Summer Sashiko Season

Happy Marine Day everyone! Today is 海の日, a holiday to celebrate and give thanks for the sea. Many people use this 3-day weekend as an excuse for a beach vacation and to me it feels a bit like Memorial Day in the US — the weekend that marks start of summer festival season.

I love hanabi and matsuri season in Japan, and last year I posted this free sashiko pattern to celebrate. Hanabi, the Japanese word for fireworks, roughly translates to “fire flowers” though sometimes in Tokyo you’ll see fire shapes like fire Hello Kitty or fire sushi. No joke. I’m convinced that’s what I saw. 😉

fire flowersfire flowers free sashiko patternClick here to download the free PDF pattern.

Happy summer!

Shop sale!

A quick note to share the new kits I just posted in my web shop.

sashiko stash bust!Whew! Say that 5 times fast!

I’m cleaning out my craft closet, which means I gathered all my random bits and pattern pieces and put together some discounted surprise samplers. What fun! For me and hopefully for you, too.

This sashiko grab-bag includes everything you’ll need to make 4 coasters, including a surprise selection of patterns and fabrics. You’ll get a random yet well-coordinated assortment. Let’s get a little sampler-dangerous. 

What, you don’t think embroidery is dangerous and edgy? Then we need to spend more time together, and I’ll show you a stabbin’ dangerous time. (^_-)-☆

More info on the kits here. Thanks!

Tokyo Craft Guide ebook!

I am so thrilled to announce that the new and improved Tokyo Craft Guide is here! Well, it’s over here, but you know what I mean.

Tokyo Craft Guide ebook!

Beautifully illustrated by Hana of ilikesleeping, and researched and written by myself and the lovely Frances of Miss Matatabi, the Tokyo Craft Guide is packed full of our favorite off-the-beaten-track craft shops in Tokyo. We’re giving you all of our secrets, my friends. Six neighborhood maps help you navigate our curated lists of craft shops and cafes. We also throw in a few parks, temples, a ramen shop, and a few bars. But mostly we talk about crafts: over 50 shop listings describing what is special or unique about each shop, where to go for paper or fabric or yarn, who speaks English, and a few words of Japanese to help you in case they don’t.

sneak peek! Tokyo Craft Guide cafes and shops

I’ll still be offering the same free content from the previous Saké Puppets guide, it has simply moved over to the Tokyo Craft Guide blog. Over there we will be profiling larger shops like Yuzawaya and Tokyu Hands, and also posting interviews and craft events happening around Tokyo. But we’ve reserved the special stuff for the book: small, independantly-owned places, young shop owners who stock their friend’s creations, old shop owners who have been around for 50 years and stock beautiful vintage glass buttons — those are the places that make craft shopping in Tokyo so wonderful.

The Tokyo Craft Guide has amazing maps!

I’m in love with the illustrations in this book. Each map guides you on a treasure hunt, sending you into the neighborhood to find secret craft-gold. Also, never have I looked so relaxed or my bun looked so perfectly huge!

relaxed! via Tokyo Craft Guide and ilikesleeping

A special thanks to everyone who helped us on this project, and to those that were so patient waiting for its release. I’m really excited! Maybe I’ll celebrate by … shopping for fabric.  (@⌒ー⌒@)

Spring on Instagram

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!

Tokyo Craft Guide!

Tokyo Craft Guide!

Knot Funny

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.

store-bought mizuhiki

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.)

mizuhiki rainbowmizuhiki, in progress and finished

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.

mizuhiki steps

ps, you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin. (^_-)-☆