Friday, 3 January 2014

Projects Underway in 2014

I have one finished object to share and six - count 'em - underway. First the FO. 
Finished Twit Two Blanket
This is the one I started when we first got here as a replacement for the full size Babette Blanket I made about 7 years ago in London...
...and gave away just before we left. The replacement one is a lot smaller - more like a single bed one - and is more for the sofa than the bed. The yarn is Spectre Modem (rav link) which is a very nice 100% wool aran and I used 2 balls of each colour with an extra 2 of the dark purple for joining and an extra one of the same for a single row around the edge. The yarn was from Okadaya which is still my favourite craft shop in Tokyo so far. 

Now for the WIPs. From left to right starting at the top...
My creation
1. Cushion cover, using up some of the leftover curtain fabric from the bedroom. I didn't have enough to do a proper closure and no zip handy so I decided on button tabs. Except I still haven't sewn on the buttons. Been two weeks now. Yep. 
2. Artemis Socks, using my Meow Foundation cat yarn in the colourway 'siamese'. I am using the Aquaphobia pattern as it is good for breaking up yarn inclined to pool, which I suspected this might. It makes it look like a tawny owl!
Tawny owl
And of course any mention of an owl makes me think of the Hungover Owls tumblr site, which has sadly called it a day at 500 owls but the site remains up. 
3. Pooch's Birthday Present, clearly it's a Sarah Lund jumper from series 1 of The Killing. It's what he requested. 
4. Noriko's Xmas Present, yep - running a little late there. It's a Multinomah Shawl. I've got beads to add to the edging. 
5. Dress for Jasmine, I found this amazingly simple pattern on Etsy. Only making one at the moment to see if it fits. I need to snip the seams more and top stitch before ironing and adding bias tape to the bottom edge. 
6. Lucy Boston Bee Block, the January Queen has asked for green, pink, yellow and orange. That's the thing about these Bees - you get asked for colours you wouldn't normally put together. Been rather fun putting this one together. The November one was grey and yellow which are also colours I don't normally use together. March is to be orange and grey while February is currently a mystery. I was December and chose red and white with the emphasis on polka dots - what else!

I also have a thread catcher in mind - a kind or portable mini-bin for all the snips of thread that currently litter my sofa - plus more red and white Lucy blocks for my own quilt and then something based on all the japanese craft books I've been inhaling. I have pictures from those to share at some later point. 

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Obligatory 2013 Mosaic

Here is approximately what I made in 2013.
Finishes 2013
Actually it was more than this - about another ten - but the Mosaic Maker will only let me have 36 pictures. There's been a lot of sewing but also enough knitting to keep it respectable. There has even been crochet, although I haven't had a chance to take a photo of the blanket I've currently got draped artistically over my pyjamas. Let's not mention all the projects I've started that either got ditched or await my renewed interest!

As Pooch remarked over dinner (consisting of crab's legs, pickles, rice, tempura and sashimi), if anyone had told us a year ago that as 2013 ended we'd be living together in Tokyo we both would have suggested they sod off. In fact if anyone had claimed to be sure we'd still be together now we probably would have told them to go and do it elsewhere. I've gained a niece, remarried Pooch, moved country, managed umpteen crises at work, left my job, become a housewife and eaten large quantities of chocolate along the way. If 2014 holds just half as much activity I'll be very happy with that.

I hope you all have the New Years Eve you want and the 2014 you deserve.

PS: I did finish the book I was reading, and thus end the year on an even number. Oompah!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Trip to Hakone and Mount Fuji

Pooch pondered and researched whether we should go away for a night before the new year week kicked off here for ten long days. He decided against on Thursday night then changed his mind at 8.30am on Friday and by 9.30am we were on our way. I am very happy he did! We headed for the Hakone area and stayed in the most amazing Hotel Fujiya. The whole area is interlaced with hot springs and is therefore absolutely packed when there are public holidays - like the new year week which most of the country gets off. That's why if we were going to go it really needed to be before the national getaway began. This is it.
You can't really see the hotel but if you click on the hotel link in the last paragraph you'll see how amazing it is. Very traditional and with its own public baths fed by the hot springs. There were bell hops inside who were actually dressed like this and bowed to greet you.
This is the view from our room, which was very old world luxurious with antique furniture and fittings.
One of the public lounges - called the 'Magic Room' - all velvet and leather.
And then there were the gardens which Pooch ventured out into while I was still asleep.
Hotel Fujika Garden in the Snow
Hotel Fujika Garden in the Snow
Hotel Fujika Garden in the Snow

Pooch and I made full use of the swimming pool which was heated by the hot springs and very warm. I then headed off to the women's public bath. Fortunately there was a bell hop changing the towels who was able to talk me through the process as I was the only non-Japanese there. Essentially you get undressed and leave your clothes in a basket in the changing room. Then, butt naked, you go into the spa and sit on a little stool while washing yourself thoroughly. There is also a small bucket for sluicing yourself. You can wash your hair too at this point or just put it up. Then once you are very clean you get into the public bath which is very hot and completely clear. If you get too hot you can stand up and perch on the side to cool off, then you get back in. When in the water you sit still and it comes up to about your shoulders. Once suitably relaxed you get out, have another wash and then go back out into the changing area, pick up a towel, and get dressed. I know not everyone is comfy being naked in front of strangers, but having been a life model I've never had a problem with it and everyone is very respectful. Having said that the 10-ish year old girl who was there with her Mum had obviously never seen such pale flesh in the flesh and did gawp a bit until her Mum prodded her! No photos from this bit, obviously, but this is me afterwards - amazingly relaxed and full of love for the world. 
Hotel Fujika Me Post Spa

As you can see from all the outdoor photos, it had snowed - starting the previous afternoon shortly after we arrived. We had planned to do what we did on Saturday on Friday afternoon but with the snow coming down, visibility was awful. Regretfully moving a visit to the Lalique Museum to some future point, we moved the Friday agenda to Saturday and I am really glad we did. After the local train...
...came a funicular and then two cable cars.
Cable Car mechanism
And a first view of Mount Fuji!
It's such a Japanese icon and I'd wanted to see it for decades so it was rather awe inspiring when I finally did. Once at the top, which was really cold, there was lots more gawping at it.
Then another cable car down to where the boat across the lake began.
Boat Approach
What was essentially a tour boat had been made to look so much better! Pooch spent most of his time out on the poop deck (pooch deck) imagining he was the Captain.
It was very beautiful.

We got back to Tokyo on Saturday in time for dinner and both felt like we'd been away much longer than one night. It was such a beautiful place. I am definitely going to be going back when the weather is warmer - as well as the Lalique Museum there are a number of art museums with impressionist and french art collections which I would love to take my time strolling through. Pooch also intends to climb Mount Fuji in the summer (crazy fool) and so we may be able to combine that and my visit with my birthday and another stay in the amazing hotel!

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