Knit Works In Progress

First, a big thank you! to everyone who took my survey! I’ve enjoyed reading your comments, and next week I promise to reply to some of the questions you posed. I’ll keep collecting responses for a little while so if haven’t yet taken it but would still like to, you can find the survey post here. Thanks again!

I ran to the craft shop this week for some lining fabric (I am making the new Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt) and instead of lining I left with yarn, new knitting needles, and a distraction.

a distraction

This was completely an impulse buy. I’m not sure what came over me. I wasn’t thinking about price or the time it will take to finish, only about how I have always wanted to knit with this type of yarn, and poof, before I knew it I was telling the cashier it was a gift. For myself.

Opal sock yarn

I often ogle sock yarn because I love the way patterns emerge from a random crazy mess of colors. I realize this is not at all random or crazy to people who understand how weaving works, but to me it is magical. A few years back some mean-spirited circular needles broke my heart and since then I have only knit square or rectangular things. The thought of handmade wool socks is enticing, but they are round and tiny and violate all my rules of knitting.

circular needles, you better play nice

a sock yarn muffler

I guess I had a change of heart. This tube-muffler-that-flips-into-a-hat pattern requires 40 cm size 3 circular needles and two 100g balls of Opal sock yarn. The needles are much smaller than I have used before so there is potential for disaster, though right now things are going well. It is fun to watch my sock-yarn muffler grow, never knowing what pattern or stripe might emerge.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe I’ll finish it in time to wear while the weather is still chilly.

knit stats

Feeling Nosey: A Saké Puppets Survey

Perhaps I’m still feeling the new year delusion high, but I thought it would be fun to post a survey. Fun for me, surely! Hopefully it is fun for you, too. Let me convince you: Quizzes are great! When I was a teenager I loved taking the quizzes in those lady magazines. What kind of kisser are you? I was delighted to learn I was the Moroccan kind, despite the fact that I didn’t know where Morocco was and that boys were terrifying.

This little quiz is just 10 questions, with no surprise essay portion, I swear. Why post a survey? Because I’m curious. I want to learn more about you and why you are here. And because sometimes I feel like I talk too much.

Thanks in advance!

Snow Day ☃

It is snowing in Tokyo!

snowday

I love snow days, and after a brief snowball-filled jaunt to the supermarket I am giving myself free license to sit under the kotatsu and watch movies and drink tea until it is an acceptable time to watch movies and drink whiskey.

Yesterday I ran into Tanaka-san while she was buying fried chicken, so I know she is set for the storm, too.

Maybe I should suggest we combine our efforts. It looks like the other neighbors already have the mixers on ice.

snowday

Shinkansen Felt Ornaments

One of the craft shops in my neighborhood is owned by a very old couple. They don’t always hear the bell ring when you enter the store so I often have to loiter, waiting for someone to emerge from the back room so I can make my purchase. The top shelf is covered by dust, but I pretend not to notice.

One of the perks of a shop like this is that their stock is old, and sometimes you come across an item that has been sold out elsewhere since 1987.

Shinkansen felt mascot

This Shinkansen (known as the “bullet train” in the US) felt mascot kit isn’t that old, but in this dusty shop is the only time I have seen it for sale anywhere. I thought they would make ideal Christmas tree ornaments, so over the holidays I dug out the kit.

Shinkansen felt ornaments

The kit includes die cut felt pieces (very cool), beads for wheels, embroidery floss and stuffing. The directions are easy since this kit is meant for children to complete in about a day.

kit contents

kit instructions

pieces

My favorite parts are the wheels. It took me a little time to figure out that the small felt pieces are actually glued on rather than stitched. Once I had that down, these were really fun to assemble. Sometimes you just need a little something easy to do while drinking all that eggnog at Christmas.

speedy little trains

For those of you who love speedy bullet trains as much as I do, Sanrio has a cute website full of free printables. Enjoy!

In With the New: To-Do for 2013

snowy american sunrise

Yesterday I shared last year’s to-do list and how well I did checking things off. It feels good to keep a list and look back a year later, to see how your year changed from the one you had imagined. I might not have accomplished everything on my list, but keeping an eye on it throughout the year gave a good push to keep trying new things.

I’m stepping into this year tentatively, like I am dipping my toes into water — will it be refreshing? Too hot? Will I turn and run and hide under my towel? We shall see. Here is the list for 2013:

Cook 12 new recipes. I am putting this on the list again, even though last year I failed miserably at it. I want to cook more, and if this list gives me even a little bit of encouragement it will be a positive gain. I’d love to learn more traditional Japanese dishes, so perhaps I’ll even treat myself to a cooking class.

Read 8 books. I’m upping the ante from 5 last year. Recommendations?

Visit 6 new places. This is achievable so I’m sticking with it. If I could go anywhere? The mountains of Chile, Alaska, New Zealand. Where might I go? Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, or a romp through northern Japan. I’d love to find a hike to a secret little outdoor onsen in the mountains.

Sew 6 new garments. My new sewing hobby has me obsessed. I’d like to learn more skills this year, and make a fitted and lined dress, pants, and a jacket or blazer. I vow to not be afraid to cut into expensive fabrics.

Make a gigantic sashiko art piece. A last-minute addition. Why not?!

Publish something. An article or an encyclopedia (dream big!), it doesn’t matter.

2013? Let’s do this.

Out With the Old: 2012’s To-Dos

明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。

Happy New Year, my friends.

I am easing into 2013. My season of travels abroad, visits with friends and family, handmade gifts and home cooked meals is coming to a close, and I am settling in. 2013 promises many challenges and I am gathering the strength to face them.

Last year at this time I made a to-do list. I dislike resolutions, but to-do lists I can handle. Looking back, I feel good about the things I checked off the list. It turns out I cook a lot less than I thought I did but sew quite a bit more. I feel OK with a trade-off like that. Here is my list and how I fared:

Cook 12 new recipes, one per month. Not even close. Though, I probably ate 12 new foods, like natto, coffee jelly, and tom yum. I can’t believe I waited so long for tom yum. What was I thinking?

food

Read 5 books. I remember thinking this was on the low side, that of course I would read more than 5 books in a year. I read 6.

books

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story by Glenway Wescott, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

Visit 6 new places. Cities or countries, it doesn’t matter. And walk around these places without a map. 

travels

  1. Shiga kogen, Nagano, Japan
  2. Hijiori Onsen, Yamagata, Japan
  3. Kuala Lumpur & Malacca, Malaysia
  4. Singapore
  5. Sado Island, Japan
  6. Okinawa, Japan

Make a quilt for myself, for fun. I did, and it was fun. I also spent a lot of time learning to sew clothing. I made 6 new garments and 4 neckties.

sewing

Have a conversation with a stranger in Japanese. This really reminds me of how little I could, or would, say before I started my Japanese classes. I was a big chicken. Now I am often faced with having to speak Japanese with strangers, and I’m a little less of a chicken.

2012, I think you did alright by me. I visited lovely new places, I ate a lot and spent quality time with quality people, I learned some things, and even found my face on the Internet (like here and here). Nice work, 2012. Now, can you give 2013 the message?

How did your 2012 to-do lists turn out?