Junko Oki – stitching circles

tonight I’ve been taking a look at embroidery by Junko Oki – she has some beautiful pieces. I love her use of circles and lines.

I emailed her to order a copy of her new book, “Culte a la Carte” (I think her first book has sold out), and mentioned I was doing a textiles course and had been enjoying embroidery. I asked if hers was all stitched by hand or mixed with machine embroidery too. she responded,

“I’m glad to you interested in my work.
My work is stitched by hand all.
I do not have that you have to study about embroidery .
I have the feeling produced in like writing a picture.”

the circles are intricate rows of fine blanket stitch, with lines in running stitch and some feather stitch. lots of “sun” themes. I’m really loving it. the imperfections and textures created by the stitching mixed with the choice of textures and colours of the fabrics as the backgrounds. I’m looking forward to the book arriving so I can see more of her work.

I love some of the backside stitches, ie via February 2012:


from Dee’s Hall from October 2012 – a lovely portrait of a woman’s profile.

& a closeup of the spheres from April 2013

I love this one, with the stripey, business shirt or crisp new bed linen / sheets type pleats, darts, gathers & smocking to create movement and shape in 3D, and how the stitched parts of the fabric are chaotic and textured with layers of white and black threads, and complemented with the reddish-brown layer – they draw the eye in and let you explore the stitches as well as the joins of the different fabrics, and edges of the fabric. I love the ripped / torn edges on the lower part of the piece. there’s a range of sewing techniques shown around the edges of the stitching, and decorated & highlighted by the stitches. the top of the photo shows order and crispness with a starch ironed feel which reminds me of work / business shirts, whilst the bottom of the photo shows more flowing, free & lighter fabrics for holidays and home wear. to me it feels like it’s a mix of the fabrics of a life, and the phases of our lives.

rainy today from october 2012 also.

classwork whilst away

I’ve been away from my class materials since working on this new work project. which means I haven’t had as much fabric, paints, threads, the sewing machine etc to work with. I found an app called art set on the itunes app store and tried it out on the flight home last week. it’s pretty good. it has a large range of colours, and background “paper” with different textures and colours and weights – actually more than I have at home. plus multiple pens, pencils, felt pens, paints, crayons, sponges, erasers, water for smudging edges, and the app is really easy to use. it’s not the same as using the materials by hand of course, but I think it does replicate the styles / effects the materials have quite well. and it was only 99cents. wish I’d known about this prior to spending a couple of hundred dollars on a much smaller range of pens and paints! I tried a few simple mark making exercises, then I took a photo from the front airplane camera (was my first time on an A380 & it has camera views on the tv/entertainment system – a view from the front of the plane, below near the wings, and looking towards the tail of the plane) and made a drawing of the view.

knit a year

I’m going to try the knit a year project after hearing about it from Michelle from Reef Knot (& recently 107 projects). the aim is to knit a minimum of 2 rows each day, using a different colour to reflect my mood for the day & leaving a thread at the edge of the piece to show the start of each day


knitrageous has written a great post about the project – she travels also so has similar issues to me, ie not having your yarn stash with you all the time.
I think it’ll be an exploration in colour and texture – perhaps I’ll add some embroidery over the yarn, or try some weaving also.

as I’m traveling at the moment, I don’t have my yarn stash available so I brought some multi-coloured sock yarn with me and will use different colours from this whilst away. it means cutting up the yarn and thereby ruining the skein but this should be OK – I can always join threads if needs be.

I cast on 23 stitches, which is different to the instructions, but 23 has a bit of maybe logic flavour to it. I think I’ll leave tails on both sides too
traveling yarn stash

day1: I chose the blue for day 1 as I’d woken at 3:15am to catch a 6:30am flight to Auckland, and had napped briefly on the flight but was surprisingly still awake when I began. though due to the hypnotic, relaxing state of knitting the rows, I was nodding off before the end of row 2, so it was a slow start to the project!
day1 – knit a year

day2: I chose a dark, muted green coloured yarn as I was so tired – the whole day was spent in a fog. it felt like the world was muted for me.

day3: I had really good news today – finding out that my friend is pregnant so I chose the brightest, happiest colour I have here – gold. after I’d done a few rows the gold started to become more brown than gold so I stopped early.

day4: today was a mixed day, I woke to the news of friend posting on facebook that his mother – who suffered from cancer had passed away. a good day at work. my friend’s birthday. another couple of friends’ 21st wedding anniversary. so I started with blue, but the yarn changed to a purple/grey colour.
during week2

hotel room patterns

I’ve been staying in the same hotel for the past few weeks in Auckland, in different rooms each trip. I have been noticing the different patterns in the furnishings and textiles in the room. the room I’m in now has a mixture of lines and circles – none of them perfectly shaped. they have a nice feel about them, and match the nearby building’s outer surfaces too. the carpet lines in the corridors flow through to match the blanket on the bed which has similar curves stitched onto the ends of the blanket.

Globe service

I put the sewing machine in for a service at Chatswood Sewing Centre prior to my work trip & collected it on saturday. it’s working much better! the dropped stitches problem from my previous attempts has been fixed – apparently this is caused by the timing being out, so the position of the bobbin & needle are mismatched which cause it to drop stitches intermittently.

I tried some machine embroidery and had much better results too! I haven’t worked out the full control of the machine in freehand mode but I made some marks with it, and some circles. I also did another test swatch with straight stitches (in normal sewing mode) and the decorative stitches, and they’re all looking much better.

the fabric is bunching a bit with the stitches. I just grabbed the first scrap of fabric from one of my bags, so I’ll have to try some plain cotton too to see if that helps. also I think I need to guide the fabric more carefully and perhaps hold it taut more whilst moving it around, so it doesn’t bunch up more.
zoomed in: (I need to rescan this – the scan came out blurry in parts)

I really like the stitches underneath the fabric too (rear view). I’ve been reading a book by …(fill in during week) and noticed that she often uses the technique of machine embroidery on the wrong side of the fabric and turning it over. this might be something to practice more. I won’t have access to the machine for a while but will try this again.
zoomed in: (I need to rescan this – the scan came out blurry in parts)