Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Patchwork Shoes

Do you remember that Jimmy Nail hit "Crocodile Shoes" in 1994? Probably not, but I do. It has nothing whatsoever to do with these shoes or this post, or this whole blog. but it just popped into my head as I typed "Patchwork Shoes".

I have been having trouble finding suitable summer shoes for Tokyo, in Tokyo. Women's shoes go up to about a UK 6 and I am an 8. Men's shoes are too wide and NOT PRETTY! I want ones with bows on and kittens and stuff.
You rarely see shoes like this in the men's section. So...I went online and found some fairly dull shoes but which came in my size and looked suitable for walking around a city with its thermostat stuck on 'high'. Then I started covering them with the aimless patchwork I started making way back in October last year.
Patchwork shoes
I decided it looked a bit jobby, but it's hard to remove glue and fabric from white shoes without leaving dirty marks (guess how I know that) so I carried on.
Patchwork Shoes
Patchwork Shoes Side
Once the glue had dryed I gave them two coats of this spray-on walking shoe waterproofing stuff I had kicking about. I still think they look a tad jobby but they are much more colourful than any other summer shoes I could find in my size. I wore them this week for the first time and they held up well so I shall count that as a success!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Saying "Au Revoir" to the Cats

I know I kid myself that these cats realise I come to see them regularly, but I felt I had to say farewell, since I am going to be away for a month. I'm not sure how many of them noticed though - it was sleep central.
Sleeping Cats Montage
Of course Bruiser had also been asleep but woke up with menaces to make it clear he hated everything, especially me, whether awake or not.
Sleeping Cat (Bruiser)
Fortunately the young ginger cat was in a playful mood so armed with a rattling mouse we grouped around the shoe box.
My creation
The noise brought some unwanted attention from some of the bigger males. Young Ginger was forced to defend his box.
Defending the box
Defending the box
Defending the Box
Having dealt with them things almost came a cropper when he was taken off guard by a surprise side-attack by the mouse.
Scaredy cat
I did think he was going to make a run for it but then he tackled the situation as only a cat could.
Biting the Box
Then his Mum came along and, to his clear irritation, started cleaning his face for him. Mums, eh?

Speaking of which, I am looking forward to a week with my Mum's cat, but Artemis spends all day in the fields killing real mice and leaving their innards on the doorstep before coming back and dropping out for the count for the next 8 hours in front of the aga. I can't blame her for this but she has never been one for playing so I will just have to try and catch her 'awake' long enough for some purry stroking at some point. Plus she has an amazingly small head - never noticed that until I started hanging out with so many other cats.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Gotoku-ji Temple - Home of the Lucky or Beckoning Cat

I am not sure how it took me so long to hear about this place, but having heard about it yesterday, I was there today.
Temple Gate
An ordinary temple, you might be thinking.
Bell and Trees
Pretty, but hardly worth the hour's travel each way when there are other pretty temples nearer central Tokyo.
Seated Buddha
Well, meow to you with nobs on. You round a corner and....
maneki neko, lucky, beckoning cat
Yeah, that's roughly two kabillion "maneki neko" figures.
maneki neko, lucky, beckoning cat
maneki neko, lucky, beckoning cat
maneki neko, lucky, beckoning cat
maneki neko, lucky, beckoning cat
I love how in that last one there is just the one looking the wrong way. The wooden prayer cards (I know there is a proper name for these but it escapes me) are also themed.
My creation
You find boards like these at all temples. You write your prayer on the back and then hang it up.
Prayer Boards
Of course you can buy your boards and cats there. The shop is suitably marked with this sign.
maneki neko, lucky, beckoning cat
Legend holds that the maneki neko originated back in Edo period. The temple keeper was very poor and had trouble keeping up the temple, but when he found a stray cat he decided to take it home and look after it. A feudal lord from Hikone was travcelling nearby and was sheltering from a storm under a tree when he saw this cat beckoning him to come into the temple. The lord followed the cat and as soon as he had moved the tree was struck by lightning. The lord wanted to thank the cat for saving him and collected enough funds to rebuild and claim the temple as his family temple, which eventually became Gotoku-ji. As time went on, people began to offer maneki neko figurines to the temple as a sign of gratitude when their wishes came true. Now those of us who know cats...
Bruiser the spy 1
...know they are not generally given to altruism, but maybe this was a special one and this did happen. In any case, it was beautiful to walk around. The whole trip was possibly made worthwhile just by spotting the feet of this incense burner.
Incense Burner
Foot of the Incense Burner
The sculptor definitely caught that expression perfectly!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sewing Finishes

