I am happy to start the Video Log with Sashiko Stories. I write many articles on this website, but it is much easier for Sashiko learners to watch the video regarding what I think. Here is Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 1 | What is Sashiko and What is NOT Sashiko.
Below, you may refer to the script I used in case my English has the too thick accent in Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 1.
Script of Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 1
Thank you for subscribing the Sashi.Co Channel. This is my first “Story” which I plan to share my experience, opinion, and most importantly my passion.
Today’s Topic is What is Sashiko and What is not Sashiko
As you may have found this video (article) by searching with a keyword of Sashiko, Japanese Sashiko Stitching is getting popular.
As a Sashiko professional, I occasionally search for the keyword of Sashiko and learn what people are talking about it. Then, I came to realize, there are a lot of discussions out there in defining Sashiko; simply what is Sashiko & What is NOT Sashiko.
In order to be part of this discussion as a Japanese, as well as a Sashiko practitioner, I would need to explain the origin of Sashiko. Then, I will share my “opinion” of What is Sashiko and What is NOT Sashiko.
Well. Long Story Short.
There is no such a thing as Right and Wrong in Sashiko in my opinion.
Origin of Sashiko
Let’s talk about the origin.
Sashiko was developed in a poor, undeveloped community in Japan. Those Japanese, who mainly lived in the rural areas, didn’t have enough asset to purchase the new textile. Also, those Japanese didn’t have access to the fine cotton fabric to warm them up.
To overcome the situation like that, they used needle and thread. Sashiko was developed for the purpose of surviving through days, especially in winters, by repairing, mending, strengthening the fabric. It is the deep down origin of Sashiko.
Later on the history, in some regions of Japan, where they had a bit more mind economy, people enjoyed Sashiko for the decorative purpose. However, the Japanese with wealth mainly enjoyed the beautiful Kimonos, so Sashiko was for ordinary people, and there was a purpose of mending, repairing and strengthening the fabric.
Those who enjoyed Sashiko with patterns also didn’t have enough skill to dye out patterns. They used the plain Indigo Fabric, simply because it was the most common fabric available, then stitched the pattern out with the purpose to make fabric stronger with white thread. This is the combination as known as the traditional Sashiko: Indigo & White thread.
Regardless of when in the history, Sashiko existed for the purpose of their life.
Therefore, when I see a handstitched culture with purpose, which can be any purpose, I would be happy to call them Sashiko. In a different culture, in a different location in the world, it may be called differently.
Each community & each location had developed its own culture. Therefore it is a bit thoughtless to say that one type of Sashiko is “right” and the other is “wrong”.
If it is stitched by hand for the purpose, especially with appreciation to what we have, I would definitely call it Sashiko even if the stitches are not even.
About Slow Stitch
Let’s talk about the interesting word, slow-stitch.
I occasionally hear that the people understand there are some rules in Sashiko. Let’s say, the stitch size should be always equal, and the space in between the stitches have to be the certain percentage of the actual stitches. Well, I don’t follow much of these rules.
Because of these rules, the stitching tends to be slow. If I have to be careful with each stitch for the length and spaces in between, yes, I would need to make a stitch one by one. Is this the slow stitch?
Sashiko is SLOW stitch because of it is hand stitched. If I use a sewing machine, I can sew up the things much faster. However, I want to mention that the stitching speed was (and is) a great part of Sashiko.
If the stitching was too slow, the Japanese would have suffered more in the severely cold winter.
Therefore, I advocate that Unshin (運針）needlework is one of the core techniques of Sashiko stitching.
To be honest, for that matter, I would say, the speed was much more important than the actual size of each stitch. Yes, a size of rice grain looks perfect and they say it is the size we aim for, but it is a matter of “result” of running stitch, not measuring stitch by stitch.
So, what is Sashiko?
In my opinion, if you hand-stitch the fabric with a purpose, it is Sashiko. I do not believe that there is the universal rule or regulation for Sashiko. There are, of course, Sashiko techniques and wisdom to make the result more beautiful and attractive. It is your “choice and preference” to learn and choose on, not the rule by someone.
Sashiko is a form (and process) of stitching to appreciate the fabric, and what we have. The purpose of stitching can be anything. Upcycle, Repurpose, Recycle, decorate, and what you can think of your mind.
It was an ordinary needlework for the Japanese. I would like to keep it that way instead of regulating it strictly by implementing the rules.
To learn more about Sashiko, please visit our website, UpcycleStitches.Com. I write stories about Sashiko, introduce the technique and supplies, and much more. Our goal is to share this beautiful technique Sashiko as well as the Japanese mindset behind Sashiko.
Enjoy the Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 1.
Above Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 1. I will work on the following Video Logs.
5 thoughts to “Sashiko Video Log Story Vol 1 | What is Sashiko”
Your video is great. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and history about sashiko! It is so wonderful to hear this philosophy about “the rules”. Keep making videos in English.
Thank you for the comment! Yes, I enjoy sharing my experience and expertise. I can talk about Sashiko all day long. I will keep sharing this passion 😀
Thank you for your video. It’s very encouraging as I am starting my first project and ask myself constantly “Am I doing it the right way?”. I will study your website and watch all your videos. You are really very good at making a video and I understood you perfectly. I found you on Instagram in a live post and wished that I could speak Japanese. Thank you–MK
Hi MK Rader,
Thank you for the comment. You receive the most important message from me. There isn’t such a thing as “Right” Sashiko (There is a way to make it better, of course). I have a live streaming on Youtube, at 9 pm on Wed. Please check it out, too 😀 Thank you.