Six Temari Plus Three More

For several months before and the couple months since surgery on my elbow, my temari production rate has been way down.

Currently, some days are better days for sewing than others, so I limit how many minutes I can sew each day to prevent inflammation making it get worse. The overall trend is improvement.

temari 64

Temari #64, is relatively simple C8 with minimal but has a dramatic impact visually. The thread is a bamboo silk blend for which the four ply yarn was split to reduce it to two ply yarn about the size of a #5 perle cotton thread.

temari 65

Temari #65 above, is very similar to #48, which a friend really liked, so it got remade in a different color scheme. This is a C10 division. The threads are all hand dyed except the white.

temari 66

Temari #66 is also a C10 division. This temari is unusual for me in that I used only one color for the embroidery, and one that is not even dyed.

temari 68

Temari #67 is a C8. I tried adding more stitching to this one, but the empty spaces needed to stay empty and uncluttered, so the stitching got removed. This uses more of my hand dyed thread.

temari 67

Temari #68 is similar to #64 but different. There will eventually be a third temari with black and white bands on a C8 division to go with these two to be displayed as a group. It just has not happened yet as other new ideas come up and distract me from finishing the triad.

temari 69 view 4

Temari #69 is one that I started back towards the beginning of last year for an online temari group, completed less than half and then set it aside for quite a few months. It is a small scale version of temari #26. With a diameter of 7″, it is 1/3 the size of #26.

I finally finished it before surgery. And then there was surgery. Since then, I have made only three temari.

temari 70

The little C10 above #70. It is only 1 3/8″ in diameter. The size was less of a challenge in making it than the limited use of my hand and arm which were in a brace at the time. The camera refused to accurately record the colors. The background thread is actually a rich emerald green.

temari 71

Temari #71 is a C8 with interlocking triangles and triangle knots. The two green threads are some of my hand dyed threads, but the blue is not. This is a variation on my temari #44.

temari 72 view 1

Temari #72 is represents the start of a new direction in temari for me. I had made a couple of felt pincushions with an embroidered design on the tops which were inspired by temari stitched designs. Those in turn inspired this temari.

temari 72 view 2

Above is another view of #72. In this picture, how much the stacked felt circles sit proud of the ball’s surface is more apparent than in the first picture.

This is a C8 with additional marking lines to change it to having 16 faces- 4 hexagons and 12 pentagons. Cutting out all the little circles was a bit tedious, but I enjoyed the process of making this temari and am pleased with the end result. The felt has created an unexpected tactile quality that makes the temari irresistible to handle.

Both this temari and the previous one are sporting threads from my latest batch of threads that I hand dyed. The latest batch includes some pastels to help round out the color pallet of threads.

By the way, this is the same pink ball that is pictured in my temari project tote bag blog post.

With a fresh new batch of hand dyed threads and an arm that is getting better, I am looking forward to making more temari soon.

Temari Project Tote Bag

This linen tote bag was designed and made especially for carrying a temari project. I got tired of fishing around in the bottom of a bag for tools, supplies or a temari. Pin heads sticking out of temari often tangled in thread and would get pulled out.

temari tote 1This was a challenging project for a couple of reasons. I started this project shortly after having surgery on my elbow of dominant hand. My arm was in a full arm splint that limited motion and pain also imposed limits. So, it progressed a little slowly, but this gave me time to think about steps rather than just plow through the project. The other challenge was designing the bag to have all the features that would make it easy to use.

The handle is a four strand rope braid. The rope was purchased from a hardware store years ago. Hanging off one of the handle straps is a temari pincushion, which is detachable.

temari pincushion

Notice the buttons and the eyelet holes. They are not decorations but are functional. The button close pockets that are on the inside which hold thread. The thread is threaded out the eyelet holes and pulled on when a length is needed. To secure the thread, it is wrapped around the button, similar to a button and string envelop where I got the idea from.

temari tote 2

In the picture above, one of the pockets is unbuttoned so you can see one of the pockets is used for a needle case and a pair of scissors.

The mesh pocket liner has a drawstring closure. Opened, it reveals a temari ball waiting to be stitched.

temari tote 3

Below, the ball has been removed to show the hexagon donut shaped pillow that the temari rests on. The pillow was made of a piece of foam covered in felt.

temari tote 4The base of the bag is a hexagon, but it does not show in the picture.

temari tote 5Taken out, the donut pillow makes a nice rest so the ball does not roll off a table.

temari tote 6


Knot Temari: a very large temari

temari 26 with ruler and small temari for size reference

Why Big:

Always looking to explore new challenges, I decided to make a large temari- a very large temari.

