Saturday, 6 December 2014

Finished Objects

I was pondering my decision on 'November Makes' not to post xmas presents I had finished in case people saw them. But I think that's unlikely and in any case only one of these has an obvious recipient and she never reads this. So...bring on the hat montage.
Xmas hats
You might suspect I'd only made two and then photoshopped them, but no. I just figured there was no need to use five different patterns if I found just one or two that I liked. Both of these are free and the vertically ribbed one is an authentic WW2 Watchman's hat (Rav link) while the other is the Luuk hat (Rav link) which I really do like the look of. I may make myself one.

I also made another Sew Together Bag, this time for my sister Sian, mother of my beloved niece. I bought the blue dot linen especially since I know she'll like it.
Sew Together Bag for Sian
A little blanket stitch in my favourite thread - variegated DMC cotton.
Sew Together Bag for Sian
I've rather belated realised that I've not done the hole in the A but there we go - onward! She likes yellow too so I think she'll appreciate the inside.
Sew Together Bag for Sian
I had to take a trip to Shinjuku to get the zip and some other bits and I suspect that might be my last craft shopping until we leave. I treated myself to a very sharp pair of small scissors for snipping tiny bits. My 'fabric' fob on my fabric shears has been quite successful in getting Pooch not to use them in the kitchen (that and howling with pain whenever I've seen him picking them up). I therefore thought another one was in order. It is suitably tiny to match the scissors.
cross stitch scissor fob

Finally, I finished off those Quiet Book pages I showed yesterday. The fish got their googly eyes, the marble maze was completed but the door never got its button handle.
Quiet Book for Jasmine
I used a variety of i-spy type prints for the backs of each page.
Back of Quiet Book Pages
I thought about sewing them back to back but decided it would be too bulky. I am pondering whether to use binder rings or ribbon to bind them - I may consult my sister and see what she thinks. Either way I want the option to add extra pages as I make them in the future. I also need a cover of course!

This weekend will see me trying to engineer a delicate balance. I need to sort out the craft supplies I need until about 5th Jan - considering the holidays I don't see our air freight reaching us before then - and put aside all those to be given away at my last Stitch n Bitch on Tuesday. It all strengthens the decision I came to about stashing about 2 years ago - or basically when Pooch and I divorced (we got back together and remarried for anyone who is confused by that). There's no point stashing more than you can use in the next month or two because you never know when you might have to move, or if there'll be a flood or a fire which will ruin it all. I'll naturally be moving some fabrics and notions back with me but only about two boxes worth. In fact we're hoping to only have to ship about twelve boxes in total, although that might be a little optimistic!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Stress Induced Creativity

Occasionally it strikes me that, were I to be imprisoned for some crime or other, not having access to craft materials would be one of the harshest penalties for me. That and chocolate. I know I must be finding all this moving stuff stressful because I find myself going a bit hyper on the craft. For instance, I spontaneously started designing and cutting out the felt for a Quiet Book a few evenings ago - and I never start new things in the evenings partly because I can't be arsed and partly because the light isn't good enough.

I had never heard about Quiet Books until Pinterest came along. Now it seems like the best ones come from Russia. I have no idea why. They are essentially books to keep children occupied by themselves. I have a Board on Pinterest about them and there are tonnes of other examples on there. Here are the pages I have so far for my 19 month old niece.
Quiet book stars page
Let me admit straight away that I used hot glue for all of these pages. The stars are ones I picked up in Dongdaemun Market and I glued ribbon scraps and velcro to them before threading the ends of the ribbons through a small hole in the top right corner. I then used hot glue on the other side to secure those ends. My ickle niece can count the stars, name the different colours, move them about, pretend they're shooting stars, make wishes..I dunno. As with all the other pages I am going to layer this with some batting underneath and some interfaced fabric behind that and sew the lot around the edges. I'm going to leave the edges raw apart from a bit of fraychek on the fabric. I haven't decided on binding yet but I am probably going to use those little rivet porthole things along the left edge and use ribbon to bind them behind a cover. Second we have more stars - this time buttons on the end of ribbons.
Quiet book stars and ribbons page
You can pull on the ribbons and the buttons stop them coming through the felt. Of course I had to include a counting page since apparently all Quiet Books have something like this.
Quiet Book counting page
Mine is very simple but the beads move on the ribbon and again it is secured behind with knots and hot glue. The only other page I've finished is this one with more velcro, but this time with flowers.
Quiet book flower page
She can swap the flowers around and make her own in time. I think I got the little buttons at the handmade fair I went to a few months ago.

