Saturday, 29 March 2014

Making a Hat and What It Shows About Pinterest

Long story short, I made a hat.
patchwork summer hat
I rather like it although Pooch's response has been less positive.
patchwork sunhat
I mentioned my intention of wearing it on our outing today and he immediately told me there was no need because it was going to be very cloudy, no sunshine at all. This is despite the sun beaming in through the windows onto our breakfast.
Layers of the Sun

I used a pattern I found on Pinterest which you can find here. I cut the pieces out of iron-on interfacing which I then used as templates for piecing scraps, sewing onto the iron-on/shiny side. Once covered I duly ironed and trimmed the edges then got to sewing. I made a lining but only interfaced the brim of that. The whole thing took about 2 hours which would have been less if I had just used plain fabric for both sides.

However, the interesting thing from my point of view is that this highlights how I now use Pinterest as my first choice search engine when it comes to patterns, tutorials and visual inspiration. A year ago I would have used google every time but this has definitely shifted. I use the 'search' function of Pinterest a lot. The benefit to me is that you are looking at links that have already been "peer reviewed" as worthy of pinning and they have sometimes made their own version so have road tested the pattern for you. It cuts out the adverts, selltorials and, sadly, rubbish versions nicely.
French Quarter 008
There is a counter argument to be made in that you are only seeing what others have already seen, but then it is a sun hat. I'm not trying to reinvent the bra or develop brave new nail designs.

So here I am...boldly going where many sun hats have been before...
patchwork sunhat
...rather grainily...

Thursday, 27 March 2014


I am so lucky. Don't think I don't know and appreciate it! I never thought I'd not be working when we came over here but I am so happy it turned out this way. It has meant I've had to improve my cooking skills and I have had to do far more cleaning than I would like, but the benefits outweigh that! For instance, the weather here is more like british summer then spring already. It's been at least 18 degrees the last few days and it went up as high as 23 on Monday. Which is when I set myself up like so on the balcony...
Balcony sweet spot
I stayed in the sun for half an hour before sellotaping the umbrella to the railing. It's not exactly elegant but pale skin and freckles do not a sun worshiper make! My chair has two drink holder pockets - one in each arm - but clearly these are better used to hold knitting and my phone respectively, so I could bliss out while listening to an audiobook for a couple of hours. I'm knitting baby Jasmine a lacy summer cardigan.

Japanese women apparently prefer to stay as pale as possible and so avoid the sun and use spf 50+ sun lotion - the lowest I could find in the chemist was spf 35. According to my in-depth research (google) a lot of japanese sun lotions aimed at women have skin whitening agents in. I'm not sure how true that is, but I'll definitely be avoiding those. I'm Casper enough as it is! Which reminds me of this meme:
My sister and I cackled when we saw this because it is so true for both of us. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe in Ebisu

When Pooch told me there was a cat cafe within 10 minutes walk of our flat I was a bit skeptical. My experiences at the Ikebukero cafe had shown that these cafes could be pretty variable plus his idea of 10 minutes walk is very different to mine. So when I hopped on the bus for 15 minutes to get there I was playing it cool.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
In size it is about half the size of Calico in Shinjuku with the above at one end of the single room and a wall of windows with more seating and cat beds at the other end. The cats can also get completely away from visitors off to the right of the above picture if they want to. There were about 12 cats all together with these two winning 'most adorable couple'.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
There was quite a lot of friendliness in evidence.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
The guys below were funny. The cat on the right was there first and the one on the left basically sat down and wriggled about til he/she was comfy.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
It's not like there was a shortage of beds either - they just seemed to enjoy doubling up. You can't tell from the photos but they both had amazing eyes - like old fashioned clear glass marbles but one with blue centres and one with green. It was very striking.

