High Context Sashiko Cover

High Context Sashiko Culture | Enjoy in between

Cultural Appropriation can be very hurtful when it is done intentionally. Although it is not less painful to see the Cultural Appropriation regardless of the situations, when it is done unintentionally, we can consider it as a good opportunity to learn each other. We all make a mistake. It is very important to accept the difference. When a person crosses the boundary of cultural appropriation unintentionally, a simple apology would be just enough. It is a good opportunity to have a cultural mutual understanding. In order to promote good cultural mutual understanding in Japanese culture, I would like to introduce the concept of High and Low Context Culture, which lead to a topic of Super High Context Sashiko Culture.

Crossing the boundary in Cultural Appropriation intentionally, knowing that could hurt the origin, would be unacceptable. However, occasionally, I observe the 2 groups stay on the different page although they both try to mean good. They hurt each other with hoping to understand each other. It is not a matter of intention. There gotta be some situation behind the communication itself. The answer can be the concept of High and Low Context Culture described by Edward T. Hall, 1976, “Beyond Culture”

Here, this is my assumption (with learning High Context Culture) for the unfortunate discussion regarding the Cultural Appropriation in Japanese culture. It may be very much affected how the Japanese language is structured. Again, I will always stand up for the Cultural Appropriation with intention of hurting and/or repainting the culture. Minimizing the culture and repainting the origin will insult the people who live in the Japanese culture. At the same time, it is our Japanese responsibility to consider why it happens -if one means good, then it may be because of the language difference.


Reading between the lines of sentences.

Japanese is the language to expect an ability to read between the lines of conversations. Edward T. Hall once described this as the “High Text Culture (Language)” in his book “Beyond Culture” published in 1976.

Here is a bit more detail. Surprisingly for English speakers, the Japanese language sometimes doesn’t require the subject and object in the sentence. Here is an example.

Let’s say you and I are enjoying a road trip. We talked about where to go but we do not have GPS on. When you want to ask me if we will get to the destination soon or not, you would say, “Are WE gonna get to the _____(destination) soon?”. 

In the Japanese language, in the same situation, you would just say “Soon, (We) get there, right? – もうすぐ着くよね?” 

In this example, the word “We” is omitted because it is already assumed mutually. We expect others to anticipate what the one is saying. 

This can get to the extreme when the relationship is close (like family or close friend). A Japanese may say, “Soon Arrive? – すぐ着く?”. It is not about being polite or not. We omit the words that are considered as a mutual assumption. Of course, it is not the polite language we also have. However, this is the matter of mutual understanding we expect in between. The more amount of information we expect to share, the fewer words are needed. 


English as the ultimate tool to communicate.

*I am not an expert in linguistics. Please forgive my misunderstanding if you find any. I am more than happy to consider re-writing.


In contrast, English is very well-optimized for the purpose of communication. Telling, “who does what, when, where and how (which)” is the fundamental of English. Even within a close family, we naturally use the subjects, and rarely omit it to avoid misunderstanding. 

English is the language with adapting so many difference in the history of immigration and globalization. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it has to be clear about what we are communicating. On the other hands, the Japanese languages were (are) mainly spoken by Japanese. We communicate based on the fact that the conversation partners know the language and culture of Japan.

It is too much to ask non-Japanese people to understand the Japanese language and the logic behind it. However, I believe, it is reasonable to ask everyone to appreciate the Japanese language when they are willing to learn the Japanese culture.

This perspective – High and Low context –  is another perspective why it is so difficult for Japanese to learn English, and the English speaker to learn Japanese.


Importance of Assumption (Premise)

When we learn about the new culture, it is very important not only learn the practice itself, but also the mindset behind it. The mindset often involves the assumption (premise). When the premise is not mutually agreed, the discussion can go very painful for both parties. 

In Japanese, as the language difference I introduced above, we expect all of the parties to anticipate the premise mutually without verbalizing it. For example, when I see someone who would like to learn Sashiko or enjoying Sashiko stitching, I naturally assume that the person is interested in the Japanese culture, and therefore, it is reasonable for me to expect that they “try” to respect the basic Japanese Courtesy.

I learned that it may not be the case all of the time. Some may be calling their stitching Sashiko without knowing it is from Japan. They may be calling only because of its image… Well, in that case, I hope they can find their own name for their stitching because Naming Does Matter as Ms.Makiko mentioned in her blog. (I will discuss this issue in the separate article).


High Context Sashiko

In fact, Sashiko requires even more “High” context for that matter. It is very challenging to find the documents that are describing the origin of Sashiko (or even practices of Sashiko in Japanese history.)

As a Sashiko artisan, I honestly expect others to anticipate to learn by watching instead of asking questions. The verbal discussion, like asking questions expecting for the answers, requires a lot of sentences. In contrast, in most Japanese traditions, the questions (and following answers) were not welcomed because a student was supposed to learn from the master by just watching it. The observation was the only method they could take back in Japan.

Expecting others to learn Sashiko by them just observing our Sashiko stitching is very inefficient. I understand that. In order to share the Sashiko we practice, I have established the Sashiko Stitching Workshop (Core and Basic) both in-person and Online. I will answer any kinds of questions once you take the workshops.

*I wish I could do it to the general public, but because of limited capacity and that I also need to support the family, I restrict my support to who are willing to support my days & activities. For those who are financially challenging to take our workshop, please enjoy our Youtube Channel. If you are willing to learn by observing what we stitch, you can probably learn the Sashiko we practice. It may take 20x more time to understand, but possible, and again, I would like to share the Sashiko we practice to as many people as possible.


Our Sashiko Can communicate by themselves.

I believe that our Sashiko can communicate what is the importance of Sashiko and Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko, even without explaining the High Context Sashiko character. We believe in the power of fabric, hand-stitching, and cares we perform on our Sashiko items.

When you enjoy the Sashiko with respecting the Japanese culture, you are already a part of High Context Sashiko. It isn’t difficult to at all to practice the High Context Sashiko. Simply, respect and care the others. When you care the others, we can all assume that we will be attentive to the boundaries. No more opinion and judgement – more empathy and cares.

Enjoy the High Context Sashiko.

Authentic Boro Cover

Authentic Boro ? |What defines Authenticity in Boro

The word “Boro” in textile gets its popularity day by day. Boro means a piece of rag (torn fabric) with patches and mending. With its concept of up-cycling the fabric and the beauty of patch-working, many textile artist/practitioner enjoy the hand-stitching patchwork with inspiration from Boro. I enjoy the unique interpretation of Boro and the result of interesting patchwork. Many people respect the original culture of Boro. I really appreciate that they refer their work as “Boro-Inspired” work. The question you would have is, however, what is the Authentic Boro, then? What defines Boro as authentic? Can we make the authentic Boro today?

This is my insight as a Sashiko practitioner who sincerely respects the Japanese practice that leads the Boro as a result.

*Please find the link to learn more about Boro at the end of this article.

Authentic Boro

Impossible to make the Authentic Boro?

The authentic Boro pieces (Jackets and rag) we can look at the museum are made many years ago. The poverty and repetition of mending the fabric created its authentic beauty over so many centuries.