The other pages I still have a bit to do on are firstly this little house.
Quiet book house page
The cat was also procured in Korea - and of course I had to get cats into this book somewhere. I need to add a button door handle to the door. Then the fish need their googly eyes.
Quiet book fish page
They can slide on the ribbons. And then there is this rather dismal (so far) looking maze.
Quiet book bead maze page in progress
A bead on a string goes from start to finish through a series of little felt tunnels (the dark blue rectangles). I couldn't go on with that one until I know how big my bead is going to be.

Seven pages in one day - not bad considering I seem to spend most of my day arranging who is taking which bit of furniture and when they can collect.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

November Makes

With all the ups and downs connected with whether we will stay, go, go somewhere else and so on, November just seemed to fly by while at the same time many of the individual days dragged by horribly. I don't feel like I really finished anything much but on closer inspection I find I have managed a fair few, including christmas presents. The latter will be delayed and included in December's round up to keep them hidden.
November makes
We have, going clockwise...

  1. Pincushion from a Japanese kit I picked up at the Yokohama Quilt Festival. So cute!
  2. Another pin cushion made for a bloghop. Tutorial here
  3. The quilt I made Noriko. So pale!
  4. The cross stitch I made for my lovely cuz.
Adding in the christmas presents I am actually pretty surprised at all I did manage to make. 

December promises to be really weird and I have no idea how much time I'll have for jiggery makery. I know I'll be without a sewing machine from the 14th but knitting will continue so we will just have to wait and see what results. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Seoul Part 2

I only had time to see one Palace so I chose the Changdeokgung Palace where I started with a guided tour of the buildings before moving on to the ....Secret Garden. These buildings are rather impressive, although the ground around them always seems to be strangely bare. This is one of many ways they definitely differ from Japanese buildings.
Changdeokgung Palace
The colour scheme for this Palace was repeated on all the buildings and was said to be partly to ward off insects that would eat the wood and partly for decoration. I felt it went above and beyond pest control.
Changdeokgung Palace
The beautiful roof tiles were mostly grey except for the King's special building where they were a beautiful dark blue which apparently looks amazing when the sun shines on it.
Blue Roof at Changdeokgung Palace
Sadly it was very overcast when I visited. Not that that stopped me for getting my photo fix.
Door Lock at Changdeokgung Palace
Changdeokgung Palace
Tiles at Changdeokgung Palace
Changdeokgung Palace
The Secret Garden was the private one of the King and Queen and only they and their invited guests could use it. Access was via guided tour only and there was a bull dog type guy who stayed at the rear of the group and growled at anyone not keeping up with the Guide. The Autumn Foliage was at peak perfection.
Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace
Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace
Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace
Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace
The gardens were huge. The 90 minute tour kept up a good pace and involved many extremely steep hills.
Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace
It then ended with a 750 year old Juniper tree.
750 Year Old Chinese Juniper Tree at the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace
Fairly impressive when you think about everything that has happened to Seoul while that tree has been growing.

I had spotted another impressive looking place from the taxi window (taxis were amazingly cheap) so I wanted to go and have a nose about. It turned out to be the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple and it was in the midst of some sort of celebration.
Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
The outside was beautifully decorated with paintings and carvings.
Walls of Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
I went in, took a cushion, and had a little meditate. It was beautifully decorated.
Lanterns inside the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
I have always loved Buddhist lanterns and there were shops nearby full of everything your practising buddhist needs.
Buddhist Shop with Lanterns
Sadly the lanterns do not fold flat - if they had done my suitcase would have been stuffed with them.

