Sashiko for Spring

Sashiko for Spring, by Saké PuppetsAh, sashiko for Spring. This is a bag pattern I reverse-engineered from a cotton gift bag I received while living in Japan. It was given to me while staying at a ryokan, so you can carry a few belongings as you wander in your yukata from breakfast to nap time to the bath and back again. I love the way the two handles tie together — loosely to slide over your wrist or elbow like a handbag, or tightly like a pouch to prevent treasures from falling out. I added some freeform sashiko geometry on one side, and used my sashiko sampler pattern for the other. Sashiko for Spring, by Saké Puppets sakepuppets.comSashiko Sampler by Saké Puppets. Pattern available at sakepuppets.etsy.comThe bag is lined in old nani IRO double gauze, a scrap I had stashed in the depths of a craft box that followed me from Tokyo. Honestly, nothing compliments sashko-in-angles better than a light, floral nani IRO.Sashiko for Spring, by Saké Puppets sakepuppets.comWell hello, Spring.

Saké Puppets around the Web

Hello! I thought I’d share a quick update on some things happening around the Saké Puppets studio. First, I am very excited to share that I am now contributing to the Miss Matatabi Makers, where each month I’ll be sewing a new project with the delightful Japanese fabrics available in Miss Matatabi’s shop. You can take the girl out of Japan, but she’ll take the fabric with her. (^_−)−☆

Saké Puppets for Miss Matatabi MakersRiding Peplum by Saké Puppets for Miss Matatabi MakersClick on over to check out my first post, the new Riding Peplum pattern by April Rhodes in JUBILEE cotton lawn. Whoosh!

I also recently contributed a sashiko tutorial and coaster pattern to Kindred Stitches, a digital hand-craft magazine available on the Apple Newsstand. There are some very sweet projects included in the Japanese issue, so if you are interested, head on over to iTunes to check it out.

Snowbirds

The consensus in New York is that people are done with winter. Over it. Fini. Every time I hear someone mention this, I respond with my best empathetic nod. “Hmm. Yes, I totally understand. It is so awful.” But really, I’m not over it. I, dare I say, like winter.

I missed the snow while we were in Japan (though they are getting record amounts this year!). I love it when snow falls. I love big flakes that stick to your hair and the kind of snow you can brush off your coat and even the icy mix that crunches under boots. When I wake up to snow falling, I still get excited. My days are not affected by school closures or weather in general, but that feeling of snowy morning glee is hard to shake.

Now, I realize that snow in New York is very different from snow in other places. With temps here hitting the 40s, the snow is packed down into wet, slick ice. Mixed with gray skies, exhaust fumes, soggy dog poo, and garbage that hasn’t been picked up in weeks (garbage trucks are too busy plowing), the snow is not a pretty sight. But it doesn’t bother me.

WInter color and an Archer shirt, via Saké PuppetsI’ve found other ways to combat the gray. I started sewing this shirt, oh, five months ago, so it carries a warm-weather vibe. I bought the fabric for 100 yen a meter in the Nippori fabric district in Tokyo and thought it would be ideal for a wearable practice Archer. And boy did it deliver.

Finding winter color, via Saké PuppetsI have made two button-up shirts before, so I had some confidence going into this project. Collar stand, cuffs, button holes = no problem. Some of my top stitching is a little wonky and my seams are finished with a plain ol’ zig-zag stitch, so it definitely feels like a practice shirt, but the fabric is light with nice drape so I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it this summer.

Back it on up, Archer. Via Saké PuppetsI made View B with the gathered lower back, though it is hard to see in these photos. I really like the gathered detail, and I think it would look great with even thinner fabric, like maybe these flamingos? I wanted to make View A in flannel and snaps, but at the rate I’m sewing this year, I wouldn’t get it done before the snow melts. Guess I’ll have to check out the Garment District for more Archer fabric. Darn! ;)

Grainline Archer by Saké PuppetsYou can take the girl out of Minnesota, but it is much harder to get her out of her boots. Flurries in the forecast today, folks!

Knit Bits

This winter I am spending a lot of time with knitting needles. My grandmother, who taught me how to knit and indulged my love of crafts when I was young, passed away last month. Together we would make plastic canvas needlepoint houses and bake cookies until there was no more room for cookies or needlepoint houses. Right, like that ever happened.