The faded color (one of a kind color) the time created. The patch-worked fabric with fraying (or even falling) thread. The fabric which the Japanese used almost every day heavily and kept repairing for the purpose of survival is the definition of Authentic Boro (in my opinion). The fabric has to be continuously used and repetitively repaired. I believe it is the basic definition of authentic Boro.

The Japanese spirit in appreciating the fabric and all the pride to be beautiful (even in the severe circumstance) made such a unique and beautiful textile.

So, technically speaking, it is impossible to make the authentic Boro tomorrow. It requires enormous numbers of patching and fixing. The color would need to be fade in the Sun and regular wear and tear (fiction). In this textile rich society, the maximum we would comfortably enjoy would be the “Boro Inspired” patchworking. There is nothing wrong with that.

However, I believe, we can try to follow the path to make the Authentic Boro. In fact, Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and I try to recreate the Boro with the vintage swatches which are too small to be a good Boro piece.


Boro in an ordinary day – Authentic

Since we believe the authenticity of Boro is defined by 2 categories, (1) being used regularly for a long time and (2) repeatedly mended as needed, we try to follow the process by making and using the Boro Jacket and Boro rag (placemats or throws).

We believe that Boro is the result of ultimate repetition of Sashiko stitching. We are Sashiko artisans so it is not a problem to keep stitching and mending. So Atsushi tries to wear the Jacket below, and when it gets damaged, we simply mend it as the Japanese many centuries ago would have done similarly.

The Boro fabric itself is quite fragile already, so it requires the continuous care. Therefore, we also share how to make a good Sashiko stitching not only to stitch the beautiful pattern but also enjoy the process of stitching.

Authentic Boro 2
Front of Authentic Boro (To be) Jacket. I am wearing it daily and trying to follow the original practice. We hide patches inside (since patching was a sign of poverty and it triggered shame.
Authentic Boro 3
we do not remember how many times we practiced stitching on. However, it is not the “final” version. We wear that and keep mending it over and over again.

*The more photo is available at our New Sashiko Portfolio.

Authentic Boro can be dirty and smelly

Do you know that the final destination of the fabric is not the landfill? The Japanese used to say, “Use the fabric until it dissolves in the water”. When the one keeps using the cotton fabric over and over, like Zokin (雑巾 – cleaning rag *1) the fabric starts fraying and being like a liquid. Don’t take me wrong. I know it is disgusting. However, please understand that the Boro is one step before the fabric dissolving in the water. So, many Authentic Boro can be very dirty and smelly – and sometimes, it is not washable because it is too fragile that the balance of patchwork will be completely destroyed by one single gentle hand-washing. (Trust me. We have done that…)

Fresh Boro it is

So, we call our Boro (to be Authentic) piece as Fresh Boro. It is ironic naming because Boro means “tattered”, opposite of fresh. In order to recreate (revive the process of) the authentic Boro, we would need to use it repeatedly. It means that the fabric has to be in a washable condition. When we obtain the vintage fabric, we wash them thoroughly and make sure it is strong enough to be patched on our existing Boro. I also introduce what is the good vintage fabric for the Boro (to be authentic / Inspired) project.

This may introduce another perspective of Boro. Does the fabric have to be the Japanese vintage fabric? The answer is “Not at all”. It can be any fabric and any garment we have. While I “age” this interesting Boro Jacket by mending, I enjoy mending & patching my own denim. The boro project doesn’t have to be Japanese-related because the core principal of Boro is to appreciate the fabric. Repurposing the garment with a purpose of lasting longer would make a fantastic Boro many years from now.


I hope I shared my knowledge and wisdom clearly here. Please understand, any kind of Boro-related project with respecting the Japanese culture & appreciating the fabric would be just fine. The Japanese (including myself) would be offended by anyone calling their stitching Sashiko or Boro as long as they try to understand the origin. I am here to share the information and technique associated to Sashiko as the process, and Boro as the result.

Enjoy Sashiko & Boro as the result.


References Links for Boro and more

Zokin

Zokin (雑巾) | Japanese cleaning cloth

Have you heard the term “Zokin” in your Sashiko research? I have found several discussion about Zokin online and surprised how fancy Zokin became in non-Japanese culture.

For the Japanese, Zokin is a very common word, especially for parents who have children between the age of 4 to 12 or so. A lot of kindergartens and elementary school require a few Zokin at the beginning of the school year for the children to clean their school with the Zokin (*1). Every Japanese knows the word of Zokin (Some Japanese do not know the word of Sashiko – Sashiko was common but the Sashiko we practice is more like a revival version. – Zokin is still a surviving concept.)


It is merely a cleaning cloth. Due to the demand (let’s say every kid in school need to bring several Zokin every year), we can purchase them in a dollar store or other general store in Japan. Some schools require Zokin to be (made from) new. The others do not care about the condition so the parent can make Zokin from old towels or rags.


What is Zokin?

Zokin is a piece of fabric (Rag or Fabric) for cleaning. Zokin (雑巾 – ぞうきん):Zo (雑) means “Miscellaneous” and Kin (巾)means cloth. The term itself means a Cloth for Miscellaneous purpose.

As I mentioned above, we can get the clean new Zokin from the store. However, the word itself includes the nuance of “dirty” because of our custom. For example, we wouldn’t like to wipe the dishes with Zokin, even if the Zokin is new and clean.

Alternatively, we have a word for the cleaning with more cleanness requires such as food and dishes. It is called Fukin (布巾 – ふきん). In our Sashiko tradition, we have been making many Sashiko stitched Fukin using very high-quality cotton gauze fabric. Let’s say, we start using one Fukin as the dish wiping cloth. When the Fukin starts getting dirty, we get the new Fukin and old Fukin will be the cloth to clean the tabletop or countertop. When the old Fukin starts tearing or severely getting dirty, we start using as “Zokin” which we wipe on the floor or other dirty areas in the house.

For the purpose of the word has, we can make Zokin by using the new Fukin or other piece of fabric, or by stitching the old fabric that we won’t be able to use for the original purpose – like T-shirt or towels.

Zokin is another Japanese culture where “everyone” was doing in Japanese history. So there is no rule at all – just try to understand that the Japanese didn’t throw away things that easily. Zokin is just a name for a piece of fabric – in a long life of the fabric with appreciation.


How to make Zokin

Since there is no rule for Zokin, please understand this tutorial as “one example” of how to make Zokin. I am recalling my mother making one for me when I was a child… so any input from Japanese people would be appreciated.

  1. Prepare the Fabric
  2. Trim the Edge (if necessary)
  3. Stitch the Edge (and flip if necessary)
  4. Stitch to strengthen the fabric.

(1) Cut the fabric

Any kind of fabric would be fine for Zokin. After all, it is the last step of the fabric lifetime. I prefer cotton for the easiness of cleaning. First, cut the fabric for the ideal size. Usually, I prefer 2 layers of fabric to make them appropriate for cleaning. Too thick layers would be difficult to dry after cleaning (which create the bad odor), and a too thin layer (one-layer) may be too weak to use as the cleaning rag. There is no rule for sizing (unless you bring Zokin to school – if you are reading this article in Japan for bringing them to school, please follow the requirement from your school guideline). I like the size of a bit bigger than my palm. It is purely for the easiness of cleaning.

