At a recent dinner party, I was entranced when a friend unpacked her backpack to reveal each of her dinner contributions: a bottle of wine, half a loaf of fresh bread, and six Bosc pears, each group intricately bundled in specifically-knotted furoshiki cloth wraps. The wrapping was not only practical, preventing the wine bottle from smashing into the delicate pears on her walk over, but also elevated the whole experience and made the packages feel like gifts.
Furoshiki is a centuries-old tradition in Japan as a way to bundle and transport belongings and presents. It's waste-free too—which explains why the Japanese Ministry of the Environment issued a pamphlet detailing the different techniques to use depending on what you want to wrap. Furoshiki can be applied to just about any object, large or small, and uses simple knots and folds, all of which are fairly easy to master. Here's a look at four of our favorite techniques:
Photography by Leigh Patterson for Remodelista.
The Basic Wrap
Above L to R, Top to Bottom: Place your object in the center of the furoshiki (most are pre-cut square cloths sized anywhere from 18 to 45 inches; you can easily make your own—any knottable fabric works). Take two opposite corners of the square and tie them into a knot in the center; if the ends are long you can tuck them in. Then take the other two opposite corners and knot them just above the first knot.
Above: The result is a simple and sturdy satchel.
The Bottle Wrap
Above, L to R: Place a bottle in the center and, as with the basic wrap, take the two opposite corners of the cloth and bring them together above the bottle in a knot with long ends. Twist the ends as though you were wringing out a towel and tie the twists together in another knot above the first, creating a little loop over the bottle. Finally, take the other two opposite ends and knot them at the front of the bottle.
Above: The bottle wrap is a reusable alternative to a wine bottle gift bag.
The Card Wrap
Above L to R: Place a card at a diagonal in the center of the cloth. Fold two corners over the card to create a point (like the shape of a party hat) on one side of the card. Next, fold the sides in on a straight line as if you were forming an envelope. Fold the bottom end of the triangle over to create the bottom of the envelope, and finish by tucking in the point.
Above: Tie up the package with string, and you have a nice protective cloth for your gift card.
The Carry Wrap
Above L to R: While the other three wrapping styles work nicely for a single object, the carry wrap is ideal for a group of things, such as these purple heirloom potatoes. Place the objects in the center of your cloth (since I'm wrapping produce, I opted for cheesecloth for breathability; the cloth is a rectangle but you can also use a square). Gather two corners of the fabric along the same end, rather than opposing sides, and knot them together. Repeat for the other side to create an open shopping bag-style pouch.
Above: The result is a great option for an impromptu tote, such as to carry farmers' market purchases. If you keep the cloth in your bag, you have it as needed.
For other styles and more diagrams, visit Furoshiki.com. And go to Sarah's post on Mill Valley shop Ambatalia to see a Natural Linen Furoshiki Cloth and one in Nordic Blue, both $28. For more inspiration browse the Japanese Designs in our Photo Gallery, and don't miss A Wabi Sabi Housewares Shop in Japan.
Heading to the market? See our Gardenista posts on Farmers' Markets Across America and How to Recreate the Perfect Farmers' Market Bouquet