Do you know how sometimes you see a project, or a color combination, and instantly fall in love? It doesn’t happen all the time: we’re quite good at noting things (big and small) that we’d like to tweak – using a different color palette, or making the item a few inches longer, or a little more floppy… whatever. But once in a while, it’s perfect in our eyes, and it’s all we can do to restrain ourselves from matching the dye lot of the project yarn, let alone the brand and color.

Rickie’s Sashiko Pillow, from the wonderfully inspiring Purl Bee, was such a project for me. I saw it, and there was nothing I wanted to change. About 3.5 seconds later, all the project ingredients were in my shopping cart, and I was at the front door asking the mailman if he had a package for me.

Sashiko embroidery was completely unknown to me until I saw this pillow, but embroidery in general is probably the first needle art I ever learned. Cross-stitch, satin stitch, French knots… I don’t know the proper names for all the stitches, but I learned them all in Home Ec. in elementary school. I remember making elaborate samplers, and decorating the edges of handkerchiefs, then being graded on neatness and consistency of stitches.

In that respect, Sashiko and I were always meant to be together. After reading Mari’s Sashiko tutorial and learning how to make a quilter’s knot (both at the beginning and end of work), I was cruising! In reality, embroidering a Sashiko sampler is as simple as playing connect-the-dots, or creating a paint-by-number picture. So easy, so relaxing! The Purl Bee carries a nice selection of samplers, but you can buy them elsewhere, too, such as on eBay.

Though other projects intervened, I was done with my sampler pretty quickly!


It’s very wrinkled because I washed it to get rid of the blue guide marks. Now to press it, and sew it into a little pillow case. I have a feeling this part of the project will take a bit of motivation… groan! 🙂


58 thoughts on “Sashiko-ness

  1. Caitlin

    This is so pretty, now this Sashiko pillow goes viral. I actually love the little knots at the end of each row, it would be great to figure out a way to sew this into a pillow but leave the ends visible. I’m weird like that!

  2. Melinda

    Oh, yes, I know the feeling you’re writing about!:))) Sometimes you just HAVE to make something just right as it is done and shown in the picture. The perfect thing!:)))

    Your pillow surely will be adorable with all these happy colours!

  3. lauren

    oh no no no no no why did you post all those links! now I have a bunch of things in my cart and I’m fretting about whether or not to purchase. 🙂

  4. kmkat

    I find it fascinating that my eyes/brain interpreted the design as overlapping circles in every one of your photos. It was not until I clicked over to PurlBee and saw the entire sampler that I realized it was not. What the brain sees > what is actually there.

    I had no interest in counted cross-stitch until I saw a book of cc-s dragons. Then I was hooked, for a couple years anyway.

  5. Gillian

    Super colours, and I agree with kmkat because I would only have seen circles without her comment. And you’ve done a great job.

  6. Punkin

    This is exciting. I like the design you made. When I look at your embroidery I see circles but when I follow the colors I realize they are in waves. fascinating. I have spent the last 30 minutes researching Sashiko.

  7. Mari

    I’ve done several sashiko kits and made a table runner using both sashiko and quilting, one of my favorite ways to do needle work. Purl’s selection is lots of fun to look at and choose small projects to work from. There are about six really good books out there too that I leaf through on occasion!

  8. Kathy Sue

    excellent work–it’s hard to tell the back from the front except for the knots. Reminds of my Mom and her sisters–the first thing they do is check out the back of any kind of needlework. And their “backs” are always beyond compare!

  9. WendyBee

    I love it! I can’t wait to see it pressed and made into a pillow.

    I’m so curious about doing all that needlework in Home Ec. class. I had HE in 7th grade, and remember very little being terribly interesting, which is saying a lot, because I was just the kind of girl who would have loved a good HE class… When I was in Jr. High, the girls automatically got HE, and the boys automatically got Mechanical Drawing. The girls took sewing in 7th gr. and cooking in 8th grade. The boys took wood shop in 7th and metal shop in 8th. It was the mid=70’s and I was already making my own clothes (my mother taught me), so she got me enrolled in wood shop (I was one of the first girls), but in 8th grade, I wanted cooking, not metal shop. Maybe I missed needlework by missing sewing…..

