Having a ball with Japanese Temari
I’ve been in love with the idea of making ornaments for as long as I can remember, so when I came across a book about the Japanese art of temari, I knew I had to try it.
Traditionally given as gifts, these often intricately decorated balls of thread can have designs as simple or as complex as you wish. Getting started is easy – the hard part, I found, is tearing yourself away from the thousands of designs that can be found in books and on the internet.
To start a simple temari, you’ll need a ball of leftover yarn [not a problem for all of you knitters and crocheters], a small or medium sized Styrofoam ball, an industrial sized spool of thread in any color [dark colors are best to start with IMO], an embroidery needle [or one with a large eye], pins and craft thread or embroidery floss.
Preparing a thread ball to start your design is easy. You can start with the Styrofoam ball and wrap your leftover yarn tightly around it until the ball is completely covered. [You can also skip the Styrofoam and just use yarn to start the ball, just keep the base shape as round as possible].

When you’ve completely covered the form, tuck in the end of the yarn so it doesn’t unravel and then begin wrapping thread around the yarn covered ball until you can’t see the yarn anymore. [Best to use thread in a different color from the yarn.] This part takes the longest and can use up quite a bit of thread. Turn the ball often to keep as round a shape as possible. Use the needle to tuck in the end of your thread so the ball doesn’t unravel. The thread layer allows you to ‘sew’ on the ball in any direction and gives you a place to anchor your stitches.

Next you need to divide the thread ball into sections by wrapping a thin strip of paper or a contrasting color of craft thread around the equators of the ball. You can divide the ball into any number of sections – 4 or 8 is easiest, using the needle to secure the craft thread at the poles of the ball or pinning the paper to the ball. The paper will be removed later, but the thread will become part of the design you create.
In this picture you can just about see the divisions I made with gold thread.

The simplest temari patterns involve wrapping your craft thread or floss around the ball and anchoring each pass at the guidelines you created when you divided the ball into sections.  By wrapping the ball in different directions and anchoring the thread around the guide lines, you can make stripes, triangles, stars, net-like effects, layers and even spirals.
Here’s an excellent set of instructions for basic stitches:
After browsing through a few of the on-line tutorials, I was making dozens of different designs in no time. I’m always looking for books to add to my craft library, though, so I also invested in The Simple Art of Japanese Temari by Dominique Herve and Alban Negaret.
One of the things I love about temari is it utilized supplies I already had on hand – beware though, temari tend to multiply and once you master a few simple stitches you may find yourself with more temari than you know what to do with.

4 thoughts on “Having a ball with Japanese Temari

  1. Sue H says:

    Facinating! Hmmm – is it too early to start making some Christmas dec’s for the tree, I wonder…..

  2. Hi Sue! My motto is, it’s never too early. 🙂

  3. Hi, Sue! Thanks for stopping by. I think now is a great time to start decorations, so you have enough time to learn the technique and then time to make the balls themselves. They’re sure enticing, aren’t they?

  4. Clarice, thank you for such a lovely post! I’m fascinated by temari balls (I keep wanting to spell it tamari, like the soy sauce). Your pictures are beautiful!

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