Friday, 18 July 2014


I really do like yarns with long colour changes. I particularly like using two of them at once to contrast the colour changes against each other.
colour changing yarn stripes
I am currently knitting a wrap cardigan for my niece for the winter - getting started early - and am striping two colourways of Drops Delight.
colour changing yarn stripes
I have in the past done this sort of thing with Kauni, although then it was using just one colourway but starting at two different points of the colour progression.
Kauni Cardigan
Awww, I loved those jeans... thinner days. Anyway, I've also used Noro for this kind of thing.
Blue Stripey Hat

What I do not love is when lazy yarn manufacturers have knots in the midst of a ball and join the ends together without any attempt to keep the subtle colour change going.
colour changing yarn stripes
As a customer I pay for something in order to use it. You don't buy a dress and then expect to have to correct it when you wear it for the first time. Drops Delight has proved not so delightful, as did Noro, and it is deeply disappointing. So despite loving the colours I will not be buying any more of this once this project is done.

By the way, Noro is the same price here as it is in the UK. I find that really odd. Not that I use it anymore.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Let's Talk About Sweat, Baby

I am going to broach a subject we do not discuss in polite UK society, but which has been on my mind constantly now for weeks - sweating.
Sweat  - VoxEfx
The english way has always been that "Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies merely glow" (I say 'english' because I've known some right sweaty scottish men but I'm uninformed about the welsh and northern irish.) However, recently I have been not glowly, nor perspiring, but straight-forwardly running with sweat.

Those of you who read regularly will know that the Byrne is no athlete.
(Image from here.)

I therefore do not sweat because of exercise - but just because it is so freaking hot in Tokyo at the moment. For instance, I just cleaned the surfaces and hob in the tiny kitchen which took about 15 minutes. By the end of it I had to go and get a cloth to mop myself down with. My t-shirt was stuck to my back, there were little rivulets of sweat running down my neck and my face was damp all over. Grim. The reason for all this was at 8.30am I thought it would be ok to do some housework just relying on the through breeze resulting from having all the windows open, forgetting that it was already 30 degrees outside and the humidity was over 70%. I've had to close the windows, put on the aircon and have a sit down directly under it to stem the flow.

Putting on air conditioning is something I feel morally opposed to. It uses up energy to cool the room which heats up the machinery and that heat goes outside making it worse for everyone else. Plus it costs money and electricity is really expensive in japan since they shut down all the nuclear reactors after Fukashima. Plus surely I am not such a wimp as to be brung low by a bit of temperature? But no, I am. My family think I'm nuts for not using it all the time but it just seems so...weak. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it.
#2941 This vehicle [sic] is done to weaken an air conditioner 

There are basic adjustments such temperature causes the people of Japan to make. The first is that every umbrella you own becomes a potential parasol, apart from the nice see-through one I was given as a leaving present. That would be silly.
The second is that you stick to the shade when you are outside, leading to simultaneous overcrowding and practical desertion on the same street. If you are waiting for a bus or to cross the road you stick to the nearest shady spot, even if it is some distance from the target.
in the shade
And then there is "the cloth". This cloth doesn't appear to have a name but they are sold in every department store in Tokyo and lots of smaller shops too. Every Japanese person has a selection of them and they are essentially personal hand towels - often a bit like a british face flannel - that is carried around in bag or pocket and used for mopping the japanese invisibly sweaty brow. I haven't seen a japanese person sweat anywhere else. The closest I can find online is Tenugui which are long rectangles of cotton.
browsing tenugui at one of my local favorites (h/t @craigmod).
They come in every design you can imagine - traditional, manga, cartoon, pop bands, sports teams and so on. Some people frame them and hang them on the wall. Others use them as bandanas or drape them around their necks like small scarves.

All the time it is so hot it is often not actually that sunny, which is definitely better than when it is. When I have been out in the sun without an umbrella the sun has felt so intense on my skin that it was almost painful. This is therefore curtailing my patrols out of doors although giving me more time to craft inside. I have a large quilt I am making at the moment for Nickerjac which I need to spend some time on so this is no bad thing.

