Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

In Japan women do the gifting on Valentine’s Day. Many make chocolates for their friends and sweethearts, which means that this time of year every 100 yen shop and supermarket is stocked with chocolate-making and wrapping paraphernalia. I’ve been ogling adorable, tiny, heart-shaped boxes for weeks.

The thing I discovered, however, is that for most people making chocolates means melting chocolates, then reshaping and decorating them with waxy sprinkles and frosting to make them all somewhat inedible.

I do not like frosting. Or sprinkles. Making chocolates is otherwise appealing, so at my local 100 yen shop I picked up a chocolate mold kit with foil wrappers, which I thought was a good compromise.

I used a double boiler to melt the chocolate then poured it into my mold. After an hour in the refrigerator they popped out easily. I wrapped them in foil, creating tiny hedgehogs, sheep, and cows. Gathered in the box, they look like they’ve been corralled into a barnyard.

chocolate molding supplies

pink sheep, hedgehogs, and cows

chocolate molding

Will you be my valentine?

chocolate barn yard

Happy Valentine's Day!

Then I added neon hearts and sparkle snowflakes to my photo, just in case it wasn’t sweet enough. Happy Valentine’s Day from Japan!

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

Shinkansen Felt Ornaments

One of the craft shops in my neighborhood is owned by a very old couple. They don’t always hear the bell ring when you enter the store so I often have to loiter, waiting for someone to emerge from the back room so I can make my purchase. The top shelf is covered by dust, but I pretend not to notice.

One of the perks of a shop like this is that their stock is old, and sometimes you come across an item that has been sold out elsewhere since 1987.

Shinkansen felt mascot

This Shinkansen (known as the “bullet train” in the US) felt mascot kit isn’t that old, but in this dusty shop is the only time I have seen it for sale anywhere. I thought they would make ideal Christmas tree ornaments, so over the holidays I dug out the kit.

Shinkansen felt ornaments

The kit includes die cut felt pieces (very cool), beads for wheels, embroidery floss and stuffing. The directions are easy since this kit is meant for children to complete in about a day.

kit contents

kit instructions

pieces

My favorite parts are the wheels. It took me a little time to figure out that the small felt pieces are actually glued on rather than stitched. Once I had that down, these were really fun to assemble. Sometimes you just need a little something easy to do while drinking all that eggnog at Christmas.

speedy little trains

For those of you who love speedy bullet trains as much as I do, Sanrio has a cute website full of free printables. Enjoy!

Sashiko Snowflake Ornament, a free pattern download

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Perhaps you’ve already finished your holiday crafting. Me? I’ll be stitching until 2 am on Christmas Eve. I do it every year, no matter how much planning or preparation I’ve put into my projects. Now I prefer it this way. A quiet Christmas eve, low lamp light, warm tea and hand stitching.

If you also want to hide with a stitching project, here is a little gift for you — a snowflake sashiko ornament pattern. (Click here to download the PDF.) Thanks for stopping by Saké Puppets! Wishing everyone a spirited winter holiday! ☆彡

sashiko snowflake

Clever Clover Pouch Helper

I stop by my neighborhood craft supply shop about once a week, usually to pick up something small like a zipper or to fondle the newly-arrived yarns. Occasionally I talk with the staff ladies because I can’t find something or they need me to pull a box off the high-reaches of the top shelf. The shop is tiny, and if your handbag is too big you’ll inevitably knock all of the knitting needles off the rack. Perhaps I speak from experience.

While on a recent visit, gazing at the dusty top shelf, the secrets of which only I know, I found this — a Clover zippered-pouch template.

Pouch Template Shell: Easily make original pouches! Yes, please.

Clever Clover Helper

The kit includes a plastic template and instructions for making various zippered pouches. The tracing wheel reminded me a little bit of Spirograph, but without the ripped paper and 7-year-old-style cursing.

the templates

7 patterns for 7 pouches

Using the template, you can easily and beautifully draw 7 different patterns.

