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. (^_−)−☆
Click 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.
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.
The 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.I 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.
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.
We 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 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!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
In the midst of the madness that is my overseas move, I decided to release two new sashiko patterns. Yessir! Inspired 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.
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.
The 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.
Both 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!
Hello dear friends. It has been too long! My confession: I was on holiday in New Zealand for a few weeks and, silly me, I thought I would have oodles of time to post about the crafts I brought with me and the new patterns I’m designing. As it turns out, vacationing is tough work! My days were busy and I returned to Tokyo with all of my projects still unfinished. I realize no one will feel an ounce of sympathy, but I had to plead my case.
We rented a small camper van and drove around NZ’s South Island, stopping at a different gorgeous location each night. We saw seals and penguins and whales, drove through avalanche zones and vineyards, and strategized our stops based on sunrises and sunsets. I learned to appreciate savory pies (steak and peas!) and found a favorite Marlborough sauvi.
I did get to do a bit of knitting. The cliff-sides and river banks dotted with sheep and newborn lambs had me inspired, and I marched straight into the first wool shop I could find for some locally-sourced merino. Cruellas in Nelson set me up with a pattern, yarn and needles, and kindly held my hand the next morning when I returned with many questions.
Others in our party found the sheep inspiring in a different way, and instead sought out the nearest grocer stocking lamb and mint sausages.
On our way back to Tokyo we stopped in Melbourne where I stocked up on Frankie magazines, merino knit jersey from The Fabric Store, and more yarn and patterns from Yarn + Co, a super hip yarn shop in Fitzroy. It was their neon accessories in the window that caught my attention, but the friendly owner, wall of alpaca yarns and huge couch had me there for quite a while.
It was an unforgettable trip. But now that I’m in Tokyo I am happy to be back at work! There are many exciting things happening here — I can’t wait to share them all with you!
We rented our van from Wilderness Motorhomes and had a great experience. I highly recommend them!
Yesterday I posted the result of my year-long endeavor with hitomezashi, the “one-stitch” style of sashiko done with alternating over-and-under stitches.
Today I thought I’d post a tutorial so you can try this style of sashiko at home. I bought a pre-printed pattern, but once I got going I realized it wasn’t necessary. Hitomezashi is straightforward, with alternating stitches on a grid. Much like knitting, the repeating pattern is easy to memorize and follow.
Let’s begin by drawing your grid onto your fabric. I made my lines 1/4″ apart. Draw lightly, you want these to wash out later, but you also don’t want them to wear off too soon.
Now you’ll simply follow a pattern, making one stitch per space on the grid.
Stitch all of the horizontal lines first, then proceed to stitch all of the vertical lines. In the end, your pattern will emerge!
I have broken the kaki no hana (persimmon flower) pattern down and isolated just the horizontal and vertical stitch lines in separate graphics. This pattern is done on a repeat, so you can make your project as large (or as tiny!) as you’d like. The key to remember is that as you work your line, you are always alternating stitches — one up, one down, one up, one down, and so on. If you skip a space on the grid, it will throw your whole pattern off.
Once complete, wash or spray your project with water to remove the grid lines. Hem or use bias tape on the edges for a nice finish.
You can create different designs by changing the patterns on the horizontal or vertical axis. Enjoy! I look forward to seeing your masterpieces!
Finishing this sashiko project was like a deep sigh of relief. Finally, I did it.
I bought this pre-printed pattern from Hobbyra Hobbyre last summer and have worked on it on-and-off since. This style of sashiko is called hitomezashi, or one-stitch sashiko. Hitomezashi is typically done on a grid with over-under stitches, each stitch and space equal in length and, if done neatly, is reversible. I know you think that is crazy talk, but I’ve seen it done and it is amazing. All you quilters and embroiderers out there know what I mean — typically the first thing I do when examining someone’s work is look at the back, right?! How do they hide all those ends? Well, I know how they do it; turns out I’m just lazy.
Needless to say, mine is not reversible. Hobbyra patterns (as well as Olympus) come printed on double-wide cotton, so you can fold and stitch through two layers or use the extra fabric to cover the ugly back when you are finished. This pattern is called kaki no hana, the flower of a persimmon.
This pre-printed pattern was a good introduction to hitomezashi, it just took me a long time to finish. I got bored and put it away, would pick it up again for a week or so, get bored, move on to something else …. you know how it goes. But now I’m so glad I saw it through.
* Update: want the pattern? Now you can find it here!