Action Craft, Thoughts

Hello all!  I’m expecting another box of blankets, so while I was hoping to wow you with another batch of photos today, it looks like I’ll have to keep you in suspense a bit longer.

I want to tell everyone again how delighted I am by the response to this little Call-to-Acton-Craft.  I’m overwhelmed (in the good way) by the generosity of everyone who participated. Together, we’ve created 32 new handmade blankets for tsunami and earthquake survivors here in Japan.  That is, 32 and counting…

As to where they are headed — it’s still in the works.  I’ve got a few leads and we’re ironing out the details.  More info on that to come, I promise.

I had a great time making my quilt for this project.  It felt good to make something for someone else, not knowing who might receive it.  I thought a lot about who might need a small quilt and how they might use it — for a baby, or picnics, or folded up as a pillow or floor cushion.  It feels good to work hard on something then send it off into the world, its future unknown.

I also enjoyed making a quilt with such strict rules.  I told myself not to buy anything new, to use only supplies I already had at home.  This really limited my choices and as a result my quilt came together quickly, which was really satisfying.  (And now I can buy more fabric under the pretense that I’ll do it again someday!)  I enjoyed the process so much, I might actually make another.

Thanks again to everyone who sent blankets — good work, team!

Psst — find a Flickr photo gallery of all the blankets here, and more Action Craft info here.

Another Round of Action Craft

From Cheri and Laura in Minnesota, USA

This was Cheri’s first quilt.  Splendid!

From Jamie and her mother in Minnesota, USA

This quilt was painted and pieced years ago by Jamie’s mother, then folded up and left forgotten.  It was resurrected by Jamie and finished by my mom — truly a community effort.  I love how Alaska has its own block amidst all the other countries (top center).  🙂

Per usual, you can find a Flickr photo gallery of all the blankets here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

Action Craft, All in the Family

If you’ve ever wondered where I got my crafty genes, well —

From my mom, in Minnesota

From my aunt Missy, in Minnesota

They made these together and — get this — they’re both first-time quilters.  Beginner’s luck?  I think not.  Those are skillz, ladies.  Better yet — it was Missy’s first time using a sewing machine.  What?!

From Lynn in Minnesota

Lynn is like a second Mom, and has showered me with handmade gifts my entire life.  Maybe some of that talent wore off on me?  I’m quite proud to admit I got her hooked on Etsy — check out her shop.  The-beer-and-peanut-proof baseball game gear is the best.

More Action Craft love from Minnesota tomorrow.

Psst — photo gallery here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

More Action Crafts

From (my aunt!) Mickey in Minnesota, USA

I’ve never seen a quilt like this before!  It looks like Mickey made circle “blocks” then stitched them together, flattened the flaps, and tacked the flaps down using a fancy blanket stitch. (The reverse side of this quilt is all the same blue as the flaps.)

Mickey, am I right?  Does this design have a name?  Do tell!

From Susan in Minnesota, USA

Susan embroidered sweet messages in the corners.  Lovely!

Again, check out photos of all the Action Craft quilt and blanket donations here, and for more info on the project, try the link here.

Special thanks to my handsome model husband — handsome model, or model husband?  You decide.  (Hint, it’s both.)

More quilts tomorrow!

Action Crafts, cont.

Another batch of blankets for Action Craft:

From my friend Molly in Minnesota, USA

Molly has made me a few blankets over the years, and I spy some bits and pieces of leftover yarn in these.  I love it.

It must be a family affair over there! From Molly’s mom, Nancy, also in Minnesota

Beautiful.  I love this bundle of color.

It doesn’t stop there! Molly’s aunt also sent blankets. From Denise in Illinois, USA

Nice work, ladies!

You can see photos of all the donated Action Craft blankets on Flickr, and in previous posts here and here.

Still more to come…

Craft Otaku

I think I’m a craft otaku.

I just realized it, just this very moment.  Is this how it happens for everyone?  Otakus out there, please show me the way.  Not in person of course–just leave me a comment or point me to a message board or something.  Ack!

I’ve been working on a post about my craft adventures from this past weekend, when I visited 6 shops in 2 days. Though, I was at another shop today which brings my average down to 1.4 shops per day.  This week at least.

While recalling the details of my craft adventures I realized the passion I felt for these shops was a bit unnatural.  I took extensive notes and photographs, thumbed fabrics, and drooled over embroidery kits.  I praised the shops for their specialized, well-curated collections of vintage scissors.  I applauded them for only stocking the highest quality items.  I’m a craft snob.

Today I was chatting with a friend about what to do with all the kawaii needle-felted creatures and amigurumi for which I feel an intense need to collect.  She suggested a wunderkammer and I instantly agreed, and was reminded of all the little glass cabinets I’ve seen around Tokyo for people to store their manga and anime figurines.  And then it dawned on me:

I’m a craft otaku, and I want a wunderkammer for my amigurumi.  (>人<)


Action Craft is well underway! I’ve received a few shipments of quilts already and I’ve gotten word more are on the way. Keep up the great work, friends! I’ll be photographing the quilts and posting updates here, so keep an eye out for that.

Yesterday I realized we were getting close to the end-of-April deadline I set, and I had yet to start my quilt. Insert nervous-guilty face. So I went digging into my fabric stash, and ended up with this:

I made Dan a tie instead. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and I had a beautiful chunk of Liberty fabric just sitting around.  This tie begged me to make it.

Pro·craf·ti·nation (v.) to delay or postpone one craft with the commencement of another; to put-off doing something with a deadline by making something else for fun

The last time we were in Pennsylvania visiting family, Dan found a stash of his dad’s old ties and pocketed a few. I must have married into a stylish family, because these ties are hip. Not vintagey or trendy, but with some sort of timeless style.  They’re skinny with a square end, which is such a great detail. I could make a joke about square being hip, but perhaps I’ll spare you.