Most temari average 3″ to 4″ in diameter and larger ones that I have seen on internet are about 6″ to 7″ in diameter. The largest one that I had made was slightly larger than a basket ball at a little over 10″ in diameter. That size did not really present much in the way of technical or design challenges, so I decided to go even larger. Temari #26 (aka Knot Temari or Big Temari) is 21″ in diameter. That is about the size of a typical large beach ball.

Challenges with Big:

The biggest challenges in making a very large temari had to do with handling a beach ball sized ball. If the core was made with my usual materials such as scraps of fleece or batting wadded around a noise maker, as lightweight as those materials are, they would have made the ball too heavy to handle.

Wrapping the ball in yarn and thread was another challenge that required a new method for coping with size.

I decided to use a thicker thread that would be more proportionately pleasing on the large ball size and type of stitched designs that were going to cover the surface. Trying to find the right size thread was a challenge that was met by not finding it, but making it.

Thicker thread required a larger eyed needle. Stitching on a surface of a sphere for which the curve is closer to flat than on a small ball meant that short straight needles were not going to be as effective as a long curved needle. So, a large eyed, long curved needle was needed, but where could I find one?

creating designs suitable for a large scale ball, rather than an enlarged version of something appropriate for an average sized temari, was a challenge that provided an opportunity to explore more complex designs.

In the following section on how the temari was made, I explain how all these challenges were tackled.


How made Big:

One of the most important things I had to consider before starting was determining what to materials to use for the core. It needed to be light weight so that as a large ball it could be reasonable to handle without causing fatigue. It also needed to be malleable that could be shaped into a sphere while being firm enough to retain its spherical form. I did not want to use a material that would degrade. And finally, cost and environmental impact were concerns.

Polystyrene packing peanuts fit all these requirements. Polystyrene is an inert material which does not break down, attract moths or other bugs, and is very lightweight.  As a bonus, it was free since it was donated by a friend and their use defers their destination to a landfill.

Using polystyrene packing peanuts meant a means of containing them had to be found. On internet, I noticed that temari makers who use loose fillings such as rice hulls, will fill the toe of a sock or stocking or wrap paper or plastic around the loose fill. I used two mesh laundry bags to hold the peanuts.

Making the core of this temari started with partially filling  two mesh laundry bags with polystyrene peanuts. One bag was not big enough, so I used two. They were not completely filled as a rectangular pillow shape would have been difficult to reshape into sphere. A bell was added to each bag. (A friend’s mother who is Japanese and used to make them when she was younger is disappointed when a temari is silent, so out of respect to her, I add a bell to each temari I make.)wrapping ball 1

Then just enough yarn was wrapped around the two bags of foam peanuts to make it roughly spherical in shape. Next, strips of batting were wound around the rough ball to smooth out the big lumps and provide a smoother surface for the yarn wrap. Three pounds of yarn was used for the next layer. For the final thread layer that would be stitched on,  four cones of black serger thread (3000 yards each) were used.

wrapping ball 2 At first, I used a chair to rest the core on while winding yarn. The height of the chair seat height was good for thumping the ball down to compact the foam peanuts while shaping it into a tight ball so they would not shift around and deform the shape later.

Once the ball was stable with no foam peanuts moving around, I found that winding the yarn was easier when I had the ball resting on a smooth table. My sewing machine table is a desk with plastic laminate at a good height to work at while standing. After some trial and error, I found a method of spinning the ball with one hand while guiding the yarn or thread with the other hand. Winding the yarn and thread on the core took a long time since I found it necessary to work in small time chunks each day to prevent repetitive motion injury.


When I was done wrapping the ball in its final layer of black thread, I discovered that the solid black on that scale was not very pleasing as it gave the surface a dead flatness (for lack of better description) that was contrary to its physical shape. So, I added touches of color that would be used to embroider the surface later. Machine embroidery threads in purple, turquoise and dark pink were sparsely wrapped over surface of the black and then a sparse layer of black over the colors to visually integrate them with the black surface. The solid black on such a large surface made the ball remind me of a black hole, giving the whole thing a heavy appearance, so adding the colors near the surface tied the surface of the background into the stitched designs.

When I started this temari, I was unable to find a large eyed, long curved needle to purchase locally, so I made a couple. Later I found some which I bought. For larger curved needles, I prefer the shallower curve of the ones I made over the purchased ones.


