Friday, 13 January 2017

Chikuchiku sashiko in Niigata

After leaving Yuza-machi in the snow, we went to Niigata on the Inaho Express with our friend Keiko.  There was snow everywhere.

It was very windy and the Sea of Japan looked wild.

We visited Akiko Ike's shop in Niigata to learn how to do chikuchiku sashiko, a kind of modern boro with thick, colourful threads and no marking.

Akiko showed us her exhibition space above the shop and some of her amazing chikuchiku boro pieces.  I have seen photos of some of these in Quilt Mania magazine and photos from her exhibitions in Australia, but seeing them in real life was quite different.  The thread is really thick, almost the thickness of double knitting yarn and very soft, quite unlike the fine sashiko threads I'm used to. 

We met up with Alison and Shuji Yamazaki of Wabi Sabi Designs, Australia, and their daughter at the shop, quite by chance, as we had lost touch while we were in Yuza-machi and they had taken a short trip to Korea.

This chikuchiku boro bunting was made by people who stitched with Ike-san at shows.

These friendship boro were really impressive.  With pieces made by many people, all stitched together with big herringbone stitches, they have a great texture.

One of the secrets of stitching chikuchiku with such thick thread is using old, soft fabrics that are loosely woven, so the huge needle can go through.

Ike-san invited us to see her 'new' studio project, a barn that she is remodeling near Niigata.

Then she took us all for dinner at her 'boro house', an old farmhouse that was dismantled and rebuilt on a new site.  We made sukiyaki in front of the huge stove.

The house is full of her personality.

A jar full of strips for sakiori rag weaving, rolled into balls.  Ike-san told us she had got quite hooked on sakiori once she tried it.

On Thursday morning, we went back to the shop for a proper chikuchiku lesson.

The fabric is folded rather like a hana fukin - a double layer is essential so the thread ends can be buried inside.  Because the thread is so thick, the stitches don't tend to unravel.  The way the corners are folded and tucked in is exactly the same as making a knife edge or butted finish on a traditional British quilt!

Any colour thread is OK. Just go with your intuition.

After doing a lot of very precise sashiko, it is quite hard to loosen up!

The diagonal piece is one Glyn made.  We left one piece each for Ike-san's latest group work.  She makes one every year.

Her shop in Niigata city is full of lovely things.

It turned out the next part of our trip was along the same route as the Yamazaki family.   Shuji advised us on the best bento boxes to get at Takasaki station.

The region is known for it's Daruma dolls, so we tried to do a line up with these at the gift shop!

Delicious!  I had Yokokawa Toge no Kamameshi.  Of course, we kept the containers.

We arrived in Hida Takayama in the evening.  Our sashiko adventures were continuing...

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