Over the past few years I have learned how I best handle grief. When I lose someone I care about I like to spend time alone, doing something I enjoy that also honors them. I take that time to reflect and try to focus on happy memories and it helps me feel close to them. So in the days leading up to her funeral, I channeled my energy into finishing the epic cowl I began knitting in November. My grandmother stopped knitting years ago because of arthritis, but she loved to see what I was working on and was an avid follower of this blog. So I dropped everything, and I knit.

Empalme cowl, knit by Saké PuppetsThe pattern is Empalme, which I purchased from the wonderful shop Yarn + Co when I was in Melbourne. I bought the yarn at Avril in Tokyo, carried it all with me to Brooklyn, and finished it in Minneapolis where my grandmother lived. The yarn is super soft 100% merino wool and varies in thickness, which gives the whole project a very natural, organic texture.

My one note about this pattern, I probably did not have to knit all 13 repeats, since it turned out quite long. But it is incredibly soft and I love the pattern, and it is still the knitting project I’m proudest of to date.Behind the scenes as chez Saké PuppetsI got in the groove with my cowl and wasn’t ready to be done knitting, so I made a hat as a gift for a friend (first hat!) and then another for myself. The pattern is Dreiecke, made with stash yarn. This is the first time I have had stash yarn to use, and, it pretty much blew my mind. I had all the pieces I needed, and on a cold snowy night when the urge to knit struck, all I had to do was rummage around in my knit bin for my knit bits and get started. I now understand the urge to stash-build/yarn-hoard. Who needs the excitement of a new city to explore?! Olympics! Stash yarn! I’m set for winter, friends.Hiding my cold-chapped face

Happy New Year!

The last weeks of 2013Happy 2014, dear friends!

2013 was a crazy whirlwind. I traveled, friends traveled to see me, I lost friends and grieved and traveled to be with people who were grieving too. And at the end of it all I threw everything we owned into boxes and moved back Stateside, with only a few weeks’ notice. I am tired just thinking about it again, though it was all worthwhile when we arrived in the US for a holiday season filled with family and fresh snow. We found an apartment in Brooklyn and were semi-settled before the Times Square ball drop. Thank you to everyone who carried a box, unpacked a box, or listened to me talk about boxes. I couldn’t have done it without you!

The new year holds many changes, no doubt. So cheers to us! To you and me and all of us on our journey through 2014. Here we go!

2014!

Handmade holidays with family: wreaths!

The past weeks have been a whirlwind. Arriving in the US in time for Thanksgiving means we jumped head-first into holiday gatherings with family and friends, though I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’ve been treated to a birthday dinner with a gigantic chocolate and peanut butter cake, a holiday play at my nephew’s elementary school, apartment-hunting in New York followed by lambrusco dinner parties, welcome-back cocktails, and brunches with friends, and even a quick trip to DC that resulted in a snowstorm and an extra 4 hours on a bus in New Jersey but because I had my knitting, I didn’t even mind.

Recently my family started a holiday tradition of getting together for an annual wreath-making party, and I was excited to join them. With metal frames from old store-bought wreaths now reused every year, we wired-in fresh greens from the yard. I was encouraged to just go for it — freeform wreaths! No rules DIY is my kind of DIY.

Look at that gigantic pinecone!handmade holiday wreathsWe snipped small bits of juniper, evergreen, holly and magnolia and wired them into clumps, wired them to our frames, and filled in as needed. Sometimes we put a bird on it.

My first attempt! A juniper wreath Attempt #2, a magnolia wreath with hollyhandmade holiday wreathhandmade juniper wreathhandmade holidays! by Saké PuppetsMy wreaths look a little more wild and haphazard than the pros, who have been doing this for a few years now. But they were really easy and fun to make, and the room smelled amazing. And, they cost us nothing!

What are you making for the holidays? I might graduate next to a swag, or maybe even a garland — it’s a handmade holiday party in here!

Handmade gift wrap ideas for the holidays – - – sashiko furoshiki!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In the midst of the madness that is my overseas move, I decided to release two new sashiko patterns. Yessir! sashiko furoshiki by Saké PuppetsInspired by Japan’s gift-giving culture, I made sashiko-embellished furoshiki for the holidays. Furoshiki are cloths used for gift wrapping and they create lovely, elegant packages. The fanciest of gifts are always wrapped in furoshiki cloths. In addition, furoshiki are often considered a gift themselves, and can be used as tablecloths, scarves, or tied into handbags.

furoshiki as tablecloth by Saké Puppets

I have also been thinking about how to make holiday gift wrap more sustainable. From year to year my family tends to save and reuse ribbons and bags, so why not throw a few furoshiki in the mix as well? 