Small purchased needle and two large handmade needles

The surface of the ball was divided as a C10 in the usual way with a strip of paper. Actually tyvec was used here since I had a piece long enough. I don’t intend to use that again since it was a little stretchy therefore hard to keep marking accurate. The finished marking was close enough to true that it would not affect the stitched designs, so I left the marking.

measuring ball

Then the purple bands were marked and stitched based on the icosidodecahedron polyhedron, which is the tessellation of twelve pentagons and 20 triangles on the surface, for 32 faces. To do this, the bands went through the middle of adjacent sides of pentagons which creates a smaller pentagon on point inside each pentagon and the lobbed off corners of the larger pentagons become the triangles.

 stitching bands

I am very fond of variegated yarns and threads since they add a dynamic quality to what would otherwise be a static design, but I usually use them with a solid to show off their changing nature. I found the perfect colors, but not in the right size. The yarn for the purple in the bands was an eight ply cotton yarn which I split into 4 plies. The yarn used for the knot designs were 4 ply cotton crochet threads all of which I split into 2 plies. Splitting the yarns brought all of them down to about the size of #5 perle (pearl) cotton.

Each of the pentagon areas were embroidered with knot designs. For the triangle, I used the same pattern and colors for all 20 to have a constant throughout the ball. For the 12 pentagons, I created 6 knot designs to use as pairs on opposite poles so that no two alike are seen at the same time.

stitching triagle designs

At first, the ball was just placed on a round lipped waste basket (don’t worry- it was new and clean) while stitching the knots, but this required frequent lifting and turning of the ball. I found this to be really tiring and hard on the arms and shoulders. So I mounted the waste basket on a lazy susan (turntable with ball bearings) which I mounted on a piece of plywood (to stabilize the base). This was placed on the floor in front of my chair. The turntable significantly reduced the amount of turning necessary to stitch the designs, but it still had to be lifted occasionally.

temari 26 view 1-3

temari 26 view 4-6

Having Fun:

I have to fight a tendency to preplan projects down to the last detail in my head or on paper, leaving no room for spontaneity or happy accidents and once it is done in my head, then I get bored with the project long before it is completed. Consequently, I try to save some things for designing as I go.

Although I designed each knot pattern as I went, I had already determined the thread colors and made up some design rules to help guide the design process. Some of the rules I made up were things like: the number of threads wide for the bands of each color, each color occupied the center of two knot designs, the green thread was the main color and the other two played supporting roles, the main color must create a knot without the aid of the intertwining of the other colors. Then I deliberately bent or broke the rules to add interest created by inconsistency.

This was a fun and challenging project for which I found the entire process and end product to be very rewarding. I am certain there are more temari in the large to very large categories in my future as there is something about the scale that is just appealing to me.



Production Monkeywrench and Its Silver Lining

It has been a while since my last post on this blog. A production monkey wrench is to blame.elbow surgery

“Production- the making or creation of something.” My productivity has come to a halt, but fortunately my imagination is still churning out ideas for later.

“Monkey wrench- something that causes a problem for a plan or project.” A torn tendon that would not heal lead to surgery on my elbow. Many things have become very difficult and some things impossible, but this is just a temporary set back.

“Silver lining- something that offers hope or benefit in a situation that is generally adverse.” This enforced rest from certain activities has forced me to take time to read and think. Great fodder for creativity.

Note: definitions from Encarta Dictionary.

Anise Seed Ornament Tutorial


This folded fabric ornament is not difficult to make, but accuracy counts when cutting the stabilizer and when marking lines and stitching on them. If you are sloppy, then the folds will be awkward looking.

There are many pictures, because I find instructions without adequate illustrations or descriptions to be frustrating. Having said that, I must explain that the instructions are not all inclusive of every last detail as this is not a beginner’s sewing project.

Materials needed:

Stabilizer– Pellon’s #806 Stitch-N-Tear works best for this project. It is a very thin, stiff stabilizer that takes folds nicely. Although the product is made as a tear away stabilizer, it will not be removed from the fabric after stitching.

Fabric– any quilt weight cotton. Keep the pattern to a minimum if you want the focus to be the lovely shape.

Thread– machine sewing thread that coordinates with fabric. For the tutorial, a variegated thread was used. The thread will highlight the folded edge, so a thread of a different color or value would look nice.

Seed beads- to stitch on the points.

Several larger beads- to decorate wire hanger with holes large enough to string on #20 gauge wire

Hand sewing needle- (small enough to sew beads),

Threadeither beading or general purpose thread for hand sewing seed beads

#20 gauge wire– it comes in different colors

Tools– round nose pliers and side cutters

Pencil– to mark stitching lines on stabilizer

NOTE: You will also need your basic sewing tools such as scissors and iron. Also, Rotary cutting mat and ruler for marking the stitching lines accurately are helpful.

