This winter I am spending a lot of time with knitting needles. My grandmother, who taught me how to knit and indulged my love of crafts when I was young, passed away last month. Together we would make plastic canvas needlepoint houses and bake cookies until there was no more room for cookies or needlepoint houses. Right, like that ever happened.
Over the past few years I have learned how I best handle grief. When I lose someone I care about I like to spend time alone, doing something I enjoy that also honors them. I take that time to reflect and try to focus on happy memories and it helps me feel close to them. So in the days leading up to her funeral, I channeled my energy into finishing the epic cowl I began knitting in November. My grandmother stopped knitting years ago because of arthritis, but she loved to see what I was working on and was an avid follower of this blog. So I dropped everything, and I knit.
The pattern is Empalme, which I purchased from the wonderful shop Yarn + Co when I was in Melbourne. I bought the yarn at Avril in Tokyo, carried it all with me to Brooklyn, and finished it in Minneapolis where my grandmother lived. The yarn is super soft 100% merino wool and varies in thickness, which gives the whole project a very natural, organic texture.
My one note about this pattern, I probably did not have to knit all 13 repeats, since it turned out quite long. But it is incredibly soft and I love the pattern, and it is still the knitting project I’m proudest of to date.I got in the groove with my cowl and wasn’t ready to be done knitting, so I made a hat as a gift for a friend (first hat!) and then another for myself. The pattern is Dreiecke, made with stash yarn. This is the first time I have had stash yarn to use, and, it pretty much blew my mind. I had all the pieces I needed, and on a cold snowy night when the urge to knit struck, all I had to do was rummage around in my knit bin for my knit bits and get started. I now understand the urge to stash-build/yarn-hoard. Who needs the excitement of a new city to explore?! Olympics! Stash yarn! I’m set for winter, friends.
Hello dear friends. It has been too long! My confession: I was on holiday in New Zealand for a few weeks and, silly me, I thought I would have oodles of time to post about the crafts I brought with me and the new patterns I’m designing. As it turns out, vacationing is tough work! My days were busy and I returned to Tokyo with all of my projects still unfinished. I realize no one will feel an ounce of sympathy, but I had to plead my case.
We rented a small camper van and drove around NZ’s South Island, stopping at a different gorgeous location each night. We saw seals and penguins and whales, drove through avalanche zones and vineyards, and strategized our stops based on sunrises and sunsets. I learned to appreciate savory pies (steak and peas!) and found a favorite Marlborough sauvi.
I did get to do a bit of knitting. The cliff-sides and river banks dotted with sheep and newborn lambs had me inspired, and I marched straight into the first wool shop I could find for some locally-sourced merino. Cruellas in Nelson set me up with a pattern, yarn and needles, and kindly held my hand the next morning when I returned with many questions.
Others in our party found the sheep inspiring in a different way, and instead sought out the nearest grocer stocking lamb and mint sausages.
On our way back to Tokyo we stopped in Melbourne where I stocked up on Frankie magazines, merino knit jersey from The Fabric Store, and more yarn and patterns from Yarn + Co, a super hip yarn shop in Fitzroy. It was their neon accessories in the window that caught my attention, but the friendly owner, wall of alpaca yarns and huge couch had me there for quite a while.
It was an unforgettable trip. But now that I’m in Tokyo I am happy to be back at work! There are many exciting things happening here — I can’t wait to share them all with you!
We rented our van from Wilderness Motorhomes and had a great experience. I highly recommend them!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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⌒＠)
You may have noticed it, up there. Look a little higher… a little higher…
There it is, my Tokyo Craft Guide — an ever growing list of the fabric shops, paper shops, yarn shops, and cream puff counters in Tokyo. I know that is a pretty huge endeavor, but give me time, people.
While out and about, hunting and haunting every craft-related shop in this fair city, I started keeping a list and eventually, a Google map. Then I thought, “Wow, six-months-ago-me would have totally loved me for this!” Cue light bulb.
Dear future-you, I hope you enjoy this guide, inspired by six-months-ago-me and updated by the here-and-now-me, for your craft-shopping pleasure!
You can find the full Tokyo Craft Guide here, and a map here. Questions or comments? Leave me a note, I’d love to hear from you!