Drafting difficult curves with the template is easy and fast! Accurately draw a 1 cm sewing allowance.

pouches. pieces.

I feel like I have unlocked the secrets of the pouch-making universe.

Each pattern (A-G) is matched with an appropriate length zipper and template pieces, which you trace around and mark onto your main fabric and lining. The templates include marking points for pinning zippers, pleats, and pockets. The green tracing wheel creates a 1 cm sewing allowance and cutting line.

tracing

pieces

I started with pattern A for a standard pouch. About an hour later, I had a little zipper bag in adorable Kokka Dutch Door Press fabric from my friend Miss Matatabi.

pouch

pouch

Open wide and say pouch.

Admittedly, the lining could use some work. Hopefully by pattern G I’ll be a pro.

On to the next pouch I go!

English Craft Club, Sunday December 9th

The last of the year, friends!

English Craft Club Christmas Quilting

English Craft Club will meet near Sangenjaya on Sunday, December 9th. We’ll be making the Ohio Star quilt block , the last in our quilting series. We’ll learn basic hand-sewing methods, and I’ll also review how to finish a quilt and binding techniques. Your quilt blocks can be saved for a larger quilt project, or made into a Christmas star placemat!

This English Craft Club will have a special holiday theme! While sewing, we’ll enjoy lots of  Christmas music, cookies, and cocoa for some fun holiday cheer.

In the spirit of the holiday season, the class fee is discounted to 3000 yen per person! I hope you’ll join us!

楽しく英語を勉強するクラブです!このクラスにキルトを縫いながら、様々な表現や英単語を楽しく勉強していきます。楽しく英会話をしませんか。

参加費には以下の内容が含まれます。

  • クラフトに使用する材料(型紙、布、針、糸、その他道具)
  • 英語の教材(ペーパー)、クラフトの単語集など。
  • コーヒー、ココア、紅茶、クッキーやケーキ

The English Craft Club に参加をご希望の方は、sakepuppets@gmail.comでご連絡下さい。ご質問もお気軽にどうぞ(英語・日本語どちらでも結構です)

参加費 : ¥3000 –> クリスマスの割引があります!
場所:三軒茶屋

Class Details

  • Class time is 13:00-14:30, though you are welcome to stay until 15:00 to finish projects or just chat for fun!
  • All craft materials and snacks are provided. No quilting experience is necessary!
  • Native English speakers and English students are all welcome. Vocabulary notes are provided for students if necessary.

Other questions? Email me at sakepuppets@gmail.com. Thanks!

ps. If this Japanese is atrocious, please forgive me.

Maker Faire Tokyo, Day 1

Maker!

Maker Faire Tokyo got off to a rip-roarin’ robotin’ start. The Craft room on the 7th floor of the The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation was buzzing all day with workshops, hands-on crafts, chatter, and a constant stream of visitors. I decorated a plaque at the Etsy craft table because I found some pom poms that really needed to be glued to something. This, my friends, is the beauty of Maker Faire.

I didn’t get a chance to explore the rest of the building, and had just a peek at the other tables around me. Organs and sea creatures made of yarn, embroidered computer components, iPhone holders and hacks, games, accessories, and a giant balloon that was maybe a jelly fish? I’m looking forward to a bit of quiet time before the doors open tomorrow to get to know my neighbors better. There are some very cool things to look at.

Also, tomorrow I’ll be holding a sashiko deco tissue-case workshop in the afternoon. Materials cost just 500 yen! If you’re in Odaiba tomorrow, please come by and say hello!

Sashiko!

Kawaii! Harukaze Designs

Etsy Japan

Sashiko Gift Guide

The holiday season ’tis upon us again. Tokyo is blanketed in tiny LED lights and Colonel Sanders has donned his holiday Santa hat. The Christmas spirit and the smell of fried chicken are in the air!

