Karamatsu, or “larch” patterns are so named for their symmetrical ripple pattern that looks very much like wood grain. It is a cute space filling pattern that can be used to stitch any shape with bilateral symmetry. Traditionally, the shape is round, but squares, diamonds, stars and hearts are all possible!
1. Mark the center point of your stitched shape.
2. Fold the fabric in half on the marked center point. If you are making a shape that is oriented (such as a heart), make sure that the direction of your fold will orient your shape in the correct direction.
3. Pin the folded fabric so that the two sides will not slip apart or away from their original positioning.
4. On one side of the folded fabric draw the design you wish to stitch. Draw more parallel lines at intervals into the center of the shape. Typically, I use ½ inch or less spacing between the sets of lines.
5. Stitch tracing the lines. The knot should start at one side of the shape and the loose ends should form a line at the other.
Note: Stitch spacing is an issue that I will have to address another day. Stitches should be small enough to gather fabric neatly when pulled. But large enough to create a ripple pattern when stitched in multiple rows. This may require experimentation with your fabric of choice. In medium weight cotton, I end up with about 3 stitches per inch for this stitch method.
6. Make your stitches slightly uneven for the best “wood grain ripple” effect. This style naturally creates concentric patterns, but how evenly the stitches are done and spacing will affect the end result. Perfectly even stitches that line up in rows will create a “line” effect rather than “wood”: be sure of the effect you want!
7. Pull the string tight. Properly tightened, the fabric will form a flat bundle with even ripples over the entire surface. If the fabric moves too much or is hard to finish tightening properly, use a spray bottle or rag to dampen the fabric SLIGHTLY (Too much, and you’ll have a soggy and unwieldy mass).
8. Tie off the tightened strings. If they are close together, tie them to each other (it’s easier). Farther apart, and they should be tied to themselves to prevent random line marks in the dyed surface from the thread.
9. Dye your project and remove the threads when dry.
For another look, use tiny stitches and space your lines farther apart. The tiny stitches and spacing will create a bilateral line pattern.
Feel like you missed some parts?
Part 1 is all about kumo shibori!
Part 2 is all about materials!
Part 3 is about ori-nui, the art of single and double line stitching.
Part 4 is karamatsu, or the larch pattern!
Part 5 is about mokume shibori!