By the way, I was looking for photos to illustrate this post using Flickr's Creative Commons search (how do I love thee etc) when, as you do, I typed in 'sweaty man'. It really is amazing what you can find on that site.
NFM Ben Smith
What is he looking at?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Flickr Groups - Vintage Book Covers

I do love vintage book covers.
The titles, illustration and blurb are often amazingly misogynistic but then that's the era they're from.
Avon T 100
I found all these in a Flickr Group called "Old Timey paperback Books".
Gold Medal 229
Terrible name, but there you go.
Lionel Roberts: The Synthetic Ones
I love using Flickr for research and inspiration. And their combining with 'Creative Commons' licensing means you can use many images for free, even in a commercial context.
The Green Millennium by Fritz Leiber
Not all though.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Fuurin Matsuri - A Wind Chime Festival

I went to this on Saturday and had a lovely time pottering around. It was boiling hot and very humid so the occasional breeze was very welcome, even though the noise could be quite overwhelming after half a minute or so. I made this 10 second video to give you an idea of it.
The actual wind chimes, while numerous, did not take up much room.
Fuurin Matsuri - Wind Chime Festival - at Nishiarai Daishi temple
Those hanging up were essentially samples, grouped by artist, and you wrote down the number of the one/s you wanted and took that number to another booth to pay and take receipt of yours, suitably boxed. You can buy basic ones with a mass produced print in the 100 Yen shop and in fact I have one with goldfish on and it is very nice, but these were artisan ones. While most were glass there were also quite a few metal ones and others decorated with bamboo. The variety of decoration techniques was fascinating. They varied in price from about 500 yen to more than 5000 (about £30).
Wind Chimes
You see the glass whales in the middle? A blue one came home with me as a present for my little niece. I would have loved to buy more but those I wanted had metal parts which were very heavy and I have to think about getting this stuff back to the UK.

Nishiarai Daishi Temple, where this happened, is about an hour north of central Tokyo and is a 'working' temple with services going on in the background. The prayer chants and bonging of the gong along with the chime of the chimes and the sound of the waterfall in the garden ponds combined to be quite idyllic. I enjoyed all of them in a medley while watching the fish.
Garden Pond of Nishiarai Daishi temple
Fish at Nishiarai Daishi temple
There were actually two gardens - this second one was away from the various noises although probably the most beautiful. It also had more fish and they ranged from minnows to huge beasts the size of a small dog.
Nishiarai Daishi temple
Fish at Nishiarai Daishi temple
The surrounding grounds held many treasures.
Large Bells at Nishiarai Daishi temple
Little Figures at Nishiarai Daishi temple
Small Buddha at Nishiarai Daishi temple
In addition this impressive crow - look at that huge beak - had found a big worm - or maybe a centipede which it was subduing and getting ready to eat. He saw me looking at him and moved to the top of this post before checking to see what I was doing.
Crow with Worm at Nishiarai Daishi temple
They are as common here as pigeons in London and we have one who comes and lands on the railing of our balcony with a resounding clang every now and again. I would love to get to know one a bit better. I wonder if they are as freakishly intelligent as they look?
Hand Washing Area at Nishiarai Daishi temple
Wooden Carving at Nishiarai Daishi temple
Nishiarai Daishi temple
It was all very lovely and I was very glad I went, despite all the travel it entailed on a very hot day.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Pay It Forward

I am a big believer in pay it forward. Also 'do unto others' and other such sayings that turn a good deed into a kind of karmic ponzi scheme. Back in January I joined a 'Pay It Forward' meme on Facebook and have since been very aware that I owed two gifts. I thought deeply about this and decided to go with EPP metal frame purses. I carefully chose fabric. I hand stitched. I joined with blanket stitch using cotton embroidery thread. I lined. I inserted into frame. I threw away because it hadn't worked and they were ghastly.
Awful EPP pouches
Awful EPP pouches
Well, you know. We live and learn. That's another one I'm fond of. Also "The heart is a muscle..." speech by Bill Murray from Charlie's Angels - the one that came out in 2000. Plus 'Many a mickle makes a muckle'. And of course Terry Pratchett's "We've all passed a lot of water since then" when reflecting on the past. So I made these simpler DPN zippered cases using traditional japanese fabrics and a fabric covered button using something matching.
Pay It Forward Pouches

Post No Bills

All my Angels.  The heart is a muscle.  In body building, we exercise the muscle, and it grows bigger and stronger.  It's the same with the heart.

I must have the heart of a rhino.

You do.  And you be proud of it.  Mes Anges, these little hurts will heal.  And at crunch time, your hearts will be so buff, you'll be able to clean and jerk his love, three sets, ten reps each.

Thanks, Bos.

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