  10. Seanna Lea

    Very gorgeous. I love the clarity of the colors. I’ve done a lot of cross-stitch, mostly counted. How would you compare the difficulty of cross-stitch to that of sashiko?

  11. Jennifer

    I love the wrinkles. I know you won’t…but I would leave them in and sew the little pillow together so every single knot shows. The texture is just wonderful and SO photogenic!

  12. Bekky

    I love the purlbee too, the emails purl send are always inspiring and exciting – I try and save them when they arrive so I get to open them when I need cheering up, I know they are really just advertising but something about they way they are done really inspires me.

  13. dana

    but you have that bernina sewing machine for the sewing together of the pillowcase. you love your bernina sewing machine!

  14. jessa

    Wow, the symmetry and geometry of this is enticing enough to make me want to try it out! My grandma taught me to embroider, but I haven’t done it in ages and this is whetting my whistle for some embroidery.

  15. van

    It’s beautiful. I’ve been looking at Sashiko in the past few months (and quilting in general) since I can’t knit much right now. I didn’t know they have such beauiful kits. Sigh!


    Hi Kathy,

    You are so talented! And I am so jealous! I recently saw your post in rav about commmenters and contest entries. i read every post you write (when I first found you I went back to the beginning), and truly love nearly every single one. But you’re human so one or two, I only like and enjoy instead of love. (Trust me, you meet a really high standard). Anyhow, while I do love your blog and learn so much from your post, and love how picture heavy it is — knitting blogs are really about the pics and the kinds of details you give — both the subjective and objective ones, but mostly I don’t comment because I don’t feel like I have anything to add to the discussion. And I really have nothing to add if I read the comments first. And yet, sometimes, I do enter your contests. Anyhow, just wanted you to know that I only read at most 5 blogs regularly and yours is one of them, even though I’m mostly a lurker. Thanks for writing a great blog!

    Btw, did the Brooklyn wedding mean that’s where you hail from? Cuz, I’m also a NYC gal, and when I saw that I thought, of course I like her so much — she a tough NYer (as you know there’s no higher praise from a native. And even if you weren’t born there (you are definitely a NYer in my book!)

  17. caro

    My mum’s been working on a few sashiko projects too. I love how colourful yours is. Love! (Also, side note: Full RSS, non-truncated feed, I love you!)

  18. claire

    This is really cute! I had been meaning to give sashiko a whirl for a while now but xmas gifts put it out of my mind. This may be what pushes me to go for it. I’m thinking a table runner might be the ticket, I need one anyway. This particular embroidery style was unknown to me until someone mentioned that a hat I knit looked like a sashiko design, then I looked into it and became enamoured. Thank you for the reminder!

  19. Elaine

    Beautiful! Your attention to detail is remarkable. Can’t wait to see you rekindling your love with your sewing machine and presenting the finished pillow!

  20. Angie

    I can’t belive how adorable this is! You’ve got me hooked! I can’t wait to see the finished project. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Heather

    How funny. I just bought this same pattern and picked up embroidery again this year. Love the sample can’t wait to see the finished product!

  22. Robin

    Lovely stitching and great colors- I find Sashiko so relaxing to do. It is a great accent on a small purse or in a quilt block.

  23. Tanti

    I got the cross stitch lesson in Junior and Senior High, and it’s funny coincidence that my teachers graded us the same like yours. Your sashiko is neat, simple and beautiful 😉

  24. moirae

    I saw a quilt with this sort of intricate circle pattern on it years ago. Ever since, I’ve been dreaming about how it could be replicated in knitting. Sigh.

  25. Marsha

    I’ve had so much fun catching up on your posts. I loe the embroidery…I love everything! There is something so charming about the work while it is wrinkled. It would be beautiful framed, with the wrinkles, knots, and raw edges showing. Then you don’t have to make the pillow to make your work of art!!

Comments are closed.