I have two quick projects to show. The first is a second embroidery case. My original one, from the "Say it with flowers" bloghop, is on the left while the new one is on the right. When my Mum saw mine she remarked that one would be perfect for her to carry her embroidery around in rather than the carrier bag she was using. Hint taken!
Two Embroidery Cases
Her taste in colours and patterns is somewhat different to mine, so I gathered seven flower prints and some scraps of a japanese crane print I already had and got to work.
Front of new embroidery case
The button is a fabric covered one using another of the japanese scraps. The binding is pukka liberty bias binding I bought one day thinking of making a necklace.
Back of new embroidery case
It matched this too well though not to be used for its proper purpose. The embroidery is feather stitch, one of my Mum's favourites, and there is a nice diagram of how to do it half way down this page.

On the inside, similar to the inside of the original at the top of the picture, is a needle holder, transparent pouch for embroidery thread and scissors and just the one pocket.
Insides of two embroidery cases
You'll notice I've made everything completely wonky - my signature style it would seem. My own fault for not basting the layers together before binding. Lesson learnt.

My second finish is this skirt.
Handmade skirt
I can't decide whether I like it or it is really, really ugly. However, I have been wearing it on the basis that it is so freakin hot out here that even a maxi skirt is too much coverage. It is made from the leftovers from our curtains, which I made back in December. Pooch claims it is part of my stealth-attack-outfit for when I decide to do him in. Could be. The skirt was an impulse make so I used a random zip I had lying about. It had this key charm attached, which looks a bit odd but I decided to live with it.
Skirt Zip
It makes me smile each time I see it.

I've been meaning to make another skirt but am now going back to the UK on Tuesday where it will be 10-15 degrees cooler each day plus a much lower humidity level. I'll need to pack a jacket! I haven't so much as worn a cardigan since April. The idea of possibly being cold is really rather appealing. Strange world.

Friday, 25 July 2014

And Now For Some Knitting

You wouldn't think that 35+ degree weather would make for happy knitting but then you might not have taken into account this new fangled air conditioning I'm getting used to. That makes it perfect knitting weather! I am currently working on little Jasmine's winter wardrobe and making two-year-old sizes since although she'll only be 18 months she's quite a girl. First up we have a nifty ensemble in grey.
Finished Bow Cardigan for Jasmine
Bobble Hat for Jasmine
The cardigan is based on a french design that was only available for three year olds. So I adapted a Drops pattern and it came out ok. The only thing is the bow is a bit droopy. I might need to move the fastening to change that. Details on ravelry here. The hat is uber stretchy and has those cords to stop the little bugger pulling it off. Details on ravelry here.

In addition I have cast on and half done a wrap cardigan for the Jbola Virus since the wrap cardi I made when she was a tiny one went down very well. Again I'm using a Drops pattern and I'm even using the recommended yarn - Drops Delight - which I complained about a few posts ago. Although of course I'm striping them.
Cardigan in progress

I have no idea what I will make next but I am very strictly only knitting from the stash I have so that will dictate. I haven't yet decided whether I will make xmas presents this year but I suppose I should decide soon. "Christmas in July" has a very specific meaning for knitters - it is when they start working on their gifts!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Yukata and Fireworks

With my handmade yukata finally finished, I was heading out to a yukata dressing workshop followed by fireworks to the north of Tokyo.