1. Cut one piece of stabilizer (either sew in or tear away) to 3″ h. x 16 ½” l. and one piece of fabric to approximately  5″ h. x 18 ½” l.

2. Mark the stabilizer with the following lines:

A. mark vertical lines spaced 1/4″ from each end, then all the rest of the lines will be spaced 1″ apart.

marking stabilizer 1

B. mark two horizontal lines: one at 1/2″ from top edge and one 1/2″ from bottom edge.

marking stabilizer 2

C. Mark diagonal lines in a zigzag pattern. Start at upper left corner where the 1/4″ seam allowance and the 1/2″ horizontal lines intersect and mark a line that passes through next vertical line down to intersection of third line and bottom horizontal line. Follow the green line in illustration XXX  to finish marking one zigzag line.

marking stabilizer 3

D. Mark the next zigzag line following orange line in  illustration XXX.

marking stabilizer 4

3. Place stabilizer with marked side up centered on back side of fabric and pin together (or use small pieces of painters tape to hold together). Stitch all vertical lines, except the ones that are 1/4″ from either end. Start and end the stitching about a 1/2″ before and after the stabilizer.

3. stitch vertical lines

4. Stitch diagonal lines. Start at one end and follow the zigzag path to the other end. Then stitch the second zigzag path.  in illustration XXX.

2. stitch diagonal lines

5. Align the 1/4″ marking lines on the two ends with pins through the intersections (the vertical pins), then pin through both fabrics and stabilizer near alignment pins. Remove the vertical pins.

4. aligning and pinning ends

6. Stitch seam on marked line.

5. stitch seam

7. Trim seam allowances to between a 1/4″ and 1/2″. Press seam open and pin to keep it open.

6. press seam open

8. With the fabric side up, stitch in the ditch along seam.

7. stitch in ditch

9. Fold one of the fabric edges over to stabilizer side and stitch close to edge.

8. fold and stitch edge

10. Pull threads to back and tie in knot and trim threads.

9. tie threads on back

11. Repeat edge stitching for other side.

12. Trim fabric edge close to edge stitching, about 1/4″ from edge.

10. trim fabric

13. Press vertical lines (ones with X) along whole length.

11. iron vertical lines

14. Press alternate vertical lines (ones without X) only between the horizontal 1/2″  marking lines (the vertical lines inside the squares). This is easier if you either use the tip of your iron or use a mini iron.

12. iron lines inside squares

15. Turn stitched fabric tube right side out. Using tip of iron, press diagonal lines.

13. iron diagonal lines

16. Finger press the 1/2″ segments on the lines without the X by folding along line and pinching between fingers.

14. finger press short vertical lines

17. Stitch 3 seed beads on vertical line where X is formed.

 15. stitch beads on vertical lines at X

18. Note that the beads are sewn so that they form a slight arch and do not lay flat on fabric. This way, when the fabric is folded, the form a nice little picot at each point.

16. bead form an arch

In the next several steps, the fabric gets pulled into shape. For this to work, only stitch through every other vertical line, the ones with without the X, not the ones with beads stitched over X.

17. ready to pull into shape

19. Using needle with doubled thread, insert needle from back through to front on edge stitching, about 1/8″ from vertical line.

18. stitching the folds

20. Pinch next vertical line (remember one with no X) into fold and stitch through. Repeat this step all the way around and back through the first one.

19. close up of stitching folds

21. Insert needle into next folded line, from front to back and pull thread until all the folds come together in center. (There will be a small hole where the fabric does not quite come together- this is good as it will be used to insert the wire hanger through.) Tie off thread.

23. Flip over fabric and repeat process of stitching the folds together on other side. Use your finger to push the folds into place as you go.

20. pulling it into shape

24. Using 6 1/2″ to 7″ long piece of 20 gauge wire, make a small loop at one end. Thread a small bead and then a larger bead. on wire. Make sure second bead is bigger than hole so it covers hole and not disappear inside ornament.  Insert wire through small center hole on what you want to be the bottom of ornament.

21. insert wire with loop and beads at one end

25. Thread another bead slightly larger than hole on top end of wire and then a large decorative bead and finish with one or two smaller beads.

22. add beads to wire and curl around spool or dowel

26. Take the top end of wire and wrap it around something that is about 5/8″ in diameter. I used a spool of thread. Then finish the cut end with a small loop just like the bottom end.

