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Equator Problems and Fixes 

        When the equator is off kilter - and it does happen -  it's tough to work balanced polar designs much less an obi design or embellishment. If the equator is consistently out of balance, or not equidistant from the north and south poles, it's a prime signal that the ball is out of round, rather than there being a problem with working the division (although this can be a problem too).

        Those starting out in making temari tend to not quite grasp the importance of as nearly-round a ball as can be made. Additionally, they are so eager to begin the "fun" part - stitching - that they shortcut making the mari. There is no getting around that the first, and most important step in making temari is making a round mari, or as nearly round as one can get. This requires paying attention to the process (as described on the Dodai Mari page - it's not like winding a ball of yarn). Mari making tends to get taken for granted, when it is a skill to be mastered. As in so many things Japanese (and others), the base or foundation tasks are the most important. To sum it up - we have to learn to walk before we can learn to run.

So, if you have an out of round-ish mari, there are a few tricks that can be tried to tweak things. The first if you are trying to use Styrofoam or other preformed ball, make your own. The second is practice. Yes, practice. It's not just about winding a ball - it has to be done with care and attention. Don't try to shortcut or hurry it. Try rolling the ball between your hands, like making a snowball, frequently while you are wrapping; likewise it may help to roll it on a firm surface. Be sure to work down in size through yarn and thread. The last yarn layer needs to be thin - otherwise no matter how carefully you wrap there will still be lumps and bumps that are extremely difficult to overcome with the thread wrap(s). The mari must be kept moving in all, random directions as you wrap, all layers (not just the last one) to help avoid skewed shape and lumps. If, as you are making the mari, you notice things are not round, apply pressure as needed while wrapping to try to compensate and return to round. Be sure to be using enough thread in the thread layer. The working rule is: If you have to ask if there is enough thread, there probably isn't. It's the thread layer that does the final smoothing and shaping, and it takes a good deal more than you might think as you are gaining experience (while quantities are not critical, it does take about 300 yards to adequately cover a 23cm circumference (2 3/4" diameter) mari. Don't wrap mari if you are tensed - it will be transferred to your wrapping and make it more difficult. While one does have to pay attention to what is being done, don't "overthink" it. It can't be said enough: practice. Try different materials for cores, with or without batting, different types of yarn (as long as you are working from thicker to thin). See what works best for you. Bottom line is no one is going to know what is in that mari, but they WILL know if it is round or not.

        Be sure that as you lay down division lines, that the major intersections are tacked in place, meaning that the north and south poles as well as where the equator intersects each vertical marking line. The jiwari will naturally shift a little bit as the ball is handled, so be sure that as you complete the marking you tack things in place before they shift. Likewise, even with tacking stitches in place, always be sure to look at the marking lines to be sure they are in place before absently taking a stitch around them. A mari that is slightly out of round may still be used in some designs - a few are more forgiving than others. Another trick for mari that are a tad "oblong" - that is, a little bit longer in one direction than another, may be usable IF you align the longer axis on either the NP-SP axis (up and down), or the equator (side to side). Many times the pattern will "absorb" the differential so that it is not noticeable if the longer axis is either vertical or horizontal. It is important to note that while it might be possible to sneak a slightly out of round ball through a Simple Division design, this does not work for elevating to Combination Divisions - the more intricate the division, the more it requires symmetry, thus a round ball.

        Regardless of the ball being round or not quite, when working polar designs (that is, patterns stitched in each hemisphere, each around the north or south pole) it is an invaluable help to remember to mark up from the equator rather than down from the pole when placing pins for stitch markers. If the equator is slightly off, measuring up from it (for, say, the bottom point of a kiku design) will absorb the error, whereas measuring down from the poles will only accentuate it.

        If the equator seems to be ok when you start stitching but looks "off" after you complete the work on the poles, it may well be your stitching rather than your division marking. We all tend to vary in intensity and tension as we work - on anything. It helps greatly to keep a view of the whole project, not just where you are working. When stitching polar designs, be sure to place the starting pins on BOTH hemispheres at the same time - not just on one and then do the other after finishing the first pole, to be sure that you are orienting them both the same. When stitching, work a few rows on one pole and then a few rows on the other, and keep a watch on the overall temari as you progress. Work on both poles should progress at the same rate, so that the symmetry of the pattern remains intact. If things begin to skew, it's usually possible to either make corrections in stitch placement from then on, or at least a lot easier to work back (yes, pick out) and fix things then, rather than having a whole half done and it's crooked.

        If all else fails - the equator line can be adjusted. Snip the tack stitches and realign it between the two polar designs. This does not always work, but it's worth a try if you have no other options.      

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