Maybe it is my lack of green garden space or maybe this time of year just brings out the felt-freak in me, but I pulled out my cute veggies and fruits books again.
Last year I made some tomatoes, onions, carrots, and posted a tutorial for mushrooms. Any guesses on what these shapes might become?
It may seem like things here at Saké Puppets have been quiet, but on the other side of the Internet curtain I’ve been busy — drafting sashiko patterns, summer sewing, and … drumroll please … finishing up my Tokyo Craft Guide ebook! Woot!
Wrapping up our book has meant a lot of meetings over lattes and days with proof pages scattered across the tatami floor. If you follow me or Tokyo Craft Guide on Instagram you may have already seen some of our behind-the-scenes snap shots. Enjoy a glimps of spring in Tokyo, and see you all back here again very soon!
I can’t believe it took me so long to think of this.
A basic plastic iphone case I bought at the 100 yen shop covered in some of my favorite mt tape. I wouldn’t trust these cases to save my phone from a major drop, but they look pretty cool in all their neon glory.
Special occasion cards in Japan have these cool wire bows on them. They are shaped like cranes or flowers and can get pretty elaborate. Cards like these are meant to hold money, and you can buy a simple one at any 100 yen shop or convenient store, or spend a small fortune on one to hold the small fortune that is your gift.
When I first moved to Japan I noticed this type of packaging and thought it was neat, but then gradually I stopped thinking about them. They are commonplace and like fermented beans for breakfast or Auld Lang Syne at closing time, I’ve come to accept their existence without question. On the few occasions when I have needed to buy a fancy card, I asked the shop keeper to help me pick out something appropriate so I wouldn’t accidentally give a funeral card to someone on their wedding day. (Though, that thought is a little funny.)
Dan and I recently went to Nagano and were invited to a craft class to learn mizuhiki, this fancy bow art. Mizuhiki are made from cords of tightly wound washi paper that is starched and colored and twisted into shapes. They were popularized during the Edo era as samurai hair accessories and are now used as decoration to convey well wishes. Our sensei told us to choose three colored cords and because I am a cocky over achiever I chose four. We opted to make bookmarks, followed the instructions printed for us and were left alone to figure it out.
The trick is to maintain the same order of your colors throughout the design, even through the curves and weaving. Tighten one too much and it pops out of place and then you have to loosen the entire thing to right it again. Let me assure you, it is harder than it looks.
ps, you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin. (^_－)－☆
One of my favorite stores in Japan is Muji. I want to be surrounded by linen and organizational shelves always. I was at the Yurakucho location last week when I wandered across this:Stamps. So many stamps.
For those who aren’t familiar with Muji, their concept is brand-less minimalism. You can buy stuff to hide your stuff you want to pretend you didn’t buy.
I get a lot of stationary supplies at Muji because I like the kraft paper style I can cover in washi tape, and I have so much washi tape I have to put it somewhere. This stamp setup is a touch of genius on Muji’s part. They encourage you to buy your notebooks before stamping and then come back into the store to decorate them. The stamp table is next to the bakery which is next to the cafe. Before you know it you are there all day. Not that I speak from experience or anything.The notebooks are inexpensive and the stamp table feels welcoming and accessible. My only reservation is that this whole thing is too similar to one of my favorite specialty stationary stores, DBROS. Check this out, from their website:Hrmm. I love DBROS, but admittedly their shop is intimidating. I rarely use their stamps because I am nervous I will make something ugly and the very hip shop staff will smile at me too encouragingly. But their stamps are more interesting and they have iPhone cases and really high quality papers to chose from.
The stamp styles at Muji and DBROS are so similar it made me wonder if they are a collaboration, but a quick google search has led nowhere. I’ll keep investigating. In the meantime, what do you think? Is the Muji stamp for everyman a good thing? The similarities between then two certainly made me uncomfortable, but did not stop me from decorating a 100 yen notebook I didn’t really need.
While visiting the Kawaii Nunohaku craft fair last month I bought two small pieces of fabric from a Kamakura-based shop owner. The fabric was a beautiful pairing and I knew right away that I wanted to use them in a scarf.