(2) Trim the Edge (if necessary)

This is another preference kicks in.

Let’s say you repurpose the used dish towel as I do in the video. The dish towel already have the side sewed up for avoid fraying. Some do not like the thickness of the edge of fabric. Some prefer to keep the edge so the fabric won’t fray in using the fabric as Zokin.

It is up to you. In the live streaming on Instagram, I made 2 Zokin with trimming the edge and leaving the possibility of fraying the fabric in the process of using them. In the tutorial video, I left the original dish towel edge so that the Zokin won’t fray as easily. Again, it is very much up to your preference and requirement in the cleaning project.

(3) Stitch the Edge

If you decide to trim the edge (and if you cut the fabric to your ideal size), you have an option to avoid fraying by stitching the edge and flip the fabric. Find which side if the front. Then fold it with front facing each other. Then, stitch the side, and flip the fabric so the Zokin have the “front side” on both side. It is not necessary for all the project, but this process will protect the Zokin from fraying easily.

(4) Stitch to strengthen the fabric.

The 4th step, actual stitching, is the most important part of making Zokin. The more you make the stitching, the stronger the Zokin become. There is no rule or regulation what kind of pattern to stitch. For the purpose of making the fabric stronger, the geometric pattern with the straight line would be ideal, such as pattern I performed on the Youtube Video or a Grid that has systematically stitched.

As you may realize, this process of stitching, for the purpose of making fabric stronger, can be called Sashiko. It was(is) very ordinary custom to repurpose the used fabric to make the cleaning rag. The Japanese used to say that we should keep using the fabric until the fabric dissolves in the water. Zokin is just the name of one form of fabric in its long life. The result of the continuous process of using the fabric & mending (fixing) it, and stitching (to stabilize the fabric) is Boro.

This is the latest article about Boro written by Atsushi

Hand-stitching and Machine Stitching

As the other sewing culture, the Zokin has also a discussion of either hand-stitched or machine stitched. Personally, the way of stitching doesn’t really matter because it is for the purpose of cleaning with old fabric – the most important concept here is repurposing.

Here is some advantages for Zokin made by hand-stitching.

  • The bigger stitches made by hands will be more flexible in terms of tensioning the fabric. The machine stitches can result in destroying the fabric. Also, the Zokin stitched by machine may require the second repair because of its tension.
  • No need for the big preparation of sewing machine. Once you know “Unshin (運針)” it will take only 10~15 minutes of your time to make one Zokin. It can be done with watching TV…

Again, there is no rule so follow your preference and enjoy the repurposing process.


Sashiko thread or not for it?

I strongly recommend using Sashiko thread on the regular Sashiko project in making Jackets, bag, tapestry, and other small fabric items with Sashiko stitching. (Please read another article why I recommend Sashiko thread so strongly here). Your project in Sashiko is so valuable that I want to respect the fabric with the best thread instead of whatever available in the market. It will make a difference.

In Zokin, however, I think it doesn’t need to be Sashiko thread. It is merely a cleaning rag. The Zokin will have a massive amount of friction in comparison to the regular Sashiko project we enjoy. The purpose of Zokin is rubbing and therefore the Sashiko thread will be damaged quickly anyway. It may be damaged even before the thread become part of the fabric. So, it is perfectly fine to use a reasonable sewing thread.

However, when you are thinking of making “Boro-looking” fabric from Zokin and using the fabric as Zokin, which looks like a piece of fabric start melting by itself, then Sashiko thread may be a good choice. Generally speaking, the (used) fabric itself should start fraying before the (new) Sashiko thread. The regular sewing thread will snap sooner than the Sashiko thread.

The contrast of old weak fabric and strong new Sashiko thread may create the Boro-looking image of melting fabric. The fabric will be dirty, but with patching and continuous stitching, we may be able to make “the Boro” in today’s society.


Some sample photo of actual usage in Japan

In Sashiko Live Streaming on Instagram, I asked Japanese viewers to share their Zokins in their ordinary days. I sincerely appreciate them providing the photos. It is a big deal for them to share because sharing something so personal (inside of the household) is strongly related to the feeling of shame. However, in order to share the actual image, the picture was something I really would like to share. Please share your Zokin, if possible, so we can connect your place to Japan via Zokin, cleaning and repurposing the fabric.

Again, ANY FABRIC is fine. It is my goal to make a Zokin with my own daughter with using some fabric she likes.

*1: It is another beautiful Japanese culture that I would like to somewhat pass down to my own daughter even in the United States: How to clean with our own hands. The Japanese school require students to clean their classrooms, desks, chairs, and pretty much everything they use. I of course didn’t enjoy it when I was a kid, but I beleive it was a good custom to learn.


Live Streaming related to Zokin Topics


Script for the Youtube Video

Hello. This is Atsushi.

I found it interesting to encounter the word Zokin in browsing the photos of Sashiko. Zokin is quite a common word for the Japanese, and I wrote the blog about Zokin.

 

On top of sharing the information, here is a quick tutorial of how to make Zokin by yourself.

(1) Cut the fabric

Any kind of fabric would be fine for Zokin.

First, cut the fabric for the ideal size. Usually, I prefer 2 layers of fabric to make them strong enough to clean yet light enough to handle. There is no specific rule for Zokin, so the size can be really up to your preference. I prefer the size of my hand palm so I can clean comfortably.

(2) Trim the Edge (if necessary)

The second step is about another preference you may choose from.

Please check the website for the detail explanation. In short, you may trim the edge of the original fabric for the less bulkiness. Or keep them as is to protect the fabric from fraying.

 

(3) Stitch the Edge

If you decide to trim the edge (and if you cut the fabric to your ideal size), you have an option to avoid fraying by stitching the edge and flip the fabric. Find which side if the front. Then fold it with front facing each other. Then, stitch the side, and flip the fabric so the Zokin have the “front side” on both sides. It is not necessary for all the project, but this process will protect the Zokin from fraying easily.

 

Flipping the fabric is completely optional. It will make the fabric more durable and look less bulky, but stitching 4 sides are also a good way to make Zokin.

(4) Stitch to strengthen the fabric.

The step of actual stitching is the most important points of making Zokin. The more you make the stitching, the stronger the Zokin become. There is no rule or regulation what kind of pattern to stitch. However, for the purpose of making the fabric stronger, the geometric pattern with the straight line would be the ideal pattern, such as pattern I performed on this Youtube Video or a Grid that has systematically stitched.



As you may realize, this process of stitching, for the purpose of making fabric stronger, can be called Sashiko. It was a very ordinary custom to repurpose the used fabric to make the cleaning rag. The Japanese used to say that we should keep using the fabric until the fabric dissolves in the water. Zokin is just the name of one form of fabric in its long life. The result of the continuous process of using the fabric & mending (fixing) it, and stitching (to stabilize the fabric) is Boro.

 

Editors Note

 

2 main questions about making Zokin would be… 1. Is it have to be hand stitched? 2. Do we use Sashiko thread?

 

It doesn’t have to be hand-stitched. Again, it is very much up to the preference. Personally, the way of stitching doesn’t really matter because it is for the purpose of cleaning with old fabric – the most important concept here is repurposing.