23. cut wire

I have made at least a dozen of these so far and my latest improvement on my design was to realize that attaching the beads before pulling the ornament into shape, rather than afterwards is much easier and faster.

Also, another variation on the hanger is to make a small loop above beads like the one at the bottom if you wish to use an ornament hook to hang it by.

I hope you enjoyed this project. Please, feel free to use it for personal use or as a gift, and not for profit. If used for teaching, please give credit to my name.  If in doubt, ask me.

A Dozen (minus one) More Temari

Since I have been busy making things, not just temari, I have not taken the time to write a post about what I have been making. So, I am taking a short break from creating to get caught up on reporting on the creations. This post focuses on the latest temari. Next I will write about some other fiber things such as more bags, some pin cushions, and felt pins.

Temari 50:

For this temari, I combined several different embroidery stitches to create the stitched design.

The outer purple row of the triangles is a chain stitch to give a little different texture to the border.

French knots were used to get the polka dots in the triangle borders. The French knots are a bit challenging to stitch on a surface for which there is not “back” of a fabric to pass the needle to, but instead the needle has to be brought back up to the surface where the next stitch is to go. Here, I found the curved needle to be my friend.

Temari 50

Temari 50

Hand dyed variegated thread was used for the knots, giving the appearance of different colored threads for each knot. The same thread was used in a bullion stitch to create the stamens in the center of the Trillium flowers.

For the leaves, needle weaving was used to create leaves that actually lay on the surface of the ball.

This was a challenging temari to make and not just because I was trying a couple embroidery stitches that were new to me. One difficulty I had was getting good figure/ground contrast. The flower did not contrast well with the background. Originally, the triangles in the background were just the dark outline with no filling, so the flower did not show up well against the solid light blue in the triangle centers. When the French knot dots and the purple inner triangle were added, then the flower had a darker background to contrast with and therefore showed up better.

I am pleased with the solution and the end product.

Temari 51:

This temari was made for and given to a good friend’s son as a college graduation present.

Since I was told that he like earth tones, I chose a three threads in the brown family to contrast with a rich blue background. The lightest color thread is a silk thread that turned out to be easier to work with that I thought and adds a nice luster that goes well with the other threads which are perle cotton threads.

temari 51 (Robbie's)

Temari 51

One of the things that I find attractive about this temari is the two distinct layers adding depth to the design.

This temari is similar to another one which I made before this one but not shown on the blog yet. I just realized when I was writing this post that I forgot to take a picture of it and forgot to number it too. So, it will get a half number (rather than renumber all the subsequent temari) when I figure out when it was made and then hopefully I’ll remember to post it on the blog.

Temari 52

Sigh, I forgot to take a picture of this beautiful temari before gifting it to someone.

Temari 53:

This is a relatively simple design that utilizes variegated threads to add interest. Another feature is the purple thread is actually three strands of thread braided together. It takes a little more time and care to work with stitching a braid to keep the braid laying flat and not twist on the surface, but it was worth the effort for the added detail. Another small, almost not visible detail is the black square embroidered inside the square formed by the intersecting purple threads. It is one of those up close surprise details.

Temari 53

Temari 53

Temari 53 view 2

Temari 53 view 2

Temari 54:

For some reason, I was in a blue mood when this temari was made. Or at least mostly blue as there is a little green and purple mixed into the “blue” variegated thread.

The design is essentially three zigzag bands that go around the ball, two wide bands and one narrow one sandwich between the wider ones.

The striped cord that is between the two wider bands was  made by stitching the “blue” thread in a stem stitch and then stitching the white in a stem stitch over the blue.

Temari 54

Temari 54

Temari 54 view 2

Temari 54 view 2

Temari 55:

While making #54, I got the idea to make a design of interlocking diamonds that go around a ball. There are two separate sets of five interlocking diamonds: a purple set and a pink set. Both are outlined with a pale aqua colored thread.

Temari 55

Temari 55

Temari 55 view 2

Temari 55 view 2

Temari 56:

This is one of those temari that is more interesting in person rather than a 2D picture of it. Like #55, this one also has an interlocking design that runs around the ball. But a big difference between them is larger open space left at the top and bottom poles, which was perfect for adding some smaller detail stitching.

The thread used for marking the ball and stitching the design at the poles is a crochet thread with a gold metallic strand plied into it.

Temari 56 view 1

Temari 56 view 1

Temari 56 view 2

Temari 56 view 2

Temari 56 view 3

Temari 56 view 3

To outline the green thread, used a white thread, which on one side of the band is plain and on the other side is plied with a gold thread to echo the crochet thread.

