don’t think she had any official certification. I took a beginning class from her and then purchases books written in Japanese and taught myself the rest. You can learn a lot from looking at pictures!

 When I first started making Temari there was very little information about them available and any books written about these balls were written in Japanese. Today there have been several magazine articles and books written and some of those books have even been written in English. I own most of the Japanese written books and I think I have all the English written books and they are all great references. I think the best English book written is Japanese Temariby Barbara Suess. You can find the book on Amazon or Barb’s web site:  I have known Barb several years and she is a very talented Temari artist. She is a member of the Japan Temari Association  and has passed the Advanced level for Temari. She will be teaching a Temari class this fall for the Embroiderers’ Guild of America (EGA):

Another equally great Temari person  is Ginny Thompson and her web site is: Ginny is a member of the Japan Temari Associationand has a Shihan/Master (L3) Certificate in Temari. I’ve known Ginny through her web site for many years . This web site has been around a long time and is very good.

Since both Ginny and Barb’ s websites give a lot of information about Temari, not only the history but the basic how to-s as well as some of the more advanced instructions I won’t go into that here, but I do suggest you take a look at both websites. Both these ladies are well informed in their art and have willingly shared it. Please remember to share your knowledge with someone willingly, otherwise your art will die. Temari was all but a lost art several years ago and there have been a handful of ladies who have willingly shared their knowledge and ideas to keep this art alive. Thank you ladies! I would be remiss if I did not at least mention S. Ozaki. She wrote or edited books written in Japanese for Cosmo books. Cosmos is a Japanese thread company like out DMC or Anchor. There are other Temari web sites and all are fun to look at (check out the links on the Ginny and Barb’s web pages. One other site you might want to check out: Debi Abolt likes to look at Temari from the mathematical side. All the web sites are fun to visit, there are many talented people out there.

Temari means “hand ball” and I make all my balls from scratch. Briefly and simply … I use a piece of cotton for the core and wrap knitting yarn around this core to almost the desired size. I then add a layer of crochet cotton (like twine ) over the yarn and then over this I wrap at last one spool ( 250 – 300 yards) of sewing thread. The wrapping is done in a random, criss cross method turning the ball in different directions while keeping a steady even tension on the yarn or thread. The real secret to this wrapping is to keep turning the ball , shape the ball with palms of your hands as you are wrapping and keep an even tension. It really is not as difficult as it sounds, just takes some practice.  

Marking the temariI think the difficult part is choosing a design there are endless possibilities. After the design is chosen, placing the pins for the marking/guidelines on the ball is the next challenge. But once all this is accomplished then the fun begins…stitching on the guidelines and watching the design grow.  This first picture shows a simple temari with pins marking the north and south pole and the equator. There is always a north pole (NP) and south pole (SP) and equator points. The equater  points determine the divisions of the ball, there can be 3-6-12-24… ; 4-8-16-32…; 5-10-20…. How you use these points and others placed on the ball determine whether the ball is a simple division or a complex division temari.

Temari 080123Temari 080123Temari 080123 This first Temari is a simple 4 (S4) division wrapped. The first picture is a composite picture of the NP, 3 of the 4 equator points and SP. (Someday I’ll learn how to put a 3-d picture on a blog…for now my composites will have to do.) The second picture is the NP or SP design, and the third picture is the equator design.  The marking thread for this design, Kreinik 1/16th ribbon was incorporated into the design (not always the case). After the ball was marked I wrapped #5 pearl cotton in consecutive order: blue, cream, purple and Kreinik ribbon around the ball. I finished by securing the NP, SP and equator points with a large cross stitch over the wrapped threads. At the NP and SP I added some straight stitches using Kreinik ribbon, notice these are not added at the equator points.

Temari 080122 Temari 080122Temari 080122 NP-SPTemari 080122Temari 080122 This was really the first temari I made for the TIF project and as you can see from the pictures intended to walk step by step through the design but somehow forgot and so you have the beginning and the end result. If I do another Temari I will try and be more diligent in my photo taking (remember I never have enough time). The first photo were the supplies I chose for this project, but in the end I eliminated the overdye. The second picture is the pin and marking thread placement for this simple 16 (S16) division temari. Notice I used a thin silver thread as the marking thread, it is only a guide line and is not used as part of the design. Next I wrapped each color in a sequence pattern: medium green, dark green, light purple, dark purple. If you look closely at the third and forth pictures you can see that each color is wrapped at 90 degree angles to itself at the north and south poles and again at the equator. The real emphasis of this temari is the “obi ” band at the equator. “Obi” is from Japanese clothing, it is the sash wrapped around the waist over a kimono. These obi sashs are sometimes quite elaborate and are also family keepsakes passed from one generation to the next. In the fourth and fifth pictures you can see the obi and the weaving pattern developed while wrapping the colors in a consecutive order. Over the equator points I stitched a herringbone stitch to secure the threads and develop the obi band more. At the north and south pole I stitches a straight stitches over the poles and then secured them with a spider web stitch. The spider web stitch is really a western addition to the temari, most of the Japanese temari are secured with a simple wrapping stitch.

I need to finish one more temari and then I will post again. I really wish I were better at this than I am, it seems to take me a couple days to get one blog posted. Maybe with practice I will get better, or maybe I’ll win a big lottery (guess I’ll need to play first..but that is just one more thing to do in a day) and have more time to do the things I want. Off to see if I can find more time laying around somewhere. As Tigger from Pooh would say..”TTFN (ta-ta for now)!”