 

One big advantage of hand-stitching is the durability of Zokin. The bigger stitches made by hands will be more flexible in terms of tensioning the fabric. The machine stitches can result in destroying the fabric over time.

 

For the thread, any kind of thread would be fine for the Zokin unlike the other Sashiko project to make Jacket and bags.

 

However, when you are thinking of making “Boro-looking” fabric from Zokin and using the fabric as Zokin, which looks like a piece of fabric start melting by itself, then Sashiko thread may be a good choice. Generally speaking, the (used) fabric itself should start fraying before the (new) Sashiko thread. The regular sewing thread will snap sooner than the Sashiko thread.



The more information is available on our Engish website, upcyclestitches.com

Keiko Visits Otsuchi Sashiko

Keiko visits Otsuchi Sashiko.1

Keiko (from Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya) visited Otsuchi to share the workshop with members of Otsuchi Recover Sashiko Project on June 13th in 2019. The administrative group in Otsuchi Sashiko updated their blog with her visit, so here is a translated version for their writing. I appreciate their time to share the previous time with Keiko. It is the translation from their article part.1.

*The Original blog in Japanese, as well as the other articles about Otsuchi Sashiko, is available at the end of this article.


Keiko visits Otsuchi Sashiko

(Tried direct translation)

Hello.

We offered a Sashiko Workshop by Keiko-san to our project members. Keiko told us that she would like to see us again and stitched together, then she drove more than 10 hours (one-way!) to make this workshop happened.

The members (they call them Sashiko-san) enjoyed the workshop with passion with longing to see Keiko for a long time. It is a lot of writing to summarize in one article, so we will write the series of articles.

Keiko arrived from Takayama (in Gifu Prefecture) to Otsuchi (in Iwate Prefecture) a day before the workshop with bringing many Sashiko samples, supplies and a mountain of hand-dyed Sashiko thread (This is one reason she prefer driving over flying). Look at her smile after so much driving. The photo is with the administrative staff of the project and Keiko in the project office.


The day of Keiko Sashiko Workshop

The entrance with Sashiko-san visiting the workshop space with Kanako san at the desk.

Sashiko-san were so happy to see Keiko after so many days. They all enjoyed the conversation with Keiko.

Keiko brought many Sashiko Jackets and bags (what Keiko made) for sharing the Sashiko ideas. Keiko even wears one of them. Look at the smiles.

17 members in the project participated in this workshop. With sharing the photos of excited Sashiko-san’s photos, we will conclude the article here. We will write more about the actual workshop.


[Editor’s note]

I just wanted to share this article as soon as possible. I will summarize them later on with more information (like link to our philosophy to make the article easier to understand. This is one of the biggest reasons I continue Sashiko. I am very happy with this opportunity, and more importantly, their smiles (& serious faces).


Original Blog in Japanese

General introduction of Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project
https://upcyclestitches.com/otsuchi-recovery-sashiko-project/

An announcement for the exhibition of Otsuchi with Keiko & Sashi.co

 

 

Cultural Appropriation Cover

Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko

The recent discussion about Sashiko started on FB group following in Instagram & our FB group taught me a variety of views to look at things. In order to grasp this discussion, please read the articles of “Why Do you call it Sashiko” and “Mindful Reading“. These 2 articles would be good-to-read materials to understand who I am on top of what I do. Regardless, it was a necessary learning experience for me to keep this journey of sharing what Sashiko is. However, there was one assignment I took home with me to study: learning about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko.


Japanese Cultural Appropriation

The word, Cultural Appropriation, was a too complicated concept for me to explain with the Sashiko we practice. Therefore, with knowing the recent discussion about the word “Kimono” and its cultural appropriation (My Kimono is not your couture), I couldn’t express my insights to the public. I wanted to make sure that I understand what I write before asking someone to read. A follower on Instagram introduced me the brilliant article, written by Ms. Maki – Japanese potter lives in Yorkshire. Her writing encouraged me to express how I feel about Cultural Appropriation in Sashiko.

Her powerful writing is must to read if you are interested in being creatively inspired by Japanese culture (or any other culture, for that matter). Please take a moment here to read through her writing, then please read how I feel about it. I sincerely respect her writing and appreciate her courage and time to share.


I encourage you to call it Sashiko

With my sincere respect to her writing, I encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko as long as you “try” to understand and respect the Japanese culture. I am not asking you to be a master of Japanese culture, nor practice the Japanese custom thoroughly. What I am asking is your attitude to understand who the Japanese are.

Do I sound like contradicting between what I write and what Maki wrote: “Naming DOES matter”? Please let me explain it here.


“Kimono” and “Sashiko” is a bit different

I came to the conclusion to not to consider “Calling your stitching Sashiko” as the Cultural Appropriation based on the 3 factors below.

  1. Sashiko may be too ordinary in the concept of Cultural Appropriation.
  2. Many Japanese also misuses the word of Sashiko.
  3. The word Sashiko is mainly used in the non-commercial situation.

(1) Is Sashiko Japanese culture?

Kimono is a Japanese clothing culture. When they try to research what the Kimono is, there are numbers of books and article to read. However, in Sashiko, there aren’t many documents published to understand Sashiko as the culture.

In fact, I am not sure if we can call Sashiko as the Japanese “culture” yet (therefore I keep asking to respect the Japanese culture in Sashiko – not Sashiko Culture). The ordinary Japanese practiced Sashiko in their ordinary life. The hand-stitching to repurpose the fabric was just too ordinary for the Japanese. We do not have enough documents and testimonies left to define Sashiko as the Japanese culture. However, I believe I can say that Sashiko has a lot of Japanese cultural characteristic – and without that, I wouldn’t want to call it Sashiko. (One of the characteristics of Sashiko and Japanese culture would be a concept of Animism in Sashiko.)

When we aren’t 100% sure to call Sashiko as the Japanese culture, it would be better to keep it as non-Cultural-Appropriation matter. Kimono is different. It is the defined clothing culture. When they disrespect the Japanese culture in Sashiko, then I would get offended. I don’t know how to call this anger or frustration yet – but probably not the Cultural Appropriation.


(2) Is Sashiko common for Japanese?

The second factor is that Sashiko isn’t so common for Japanese neither. Every single Japanese knows what the Kimono indicates. Not all the Japanese know what Sashiko looks like.

In fact, the Sashiko we practice now may be a bit different from the Sashiko the Japanese practiced a long time ago. The culture transform itself. It isn’t about good or bad. It just happens. However, there are many stories behinds each Sashiko or Sashiko related fabric. This website and our SNS accounts are for sharing those stories – like difference between hand-stitching Sashiko and woven Sashiko as well as the difference between Boro and Sashiko.

Since Sashiko isn’t so common in Japanese, it may be harsh to name someone’s stitching as the Cultural Appropriation.


(3) We enjoy Sashiko stitching with no intention.

The last factor I would like to mention is that many of us calling their stitching Sashiko do not intend to disgrace the Sashiko stitching. They enjoy Sashiko (or any form of hand-stitching) with no intention of the power of the word. I can say so because not many people use the word for the non-commercial setting.

