Thursday 5 May 2011

A Surprise Parcel from Saho - Kaga Thimbles

You will probably know that Saho does wonderful work - not only with the Needleprint Japan blog - but also stitching. Yesterday, I fell off my chair when I opened a surprise parcel from her to find a most marvellous range of traditional Japanese stitched items. In fact, I am still reeling....
But I have to show you these beautiful Kaga Thimbles she has made. The first thing is to say that, yes, they are indeed thimbles, although they resemble fabulous rings.
I'll let Saho describe them for you in her own words:
About a year ago, I was fascinated by the little jewel-like rings, which are actually thimbles and a local traditional needlework specific to the Kaga area in the Ishikawa Prefecture. They are made by wrapping a bit of bias tape around rolled paper (old postcards are good), and by whipstitching silk sewing thread all around it, in various directions, spacing and colours to make shapes and patterns. The traditional art of the Kaga thimbles was rediscovered by Mrs. Yukiko Ohnishi, whose grandmother had learned it in real life and handed down the heritage to her granddaughter. Mrs Ohnishi has created a book on the subject and you can see the book by clicking here, and see more of her work by clicking here. Saho continues: You may not have heard of Kaga Yuzen, they are beautiful, very brightly coloured silk kimonos, hand-dyed, painted in and rinsed out in the rivers. The thimbles were originally crafted by the seamstresses of Kaga Yuzen. They wrapped a bit of cloth around a ring-shaped core, so as not to harm the delicate silks, and also stitched thread around it so the needle would not slip. The seamstresses would save the bits of silk threads left over from their sewing, and made thimbles on New Year's Day. Unlike Western thimbles, Japanese thimbles were worn on the middle finger. There are not many antique thimbles remaining, as these were utility goods and thrown away as they wore out; but some survive to this day. In some homes they are put out for decoration on Girl's Day, so that the girls might become good seamstresses. Mrs Ohnishi's grandmother developed hundreds of different patterns for thimbles, which she made, and were publicized by her grandaughter. Mrs Ohnishi and her thimbles have appeared on TV and in crafting magazines. Lessons are held in major cities in Japan. It is very likely that the tradtion of hand-crafted thimbles exists in all areas of Japan. I myself have heard from my aunt that my grandmother used a hand-made thimble, wrapped in a bit of silk when sewing kimonos. Each thimble takes about 4-6 hours to make and are very hard to put down when started!
You can also see more in English about the Kaga thimbles on this blogspot:
It is lovely to hear from Saho again, she has so much knowledge. I really appreciate all you do Saho. Thank you very much for sharing.


  1. What an absolutely beautiful gift - they are gorgeous little works of art. Lucky, lucky you. And they came in that beautiful little cloth case - another treasure!

  2. What a gorgeous, treasure of a gift. I have to go check out the book and the blog. What a wonderful thing for her to do for you!

  3. Hello, I am Chloe Patricia, the owner of the blogpost mentioned in the post. These thimbles have not been strictly originated from the Kaga area only and many were made in the other areas where its main industry was (or has been)silk textile or the area which was affluent enough to afford extravaganza such as silk kimono. It's just that both were applied to Kaga area and Ms Onishi is from that area, thus the name as Kaga thimles. However, this is not what I wanted to say here. I just wanted to thank you for mentioning my blog in your post. Have a good day. Chloe P.

  4. Beautiful! They reminded me of temari. And the presentation was lovely too, as Japanese presentations are.

  5. Gorgeous Jacqueline, a truly wonderful gift and so deserved:)), a very talented Saho, thanks for the link.

  6. I love the presentation in the little case! It must have been handmade and designed just for this purpose.

  7. How lovely these are Jaqueline...what a generous gift!!