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   Preserving the ordinary is perhaps not high on most people's priority list. Collecting antiques or even the barely old is one thing; cherishing the normal objects of everyday life beyond their expected life span and a certain respectability of appearance is another. This book has reminded me of bygone days, when I was a little girl growing up in a convent. In summer, I was the only girl left in the nuns' care and I would spend my days roaming around on a tricycle and sharing the nuns' activities.

Every afternoon they would spend a couple of hours sitting in the shade of trees, embroidering, mending, and chatting. I can still see them patiently darning modest pieces of cloth, often working on their "soggoli" (guimpes), a part of their habits that covered the neck. White as snow and perfectly pleated with a parting halfway that changed the direction of the pleats; a feat of sewing and ironing mastery.

Now, when something is old and abused, we throw it out without a second thought. Or so I've been doing.

While my language inadequacies prevent me from understanding even the book introduction, I sense that behind this Darning Notebook is a true appreciation for preserving beloved objects by either maintaining them or repurposing them so that some of their qualities can exist in different form. The book is clearly aimed at the Japanese public with no concessions to the "Japanese Craft Book club" of overseas. Entirely in Japanese — not even the usual English chapter headings — and to be opened from right to left and read vertically, as is customary in traditional publications. The projects include a few items you could fit in the cute category, but the overall feel is not one of cuteness. The aesthetics of wabi-sabi — the beauty of imperfection — are at work here, but taken to a certain extreme and out of the understated domain. Some of the pieces seem closer to fine art than clothing.

After the photographic section, are a few pages of instructions, mostly the basics of darning. Some projects involve cutting and sewing pieces together to shape new items of clothing, but they are meant to be inspirational and no specific instructions are provided to replicate the objects.

Darning Notebook
by 勝屋 まゆみ
Published 2007/01
87 pages
ISBN-10 4579111273
ISBN-13 9784579111275


What a great book... Thanks for posting images for it.

I may have to do the button technique in the last photo. It is really lovely.