I am aware that some companies/people use the word of Sashiko to sell their “Non-stitched” item. For that, I would get upset as the form of Cultural Appropriation (as Ms.Maki mentioned in her article). However, those who are interested in my messages are the people who simply enjoy Sashiko stitching for non-commercial purposes, so I would like to avoid scaring them to enjoy their Sashiko stitching.


The fear I experienced in the discussion

Yes. I encouraged you to call it Sashiko. However, I still have the fear I explained previously. Maki explained the fear I had experienced in the discussion very well. It is “言葉の一人歩き”.

言葉の一人歩き (kotoba no hitori aruki) literally translates as “word walking on its own”. It’s the Japanese expression of the state of misused and misinterpreted information, that has nothing to do with the origin, are spreading selfishly in the society.

https://makikohastings.blogspot.com/2019/05/naming-does-matter-my-thought-on.html

This happens when we use the word without good understanding of what it actually means. I personally feel that the word “Wabi-Sabi” is a good example of this. Interestingly, once the word start walking on its own, there is no way to stop it – because we tend to listen what we want to listen and we use the most effective aspect of the word.

If the one who uses the word is aware of their action – let’s say Sashiko is the Japanese hand-stitching culture – the word walks toward slowly implementing the other values. However, when they start using the word without knowing the background, the word rapidly and drastically starts absorbing what they want to reflect on the word.

The word is a wisdom, not a tool. However, without an attitude to understand the culture and background, it could be hurtful for many people.

A good example of this matter would be the word of “Sashiko as the recycle method.” I have read some statement that we can use “whatever we have” because Sashiko’s core principal is to recycle what we have. I do not think so. Yes, Boro is the ultimate result of upcycling and recycling what they had. However, the core message of Sashiko is to appreciate & care what they had like blanket or Jacket. In order to mend the Jacket for better use in the future, they would have used the better thread (if they had a choice.) Using whatever we have in the box because of convenience is not the Japanese culture in Sashiko. By using the supplies designed for Sashiko purpose, not only the result will be more beautiful and long-lasting, it can help to preserve the industries in Sashiko.


The words of “Respect” and “Appreciation” requires Action.

In the FB comments, I was accused of overreacting. I do not believe that I overreacted to the issues. Sashiko is something very deeply rooted in my identity.

In Zen practice, the Japanese believed that the word doesn’t contain the truth. I followed this concept, and therefore, I also practice Sashiko on top of writing and sharing. Although the word “cannot” contain the truth by itself, the word can have the power and responsibility. It leads to the concept of being mindful in our ordinary days. I hope, by enjoying Sashiko, we can be mindful and think of the responsibility of what we say/write.

Again, I do not consider someone calling their hand-stitching “Sashiko” as the form of cultural appropriation. I worry more of the cultural transformation by quick read what is available online. Therefore, I would like you to call your stitching Sashiko especially when you have read my writing this far and trying to understand the Japanese culture. Your contribution can help to preserve the Sashiko culture, and I appreciate your action very much.



 [Editor’s Note]

I am still sad and angry about the comments I have received in the previous discussion on Facebook. I felt insulted – without them even trying to understand what I am trying to do. However, at the same time, it was very grateful to experience because I receive so many more messages to encourage what I do. I receive 100 times more positive messages in comparison to those insulting comments. These warm & understanding messages are the motivation of writing this article. Here is an interesting story. Those who “care” to understand the Japanese culture in Sashiko are the one who worried if they use Sashiko inappropriately – as a form of Cultural Appropriation, like you who have been reading this far. This is the writing for you who care what I do so that you would send me the encouraging messages when I get confused. I hope this article helped you to enjoy Sashiko more. The fear I feel is not from you.

I used to suppress the negative feeling such as anger or sadness. Now, I understand those feeling is what define us as human – when someone disgrace something I value the most, I should get emotional to protect it. With the fear, I would like to be as natural as one human being can be.


The Fear of alternating Sashiko

Above, as you know, I mentioned that I wouldn’t consider “calling a form of hand-stitching” Sashiko as Cultural Appropriation. Furthermore, when you “care” to understand the Japanese culture behind Sashiko, I would like to encourage you to call your stitching Sashiko. It isn’t about the stitching result much. It is about the mindset to practice Sashiko, at least the Sashiko we would like to pass down.

Let me share, once again, that I still have the fear deep down there: Sashiko may alter its form so rapidly, by those who try to “understand” Sashiko as their own way without caring, that Sashiko may lose the original form of what it actually is (was). Therefore, I keep sharing my view of the Sashiko we practice – mainly on Instagram- to encourage people to enjoy more than just stitching but something more than that.


By the way, I do not intend to control someone’s feeling or actions. If they want to practice “Sashiko” as they want, unfortunately, I have no control over it. Because I cannot control it, I just keep sharing what I believe in so the other will receive the core messages I would like to pass down. There are always people who twist the messages I am trying to communicate.

I am an idealist but I know the reality. We have all our view to look at things. One called me that I am arrogant, and accused me of acting as the authority of Sashiko. Another commented that I am intimidating to others. Well, again, I cannot control how they receive my messages.

(However, I hope, when they read what I have been writing, the words of “Arrogant”, “Authority” and “Intimidating” are the opposite terms for what I have been doing. I can say that confidently because many more of people encouraged me to keep sharing them with appreciation. I hope you understanding my point here. If I wrote something arrogant or intimidating, please let me know with the specific part that I wrote so I can self-reflect and edit them. I am a human. I make a mistake. )


It is okay that they take my message in a different way. However, for those who do not like what I share, I don’t want them to learn the Sashiko from what I write, upload as videos, or provide workshops or supplies. If they learn the Sashiko from me yet thinking that I am arrogant, then it is the fear I am worrying the most; alternating the Sashiko culture. “Convenience” isn’t the first principal of Japanese culture.

(It is fair… right? I always provide the 3 politeness replies before I get offended. Again, everyone makes mistakes and we all deserve a chance to re-do things.)

After all, Sashiko is like my family. When I see the intentional action of alternating the Sashiko culture like above, I will fight back no matter what.

Oops. The editors note got so long. I am here to share & support the Sashiko you would like to enjoy – unless you try to “care” others. Thank you for your time to read this far.

Atsushi

Sashiko Denim Jeans Cover

100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey

One Denim Jeans with Sashiko stitching completing within 4 days. A story from my dear friend, Dag Force, motivated me to unrealistic work. After the 4 days, I realized that I underestimated my ability in Sashiko. At the same time, I learn that I can improve my Sashiko. The 4-days of intensive Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey taught me my potential and possibility. I want to be better, so here is an announcement of the 100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey.

What did I do in 4-days?

With spending about 20 hours in 4 days, I completed adding the whole Sashiko on one-leg (both front and back) and some small Sashiko mending. You may check the whole process on Youtube as a series of live-streaming or a video below as the preview of 20 hours stitching.

https://youtu.be/rWXmY6q0N5w | 1/100 of Sashiko Denim Journey

I would like to continue stitching on the denim. However, I do not have 100 of denim jeans because I decided to purchase no more clothes in 2017. I would like to work on your denim jeans, especially the one you have a story to tell. It could take 10 years of my time to complete 100 of Sashiko jeans, and I would like to work on the denim they value so much that they want to keep for a long period of time. I appreciate your understanding of this massive labor on one denim and its value.


