Book Review Series: Fabrigami

Hi friends! I have another sneak peek from Tuttle PublishingFabrigami: The Origami Art of Folding Cloth To Create Decorative and Useful Objects.

Fabrigami via SakéPuppets.comThis 80-page book provides project instructions for turning fabric into folded treasures. It begins with a short introduction of the birth of Fabrigami — origami artists started to experiment with fabric, and Fabrigami was the name they gave it. Ah, duh. The author then divulges the Secret Formula for stiffening your fabric so it is workable like paper:

Fabrigami via SakéPuppets.comSorry, no reveal of the Secret Formula here! All I’ll tell you is…it looks messy. Which means kids will love the Secret Formula.

The projects proceed similarly to other origami books, with step-by-step illustrations guiding you through each fold. I’d say the book leans more decorative than useful, but let’s get real here — is any origami useful?

That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

Fabrigami via SakéPuppets.comI understand the appeal of using fabric rather than paper. It keeps longer and would hold up better as an ornament or keepsake, and the possibilities for texture and print are limitless. But paper can be nice, too. So for me it goes either way, and honestly, I think you could use these patterns for both.

I leave you with this:

Fabrigami via SakéPuppets.comI’m telling you, kids (and immature grown-ups) will love this book.

Stay tuned, because next week I’ll be giving a copy away!

This book was provided by Tuttle Publishing for review, but opinions are all my own. Thanks!

Book Review Series: Wrapping with Fabric

Book Review: Wrapping with FabricTuttle Publishing specializes in English-language books on Asia, and has produced some great translated craft books from Japan. Recently they asked if I was interested in looking at a couple. Yes, please!

The first is Wrapping with Fabric: Your Complete Guide to Furoshiki, The Japanese Art of Wrapping. This 112-page full color book covers the basics of furoshiki — history, basic knots, gift wrapping and easy carry-all bags — but it goes further with some really imaginative ideas. I’ve picked up my fair share of free furoshiki handouts over the years, and this book provides instructions for wrappings I’ve never before seen: how to carry a yoga mat or wet umbrella, methods for covering a handbag (for protection or ugliness?!), and my personal favorite, the watermelon wrapping:

How to wrap a watermelon, from Wrapping with Fabric, Tuttle Publishing via SakéPuppets.comThis might be the most Japanese thing I have ever seen. When you pay $100 for a watermelon, you better be sure it’s wrapped, y’all.

Also, it seems the author and I have a little something else in common:

Wrapping with Fabric, Tuttle Publishing via SakéPuppets.comWrapping with Fabric, Tuttle Publishing via SakéPuppets.comDrinks, drinks, double drinks.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and was eager to give one of the projects a spin. I started with the simple bottle gift wrap — because sometimes I give my hooch away and cheap wine looks much better with a classy wrap. Also, I was worried that my botched first-try wrap-job might send this bottle crashing into the street, so better to start slowly with a singlet.

Wrapping with Fabric, Tuttle Publishing via SakéPuppets.comFuroshiki test, via SakéPuppets.comThe result? Not bad! A little more chaotic than the book promises, but certain to wow any crowd of semi-tipsy pot-luckers.

Wrapping with Fabric, Tuttle Publishing via SakéPuppets.comNot surprising, but the key to a successful fabric wrap is all in the fabric. Thankfully this is something the book covers generously. My trusty polyester Japan Society furoshiki was ideal — thin and smooth but not slippery like silk can be. I also appreciated the book’s coverage of wrapping etiquette, tips that would have been useful while living in Japan. Apologies to all those I offended with backward knots.

If you are looking to enhance your furoshiki game, this book is a good choice. Need supplies? I love the designs from Link Collective, who I met at an Etsy event in Tokyo. You can also embroider or sashiko simple cotton fabric using one of my patterns, available for download here.

And lastly, you can find more information about Wrapping with Fabric on Tuttle’s website or on Amazon. Happy wrapping!

Wrapping with Fabric, Tuttle Publishing via SakéPuppets.com

This book was provided by Tuttle Publishing for review, but opinions are all my own. Thanks!

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.

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

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!

Ahoy!

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.

New Zealand sceneryI 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.

New Zealand sheepOthers 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.

New Zealand and Melbourne craft-capadesIt 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!