&Stitches e-zine (and giveaway!)

Update: We’re no longer accepting entries for this giveaway. Winners will be announced later today. Thanks!

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Recently the quarterly e-zine &Stitches asked me to contribute to their Asia-inspired issue, and I happily accepted! I provided a short background and tutorial on my favorite Japanese craft, sashiko.

&Stitches is a digital magazine focused on modern embroidery. My sashiko tutorial in this quarter’s issue includes the traditional seigaiha pattern, or blue ocean waves.

The e-zine contains lots of other great stuff too, including embroidery tutorials, patterns, book reviews and interviews, including one by Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, whose cheeky patterns helped me rediscover embroidery almost 10 years ago (whoa!). I’ve already devoured the entire issue and enjoyed flipping through the lovely, really colorful photographs. You can check out the &Stitches Facebook page or click on over to their blog to pick up a copy. Use code momiji during check out to receive a 10% discount on your zine purchase, valid through July 7th. Along with the issue you’ll also receive a coupon for free shipping until July 15th on any purchase in my Etsy shop.

But better yet, you can win a free copy! The fine ladies at &Stitches have offered to giveaway two issues to readers of this blog. Leave a comment here before midnight Thursday July 5th Tokyo time, and I’ll use a random number generator to select two lucky readers. Talk about happy stitchin’!

You can also check out the Saké Puppets Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or peek at my online Etsy shop, where new fabrics and patterns are being updated. Thanks!

P.S. I should note that &Stitches hails from the UK, where the term “oriental” doesn’t have the same connotations as it can in American English. It goes without saying that the &Stitches team is excited about introducing their readers to embroidery styles from around the world.

A Craft Picnic in the Park

Sunday afternoon was a lovely day in Tokyo. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze, and the English Craft Club gathered for embroidery lessons and brownies under the shade of a huge somei yoshino cherry tree in Shinkuku Gyoen.

We embroidered tea towels, and after practicing stitches on scrap muslin, we transferred patterns to our towels to finish at home. I imported (translation: my mom shipped them to me) flour sack towels from the US. The towels were way too big for a Japanese kitchen, so I cut them in half, hemmed the sides and added a loop for hanging on a hook.

Other women occasionally meandered by, close enough to peek at what were were doing. They left us with approving bows.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us! The next English Craft Club gathering will be on June 10th, and we’ll be making accessories quilt blocks (sorry about that!) and will be learning all sorts of new craft vocabulary (click here for details). Hope to see you there!

Badge of Honor

I’d like to share my new favorite craft book.

embroidery emblem. It’s a small book with gorgeous photography. I’ve spent far more time looking through the pages of this lovely book than actually crafting the projects in it. I love the style. No wildflowers or calico cats here, my friends.

Though this jellyfish is totally rad, I’ve become enamored with the monogrammed emblems. I love the idea of wearing a personalized badge. Mine will say A — maybe for Angela, maybe for Awesome. Or Awkward. It’s hard to tell.

First, the photo spread:

Then a pattern and stitch guide:

Most of the patterns are a little advanced, with stitches I’ve never tried before. But even so, I managed to poke out a few gifts for friends. Here are the fan photos they sent me:

These were fun to make and easy to customize. It didn’t take me long to go off pattern…

I think I’ll wear my heart [badge] on my sleeve.

Saké Puppets at BHG.com

Etsy and Better Homes and Gardens teamed up to create a list of handmade gifts for the holidays, and Saké Puppets’ Tea-for-Two DIY Sashiko Kit was featured in their roundup!

I’m delighted and honored to be included! I also love many of the other projects, and am planning to try a few for myself , like the tea set or sewing kit in a jar — so handy!

You can find other projects online or in their November issue. Thanks again, BHG!

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!

New Year, New Bags (and a giveaway!)

~ This giveaway is no longer accepting entries.  Scroll down to see who won! ~

Happy New Year and あけましておめでとうございます everyone!  In addition to wandering the streets of Tokyo in the middle of the night, I’ve decided that what 2011 really needs is a new stock of bags in my web shop.  Hooray for 2011!

Maybe you resolved to be a bit more organized?  Or want to treat yourself for surviving 78-straight hours of family?  Well, it’s your lucky day year!

And what better way to start a new year than to give things away.   That’s right dear readers, in honor of the Year of the Rabbit 卯 I’ve whipped up two (let the record show that I wanted to make 2,011…) polka-dot, sashiko-clad, bunny-lined zipper bags that are just hopping mad for some new homes:

If you’d like a chance at one, leave me a comment by 12:00 midnight EST USA time on January 4th (that’s 2 pm, January 5th Tokyo time).  Maybe tell me your predictions for 2011 (Zombies take over the world and finally rid us of teen vampire movies?  Yay!), or perhaps something you’d like to see on this blog (more ramen photos? OK!), or just a little note to say “Hi, friend.”  I’ll use the random number generator to select TWO winners, lucky you!  And you!

Fine print: One entry per person/e-mail address. The winners will be selected using random.org and announced as an update to this post, so come back here for the announcement.  Items can be shipped worldwide.  Good luck!


And the winners are… commenters 15 & 9!  Congrats to Nick and Bridget, and a special thanks to everyone for their comments, predictions, and notes!  Keep an eye on Saké Puppets for more giveaways – this was much too fun to do only once!  You can also check out my web shop to score a bag of your own.  Happy Year of the Rabbit!  Best, Ang

On pins and needles for pins and needles

I hit the jackpot.

For the past week I halfheartedly sought out craft shops.  A few were smaller than I expected, and I was starting to loose a little faith in Japan’s craft craziness.  Then I found Okadaya in Shinjuku — 2 buildings with 7 floors each of so many crafts I didn’t quite know what to do with myself.  Some of the highlights:

The first photo shows one shelf of my favorite fabric, Liberty of London.  This is the usual selection you’ll find at a fabric store in the US, and Okadaya had at least 8 more shelves like this one.  The wall of embroidery floss was amazing.  The store was too small for me to get far enough from the wall to take it all in with my camera.  And finally, I discovered an entire level dedicated to craft books.  An entire level!

I showed incredible restraint, and left with just a few treasures:

First I found 刺し子 (sashiko, literally meaning “little stabs”), a Japanese style of embroidery.  I had read about this at Purl, and am excited to finally try it.  I also picked up a few squares of some great linen, which might find a home in my kitchen somehow.

As excited as I am about Okadaya, my next find was even greater.  Just 3 doors down, I stumbled into this place:

A tiny shop dedicated to nothing else but sewing machines!  It was a really small space, but probably had over 50 different machines on display.  I’ve been shopping for one (obviously) and have even learned how to ask a salesperson where to find them, so I was super pumped to find this little gem.  I definitely did not leave empty-handed…

TA DA!  I am pretty excited about my Brother ELU52.  It is a small machine with basic functions, but it will keep me busy while I’m here in Japan.  Good thing I already know how to work the little guy:

You should see the instruction booklet…