Project Outline

X/100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey

Atsushi will perform Sashiko stitching on your used denim with minor mending if necessary.


The fee for the project

About $150.00~ | $7.83 ($7.25 * 1.08) multiplied by actual hours spent on. The total fee will depend on how much of stitching & mending the denim require. The fee for the denim on the photo is $156.00 + shipping of $7.80.

Production time / duration

2~20 weeks from the day of denim-jeans delivery to Central Pennsylvania.

Notes & condition

  • The pair of denim jeans need to be heavily used. I do not (cannot) stitch on the new denim because the fabric may be too thick. Also, the denim has to be cotton 100% and non-stretchy fabric. If you are concerned it is lightly used and not thin enough to perform the stitching, please let me know when you contact us.
  • Please allow us to broadcast some or whole of the stitching on your denim on Youtube and/or Instagram.
  • Please wash the denim jeans thoroughly so that all of the smell and dirt will be washed away before stitching. If the smell is too strong, we may wash it in our house ($20.00 extra fee applied).
  • Please share your story on the Denim to me in writing over the email. I would like to prioritize the denim with a more inspirational story as the priority.
  • The regular price is about $580~ for these types of commission. If you would like to support us with the full commission, please let me know. I will work on it as the priority commission. Also, any types of support (in a form of donation or tips) would be appreciated.
  • For the design, I will provide some geometric pattern preference. I can work on the pattern you would like to have, but it could end up with more time to work on and result in higher pricing.

How to be part of 100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Project

Simply contact me mentioning that you are interested in the 100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Project. I will reply to you from our Gmail account. 

I would like to consider it as my lifework instead of “work to make a profit.” Therefore, I would like to know who is asking me to do Sashiko stitching, why, and the stories behind the denim I will be working on. 

 


Stories of 100 Sashiko Denim Jeans Project

  1. Dag Force Sashiko Denim – Footage – Completed
  2. NK – pure power to encourage the others – Working

I appreciate to be part of this 100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey.


Another Sashiko Denim project is coming up

This project, 100 of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey, is a project that Atsushi will work on YOUR denim to reinforce the stories.

As a synchronizing project of Sashiko Denim Jeans Journey, we can work on the “used denim in the market” and practice “Full Sashiko Stitching with necessary mending” provided by Atsushi’s student in Japan. If you are interested, please contact me saying “More information for the Full Sashiko Stitching Denim.” More information will be coming up soon.

Mindful Reading – Follow up of Why Do you Call it Sashiko.

Thank you for all of the comments for the previous post, “Why Do you Call it Sashiko?“. I learned a lot from your insights. Many comments encouraged me to keep my journey. Don’t worry. I will not change anything to share the Sashiko we enjoy.

To be honest, the original discussion was a confusing & heartbreaking one that I didn’t expect. I moved on, thanks to many heartwarming and constructive advise. Yet, however, for the purpose of improving my understanding of both Japanese and non-Japanese culture, I cannot stop thinking of the possible missing link that I couldn’t realize. Some part of me says that I could have communicated better within these 3 Budda’s smile phases (not after the 3 strikes). I know it sounds crazy to you, but hey, I am a Japanese after all, who naturally feel shame on things to worry if they may have embarrassed themselves or not.

I have been thinking and thinking, though days and nights, I may have found the missing link. 


Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.

The missing link is the word I came up with: “Mindful Reading

* (I apologize if I am using someone’s word. I do change the name if it is not appropriate.)


“Why do you call it Sashiko?”

From this sentence, when you read it at first glance, what do (did) you think (feel)? I sincerely hope that you understood my intention of “a pure question out of curiosity” with reading the before & after contexts instead of the “Atsushi – accusing – you” comment, like “how can you call it Sashiko”. There was no intention to accuse anyone and anything they do. I simply wanted to know what is the motivation and reasons (why) they call their stitching Sashiko, only because they did not try to understand the Japanese culture or characteristic.

Over reading their comments many times, I came to one hypothesis: what if they read the sentence, “why do you call it Sashiko?” (by without getting the context) as an accusation? then, the question itself triggered their defensiveness? Moreover, what if, in the Western (American) culture, it is not okay to ask about the personal motivation or reasons, although it is okay (or even recommended) to ask the technical or knowledge-based questions?

What I received as their offensive comments are not still okay because I provided enough polite explanation (contexts) of why I pointed out the concern. Many comments I had received from the previous post assured me that my English was not a significant problem. However, I thought, this hypothesis may a good start to find the missing link that has been bothering me. This realization leads me to the keyword: Mindful Reading.


Before explaining about the Mindful Reading and Quick reading in contrast, as a side note, I would like to share the comment I receive in the post I asked: “why do you call it Sashiko?” I received a comment saying: “I use the word for the Instagram hashtag.” I liked how pure it is. I am NOT offended by this comment at all. Since my goal is to share the Sashiko AND Japanese culture, I asked him if it is possible to try to understand Japanese culture. He generously says “Yes”.

This “Yes” is all I wanted from the original discussion. I asked the person in the original discussion to practice Sashiko (move hands for some amount of time) first instead of asking many questions, then ask thoughtful questions. Asking the questions is not the problem. Asking questions without thinking of someone’s time (the possibility of troubling someone) is one of the “non-appreciated” action in courtesy of Japan. If the person says “I am doing Sashiko”, I wanted them to try to understand this courtesy of Japan.

Unfortunately, the discussion didn’t go that way. So I started wondering why they call their stitching Sashiko. I honestly and sincerely didn’t understand why – which I still don’t. I can only guess the other reasons such as “because it looks pretty” or “I just saw it”. Anything is acceptable. Only thing I don’t understand is why they do not provide me their response… (Well, I got one answer that she thinks what she does is more like an embroidery – then I replied her that I had no problem then if she thinks what she does is an embroidery).

I kept thinking and thinking, then I realize that reading is a subjective action. It reflects how the person usually perceives reality and react to the events. The contexts and my polite explanation didn’t matter because they acted as their unconscious behavior.

Well. That’s why I would like to share the importance of the Sashiko as the process, not only the result or practical techniques.


Sashiko as a mindful stitching.

I see many people enjoy Sashiko as the mindful stitching. Although I am not sure if the Sashiko was developed as the way to be mindful, like meditation, I feel the same for the Sashiko as the mindful stitching. In fact, I enjoy the meditative characteristic of Sashiko stitching, and it influences my other daily activities. Sashiko helps us to be mindful in other activities.

So, I would like to share the concept of Mindful Reading.

I would like to use the word of Quick Reading in contrast to the Mindful Reading. Mindful Reading may be described in other terms such as careful reading, slow reading, or as my favorite, a dialogue to the author. Quick Reading may be described in other terms such as efficient reading, speed (fast) reading, or personal preference based reading.