There was also politics. The occasional tricky pass to be negotiated on the high levels...
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
And then there was Bruiser.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
I thought he looked very sweet at first, then I saw his face. Even with the scottish fold breed ears this was clearly not a cat to mess with! He swaggered up and down the room with his shoulder muscles rolling and swatted at any cat that hadn't already got out of his way.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
He wasn't above a bit of stroking but not until he'd put on a boxing show. But seriously - how can you be intimidated by a pussycat with pads on his feet that pink! It was like Barbie had a cat habit and this was him.

One other notable resident was this guy who was amazing to look at.
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu
He was charcoal coloured but when you looked at the fur closer to his body it was pretty much white - so when he moved you got these lines of grey and white appearing. Plus if you look closely he's got an almost bengal type pattern of stripes in his fur. Very special. (All my photos are rather blurry because I had the flash turned off.)

All in all it was a good way to spend an hour but I've been spoiled by Calico Cat Cafe. Even when this little guy decided to sit under me when I crouched down to take a photo...
Nyafe Melange Cat Cafe Ebisu didn't change my mind. It may be twice the distance but I'll still be heading back to Shinjuku for my cat fix in future.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ka(t)waii Bag

Remembering, as I am sure you have, that "kawaii!" means "cute" in japanese, the title of this post will make perfect sense. I have made a cat bag.
Cat Bag Front
The features are needle-turn applique'd apart from the whiskers which were simple embroidery. On the back is a bow - because most cute things in Tokyo feature bows somewhere along the way.
Cat Bag Bow Back
The bag is a kit I got at the Quilt Show some months ago and my finally getting on with it was brought about by my previous cross-body bag suddenly breaking mid-jaunt a week or two ago. There is no doubting this one is cross-body when you see the length of the strap.
Cat Bag Finished
Which itself is a paw at one end, albeit rather sketchily embroidered.
Cat Bag Paw
The fabric is one of the lovely japanese woven ones with a polka dot texture (dots and cats - the kit was basically designed for me). In the pattern and instructions that came with it the bag was supposed to be a little bit smaller with an 8" zip closure. I've enlarged mine and given it just a magnetic clasp.
Cat Bag Inside
I also added an inner pocket for my travelcard using one of the sample squares I picked up still on the card at Okidaya.
Cat Bag Pocket
The original design didn't have any lining but I've added this japanese lilac kitten and temari ball print I picked out of a bargain bucket somewhere this year. I've yet to give the bag a testdrive but I am rather smitten with it already! It is finished in time for the start of Spring which has begun here with some really lovely weather. 16, 18 even 20 degrees so that I sat here at lunchtime with the balcony door open.
Balcony Doors in Spring
From next week I will be able to sit out on the balcony in my red polka dot garden chair Pooch inadvertantly got me as a present. I say 'inadvertantly' since he has been in bed with the mother of all hangovers all day and to make up for the smell and the rest of it I told him he'd got me the chair in one of his lucid moments just as I arrived at the bedside with another cup of tea. He bravely muttered that there was no need to thank him.

While my Mum was visiting I got her to pick out some fabrics for a quilt and have since been going strong on an EPP quilt I have designed for her.
Mum's Quilt Diagram
The sides are all 2" and so I calculate I need 90 blue hexagons, 86 whitish ones, 558 blue diamonds and 135 whitish of the same. So far I have 78, 12, 180 and 64 respectively. I have more fabric waiting for me for when I get back to the UK for a visit in three weeks, but this leaves me with a dilemma. Should I start sewing together the shapes or should I wait so I can fully integrate the new fabrics into all parts of the quilt? If I wait I need to keep cutting more and more paper pieces, whereas if I get on with it I can reuse existing ones but risk a patchy quilt. That basically answers it really - I'll have to wait. Having so many shapes left me in a storage quandry until I found these at the 100 yen shop.
Diamonds in the top and hexagons plus uncut fabric in the bottom. I'll need to swap those before long though. Mum asked for the quilt to be in blues so there are quite a few shades appearing already.
Blue EPP Pieces
I am sure there will be many more added before I see this one off the needle though!

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