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.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Handmade in Japan Fes 2014 Part 1

Last weekend was the amazing "Handmade in Japan Fes 2014" at Tokyo Big Sight. The building itself is astonishing.
Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba
It reminds me of a scene in 'Men in Black' where Will Smith is told that the observation towers at Flushing Meadows Park in NY are actually the first spacecraft that landed on Earth that couldn't take off again.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Standing underneath it is fairly imposing.
Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba
Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba
The bit I was going to was in the basement and consisted of two huge exhibition halls full of, I would guess, 2000-3000 exhibitors. These were quality stands too with many vendors looking completely professional with very nicely designed tables. Prices were high - high enough for you to be sure these people had taken into account the time they had put into making these things - so my haul wasn't enormous even though I spent almost £60. However, it is all gorgeous stuff which I am very happy to have brought home.
From top left, clockwise, we have a kanzashi hair elastic, leather cat ring, knitted hair pin bows (kawaii!), blue leather button pin, wooden cat shapes and a more elaborate kanzashi hair slide. I also came back with 150+ photos and a huuuge stack of business cards which I have whittled down and combined below so you can see how I could easily have spent ten times what I did.

Mother Tree - screen printed t's, leggings and tights.
Mother Tree Screen Printed clothes - beautifully hand painted clothes for children and adults.
Goldfish handpainted clothes
Naoki Onogawa - the tiniest origami cranes you have ever seen turned into exquisite jewellery.
Origami Crane jewellery
Pampshade - bread products that are actually lamps. Yes. Lamps.
Bread Lamps
Machu Picchu - handmade shoes. Polka dot heaven! They run a one day workshop but it is in another part of Japan. But still...shoe making....
Polka Dot Shoes
Tsumami Kanoha: This lady is one severely talented Kanzashi maker. The second photo below is the clip that I bought. These were not cheap - and rightly so considering the work that goes into them. My clip was almost £20 so you can imagine how much those huge ones cost.
kanzashi hair clip
Gunyan Yanko: I've not seen anything like these before. Strips of leather with bendy metal inside that you wrap around your finger, wrist, pen, bag strap etc. The people on the stand were awesome too. The woman was uber enthusiastic and the man saw me coming and grabbed a little sign they'd made explaining what they were in english - and that each one is unique because they are all hand drawn. I bought a ginger cat ring.
Cat Shop Shrine
Tokimeki Gabriel: Mental stuff. Very kawaii and lolita but with a kind of sparkly-goth vibe too. It was all painted plastic so quite light. The owner is below in the red dress. The chess piece type things are about £25 each!
Altered Chess Pieces
Bat Rings
Polka Dot Lolita
Nekkosippo: Lovely handmade washi tape cabinets. This is also where I got the wooden cat shapes from.
Washi Tape Cabinet
Kato Koto Panda: This is silly stuff - light plastic models of pandas sandwiched in various foods, including sandwiches. Loads more photos at the link.
Panda Burgers
Koge Neko: Cat collars and....bandanas. Odd.
Zassou: An unusual combination of chemistry cartoon stickers/badges and things made from tiny felt nubs. My heart was with the stickers although I did walk away empty handed.
Science Badges
Deme Tyoubi: Amazing felted goldfish.
Japanese Fish
Tuan Tuan: Bags made from feedbags.
Tuan Tuan, Bags from Feedsacks
Kokechi: Kawaii! Similar to kokeshi dolls but specifically stylised. I had to buy the cat one below.
Little Figures
wooden cat
Mine is already part of cat village on the kitchen shelf.
cat corner
Matori: Interesting earrings, even for someone without pierced ears.
Chou Chou: Brooches made of fake succulent plants. Actually very pretty!
Succulent Brooches
Sai Design: Wire whatnots wrapped in silk.
Sai Design Jewellery
Placebo Parade Orchestra: Constellation and other finely made gold and silver jewellery.
Constellation Badges
Michicusa: To me, these look like broccoli florets. But then what do I know.
Brocolly in Resin
Yuki: Another kanzashi stall and where I got my hair band.
kanzashi hair band
Maito Parta: Oh my goodness I was tempted by the astronaut badges. But £25 each? I couldn't justify it.
Astronaut Badges
Number Zoo: Very simple concept - animals with numbers as part of their bodies. I loved the 8's!
Number Badges
Yuchitana: Very pretty hair spangles.
Hair Bands
Karate Gal: Very impressively embellished bags and purses.
Karate Gal bags

Tomorrow, more photos and the workshops!

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