For those in need of a refresher, a yukata is essentially an unlined cotton kimono worn in the summer. They can be worn generally, and some people do wear them everyday, but they are specifically worn by young people at festivals and many stores/stalls/venues offer discounts during july-august for people who turn up wearing one. I made my yukata from scratch in the workshops organised by the lovely Kaori of Field Trip + who also organised this event. Previous blog posts about it here and here.

The workshop was great. The teacher had extensive experience promoting japanese traditions. She was wearing this beautiful swallow pattern yukata.
Yukata Teacher 
The rest of us fumbled along under her expert tuition. The two on the right had made their yukatas alongside me while the other two had bought theirs.
Yukata and Fireworks Festival
Until finally...
Me in my handmade Yukata
Me in my handmade Yukata
Cool, huh? I have to wear my obi higher than is really desirable because of my hips. Japanese ladies tend to have less curve than us englishers! Once we were all ready to go we had one last group shot before setting off. Don't we all look awesome?! They are surprisingly comfortable and cool to wear.
Yukata and Fireworks Festival
When we got there, the heavens opened and it POURED. We paused under shelter and admired others as they went past, attracting quite a lot of attention because it's not that common to see Gaijens dressed up.
Yukata and Fireworks Festival
Finally the rain eased and we were off. It was brill!
Yukata and Fireworks Festival
The rain continued but since it was warm it wasn't too bad, except for the concern about a potential 'wet yukata contest'.
Yukata and Fireworks Festival
I snapped this one just as the grand finale was going on. Everyone was holding their phone in front of their face.
Yukata and Fireworks Festival

Overall it was great and I now know two ways to tie an obi (the very long belt). I am hoping to find another event during the next week to wear it at and I'll be taking it home with me on my next visit to the UK so I can dress my Mum and Sisters up. Should be quite funny!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Handmade in Japan Fes 2014 Part 2

Yesterday I posted the first part of my review of this amazing event. On the way in you walked through a series of workshop areas where you could sign up to try various things.

Painting a New Years Icon (I forget their proper name but you paint one eye in at the start of the year and the other eye at the end of the year.)
New Years totem painting
Corsage making.
Corsage Making
Screen printed t-shirts using a choice of stencils and swirls of colour.
Live Hanga Shop - screenprinted t-shirts
Wet felting where you first bought a ball of roving...
Fibre balls for wet felting
...and then sat down to felt it.
Wet Felting
There were a few others too - embossing metal, children's fish painting and some jewellery ones.

Yesterday's post was all the photos with exhibitor details linked to them. Today we have the orphaned photos I can't find a card for:
Moni Moni Animals
No idea what these are. Earring holders?
Crocheted somethings
Cat House
Stuffed Cat
Tiny rubber stamps - there were quite a few stands like this.
Needle Felted Brooches
Needle Felted Owl
Handmade Dolls
Oh yeah, of course there were eco sanitary towels. Two different companies in fact.
Sanitary Pads
Mount Fuji toilet roll dispenser
Mount Fuji Toilet Roll Dispenser
Push Pins
Push Pins
Cat Purses
The girliest dream catchers ever?
Flower Hair Clips
Holy Crap Shoes
Cat Dolls
Explosion Necklace
Orange and Pink Stand
Flower Bracelets
Woven Bag

When I got back from the venue I realised the Japanese influence had made its way to my outfit. Or at least, I'd tucked my fan in my belt like you would with an Obi if you were wearing a Kimono or Yukata (of which more to come tomorrow).
Me with Fan
My belt had attracted quite a lot of compliments at the show, possibly because buttons are so expensive here and people assumed I must be a millionaire. It is the one I made way back at the start of 2013, at the same time as this black one.
Black Button Belt
I can't seem to find a photo of the red one though so maybe I never captured it for the blog. On my dress you can see my two brooches. The 'pow' one I made myself in June 2012 but the 'Xavier' one is actually a picture of Bruiser, with that being his real name, poor thing.
Me with Badges
I saw it at the cat cafe last week and couldn't resist! I do love that grumpy guy.

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