In this my personal description, Quick Reading is the key to be successful in this world. I personally enjoy the Speed-Reading (Photographic Reading?) in Japanese, and I used to read at least a book per day. I enjoyed the amount of knowledge and information I could accumulate in my brain – I felt that I was reaching to the success (that I defined – pretty much money and wealth) every-time I read. I still enjoy it when I make a research on specific subject.

Ever since I started practicing Sashiko as my life mission, I naturally withdraw myself from doing the Quick Reading. It is interesting to realize this difference after 5 years of my reading habit transformation. Again, I still do the Quick Reading when I choose. However, in daily life, I try to be mindful when I read someone’s writing. (This may be significantly affected by the Inter-cultural marriage life. It isn’t easy sometimes. hahaha.)

I would like to recommend the beauty of Mindful Reading for those who would like to practice the Sashiko. I am not saying you should learn how to meditate and sit down on the floor when you read. It is just about being mindful (that you are there with the book) while you read. You may question yourself if you are reading what the author intended to write. You may ask a question to the author in mind, and the author may describe it later on in their writing. Mindful Reading makes a beautiful dialogue between you and the book (or blog, writing, or even a memo on the post-it).

Does it sound difficult for you to practice? Don’t worry. there is an easy way to practice Mindful Reading. “Breath slowly intentionally & fully” when you read. The slow breathing will remind you that you are there to read.


We (the human being) used to search for the information by reading books or records. Now, we choose the information because of the Internet – too much information available. The more information is required to be successful, then it leads to the necessity of increasing the speed in reading. For efficiency and productivity, in such a busy day, Quick Reading is a must-have skill to be “better”.

However, with Sashiko as mindful stitching, I here sincerely hope to share the beauty of Mindful Reading. I occasionally feel that I am talking to the author when I read – even when I read the novel. It gives me so much appreciation and insight.

With the Internet and speed-oriented society. some of the writing does not deserve the Mindful Reading. You may end up with wasting your time with Mind Reading by reading some trashy writing. It is okay as the learning opportunity. However, for those who practice Mindful Reading, I am pretty sure you can distinguish the writing worthwhile for the Mindful Reading. One exception would be the writing in another language and from other culture. The author may be writing in the non-mother language. In that case, the Mindful Reading will provide more insight from. As my personal impression, the writer has to be pretty mindful when they write sentences in the non-mother language 🙂

SNS is a bit difficult place to do Mindful Reading, again, because not many writers are in the status of mindfulness. However, defining that “All of the writing in SNS are not worthwhile for Mindful Reading” is also not in a category of being mindful… I assume.

We all make mistakes

As my conclusion, the original discussion missed the concept of Mindful Reading. I asked them to read my comments several times, and they said they did. They indeed did read my writing, but not Mindful Reading. Therefore I felt confused by 2 different types of feedbacks – many feedbacks of saying I have nothing wrong, and a few saying that I am rude. This confusion may be explained by the categorization of Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.

*When I write this kind of article, some of you may feel that you did Quick Reading and feel sorry for not doing the Mindful Reading for my writing. Well, do not be sorry because the feeling you had for me is already a dialogue between me and you. It is Mindful Reading. Also, the person with only Quick Reading ability wouldn’t be reading the whole article – because it is too long and the sub-heading tells “another story”. (It is interesting if you get my trick here.)


I welcome any feedbacks

It would be so helpful to share your insight here. Some say that I do not welcome any questions and feedback, but I do. Criticism and questions are both welcome as well. If you ask a question, please think through first so if you are not troubling my time more than necessary (Courtesy of Japan). If you make a criticism, please provide the concrete reasoning and examples backing up your criticism. I got some comment (on FB) that I am rude at some posts, but they never provided me the actual posts I shared… so I cannot even self-reflect and prepare for an apology because I don’t know what they are referring to.)


I also learned that some may think that I am trying to be an authority in Sashiko. I have a favor to ask for this – please try to understand that I am just a man who happens to be good at Sashiko. It is perfectly fine when someone gives me the title of Artist, but I really don’t consider myself as the artist or Sashiko master.

I write a lot of my philosophy on Instagram. It would be nice to follow, and when you have time, please check the post I made already there.


[Side note] I want you to listen…?

I have been happily married for about 9 years with a western woman. It is a marriage, so we have numbers of arguments and discussion, and I always learn something from them (by admitting that I was wrong. lol. just kidding.)

One of the significant learning was that: when she says, “Hey, I want you to listen”, then start talking about her day, it does not mean that she is asking for my reply nor advise. She just wants me to listen.

In Japanese culture, this doesn’t happen often because not many married couples talk like we do in the western culture (in my understanding – of course, depends on the couple). The wife doesn’t ask him to listen much. She doesn’t even expect him to listen even though she may keep talking to him.

I did the same once – pretending that I was listening to my wife. It was a bad idea. So I changed my understanding that I need to listen carefully when she ask me to listen. So I nod and say some exclamation words as naturally as possible (it wasn’t my strength). I shared my caring and I did care what she said. However, in my cultural understanding, caring required some participation – so when we got into the fight by me commenting on what she wanted me to listen, it was total confusion.


This is an example of how “cultural difference” can affect communication. Being mindful is a great way to mend the troubles. I accept to change myself in any situations because I choose to marry a western woman and live in America. Since we are talking about Sashiko, the Japanese stitching form developed in the Japanese culture, I would like to ask anyone who enjoys Sashiko to “try” to understand the Japanese mindset bt being mindful what they are reading, listening, and enjoying.

Again, when I said, “why do you call it Sashiko?”, I asked from the out of pure curiosity. It is still the same. I am very curious why the person call their stitching Sashiko (if they do not try to understand the Japanese culture). If your answer is “because I like Sashiko and would like to (try to) understand Japanese culture”, I am here with you. If not, I would like to know why you call it Sashiko so I can learn from you and move closer to you.

I hope this article cleared some of the confusion. It certainly did to me like “Aha!” moment.

Sashiko Practice Kit 2019 Cover

Sashiko Practice Kit 2019

It is our pleasure to announce the new release of “Sashiko Practice Kit 2019” as a set of “everything you need to start Sashiko”. Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya did a great job to make it happen.

If you haven’t tried the (traditional) Sashiko stitching the way we enjoy, it is a great set to start with. The needle, the round-shape dish thimble, Sashiko thread & great fabric for Sashiko stitching: everything is included in a package. You do not even need to spend some time to transfer the pattern before actual stitching.

If you have been enjoying the Sashiko as we do, let’s say after Atsushi’s workshop or watching our Youtube Channel repeatedly, this is a great project to experience how to combine several Japanese geometric patterns into one pieces. Also, it can be a great gift for your friends who are interested in the Sashiko you enjoy.


Some information available Online

This kit doesn’t have a written Sashiko instruction included (we explained the reason below). Instead of the instruction, we share the whole process of Atsushi’s stitching on Youtube. Also, the other techniques that you would need in Sashiko stitching are already shared on Sashi.Co Youtube Channel. Please consider taking the workshop (in-person/online) if you would like to learn it faster & more efficient.

Atsushi’s Sashiko stitching for this practice kit


Easy and Quick Fun!

It is a great way to jump into Sashiko stitching. Again, everything is included.

We had a bit of discussion if we should release this types of “kit”. We learn that there is a huge market for the kit & panel (fabric with pattern pre-printed). This is our answers to those needs.