Dan’s mom got word of the tie trend in our house, and sent me a stained one and a seam ripper.

The vintage labels are amazing.  Bonwit Teller?  Where did you go with your classy top hat?  This tie was easy and really fun to make, I even enjoyed the hand-sewing. When I presented it to him (thinly veiling my pure glee), Dan called it “festive” which I choose to interpret as a positive thing. Must not be so bad, since he wore it to work today.

But back to Action Quilt — I did manage to stitch a few pieces together:

Now, back to sewing … or tie-making, or blogging, or grocery shopping or a trip to the post office, or maybe some more sashiko…

Action Craft and #Quakebook

First things first — thanks for all the interest and support for the Action Craft Blankets for Japan project!  It sounds like we’ll have quilts and knitted blankets coming from all over the United States, which is great news.  I’m very touched by all the kind words and generosity, and excited to see what everyone sends over!

A few people have asked what they can do for Japan even if they don’t craft.  Money never hurts.  There are a lot of organizations sending aid into Japan now, so I suggest looking around for one with a mission that you feel strongly about — food banks, temporary shelters, architecture and design for rebuilding, medical aid — check here for many options.

Another great project is #quakebook, a Twitter-sourced compilation of stories and images from earthquake and tsunami survivors,  available soon as a digital publication and later in print.  All revenue from the sale of the book go directly to the Japanese Red Cross Society.  For more information on 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake, check out the link here.  A friend has been working like crazy doing the editing, and I’ve heard nothing but positive things from her about the experience.  Sounds like an interesting project, so I encourage you to check it out.

Life in Tokyo is settling down again.  Lights remain dim, about half of the escalators and vending machines around my neighborhood are turned off.  The local grocery store limits bottled water to one-per-person, but there are plenty available for purchase.  Milk, eggs, bread and rice have all returned to store shelves.  Earthquakes are less frequent, which makes me wonder if they are back to their usual frequency though I’m just more attune to them now.

I’ve returned to my usual daily duties, running errands around town without difficulty.  Dan and I were even lucky to visit Nagoya this weekend, where we stayed with a friend and her parents, visited festivals, found cherry blossoms in bloom, and ate our way through the weekend.  It was really fantastic, and I promise to post more details and photos soon.

Until then, a glimpse of Spring…

Action Craft!

I’ve been back in Tokyo for a few days now.  From my walks around the neighborhood, it is hard to say whether it is quiet or if it’s just my imagination.  Dan reports business as usual at his office, though says his coworkers are less lively than normal.  We both get the feeling that people just aren’t going out as much, instead staying home to conserve energy and resources.  Tokyo with its lights off feels a little sad, though it seems temporary.

I’ve been thinking about what I can do to help.  I want to head north, pick up a hammer or lug boxes, but right now it’s best to let the trained aid workers do their thing without interruption.  And who are we kidding — if I went now, I’d be a blubbering mess.  Those who know me know that I’m pretty good at crying.  I can’t help it, I’m a weeper.  Emerging stories by survivors are amazing and necessary, but heart-wrenching.  Right now, I can help everyone by helping from afar.

I thought about sending a percentage of the proceeds from my web shop to a local charity, but I decided I didn’t want my giving to be dependent on how much I sell.  I’d rather just give something, no strings attached.

Then today it hit me — I can stitch.

Before I moved to Japan I bought this book, Quilting for Peace.  It includes stories about people making quilts for survivors of tragedies, and about how small quilts and blankets, when given to people in need, provide enormous comfort.  I remember one story in particular — about a group of women who made small quilts for their local fire station to have at the ready when a family lost their home and everything in it.  Imagine standing on the curb watching your house go up in smoke, and someone hands you a homemade blanket rather than one of those scratchy synthetic ones.

So that is what I can do.  For now, at least.

And then it occurred to me — I’m a crafty gal with crafty friends.  I bet if I ask nicely, a bunch of you could do the same…  How about it?!  Let’s make some blankets!

Interested?!  Great!  Here are the details —

The plan: Make small kid-sized or lap-sized blankets to send to an evacuation shelter, hospital or school in a tsunami-affected area of Japan.  I’ll do the research, and maybe recruit my Japanese friends to help me find a location.  I’ll keep you all informed as plans develop.

What you, crafty friends and family, can do: Make a small blanket and send it to me.  I know some of you quilt, others knit or croquet — anything works!  Think roughly 36 inches by 48 inches (90 cm x 120 cm), try not to go bigger than that, smaller is OK too.  Be creative!  Feel free to use up scraps!  Tied quilts, machine-pieced, embroidered or not, whatever!  This is a great excuse for those of you who have been wanting to try quilting.  If you need help, send me a message and I’ll walk you through it.  I’ll also try to dig up some tutorials and easy patterns. (For starters, check here.) Please send your blanket freshly washed.

Also, include a hand-written note for the recipient.  Tell them where you live, send a photo or drawing if you’d like.  I’ll translate the notes, gather the goods, and see that they are delivered to a proper location.  If you fancy, I’ll also take photos of the blankets to put on this blog, so everyone participating can see what’s been sent and share encouragement.

Let’s keep this quick, and shoot for a deadline of one month from now.  Try to place your blanket in the mail by the end of April, bonus points if you can get it to me by the 30th.  For questions or a shipping address, contact me at sakepuppets(at)gmail(dot)com.  Also, why don’t you leave a comment and tell us what you’re working on!  All are invited to participate, old friends and new!

Good luck, happy stitching, and がんばって!