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

Stitch Lessons

I bought this Japanese craft book a few weeks ago and have thumbed the pages many times, trying to decide which pattern to stitch. They don’t make it easy.

The title translates to “Stitch Lesson: 6 basic stitches for lines and surface embroidery.” The book begins with basic instruction in the Big Six: outline stitch, backstitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, long and short stitch, and the couching stitch. In truth, I could use the help. I lean pretty heavily on the split stitch with a fat ol’ six strands of floss, so I thought this book would provide inspiration for some much-needed practice in the dainty-stitch spectrum.

Each page spread presents one project, the complete design on linen on the left and full-size stitch diagram and detail on the right. Patterns and project instructions are relegated to the back.

It is a beautiful book, but let’s be honest — the real reason I bought it was for the very last pattern:

Mmm, pudding.

I acquired some linen swatches that seemed perfect for dainty pudding stitches, but in truth, am having difficulty transferring the detailed patterns onto these coarser fabrics. So I might switch back to cotton, or maybe I’ll just stop whining. I’ll let you know how it goes!

&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.