I know nothing about these fabrics except that the colorful one is incredibly soft and light, is screen or maybe woodblock printed, and the other is linen. It might be hand-printed, too. I decided to make a circle scarf like the one I saw on Miss Matatabi’s site. I cut each piece into two 12″ by 30″ rectangles and sewed the short ends together. Following the directions here, I sewed the two fabrics together along their long edges then turned the scarf right-side-out, hiding the seams and pressing it crisp. I joined the remaining short ends and finished it with hand-stitching.
I’m really pleased.
I’m really excited to share the news — I’m writing a book!
My friend Frances of Miss Matatabi and I have joined forces to put together the Tokyo Craft Guide, an ebook showcasing our favorite Tokyo craft shops, cafes, and project tutorials.
We have accumulated a list of over 50 craft stores (!!) and organized them in a series of craft-shopping-excursions complete with illustrated neighborhood walking maps, shop highlights, and favorite cafe spots. It is like a treasure map with the best kind of treasure – fabric! ribbon! buttons!
The idea for the Tokyo Craft Guide was born when we realized our favorite independently-owned craft stores are sometimes hard to find. They require extra effort to get to, but when you do you’re rewarded with lovely nooks of fabric, supplies and project inspiration, each with its own character or style. This is the type of experience we want to share.
The Tokyo Craft Guide ebook will be available next month, and in the meantime you can visit our blog for additional shop profiles, events and interviews. Much of the content I have offered previously on Saké Puppets will move over there and get a much-needed update, so fear not! You can also find photos and Japanese craft chatter on our Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
We’re really excited to finally share this project with you! Please take a look, and thanks!!
Spring has taken hold of me. I ate two sakura-flavored mochi today. No lie.
Every year I put out a sakura-themed sashiko kit because I think sakura and sashiko are such as lovely little pair. And they are fun to say. Go ahead and try it: sakura sashiko sakura sashiko sakura sashiko. Catchy, right?This year I designed a pouch kit. These metal squeeze clasps are a new discovery for me and they are great. Easy to use, the metal clasp stays closed tightly and makes such an interesting and unexpected detail.This sashiko kit is easy to assemble in an afternoon and can be sewn entirely by hand. It is a great kit for beginner embroiderers, too. The finished pouch is 5″ by 6 1/2″ (125 mm by 165 mm), perfect for cosmetics, jewelry, small toys or treasures. Both small and large sakura patterns are included so you can design the layout yourself, and the pouch can be made with flat or boxed corners, your choice!
You can find the kits here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
I am in love with Kokka’s new fabric Candy Party Tsuzuki. When Miss Matatabi gave me a few chunks I jumped right in and made this tiny punky needle book. Then … I stalled out. I put it on my desk and stared at it. I was dizzy with infatuation. What to do next? Do I cut it up and re-piece it, or do I use the pattern as-is? I thought about making a skirt but decided that is too bold, even for me, even for Tokyo. I considered a clutch, a backpack, more zipper pouches. I wanted something big to show off every combination of patterns I could muster.
My laptop needed dressing up, it was an ideal match. Now, when I dig into my shoulder bag I see my Candy Party laptop gettin’ down in there.
This envelope-style laptop case is a combination of the pink-gold and blue-lilac colorways pieced together. I think it rocks, so much so that I ordered more of the purple-mint. What next?!
After paying proper respect to my old sewing needles at the harikuyou 針供養 festival, I started to feel bad about how I treat my other needles. Usually they are scattered on my desk, with random bits of string left threaded to help me find them when they drop to the floor. They deserve a happier place to live.
I whipped up this needle book using the new Kokka fabric Candy Party Tsuzuki, a gift from my friend Miss Matatabi. I bought the button months ago because fancy zebras are awesome.
I am really excited about this fabric. Triangles and neon and sparkles. Yes! It’s like Harajuku wrapped up in a little fabric bow: super sweet and a bit punky.
I put a pocket in the back to hold my Japanese needles because their packaging is just too lovely not to keep. They are from my friend Inna who really knows her needles. They be fancy.
How do you store your needles?