Sashiko pattern marutsunagi, gradient.

The traditional Japanese sashiko pattern marutsunagi 円繋ぎ means "circles linked." It belongs to the group of moyōzashi 模様刺し. As the name suggests, it consists of circles. The circles are usually linked where they touch, unlike in the example shown above.

Circles in patterns stand for happiness, balance, and peace. This meaning comes from the kanji (Chinese character) for circle: 円. This character is used in the compound enman 円満.

From this compound, the circle gets its deeper meaning and positive connotation.
Enman 円満 means: not lacking, no dissatisfaction or petty fights, well-rounded character, no corners, full and satisfied, being whole, being enlightened.

Like many traditional patterns, marutsunagi is a kisshōmonyō 吉祥文様 "lucky omen pattern." Kisshōmonyō patterns represent good luck and can often be found on kimonos worn at festivities or on gift wrappings  for happy occasions.

This particular pattern is often seen at weddings or when someone moves house.

Similar sashiko patterns

If you let the circles cross over one another instead of lining them up next to each other, you get the the sashiko pattern shippōtsunagi, which has a slightly different meaning.

Marutsunagi stitching advice

The pattern looks as if you were meant to stitch each circle on its own, when actually you only stitch curves. This means to finish a circle, you will need to stitch from four different directions.

The sample shown above is stitched one circle at a time to achieve a gradation effect. There are many rules in sashiko, but remember that you can adjust stitching patterns to match your taste.

I haven't met any sashiko artists in Japan who let their creativity be held back by boundaries. Also, I haven't met anyone who criticized sashiko stitching that wasn't exactly done as it was hundreds of years ago. The sashiko community in Japan is extremely welcoming and supportive. A perfect harmonious circle.

I've yet to come across a pre-printed sampler with this pattern, even in Japan. So you probably won't get around drawing the stitching guidelines yourself.

I use FriXion pens to draw the marks. They sell out quick, but maybe today is your lucky day?

Heat-erasable pens

Unless you use a very dark-colored fabric, these pens are great to get your sashiko pattern onto your fabric. Very fine lines that can be erased instantly with an iron if you've messed up.

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Leave a comment if you are interested in detailed instructions and I will upload more information as soon as possible.