Temari Ball Resources

Temari Balls

This post is a bit of a departure from the typical missives I write about knitting, crocheting and embroidery. Over the past few weeks (6.5 to be exact, but who is counting), my thumbs have staged a mutiny, rendering me incapable of knitting. (And yet perfectly capable of cooking, cleaning and other domestic chores. How's that for both insult AND injury!) After a rather prolonged pity party, I realized that if I braced my thumbs, hit the Aleve and called my other fingers to do double duty, I could pick up making temari balls again!

Temari balls have such a rich history and cultural tradition. I have enjoyed learning about these components, as much as I have figuring out how to make the balls themselves.

The purpose of today's email is not to teach you how to make temari balls, but rather point you in the direction of the resources that I have used to make mine. The list is not comprehensive by any means, but rather a summation of my journey should you want to discover more about temari.

But first, a quick bit about how I got started. Last year, in the doldrums of quarantine, I saw an Instagram post from Loop of London, featuring a box of thread. I didn't know what they were or how to use them (confession: I do not sew), but I coveted them. There was something soothing and compelling about the colors. So as a Christmas gift to myself - yes, I do this - I bought this beautiful box of Temaricious thread. That purchase was what caused me to fall deeply down the rabbit hole of making these balls.

As I waited for my thread to journey across the Atlantic, I began to do some research.

First stop?

Books. (Yes. I'm THAT old.)

My local library system (I am "with it" enough to know how to search the online catalog) yielded a treasure trove of books on the topic. I requested ALL OF THEM and pored over them.

And then purchased the two I liked the best.

Both are by Barbara B. Seuss:

Japanese Temari: A Colorful Spin on an Ancient Craft

Temari Techniques: A Visual Guide to Making Japanese Embroidered Thread Balls

The latter was tricky to find... I bought it second hand from an online book shop. If you Google Ms. Seuss, you will find that she is a prolific contributor to the temari world.

There is an a cornucopia of resources available to you online as well.

temarikai.com is AMAZING. I highly recommend this as your first online stop for more about the history of these balls and technical advice.

Pinterest is a glorious goop shoot. Open the site/app, search for temari... and we'll see you in a couple of hours.

Instagram is also useful (#temari), but I have found Pinterest to be more inspirational.

Let's get down to the fun stuff, shall we? Let's talk about the materials! Specifically, THE THREAD. Oh the choices... they are so magnificent!

To get started, I turned to my stash of lace yarn. My favorite to use is marianatedyarns.com because of Marian's endless color choices and the yardage included. (Friends, you need a LOT of yardage to cover a ball.) I've used her Ava and Anita bases and really like them both. Ava has more of a matte and muted finish and Anita has a silky sheen. You can never go wrong having a skein of Ava in Bumble (Marian's natural color) at the ready to stitch designs. It's a wonderful neutral that pairs beautifully with all of her other colors. (The ball above was stitched with it.)

I have also purchased thread from:

Loop of London: I spend a lot of time on this site, plotting, planning, dreaming. Go for the materials, prepare to linger.

Wild Hand: They have a gorgeous array of threads. (And yarn. And notions. And books...)

Gist: I've used their 8/2 Un-Mercerized Cotton Weaving Yarn to make my navy and cream colored balls.

Nona: (formerly Temaricious) I would like to have one of each, pleaseandthankyou.

Joann's: Yes. Joann's. This box store has a lot to offer, including a decent thread selection (in a departure from my preference for a matte finish, I bought some sparkly silver thread there which makes me feel like dancing) and affordable yarn for adding girth to your balls.


Okay. Now let's talk about needles and rulers. I'm afraid this is where you're going to have to venture out on your own. I'm afraid I can tell you what I use, but not where to find them.

You'll want a capital N Needle to make these. Pictured above, from left to right, you'll see the needle I use to sew on buttons (a task I loathe, I don't know why), a typical darning needle which I use for all my embroidered knitting (a task I love, I do know why) and my temari needle. It's as if Sewing + Darning had a baby and produced Temari - it's got the sharpness of the former and the size of the latter. I came upon this treasure in a box of goodies my mother gave to me years ago in a baggie labeled "upholstery pin". Hmmm... I don't think that's what it is. But it works marvelously and I wish I could send one to each of you.

If you fall in love with making temari balls, you'll find yourself wanting to make them with C10 markings. (Just trust me. You will.) I was able to procure a "V-Ruler" from an online site which is now defunct. I like this technique the best. If you find one, buy it. They should be about $3.

I'm sorry that I can't give you links for these two items. Hit the Google and the sites I've mentioned earlier in the post. The thrill of the chase can add to the merriment of the making!

I hope this post proved useful for those of you wanting to explore the beautiful tradition of making temari balls.

I'll be back early in 2022 with more information about upcoming classes, including a new session on how to plan and prepare an embroidered knitting project. (I'm REALLY excited about this!) Subscribers will have first dibs on the seats for this class.

I wish you and yours all the best for the holidays and the new year.