However, we also believe it is very important to learn how to transfer the pattern on the fabric & prepare the fabric by yourself. Therefore, we wanted to make sure we communicate both of the beauty of “Easy and Quick Fun” and “Ability to be creative.”

https://upcyclestitches.com/sashiko-pattern-preprinted/

Yet, we don’t want to limit you

We would like to share the fun of infinite possibility – that you can do whatever you want in Sashiko stitching. Pre-printed & prepared fabric is fun to stitch, but it is also limiting your creativity.

Yet, we wanted to enjoy the Sashiko we practice… as a result, we decided to offer the Sashiko Practice Kit 2019 with no written instruction. Please find the article explaining the reasons why we do not include the written Sashiko Instructions.

https://upcyclestitches.com/sashiko-instruction-learn-the-best-strategy/

Following Sashiko Practice Kit 2019

After all, our goal is to share the Sashiko we enjoy. We believe it is okay to provide many kinds of choices as long as we explain the reasons behind it. Since we are sort of “artisans”, we tend to be (very) stubborn. However, we also understand that flexibility is the key to share the culture and its craft. So, please let us know if you have a specific design or idea of what kind of Kit you would like to try next – as the following items of Sashiko Practice Kit 2019.

Sashiko Instruction Cover

Sashiko Instruction | Learn the best strategy

Unlike the other major Sashiko companies, we do not offer many “Sashiko Kits” for customers. We know that there is a demand for the kit, but we have been hesitant to do so for some reasons. Well, we finally come up with one in 2019. However, even we offer the Sashiko Practice Kit, we do not include a piece of paper with Sashiko Instruction written on. Here is an explanation of why we prefer not to provide the Sashiko instruction of how to proceed with a Sashiko Kit.


The “best” instruction is up to you

Many people think that there is “absolute answer” or “right way” in Sashiko stitching. We believe there is not. Each pattern, each project, and each material requires the different instruction of how to proceed with the stitching. The most appropriate Sashiko instruction is determined what is your preference, personality, the mood in the day of stitching, and more importantly, how you would like to communicate to the fabric.

Therefore, I would like you to come up with your own Sashiko instruction (of how to proceed the stitching) based on your preference & condition. By us providing the written instruction, it limits your possibility and creativity.

There is some instruction for basic Sashiko techniques & wisdom. Please check our Youtube Channel to find the video for your need, or simply take the Sashiko workshop to get a full package of Sashiko technique.


No rules and regulation in Sashiko

We often say that there is no rules and regulations in Sashiko. The Sashiko instruction contradicts the saying above a bit. Yes, we can recommend one of the appropriate Sashiko instruction as the sample. However, it also encourages Sashiko stitchers to give up researching or learning by watching videos or other information sources.

The Sashiko instruction could imply the rule. We don’t want that. Instead, we offer the sample video of us actually stitching. We believe it is better than the written Sashiko instruction.

Youtube video coming-up soon.


We teach how to come up with own Sashiko Instruction

Each pattern has its own appropriate Sashiko instruction. We teach how to come up with it by yourself in our Sashiko workshop (Online Class or In-person).

The reason I do not share it here is it may require the personal attention to explain throughly – otherwise, without the follow-up, it could cause the misunderstanding. The misunderstanding based on what we write & share is something we would like to avoid the most. Therefore, please consider taking the workshops for more information & follow-ups. It is quite easy, yet core in Sashiko stitching.


Why kit? Your possibility is infinite

Keiko & I occasionally discuss why the market demands the Sashiko kits so much. We believe that it is much more enjoyable when the person can stitch what they would like to have on their every project instead of the kit pattern someone decides for you.

It isn’t difficult to transfer the pattern at all. We have a Youtube Video of how to transfer the pattern on the fabric (It is Youtube. It is free of charge). We even offer some videos of how to drew the Japanese geometric patterns directly with using chalk pen and rulers. We still do not understand why kits have so much popularity.

By learning the basic of a simple technique, the possibility in Sashiko projects can be infinite. I hope you will get the “technique and wisdom” instead of “a written direction made by someone”

[After note]

It is kind of strange to encourage the market to “not to purchase the practice kit” even though we also have an article of advertising the new releasing Sashiko Practice Kit. Well, the Sashiko practice kit is a good value set for anyone who would like to enjoy Sashiko stitching, especially those who already took the Sashiko workshop. I just wanted to explain the background of the reasons why we do not offer written instruction. It isn’t about us being mean or secretive. It is about the message we would like to pass down in Sashiko stitching.

Sashiko Thread Spring 2019 Cover

Sashiko Thread Spring 2019 | Quick Update

I used to stick to only one type of Sashiko Thread. After opening the online store in the USA, I spent some time and investment to provide the more variety of the great thread for Sashiko. Here is a quick update for the Sashiko Thread Spring 2019.


4 Choices | Sashiko Thread Spring 2019

We carry several types of Sashiko thread. Please check the numbers to understand our preference and standard.

  1. Keiko’s Hand-Dye & Coron Synthetic Dye Sashiko Thread
  2. White Collection & Unique Color Maru Sashiko Thread
  3. Variety of Yokota Sashiko Thread
  4. Kakishibu Fujix Thread

Ideally speaking, the Sashiko thread we carry need to fulfill the standard we expect: to be the part of the fabric. I am sure that the Sashiko Thread (1) will do the job we set as the standard. After all, it is our regular Sashiko thread. The thread (2) is also sufficient for all of the characteristic of Sashiko. It has been about a year since I start using the Sashiko Thread (2), and it is always a pleasure to work with.

The Sashiko Thread (3), Yokota thread, and the thread (4) from Fujix are very good quality thread manufactured by a long-established & big thread company. I use both of them occasionally and enjoy the stitching. The overlay stitches perform its function. However, I cannot declare that it is 100% satisfactory to our standard as of now because it has been only a few months since I started using it. The Yokota thread in “thin” thickness may be our least preference for Kasane & denim stitching, but great for the smaller projects.

Regardless of my honest confess above, I believe all of 4 threads are fulfilling the expectation to be a good Sashiko thread.


How about the other Thread?

I am aware that there are many other Sashiko threads available in the market. As I always say, you can use any kind of thread you would like. There is no such thing as right or wrong Sashiko. You don’t need to purchase the new thread for the Sashiko purpose if you have other thread.

However, please understand that the technique and wisdom I introduce “may” not work with the thread I do not carry. Also, in order to our Sashiko – which focus on the appreciation to the fabric, and as the thread to support the fabric, I strongly recommend using in the thread above.

I tried some of the thread and didn’t like some of them. For the others, I simply do not feel the needs of trying it. There are reasons why we have limited kinds of Sashiko threads, and I want you to have the best out of the best since you would spend so much time in Sashiko.


Enjoy One of a Kind

I am so proud of the Natural Dye & Hand-dye Sashiko thread produced by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya. It is all “one of a kind” because they are hand-dyed with natural dyes. However, those with “gradient color” are the significant one of a kind color. Enjoy the Murazome while supplies last. We try our best to keep offering the similar threads, but it requires “luck” to make it happen as well.