I had been to one market but it was discussion of Dongdaemun which had got me started on the idea of visiting Seoul in the first place. Can you guess why?
Dongdaemun Market
There are two buildings, each with basements and about another 5 floors on top of that. Each building is huge and each is stuffed with stalls. There may be 50 - maybe more - stalls for the same sort of thing in one area of a floor, be that buttons, yarn, ribbon, fabric or anything else you can think of.
Dongdaemun Market
Every knitting stall had its own mini knitting group sat around or within it. 
Dongdaemun Market
Dongdaemun Market
Dongdaemun Market
With my sense of direction I was instantly lost as soon as I made my first left or right. Stalls seemed to go on for miles. It was a tad confusing for me too because we are returning to England so I knew I couldn't really buy anything as I'd just need to pack it - and I already have enough to pack. Yet everything seemed pretty cheap. A conundrum.

My final visit was to the National Museum of Korea, which is kind of like the UK's British Museum and the V&A combined. It was mahoosive.
Inside the Main Hall
The collection went from prehistoric flints to current day design and was extremely impressive. A few things stand out in my mind, all Buddhas as it turns out. This one is from the 16th Century. Only the head had survived and the shiny nature of it really creeped me out (I'm so cultural in my descriptions).
Shakyamuni Buddha Head, 16th Century
This painting is about the height of a three story building and a couple of hundred years old. The condition of it was amazing.
Huge Buddha Painting
This 10th Century iron Buddha has the casting marks still on it.
10th Century Iron Buddha
The audio guide I had rented (for less than a pound) explained that bronze or copper had been the preferred metal for statues like this but a war had caused a scarcity and so this was one of the early iron ones which had to be cast differently because of the weight of the iron. I find those casting marks mesmerising. My absolute favourite piece was this though.
Pensive Bodhisattva
An early 7th Century bronze "Pensive Bodhisattva" which is apparently what this pose of one crossed leg is referred to as. Isn't he amazing? He was only about 30cm tall but I spent ages looking at him.

I did enjoy my time in Seoul, despite the heavy rain of the final day, but it was overcast by the uncertainty of what Pooch and I will be doing next as we prepare for returning to the UK. I certainly could have done a lot of damage to my wallet at the Dondaemun Market had the situation been different!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Seoul Part 1

I am back and almost not entirely caught up with what I've missed since I left on Wednesday. Who would have thought moving continent with no idea of where you'll be after 14th January would be so time consuming? My inbox resounds with the ping of those wanting to buy our secondhand rice cooker and take away our ironing board and meanwhile I still haven't managed to put SkipNorth on sale. So much to do...

It wasn't really the best time to go away but I had booked it some months ago and I may not be back in this part of the world for some years so I decided to head off. Seoul is quite similar to Tokyo in many ways but, to my eye, not as attractive.
Seoul Street
It's also not as high rise, a lot smaller, plus it sits in a kind of valley with lots of impressive mountains in the distance.
Seoul Mountains
On the attractiveness front, one can't really help thinking that it would have been nicer looking had they not been brutally invaded by the Japanese quite recently and invaded/burned/bombed to pieces on a fairly regular basis throughout history. There are still pockets though. Bukchon Hanok Village was about five mins walk from my initial hostel and was my first port of call.
Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village
I really liked the roofs and all the textures on the walls.
Bukchon Hanok Village Wall
Bukchon Hanok Village Tiles
And some of the door trims were very beautiful.
Bukchon Hanok Village Door Plate
I had heard about the Markets in Seoul before I left and headed first to Namdaemun which sold...everything?
Namdaemun Market
There were stalls for seemingly everything clothing/footwear/household related and the market was vast. Look for the vanishing point in the photo below. And that is just one street in a vast rambling whole.
Namdaemun Market
It really was massive. And quite seasonal.
Namdaemun Market
The other shopping areas tended to have multiple shops all for the same things. In one instance there were three shops in a row all selling only face masks - seriously - whilst I found myself strolling through camera village.
Camera Shop
Then I found what I wanted - a texting Garfield.
texting garfield
This was the sign that the cat cafe was near - yay!
Sleeping Cat
Smug Fat cat
This one just adored the male owner and followed him everywhere when she wasn't sat on his shoulder.
Shoulder Poser
They were all very sweet.
Sleeping Cat
And the place was nice too.
Godabang Cat Cafe Seoul
Godabang Cat Cafe Seoul

More adventures in Part 2...

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