Temari 57:

This is a tiny temari. It is only about 1/2″ in diameter. I used single strands of rayon embroidery floss to do the stitching.

I also used a magnifying glass to be able to see what I was doing.

Temari 57

Temari 57

Temari 58:

The cross shape on this temari is a stitch called Maltese Cross found in the book, The Complete Stitch Encyclopedia, by Jan Eaton. I am not sure why it is called a Maltese Cross as it does not look like one but rather more like a Cross Bottony, Budded Cross, or a Cross Crosslet, but not a Maltese Cross. Regardless of the name, it is a beautiful form and fun to stitch.

Temari 58

Temari 58

Temari 58 view 2

Temari 58 view 2

Temari 59:

The stars on this ball are formed by lines that zigzag around the ball and cross each other at the star points.

Temari 59

Temari 59

Temari 59 view 2

Temari 59 view 2

Temari 60:

This temari is unusual in that I used only one color of thread to stitch the design. By stitching concentric pentagons, the overall effect is a spider web. With the threads getting denser towards the centers, it makes the green glow.

Temari 60

Temari 60

Temari 61:

Interlocking hexagons create both hexagons in the open spaces inside the hexagons and create five pointed stars in the open space between five hexagons. The five pointed stars is something that would not happen with interlocking hexagons tiling a plane in the 2D world.

In # 42, #44, and #53 the design used interlocking triangles, in #41 and # 43 it is interlocking squares and in #55 it is interlocking diamonds.  I am sure if I went through all my temari, I would find more interlocking shapes.

Interlocking shapes is a fun design concept to explore, so I have a feeling that some of my future temari will have interlocking shapes.

Temari 61

Temari 61

Since I am not sure where my adventure in temari will take me next, then you will have to wait until I my next temari post to find out. Meanwhile, my next post will probably be of some of my other non-temari stitching projects that have been keeping me busy.

Lap Top Work Station For Temari Making

portable temari workstation

portable temari workstation

Wishing for something better than a pillow to place in my lap as a work surface for temari, I came up with a solution that used materials found around my house. At first, it was just a lap top work surface, and then I added a removable utility belt to keep tools and supplies for current project at hand.  Originally, the ideas was to have a surface that a ball would not roll around on (or roll off onto the floor).

The temari really does not roll off until you tilt it rather dramatically. Here, one end is jacked up 6″. The secret is the fact that the pillow side of the desks are filled with little foam pellets that conform to the shape of the ball.

temari lap desk 1

The work surface is two lap desks with one turned upside down on top of the other and both inserted into a zippered bag. I tried a pillow case but it was a little big, so I made a case with a zipper. This keeps the two desks together, but to prevent them from sliding back and forth (even in the tight case I made) I had to add a couple scraps of the nonskid mat (the kind used under area rugs and can also be purchased as place mats too).

temari lap desk 2

Also, the cover means you can keep you work surface clean by removing the cover and laundering it occasionally. Personally, I prefer the white cover over the busy print so I can see what I see my temari without a distracting print.

temari lap desk 3

I did leave the pillow case on under the zippered cover so that i can keep the lap desks together while the zippered cover is being washed and to have one more layer between the old (probably not very clean) fabric and my temari.

You could just as easily use a zippered pillow case that has been cut down to size by shortening the non-zippered end and the side that does not have the zipper pull on it when the zipper is closed. I did not have one, so I made one.

The lap desks I used are very old ones that were buried and forgotten in the back of a closet. There are a couple reasons to use the lap desks instead of a pillow. Because the pillow is soft: 1.  it will fold when you pick it up and 2. it is not rigid enough to attach a cool temari utility belt to it.

When looking for a lap desk to purchase (if you don’t have a couple of them hiding in your home to repurpose), I found a search on internet was more productive if I used the term “lap desk” or “lap desk pillow” and not “lap top desk”. The rectangular, inexpensive ones work just fine. The ergonomic shaped one that are curved to fit the body would make it difficult for the tool belt to stay on.

The tool belt was a brain storm I had one night that just had to be made the next morning, so I only used what materials were on hand. I am sure it could be improved or personalized to suit your own needs, but this design at least gives you a starting point.

temari lap desk 4

Work station utility belt assembled on left and disassembled into separate parts on right.

There is quite a bit of hook and loop fastener (Velcro) used in this project. It made it easy to assemble and to adjust without having to resew anything, plus it is easy to take apart if necessary. Please note there are two kinds of Velco used: two sided called “One Wrap” and the standard kind with hook on one tape and loop on other tape. Also, reference in this post to loop side means the soft side and hook side means the rougher side.

