Hi, Katie here, how are you doing? I hope you are making the most of the current lockdown by keeping yourself occupied with lots of craft projects. In fact, I know you are judging by the number of orders I'm receiving each day!
Things have changed recently at Japan Crafts because Ebony has now found herself a more career-worthy job as an online content writer, and is also in the process of setting up her own business! I am so proud of her doing all that during a time when we can't even leave our houses. I'm sure she will let me tell you more about her business once it is officially launched, but suffice it to say I think it's a great idea which will prove very popular, and follows beautifully in the combined footsteps of both mine and my father's businesses.
So it's back to just lil' ol' me, but I have Man providing any images or graphics I need, and she has become adept at unpacking deliveries and restocking my shelves in her spare time!
Speaking of which, I've just taken delivery of a whole new range of sashiko threads and some samplers and fabrics from a completely different supplier called Yokota. Their items are sold under the brand name Daruma, which is very appropriate since Man and I collect Japanese daruma dolls in our favourite colour, yellow.
Since its founding in Kyoto in 1901, Yokota has strived to produce threads of the highest quality and Daruma is a household name for thread in Japan. Their 'thin' sashiko thread is a 4-ply which is in between the Olympus 'fine' (3-ply) and ordinary (6-ply) ranges. This makes it really versatile as you can stitch fine details easily, or double it up if you want a thicker thread.
Another feature is that the thread comes wound on a card, so it is easy to measure and cut your desired amount without the risk of getting in a tangle. The cards can then be stored away neatly, taking up very little space. Each card contains 40m of thread.
Daruma thread comes in a beautiful range of 29 solid and 8 variegated colours, some of which are quite different to the Olympus range, so they will complement your projects when used together. The variegated colours are inspired by Japanese summer festivals and feature evocative names such as kakigori (shaved ice) and kingyo sukui (goldfish scooping). These threads have 2, 3 or 8 colours running through them to create a gorgeous effect when stitched.
Daruma also produce their own range of pre-printed sashiko samplers on white and indigo fabric, so I hope you will enjoy seeing the different designs. Olympus call their samplers hanafukin (flower cloths) whereas Daruma ones are yumefukin (dream cloths). Essentially they are the same thing, though! The Daruma ones are a slightly different shade of blue than Olympus, and 31cm rather than 34cm.
Another new product is the Daruma 'sashiko cloth'. This is sarashi fabric (the same fabric as the sashiko samplers) which has been pre-printed with a grid of crosses that you use as stitch guides. You can use these to make many different sashiko and hitomezashi patterns on whichever part of the cloth you like, then simply wash the cloth and the printed lines disappear. You get half a metre of fabric (50cm x 108cm) whch is large enough to make a furoshiki wrapping cloth, cushion cover or any other project you have in mind. The cloths come in a range of four colours - white, natural, mustard and indigo - and are packaged in an attractive box which would make a lovely gift when combined with threads and needles.
I hope you enjoy exploring the Daruma range and would love to hear your feedback on it and see pictures of what you make x
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I started Japan Crafts in 2006 and have been bringing wonderful fabrics and techniques to people in the UK ever since.