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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

In Sapporo there is a great craft store called Kanariya. I don’t speak Japanese but I have some idea what that means, looking at their logo:Kanariya fabric store sapporo

If you ever happen to be in Sapporo you must visit Kanariya, it is just GREAT (find a map, directions and more info here). Four floors full of fabrics, quilt supplies, knitting wool, sewing notions, felt, beads, books, buttons, zippers, etc, etc. And there were lots of kits, for example for making your own rabbit-basket (a basket in the form of a rabbit, that is, or any other animal), the cutest needle-felt animals, bags and purses like these:

Kanariya Japanese sewing kitsI just love the Japanese style for quilting and sewing. There is so much eye for detail, and I like the muted colours. There was a large division with Japanese fabrics and I bought a whole bunch of fat quarters. They were quite cheap compared to the prices in Europe.

Before we went to Sapporo, we stayed in a super nice pension in Hakodate. The owners were so kind, and the house was really cosy with hand-made pillows and other things.  When we left, the hostess gave me a wonderful bag and a handmade purse as a gift. I was so delighted, but I also thought I had to give something back. So I used the fabrics I bought in Sapporo to make them a set of 6 coasters for their breakfast table:

Coasters of Japanese fabric

The back is a piece of black felt, attached with festoon stitch. I finished them in a few days and send them by post to Hakodate. One day later I received an email, with a picture showing the coasters on their table:

Japanese table with sewn coastersSato (the hostess) put a cat on the table that a friend of hers made of kimono fabrics, so cute. The pension is called Jokura, by the way, and it is highly recommended for anyone appreciating a clean and cosy pension serving delicious Japanese breakfast.

I’m now making another set, because I like them myself as well :-)

Japanese coasters Japanese coasters

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In August, my husband and I have been on holiday in Japan. While enjoying the nature, cities and culture of Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost large island), I picked up some craft ideas.

In a pension I saw dried lotus seed cones filled with small balls of fabric.  I really liked the idea and took two seed cones home with me, as well as some fabric with flowers. This is the result of my work:Lotus seed cones filled with fabric balls

At first the cones looked like this:

Lotus seed cones filled with fabric balls

To make the fabric balls simply cut a lot of fabric circles, stuff them with cotton wool, tie them and put them into the holes in the lotus seed cones.
Nice decoration, isn´t it?

Lotus seed cones filled with fabric balls

Lotus seed cones filled with fabric balls

Lotus seed cones filled with fabric balls

In a Japanese magazine I saw a garland for the kitchen, made of red peppers and peanuts tied together. I tried to make one yesterday, but it doesn’t exactly look like the one in the magazine because I could only find peppers that were a bit too large. I also did something wrong with the tying, because in the original all peanuts and peppers were neatly lined up while in my garland they stick out in all directions. But I still like the idea. :-)

Red pepper and peanut garland

Red pepper and peanut garland

Red pepper and peanut garland

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Buddha

Years ago, we received a Buddha statue. It is always said that a Buddha statue should be given to you and not bought yourself, so I was quite happy having received one. Strangely enhough it came from a person that I didn’t feel much sympathy for and whom I would never see again, which made it all the more special.

But I always thought that the colouring was a bit too rough for in the living room, as if the statue was ment for the garden. But then we got a good idea last year when we were so lucky to be able to visit Tibet. There, most statues in monasteries and temples are golden:

So the plan was born to also paint our statue golden. This week I finally took up the pencils, and I was amazed how much the statue changed! See for yourself, first the before and than the after pic:

Great isn’t it, how the face seems to come alive? I can imagine that some people prefer the white over the ‘kitsch’ gold, pink & green, but I do like a bit of kitsch now and then… :-)

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A few days ago I bought some new yarn and started knitting a sweater with it right away. Material: 100% bamboo. Colour: gorgeous, blinding pink!

The yarn is new in the Linea pura line of Lana grossa. I read on Ravelry that bamboo items grow a lot when worn, but I hope that my sweater will have less of that tendency as this yarn is some kind of woven ribbon. Anyway I choose a pattern with positive ease so that it wouldn’t be such a problem when it gets bigger. I already had to frog once and since my gauge perfectly matches the label I have to conclude that the pattern is completely off. Instead of 24 rows per 10 cm, the pattern requires 31 (44 rows in 14 cm)…that can’t be right. Also the nr of stitches to cast on for size 36/38 resulted in a HUGE sweater, I changed from 104 to 78 stiches!

I had lots of time to knit past weekend, when we were in a traffic yam for 3 hours on our way back from Hamburg, on top of the normal traveling time of 4 hours. Probably no one really understands why in Germany they first have to break up ALL the roads they maybe, possibly, some time in the future want to work on, and then leave it as is for some years…

I’ll post some random pictures that I took there that I like. The first one seems a very normal staircase, and it is, but I always have a soft spot for such old staircases. They seem to breathe the energies of all the people that over the years put their feet on the steps, held their hands on the handrail. Maybe it is the indirect light that makes me dreaming. The other pics are from a very cute little restaurant where we had breakfast.

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On our trip through Japan, another amusing habit that we encountered is to dress statues of buddha or shinto gods in cute clothing. Very common were bibs, mostly red, such as the one Inari is wearing here on the right. Inari is the god of rice, harvest and general prosperity, either depicted as an old man with two foxes beside him, or as a beautiful fox-lady. Most shinto shrines that honour this god have two fox statues on either side of the entrance.

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And what about this one on the left. Isn’t that cute, with his rabbit-bib? I have no idea who this statue impersonates, though. It could be a god related to children or birth.

But also knitted goods were applied. See for example these little guys on the picture below. All the same huh… grey…

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But not the special one behind the flowers! He has a nice yellow hat and coat:

Actually it is a sad story behind these statues, depicting the god Jizo. They were all placed here in memory of an aborted or deceased baby, mostly by the parents.
To conclude with, I’ll show a few pictures of a row of statues (not sure who they are again), all with their own assembly of bibs and hats.
It looks kind of cosy, hm? Maybe I should take some wooly things with me next time I go to church…


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During the past 2 months, my freshly married husband and I have been traveling through Asia. Our first stop was Japan, an amazing country. The people are extremely polite and everything is very well organized. And especially in the north, nature was beautiful. Of course I’ve been having my eyes open for all craft-related stuff, and in the coming posts I’d like to share some things with you.

It started already the first day in Tokyo, when we visited a special shrine. Some background info: a shrine is the place of worship for Shinto believers, the indigenous religion of Japan. It is quite complicated to grasp for someone brought up in a different culture, but it has a lot to do with ancestry and connecting present to past. The shrine that we came across was a small one, dedicated to a god called Sukunahikona-mikoto. He is the god of medicine but is also famous as a guardian of women. Once a year he is honoured in a very special way, and the ingredients for that are tofu and needles. During a ‘needle memorial’ or ‘hari-kuyo’, women express their gratitude for the past year by bringing used sewing needles and sticking them into tofu! Unfortunately it was not the time of year and we couldn’t see this happening in real life, but already the thought of it makes me happy. :-)

The shrine outside and in:

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