NOTE: Remember, you might have to adjust some of the measurements to fit either your lap desk size or scissors size. The lap desks that are used in this project are 13 1/2″ x 19″ and only about 1 3/4″ deep.


For Strap

1 piece of 1 1/4″ wide stiff belt webbing at 16″ long (1 1/2′ wide will work fine too)

1 piece of 1″ wide stiff elastic (the no roll ribbed kind) at 16″ long

1 piece of 1″ wide of hook (rough) side of Velcro at 1 1/2″  long

1 piece of 1″ wide of loop (soft) side of Velcro at 4″  long

For Scissors Pocket-

1 piece of 1 1/2″ wide belt webbing at 7″ long

1 piece of 1 1/2″ wide of hook (rough) side of Velcro at 1 1/2″  long

For Pincushion-

1 piece of felt at 5 1/2″ x 6 1/2″

yarn scraps for stuffing

2 pieces of 3/4″ wide Velcro at 4 1/2″ long each

For Thread Pouch-

1 piece light weight canvas at 7″ wide x 20″ long (light weight denim, etc.)

1 piece medium weight canvas (denim, etc.- something with a bit of body to help pocket keep its shape)

3 pieces of 3/4″ wide of two sided Velcro at 3 1/2″ long each

1 pieces of 3/4″ wide two sided Velcro (or piece of loop side) at 9″ long

 temari lap desk 5



temari lap desk 8

temari lap desk 6

  1. Stitch the 16″ piece of webbing to the 16″ piece of elastic with a 1 1/4″ overlap.
  2. Stitch the 1″ x 1 1/2″ piece of Velcro (hook side) to end of webbing.
  3. Stitch the 1″ x 4″ piece of Velcro (loop side) to end of elastic.

Scissors Pocket-

temari lap desk 7

  1. Stitch the 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ piece of Velcro (hook side) to one end of the 7″ long belt webbing.
  2. Lay on table with velcro side down, then fold up 2 1/2″ of other end and stitch along both sides to form a pocket.


temari lap desk 9

  1. fold the felt in half along the short side so that the two 6 1/2″ sides are together, and pin together.
  2. Zigzag stitch along the pinned edge but stitch so that one side of the stitching goes over the edge.
  3. Flatten the felt tube so that the seam is in the center of the back. Tuck in the corners on one end so that the end is about 1 1/4″ wide (width of strap that it will attach to later) and zigzag stitch end closed.
  4. Stuff felt tube with yarn scraps, but not too tightly or it is difficult to push pins and needles in.

NOTE: I recommend trying out the pincushion first before sewing second end closed to see if it needs more or less stuffing or a different kind.

  1. Stitch other end closed.
  2. Center a piece of two sided Velcro that is 3/4″ wide by 4 1/2″ long on an end of felt tube so that the loop side is up and stitch in place- one on each end.

Thread Pouch-

temari lap desk 10

The velcro extension part (the top half):

  1. Fold the 7″ x 20″ lt. weight canvas in half (with right sides together) along the long side so that the two 7″ sides are together and pin them together.
  2. Stitch along pinned side using a 1/2″ seam allowance making a tube. Press seam open. Turn down edge of one end of tube 1″ and press with iron.
  3. Turn right side out. On the side that has edge turned under (now it should be turned in), tuck in the three pieces of 3/4″ wide velcro that are 3 1/2″ long- one on each end and one in the center, with 1/2″ tucked in and 3″ sticking out. Pin in place.
  4. Stitch close to edge and again about 1/2″ from edge to close edge and secure Velcro strips.
  5. Stitch the 3/4″ x 9″ wide Velcro (loop side) at 1 1/2 below top edge (edge with Velcro strips).
  6. Finish other edge with an over edge zigzag stitch.

Now for the pouch part (the bottom half)-

  1. On the 9″ by 12″ canvas, fold down 3/4″ on both edges to form hems (fold toward wrong side of fabric or side that will be inside) and pin each folded edge. Stitch hems with an over edge zigzag.
  2. Fold in half (with right sides or side that will be out together) on the 9″ side so that the two hemmed 1/2″ sides are together. Pin along the folded 9″ sides and then stitch with 3/8″ or 1/2″ seam allowance. Over edge stitch the stitched seam to finish edges. Turn pouch right side out.
  3. Pin the 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ two sided Velcro to the center of one of the long sides of the pouch with a  1 ” overlap, with the loop side facing out and stitch in place.

The purpose of this piece of Velcro is to prevent the pouch from sagging open so far that things fall out.

