Six degrees of separation – and sometimes even less

Although commercial machine embroidery is well established in Japan, the home version has never really taken off here the way it has in the US and finding supplies localy has sometimes proven to be a challenge. Thread is the stuff of life for an embroiderer and during the past year I’ve tried talking to my local fabric store (but they had no interest in machine embroidery) and ordering from the US (but the shipping nearly doubled the price). Surely Kyoto with its specialized trade stores for every other textile craft imaginable must also have a store for machine embroiderers. The problem was just in finding it.

Judith and the Fuji family So when my friend Judith Clancy commented that she was working with Mr. Fuji to develop contacts with kimono embroidering factories for the 2008 Kyoto Textile and Design Tour, I asked her to find out where the factories bought their thread. “Oh they buy from Mr. Fuji” she responded casually. To my slack-jawed surprise, I realized that the Mr. Fuji she had been referring to is the founder of Fujix Thread, the largest thread company in Japan. Without even the proverbial six degrees of separation, I found that one of my own closest friends in Kyoto turned out to have a long-standing friendship with the Fuji family. Not only that, the company’s international headquarters are only a few blocks from my house.

My trip to Fujix Thread was the highlight of life last week. Most companies have about 300 shades of polyester thread, but Fujix, which caters to the exacting demands of the kimono industry, offers an incredible 600. The subtle progression of shades within each hue is both inspiring and overwhelming. The little picture of the color chart shown below hardly does justice to the selection.
Fuji thread color chart
I can hardly wait to pick up my first thread order next week. And I’m also looking forward to seeing the itinerary Judith puts together for the Textile and Design Tour next year. It ought to be a fabulous adventure!

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