The first pattern was inspired by winter snowflakes, which I love to sashiko stitch onto indigo fabric because they evoke memories of quiet snow falling late at night. The pattern can be repeated to create a border design or fit into corners.

sashiko snowflakes by Saké PuppetsThe second pattern is a simple modern sampler. I originally created this design to use on iPad or tablet cases, but discovered it makes for a beautiful furoshiki as well. One of the wonderful things about sashiko patterns is that they can be embroidered anywhere! The pattern is a 25 cm square (9 7/8″) that can be sized up or down to your liking.

Sashiko is great for iPad, tablet and Kindle cases, pattern by Saké PuppetsBoth patterns are available for download on Etsy, along with several other patterns that are also well-suited for furoshiki. Check back here soon for tutorials on how to make and wrap furoshiki, and click over here for step-by-step instructions on how to embroider with sashiko.

Happy holidays everyone!

Giveaway winners

Thank you everyone for your kind notes regarding my move. It makes me a bit emotional to know you are all out there, cheering me on. Right now my suitcases are piled in the genkan for delivery to the airport, and it feels good to have them all packed.

But on to other important things: the giveaway winners! I added everyone’s name to a big list, numbered the list, then used a random number generator to choose 4. The winners are Tasha, Monique, Donna, and anneolinick from Instagram. Please send me your mailing addresses so I can send you my your stuff. Thanks so much!

Now that packing is done, on to the cleaning … anyone want to help me with that, too?

I want to give you my stuff. (A craft kit giveaway!)

- – This giveaway is now closed. – -

Things are getting crazy here my friends. In less than one week I’ll be leaving Tokyo. We are sleeping on the tatami floor and our apartment is filled with half-filled boxes and suitcases. I’m trying to balance my days packing with adventures around town, but struggling. I still have many karaoke songs to sing. It is happening way too fast.packing sucks.Most of my time this past week has been dedicated to making our belongings disappear. Between the two of us we are allowed 106 kilos in luggage, which may seem like plenty but I assure it you it is not. I have been begging everyone I know to please take my hangers/toasters/fabric bits I can’t bear to throw out.  

And now it is your turn. Of the six boxes I am shipping overseas, three are filled with craft supplies. *gulp*

These didn’t make the cut simply because I already have a set. (O_O) It is best not to ask why I ended up with duplicates (craft happens, people!). But my craft closet tragedy is your gain … let’s do a giveaway!

Win these kits!Kits #1 and #2 are cell phone charms. They have bells and pretty Japanese fabric. Each kit comes with supplies to make 3 clown or owl charms. They could also double as cute holiday ornaments.Win these kits too!Kits #3 and #4 are “cute key holders!” made from beads. I have no idea how they come together, so you’ll have to tell me how it goes.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or on Instagram. Each comment is an entry, I’ll compile the comments, do a random selection, and ship four lucky winners each a kit. Comments close in 36 hours! (At midnight Nov 19th.) I’ll mail prizes on Wednesday Nov. 20th so winners, after you hear from me, please send me an address ASAP.

Thanks everyone! Now please, take my stuff.

Sweet Sayonaras

One of the things that transpired while I was on holiday was the final step in our plan to leave Japan.

It was a difficult decision and I struggle to explain why it suddenly feels like the right time. But, our jaunt in Tokyo was always meant to be temporary. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to live in and explore Japan, to have met so wonderful people, and to have spent my time doing things that I love: I started my own business and this blog, I learned how to sew my own clothing and how to speak Japanese, I now eat fish guts, play roller derby, and sing karaoke in public. I remember when I was on the plane flying to Tokyo — for the first time, to remain indefinitely — and I was served green tea. It tasted like dirt, and I panicked as I realized I couldn’t say more than arigatou. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Living outside of my element these few years has helped me to become more myself.

Shimokita side streets

And though I love my life here, the future awaits.

So I head westward! Toward the great city of New York to seek my fame and fortune resume my career in museum work. I’ll continue to embroider and sew and craft, so though the nature of this blog may change slightly, I’ll continue to share things that interest me, like sashiko, Japanese craft books, and the occasional bowl of ramen. Looking ahead, I’m excited to tap into all of the amazing resources New York offers, like the garment district and tacos.

There we have it. In 3 short weeks I’ll be on to my next thing. I hope you’ll come along!

To Tokyo, お世話になりました。本当にありがとうございました。

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ps, I’m having a moving sale in my shop – use the coupon code SALE35 for 35% off your purchase ($10 min). Thanks!