Saturday, 2 August 2014

Back in the UK

I am at my Mum's house for the next week before spending the following two and a half with my sister, followed by a few days in London before heading back to Tokyo. My Mum's house seems more like a Country Life editorial each time I visit.
Mum's House
Tools Against Tree
Blue China Window
Green Beans
Blue China on Dresser
Spot the cat in that last one? As a proud Nana I had printed her some new photos so added them to her brag board.
Jasmine Noticeboard
Still three of me on there so I'm not feeling jealous. Yet.

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.

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