  1. Pin pouch to the extension piece so that the back of pouch is 4″ from top edge of the extension. Stitch along top of pouch and again about an 1″ – 1 1/2″ down from top edge.

Now to assemble the parts:

temari lap desk 11

Wrap strap around lap desks and secure and stick Velcro ends to together. Slide three Velcro strips under strap and wrap around and stick each to themselves.

temari lap desk 12

Wrap the Velcro tabs of each end of the pincushion around the strap and stick each to themselves. Then stick the Velcro tab on back of the scissors pocket to any part of exposed loop tape. Ta da! Your temari workstation is done.

Hope you enjoy your temari work station. I regret not taking pictures while I made this, but I was thinking about making it and it had not occurred to me at the time that it might be something other temari makers would enjoy making for themselves. But I think if you study the pictures that go along with the text, you should be able to figure it out. If you still have a question, then just ask.

Temari 49

Temari 49 is another experiment. I had been wanting to try an embroidered tulle fabric on a temari and found two very nice pieces at the fabric store a couple days ago.

temari 49

temari 49

After marking the ball, the fabric was appliqued to the surface. The purple bands were stitched with a dark purple bamboo/silk yarn, covering the edges of the tulle fabric. Next, French knots were added to the center of each of the flowers using a salmon pink perle cotton thread.  Then, each square was outlined with a chain stitch and a triangle within each triangle were stitched using a salmon pink bamboo/silk yarn.

There is always something new to learn when experimenting. The lesson I learned from using tulle on temari is that the edges of the tulle needs to be carefully sewn stitches close together so that edge is tight against the ball so it won’t poke up through any threads laid over it.

I am looking forward to trying the other tulle fabric that has a ribbon yarn stitched to the surface. With what I learned on this one, hopefully the next one with tulle will be a little easier.

Temari: 47 & 48

Both temari 47 and 48 were wrapped with serger threads that I recently bought.

The pale green used for 48 is similar but not the same as another color I already have, but a better match to one of my hand dyed perle cotton thread, so I was happy to add it to my collection of serger threads.

temari 47 view 1

temari #47

Temari 47 is a C8 division using 5 perle cotton threads that I hand dyed. It is approximately 3 7/8″  in diameter.

For this temari,  I was playing with spindles, the shape that is thick in the middle and tapers at both ends. It is a type of embroidery stitch that does not work on a flat surface as it is the curvature of the ball that allows the threads between stitches to lay next to each other rather than stacking up along the line that they are stitched on. I have a feeling that spindles will be something that I continue to explore the possibilities of for a while.

The both spindles forming an X were stitched alternately so that the intersection would form concentric squares unlike the spindle Xs in 40, 42 and 35 for which one spindle weaves through the other spindle. So in this one, the threads weave separately whereas in the 40, 42, and 35, the threads on each side of a spindle weave together. You might want to go look at the pictures of the others to see what I mean.

temari 47 view 2

temari #47

The  white thread that outlines the purple bands and the spindles is an important design element that gives the shapes more definition, otherwise the lavender (it really is lavender but near the green and with my camera it reads more like pink) and the green spindles tend not to show up well against the background color since they are close in value. It also brightens up the design which would tend to dull down without the white outlining.

temari 48 view 1

temari #48


Temari #48 is also a C8 division that is approximately 4 3/4″ in diameter. The ball is wrapped with a wonderful teal colored serger thread that was very difficult to work with. It is a bit slippery so it would slide off the ball or the ball would shoot out of my hands and there would go a lot of work that had to be redone. But it was worth it for the color is wonderful.

This temari was made with #5 perle cotton threads that I had dyed plus a creamy white silk/bamboo yarn and a teal crochet thread. The yarn was is too thick, so I split the four ply in half to use stitching on temari. The crochet thread is a three ply that is also thicker than I wanted, but the right color. So, I removed one ply to get the right size to use for both marking threads and for outlining the stitched shapes.

Like the spindle Xs in 47, the four point purple and pale teal shapes were stitched alternately so that the shapes would merger rather than be one shape on top of another.

temari 48 view 2

temari #48

 The four point shapes are the same as used in temari 38, but here I have used two together to form an eight pointed star like in temari 36. The difference between the eight pointed star on this temari and temari 36 is that the star on temari 36 is spread out over a hemisphere with the points of the two stars interlocking at the equator. Same star design but very different look.

One of the things I enjoy most about the design process, taking an element such as a shape, technique, color, etc. and exploring its potential by finding different way of using it by changing how it is used. Everything in design can be considered a variable and the question becomes “how can it be varied?”