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Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Kanariya fabric store sapporo

In Sapporo there is a great craft store called Kanariya. If you ever happen to be in Sapporo you must visit, it is just GREAT. 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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Cats and lace

Today I took some pictures of two of our cats playing outside. First, meet Bob, up to his belly in the snow. Only his green eyes and red fur show off against the white. Isn’t he beautiful?


The little one in the next pics was the latest addition to our family: Maggy. I found her in the fields as a kitten of only 6 weeks old, she had walked a great distance from the farm where she was born. The farmer didn’t want her anymore, so I took her with me. At first she was very wild (bit my finger nail in two when I caught her…), but now she’s a sweet little rascal.


Over the past weeks I’ve been working on my first lace project: a pullover with short sleeves. The body is almost finished and I like the way it turns out (except that yesterday I discovered a mistake in the armhole decreases, so I have to work back a couple of rows). The yarn I’m using for this project is from Japan, the only yarn I bought on our trip through Asia. The name of the brand -Nikke Victor-  doesn’t sound very Japanse, but it is.

Bob was willing to be my assistant, and show this wonderful yarn. In the last 3 pics some close-ups of the pullover-to-be.

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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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