Hanami means "flower viewing" in Japanese; more specifically, the viewing of cherry or plum blossoms. Dating back many centuries, the traditional way to do hanami is to enjoy a picnic or a feast under the blooming trees.
Here in Portland, we have ample opportunities for hanami. Yesterday I took a walk, bringing along my camera to snap some photos of spring's first blossoms. It's a bit early yet, as it's wet and rainy and the trees have yet to reach their full display, but the the buds are beginning to open, offering a glimpse of the spectacle that is yet to come.
Let's take a moment for some virtual hanami:
Beautiful, aren't they?
I have a long-standing love of cherry and plum blossoms. By the way, I don't claim to be able to tell them apart, at least not all the time. They come from the same genus, Prunus, and that is enough knowledge for me.
On of my earliest published patterns was the Cherry Blossom Shawl, designed for Interweave Knits. When I created this design, I lived in a neighborhood abundant with cherry and plum trees, and I loved taking walks under their floral canopy. One day when I was out walking--walking with the very specific intent to come up with a submission idea for Interweave--a moderate breeze rose, creating a beautiful shower of pink and white blossoms. As I watch the petals cascade to the ground, I thought "I should make a cherry blossom pink shawl", and hustled back home to plan the design.
Here's the finished piece:
That was back in 2001. Cherry blossoms made a return to my design world recently, via the Knit Purl Sock Club. Hanami was the name given to my pattern for March 2011 installment, no doubt inspired by the Koigu yarn used to knit it, in colorway "Blossom Storm".
I love the info card they included with the yarn and pattern:
Those 3 falling cherry blossoms are just perfect, and delicate pink with white and just a touch of dark brown or black is one of my all-time favorite color combos. So this entire package--the yarn color and the name it was given, the name given to my sock design, and the design's final presentation--feels a bit like destiny to me.
It's nice when a specific inspiration reasserts itself throughout the years, when themes re-emerge over time. I doubt that this is the last time that cherry blossoms and I will cross paths. I certainly hope it's not.
In the meantime, happy hanami everyone!