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


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!

Head Tube

I did it. It only took me a month, but it felt like forever.

head tube as a hat

I finished the hat/muffler/head tube I started on a whim last month when I was overtaken by the knitting bug. This certainly cured it. It wasn’t an unpleasant project to knit. I likened it to a sudoko puzzle: not difficult, but work. An inexplicable something you just have to do. I would curse my hat/muffler/head tube and Dan would suggest I just give up on it. My response, “Why would I do that? I’m having fun.”

knit pic

So after you have spent a month of your life knitting something, and you knit the final knit and put it on your head with excitement, turn to your spouse and ask, “How does it look?” What do you do when they say, “Well, it’s not really your style.”

Translation: “That thing is super ugly.”

There are many correct answers, of course. If you threw the head tube in his face, I’d say that is acceptable. I told him that actually, it was OK because I made it for him. And I hope he wears it everyday. Like this:

head tube

And of course he will.

Ps, ravelry notes here.

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

That’s a Wrap!

Sometimes bad wordplay is too good to avoid.

I completed my chunky scarf, and took it out for a walk on the warmest day we have had in Tokyo in the past few weeks. The scarf turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I’m delighted. And overheated.

Also, the Japan Times gets credit for breaking this story since my photo appeared on their website today along with a little article. You can check it out here.

Action Craft – Final Round!

The last shipment of blankets for Action Craft arrived a while back, and with all the excitement over our blog/japanniversaries, the photos got buried on the camera.  (oops.)  So, without further ado!

From Anne and Michelle in Maryland, USA

These baby blankets are so incredibly sweet.

Maybe it is my love affair with stripes, but I adore these blankets.  Thanks ladies!!