My web shop will be offering Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials again this year, so I encourage you to take a peek! For all orders placed between Friday, November 23rd and Monday, November 26th use coupon code CHEER to receive 10% off your order and to receive a special little surprise gift in the package. It might be edible. It will definitely be weird. Orders will ship Tuesday morning and will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.

Need a little help with your holiday shopping? I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a holiday helper guide. Friends, see if you can guess which one of these are you.

For the Crafty Teen :: Maybe they’re too smart for their own good, or maybe they just like to glue sh*t to other sh*t. Perfect for the girl who loves to mix and match accessories and colors and multi-color nail polish. Or for the full-grown woman who also loves these things, including dressing like a teen.

The DIY Brooch Kit, $15

For the Busy Mom :: They love to create but have troubling finding the time, because, you know, they are busy keeping tiny humans alive. These sashiko kits come with all the materials needed for a full project, and are easy to start, set aside, pick back up again, and finish by dim lamp light in the middle of the night.

The Genki Sashiko Coasters (Set of 4) DIY Embroidery Kit, $25

For the Friend Who Always Throws a Better Party Than You :: Wine parties, knitting parties, and impromptu I-just-threw-this-delicious-hotdish-together parties, she does it all. This friend enjoys creating a fun atmosphere for her loved ones and is very good at it, so the special touches really matter.

Traditional Sashiko Coasters, Set of 4, $40

For the Girl Who is Just a Friend :: You don’t want to give the wrong impression, like the time you gave her holiday-themed socks and you found yourself in an awkward position. You also know ladies love presents and you don’t want to take the heat the next time you introduce her to your new girlfriend, and she tells New Girlfriend how awful you are at gift-giving. Because you care enough to say you know she knows you care how she looks.

The Sashiko Pocket Mirror, $20

For the Inoffensive Coworker :: You like your colleagues but perhaps you don’t know much about them. Or maybe you do and pretend you don’t. A hand-stitched gift for an inoffensive coworker is the perfect way to say, “Have a fine holiday. But not too much fun that you run off and leave me with all this work.” Also, these ornaments are fun to make, so you might as well get something out of the deal.

Sashiko Starry Night DIY Felt Ornament Kit, $20

Works In Progress: A little knitting goes a long way.

A classmate asked me to teach her how to knit. During a self-introduction exercise where I said my new hobby was sewing clothing, she asked me to teach her to knit a scarf. Sure, I follow the logic.

It has been a long time since I knit something. We went to the craft shop together and bought all the materials we’d need for chunky scarves. I’ve never done that for a knitting project before. It was quite satisfying. The weather is turning chilly and it’s an overcast morning, quite right for a knit.

Have you started cool weather knitting? What are you making?!

A shirt and a sneaky huntsman

I made this shirt and I don’t love it.

I loved making it, but wearing it is another story. This is one of my hesitations with sewing clothes — what if you spend all that time making something, and in the end it’s not meant to be? I know that alterations can help, and with experience I will hopefully learn how a garment is constructed and can change it to fit my shape. But until then, I have this shirt.

It’s not terrible. I put it on and I still smiled. After this photo was taken I was going to change into something else, but forgot and had to dash off to class. Both me and the shirt survived.

This was actually a practice shirt for some lovely Nani iro flannel I bought from Miss Matatabi, a fabric seller here in Japan. This practice fabric is some cotton I bought for cheap in Fabric Town, only because it has sneaky huntsman.

The pattern is Wiksten Tova, and the fit wasn’t quite right for me. It is a perfectly decent pattern with easy-to-follow instructions, but I learned that this style of shirt isn’t for me. I might be the only person in sewing-blog land to say that. Sorry everyone out there. Maybe I’ll try it again someday, but I’ll be ready to try some alterations. It’s not you Tova, it’s me. Let’s just be friends.

Have any of you made this shirt? Did you alter the pattern? I’m curious to hear!