Sashiko literally means “little stabs” or “little pierce”. It is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching or functional embroidery from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era (1615-1868). Traditionally, it was used to reinforce points of wear or to repair worn places or tears with patches, making the piece ultimately stronger and warmer. This running stitch technique is also often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth, which is said to recall snow falling around old farmhouses, gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread.
Unlike traditional thimbles you may be used to seeing or using in your sewing, this thimble is meant to sit at the base of your middle finger with the dimpled extended piece sitting in your palm. When stitching sashiko style, you make as many stitches that can fit on your needle before pushing the threaded needle through. The leather sashiko thimble helps push the needle through without pricking your palm.