A Day by the Sea

This weekend I went to Enoshima. I don’t know why it has taken me 3 years to get there; it’s only an hour from Tokyo by train but it feels a world away. I left the city heat behind me and spent an afternoon near the sea with friends. Lovely!

Our objective was to see jellyfish at the aquarium and eat seafood. Perhaps an insensitive combination. A day in EnoshimaThat ray had the most expressive face.(^O^)

We accidentally caught the dolphin show, which was surprisingly entertaining. I usually dislike animal shows but this one was choreographed with dancing, singing, synchronized swimming girls who sat inside big clear balls and were pushed across the water by a false killer whale. Everyone around me was like, “What the hell?” but in a good way.

Dolphins and smiling rays put up a good fight, but the jellyfish fantasy hall was the real shop-stopper. That, and when I caught a seal pooping.Enoshima jellies!An Enoshima sunsetAfter a walk along the small streets of Enoshima to the top of the peak, we were rewarded with a pretty sunset. And back to Tokyo we went.

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⌒@)

The Rainy Season Sweat Wicking Dress

Tsuyu, I love you and I hate you.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké PuppetsAccording to the Japan Times the rainy season began 10 days early. I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The bad: damp tissues, moldy sinks, towels that never dry, and the smell of damp feet. The good: I love love love waking up to the sound of rain in the morning. And any excuse to linger in cafes or drink tea all day while sewing or go to movies mid-afternoon. I don’t even mind the crazy curly hairdos. The temperature isn’t too hot or too cold, and the rain is rarely heavy enough to require more than a large clear umbrella.

The absolute worst part of rainy season? The fact that when it is over, it is summer. Hot, humid, and wet but in a different, nastier way. To prepare I am making dresses, and Japanese fabric is perfectly suited for Japanese summers. How convenient.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké Puppets. PS, my neighbors have pretty hydrangeas. This wrap dress is made with nani IRO woodblock pocho in gray/green double gauze cotton using Vogue 8646, the first Vogue pattern I’ve tried. It was just OK. I skipped a muslin because it’s a wrap dress (read: easy to fit), and made the size 10 with an extra 1″ in length in the bodice. I could have used another inch, I think. And the bodice feels too big. I hand-stitched the hem around the neckline which gives a nice finish and removed some bulk from the front. I am thinking about adding long ties, to actually wrap this sucker around my body and tighten it up a bit. But for a rainy-season-turned-sweaty-summer dress, it’ll do just fine. Japanese double gauze is like wearing a ShamWow. Sweat-wicking at its finest, my friends.

Rainy season wrap dress, by Saké PuppetsI bribed my husband into taking my picture with the promise of buying him lunch. And then this happened. Whooeee!

whooeee! by Saké PuppetsWe both ordered omurice like 5-year olds, because what else do you do on a rainy day?

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. (^_-)-☆

The *New* Tokyo Craft Guide

I’m really excited to share the news — I’m writing a book!

The New Tokyo Craft Guide

My friend Frances of Miss Matatabi and I have joined forces to put together the Tokyo Craft Guide, an ebook showcasing our favorite Tokyo craft shops, cafes, and project tutorials.

*\(^O^)/*

We have accumulated a list of over 50 craft stores (!!) and organized them in a series of craft-shopping-excursions complete with illustrated neighborhood walking maps, shop highlights, and favorite cafe spots. It is like a treasure map with the best kind of treasure – fabric! ribbon! buttons!

The idea for the Tokyo Craft Guide was born when we realized our favorite independently-owned craft stores are sometimes hard to find. They require extra effort to get to, but when you do you’re rewarded with lovely nooks of fabric, supplies and project inspiration, each with its own character or style. This is the type of experience we want to share.

The Tokyo Craft Guide ebook will be available next month, and in the meantime you can visit our blog for additional shop profiles, events and interviews. Much of the content I have offered previously on Saké Puppets will move over there and get a much-needed update, so fear not! You can also find photos and Japanese craft chatter on our Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

We’re really excited to finally share this project with you! Please take a look, and thanks!!

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