Yubinuki – Japanese Thimbles

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I once read somewhere, that many things involved in Japanese life and culture have an aesthetic component to it. I too truly believe this. It is important to remember and not simply take for granted the beauty that surrounds us; particularly the things that Nature herself provides us in our environment, to be found and admired.

Even for man-made things, it’s almost a requirement that it needs to be made aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional. You can find the concept of aesthetics even in the simplest items of everyday life; items as simple as a thimble.

A thimble, in Japanese is call yubinuki. And, like most thimbles it is used to protect the fingers when sewing, whether is it something as thin as silk or as thick as denim.

Though they serve the same purpose of protection, in Japan, thimbles are used differently than their common fingertip thimbles of the West. Instead of being worn on the fingertip, Japanese thimbles are simple rings worn on the middle finger, between the first and second knuckle.

You see, the way we stitch in Japan is different from how you stitch here, in the West. We use a running stitch. It is called a running stitch because the needle stays in the fabric until it reaches the end of the stitching line. The needle is continuously pushed, using the thimble on your middle finger.

Guided into position using your fingers and fingertips, the needle is pushed through the layers with the yubinuki taking the “brunt” of the force. This helps prevent injury and irritation to the hands and fingers that would be caused by the eye of the needle. Having the thimble to help push also provides extra force to move it; which is much easier than continuously trying to grasp the tip of the needle to pull it.

Although the main purpose of wearing a thimble is practical, it is also a fashion statement of hand-stitching lovers. I always wear a leather thimble since Sashiko consists of simple running stitches. These leather thimbles are stretchable and also come in different colors.

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Source by Miho Takeuchi

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