The traditional Japanese sashiko pattern asagao 朝顔 or 牽牛花 means "morning glory." The morning glory pattern belongs to moyōzashi 模様刺し and is well suited for beginners.
After hearing the name, my perception of the pattern changed. Where before, I saw only stars, I now see the morning glories beaming back at me.
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The meaning of the pattern lies in the morning glories' past. In China, morning glory seeds were treasured as a potent medicine. They were so precious, that when somebody sent you their seeds as a gift, you would return the favor by pulling a cow on a string and thank the sender personally. That is how the morning glory got its other name, gengyūka 牽牛花, literally "pull cow flower."
So, gengyū 牽牛 refers to Altair, the brightest star in the Aquila constellation. In Japan, the star is called hikoboshi 彦星. The deities Hikoboshi and Orihime are lovers who according to a legend, are separated by the Milky Way. They are allowed to meet only once a year during Tanabata.
During the two lovers' connection to the flower, even if a little far-fetched, the flower represents lasting bonds and good connections.
Morning glories are annual vines that bloom from July to October. Representing summer, kimono with morning glory designs are considered fit for wearing in July and August. So if you choose to embellish your clothes with the asagao pattern, maybe choose something you'll wear in summer instead of your skiing outfit.
Asagao patterns also exist for hitomezashi 一目刺し and kugurisashi 潜り刺し.
Asagao stitching directions
The pattern is made up of zigzag lines dancing across the fabric. It's quite easy to stitch once you see the zigzag and it's finished quite quickly.
If you want an easy start, I recommend Daruma's samplers. Really, I love them!
Pre-printed fabric by Daruma
If you want to do sashiko, but you don't want the hassle of drawing the pattern yourself, Daruma offers fabric that has the pattern printed on it. The lines wash out when you've finished stitching. Super easy!
Leave a comment if you are interested in detailed instructions and I will upload more information as soon as possible.