Works In Progress: A little knitting goes a long way.

A classmate asked me to teach her how to knit. During a self-introduction exercise where I said my new hobby was sewing clothing, she asked me to teach her to knit a scarf. Sure, I follow the logic.

It has been a long time since I knit something. We went to the craft shop together and bought all the materials we’d need for chunky scarves. I’ve never done that for a knitting project before. It was quite satisfying. The weather is turning chilly and it’s an overcast morning, quite right for a knit.

Have you started cool weather knitting? What are you making?!

A shirt and a sneaky huntsman

I made this shirt and I don’t love it.

I loved making it, but wearing it is another story. This is one of my hesitations with sewing clothes — what if you spend all that time making something, and in the end it’s not meant to be? I know that alterations can help, and with experience I will hopefully learn how a garment is constructed and can change it to fit my shape. But until then, I have this shirt.

It’s not terrible. I put it on and I still smiled. After this photo was taken I was going to change into something else, but forgot and had to dash off to class. Both me and the shirt survived.

This was actually a practice shirt for some lovely Nani iro flannel I bought from Miss Matatabi, a fabric seller here in Japan. This practice fabric is some cotton I bought for cheap in Fabric Town, only because it has sneaky huntsman.

The pattern is Wiksten Tova, and the fit wasn’t quite right for me. It is a perfectly decent pattern with easy-to-follow instructions, but I learned that this style of shirt isn’t for me. I might be the only person in sewing-blog land to say that. Sorry everyone out there. Maybe I’ll try it again someday, but I’ll be ready to try some alterations. It’s not you Tova, it’s me. Let’s just be friends.

Have any of you made this shirt? Did you alter the pattern? I’m curious to hear!

Tied.

Does everyone know how much a necktie costs in a Tokyo department store? Let me help you – about ¥10,000, which translates to USD $127. For a basic, silk-ish boring striped necktie.

I haven’t bought my husband a new necktie in years because I couldn’t stomach paying that price for something I knew I had the skills and resources to make. This meant he had no neckties. I experimented with making ties using Liberty of London cottons, but the ties proved too flimsy. A good tie needs some heft, and the fusible interfacing in these made them more like wispy bits of cardboard hanging from a shirt. Recently, I tried again with wool.

The thicker wool and sew-in interfacing allow these ties to swing freely. Because we know men like their accessories to swing freely. I altered Burda pattern 3403 to create a skinny 2 1/2″ tie rather than the fat 4″ as instructed. The fabric is a Pendleton plaid with cotton shirting lining, and cashmere blend herringbone lined in red silk.

With more practice I think I’ll be able to master better points. More practice means more ties, and a way to lure someone into fabric stores with me.

During this photo-op Dan informed me he would never wear this outfit in public. He would obviously need to wear a suit jacket with a tie. Such discerning taste.

And yes, that is a baseball bat tie clip.

New Sashiko Kits!

I’m delighted to announce I’ve placed some new sashiko kits in my Etsy web shop.

The first is a do-it-yourself sashiko and patchwork brooch. I am excited about this one, as you can tell by the goofy grin on my face. Kits contain a brooch setting, sashiko instructions and materials, and a selection of beautiful fabrics, including plenty of Liberty of London and Echino cottons.

I think these kits would make a nice gift for someone who likes to craft. I would give one to myself if I could. But that is weird. Sashiko Brooch Kit, $15

The second kit is inspired by the upcoming holiday season. This trio of starry night ornaments with sashiko stitching is a nice way to add your own handmade holiday cheer. Kits include fabric, patterns and sashiko materials, and heavy charcoal gray felt for stability and backing. It is really nice felt, I went for the good stuff. The crisp lines of these stars are simple to stitch, but look quite fancy hanging in a set.

Can you believe I found a Christmas tree look-alike in Tokyo this time of year? I can’t. I thought I would have to wait for the $500 trees to arrive and then photobomb them with my ornaments. I’m talking snap and run. But I didn’t have to wait that long. I just photobombed my neighbor’s bushes instead. I don’t mind if they think I’m strange, I already put more wine bottles in the recycle bin than they do, so they expect such things from me, no doubt. Starry Night Sashiko Ornaments Kit, $20

You can check out other sashiko kits and gift items in my Etsy shop. Thanks!

Milkin’ it.

I regularly buy flavored soy milk in little sippy cartons. It recently occurred to me that this might seem like a weird thing to someone outside of Japan. These little boxes of protein and sugar are probably meant for children, but I can only really understand six-year olds so by the transitive property it works.

In Japan flavors change with the seasons, and autumn reigns supreme. I arrived back in Tokyo to  flavors of sweet potato, pumpkin (actually, kabocha), hazelnut and persimmon. So when I saw the grilled sweet potato flavored soy milk, of course I bought it.

From left to right that’s yaki-imo (grilled sweet potato), banana, coffee malt, and strawberry. Other common flavors include black tea, matcha, vanilla ice cream, grapefruit, delicious plain, and fruity mix. My favorites are the less expected flavors, black sesame and kinako (roasted soybean powder). Perhaps these flavors sound strange, but in Japan they are commonly associated with sweets. So really, I’m just drinking candy.