I've been selling these lovely 'hanafukin' sashiko samplers from Olympus for a few years now and they have always been very popular as a way to dip your toe into sashiko for the first time, and to give as gifts.
The first time I encountered sashiko was on a trip to Japan many years ago when I spotted the rabbit sampler in a craft shop in Kyoto. I just loved the design and could see it was made by following the printed lines with a running stitch, but I had no idea there was a special name for this type of embroidery at the time. The design appealed to me because I knew the Japanese fable of the rabbit who lives on the moon making mochi rice cakes. So I bought the sampler, along with needles and cream thread, and spent some happy evenings stitching it after my daughter was in bed.
I returned to the craft shop to learn more about sashiko, and as soon as I got home I ordered Susan Briscoe's book and began to practice more. Eventually I began teaching sashiko in my workshops and importing the samplers, needles and threads.
I kept that first rabbit I made, and used it as a sample at shows for years; everybody loved it and the rabbit has always been my best seller. Several years later, as a way of introducing more of the different coloured threads, I stitched a Mount Fuji sampler using various colours. This was also a hit. So when I had a rebrand earlier this year, my partner (who was doing the rebranding) suggested I should make a sample of ALL the designs, and make them into kits. Considering I have about 20 different designs, this was no small project!
My routine became: work during the day as usual, then spend every evening doing sashiko with Netflix and Nutmeg for company. My partner did a great job designing lovely, bright labels for each kit, which I then had printed. In time I had stitched a sample of each design, and in some cases two, so I have variations in thread colours for people to choose. I even redid the rabbit one with subtle pale pink thread for the cherry blossoms, and pale blue for the waves. The problem is, as soon as I think I've finished, I see a new design I want to get! So now I'm back to stitching again every day...
Look out for new kits each time you visit!
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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.