Kagari or Style: Interwoven Designs
Kousa means interwoven. In
order to achieve the interwoven goal, the designs are stitched in
layers: one (or more, but most often one) row(s) is/are stitched on each
shape as they occur in the design to complete a layer. The next layer is
not begun until all rows of the current layer is complete. It is this
method that evolves a final pattern that appears to have been woven, but
not to be confused with Orime kake
patterns that are indeed worked by weaving through existing threads. The
basics of kousa kagari are shown in the Kousa
page in the ToolKit
, but it's a style that deserves a bit more
Kousa style is very common in temari
designs; it can occur
innately as part of the stitching process, or it can be specifically
applied. The interplay of 2 sets of uwagake
to create a kiku
design is one of the most simplest forms. One or more rows are
stitched on each path of the design as they occur on the ball to
complete a layer; the next layer is not begun until all of the current
layer is complete. It is this method that evolves a final pattern that
appears to have been "woven" together (not to be confused with some
patterns that are indeed worked by weaving through existing threads),
yet no actual "under-over" work with the needle has been done.
The photo to the right shows the
simple interweave that forms with a 2-set uwagake chidori stitching
pattern. Note how in the areas indicated in the red diamonds the threads
cross over themselves, building row by row working down from the pole.
This effect occurs as the kiku design is worked in alternate layers, one
round with white, one with green, repeating.
In this pattern shown at left, the
interweave is very clear to see. One layer of the design is one round
stitched in on each shape in the prescribed color. As the layers
build, the interweave of the threads is clear. In this example, the
design covers more of the mari, but there is still negative (areas of
the mari wrap where there is no embroidery) space contributing to the
outcome. This design also requires specific attention to the kousa style
for it to be achieved. Not only must there be one round in the proper
color, each shape must be stitched in the exact same sequence in each
In the example to the right, worked on a C10,
not only must the sequence of the shapes be maintained as each layer is
stitched with one row at a time, the color shading must be paid
attention to as well. Again, the use of negative space is important in
the overall design; while a good portion of the mari surface has been
covered with stitching, it does still show.
Some of the most impressive k
ousa styles are ones where the entire
mari surface is covered, as in the example to the left; these are also
known as "all-over" designs. These designs require as close to perfectly
round a mari as is possible, and as accurate a division and marking as
possible in order to close out and work properly. This example uses a C8
division and the subsequent faces that emerge from the marking; one
round per layer, and each face shape is a different color. The black
outline is stitched afterward as embellishment, giving a resemblance to
stained glass. It helps to wrap the mari in an unobtrusive color if
working an all-over design; that is, one that does not contrast highly
with the design colors, in case there is a bit of the mari wrap showing
(happens to the best of stitchers). Marking threads likewise should be
low-key so as not to pop if they show through.
As mentioned above, one of the
most important things about working an all-over kousa style design
occurs before you start stitching the pattern. Perhaps in no other
pattern class of temari is it more important to have as round a mari and
as accurate a division as can be attained. Deviations from these will be
more apparent than in other patterns, since errors will result in "open
spaces" where the pattern is supposed to close in and cover the mari.
It's almost impossible to prepare a perfectly round mari and absolute
accurate markings, so it's not unusual to need to work some some extra
fill-in stitches when the design is complete. The trick is to execute
them in ways so that they blend invisibly into the overall design.
Grooming the threads as you go, being sure that threads are placed or
groomed into proper orientation, paying attention to direction of lay,
parallels, perpendiculars and where things are supposed to intersect,
are valuable investments of time and effort. Placing additional pins as
landmarks to hit as you stitch, to be sure that all areas are closing in
at the same rate, can help. Keeping watch on the whole rather than just
the smaller area being stitched is a must.
The most critical concept of
working kousa designs is keeping track of where you are.
Interwovens on simple/vertical divides are easy to visualize although if
you are working a design that has a high number of divisions, keeping
track of your starting line and where you are in relation is important.
On C8s and C10s, identifying which face you began working around and
then moving in the same orientation is critical - if a mistake is made,
the resolution and accuracy of the interweave will not happen, and the
design will not have the definition and crispness that it should. At the
worst, it may not even work out at all. You must move from one face to
the next in the same sequence all the time. It can be easy to visualize
this in some designs; others are much more difficult. It's a fairly firm
statement to say that the next lozenge to be stitched is going to be the
one that is fully "under" the threads of all adjacent threads. Careful
inspection for this can sometimes reorient you, but it is vital to keep
your place, especially when putting your stitching down for a period of
There is a simple way to keep track
of things: label the faces (necessary) and keep notes (if needed). If
you knit, you know that many times you need to jot a note to yourself
when you stop in the middle of an intricate pattern sequence so that you
can pick up in the proper place where you left off. Temari patterns can
have the same need. One way or the other you need to identify the poles
and faces on the division. There are many "unique" pins available in
notions, craft and quilting departments - and many of these work well on
6-centers designs. You can use a specific color sequence, or even
something as simple as using plain dressmakers pins, putting one pin in
the center of the first pole, two pins in the middle of the second pole
and so forth. Another option is to cut small circles and write
numbers on them - pin one each in the center of a face.
It's easier to make "pin
flags" with regular straight pins, and either self stick labels
(something like file folder or address labels, computer labels etc.) or
tape. Cut a small piece about 1 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch; fold it in half
and cut notches on each side (this is optional but it can help if you
are using pins with larger heads); wrap it around the pin so it sticks
together and mark the number on it. Adjust the size of the tag if you
prefer. Granted, pins will catch threads as you stitch, but dealing with
that is much better than losing your place in an involved design.
Remember that while many kousa
designs are stitched one row per layer, this can vary, and some
interesting and beautiful outcomes can emerge. Experiment a little bit
and see what happens. Just remember that you need to be able to
replicate the sequence.
It's important to understand the difference between Kousa and Nejiri.
Nejiri is worked element by element. Kousa is worked row by row.
|This first illustration shows kousa
(interwoven); the second shows nejiri (interlocked). The temari
shows both styles in use in one design.
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