Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Boro-ichi Market and Happo-en Garden

As part of the farewell tour around Tokyo I knew I was not to buy anything because the suitcases are already full. Why then torture myself with a trip to Boro-ichi Market? I don't know, except that I'd had it in my diary for the last six months and nothing else planned for the morning.

The Market is called Boro-ichi because it used to be where the poorer people came to get clothes some 400+ years ago (boro being the type of kimono patched and sashiko'd many times to hold it together like what you can see on this Pinterest Board). It was also known for tool and agricultural sales and you still get several tool stalls as well as ones selling plants. What you also get it lots of everything else. If we hadn't sent our things away to the shipping company two days earlier I would have come home carrying more than the average Spanish grandmother does at harvest time. It was, though, a tad crowded.
Busy Market
Can you make out the vanishing point there? This place was huge and went off down other streets at right angles. I would guess perhaps 500 stalls? It could easily have been more though. There were many vintage kimono stalls.
Vintage Kimonos
Lots of scrabbling for the cheaper ones on the ground was going on. I saw some racks, like this one...
Shibori Silk Haori and Kimono
...of just one type of Kimono - in this case Hand Shibori Dyed Silk. They were about 2000Yen each - maybe £15? Beautiful. Kokeshi dolls were clearly not that popular since there were crates of old ones for sale all over the place.
Kokeshi Dolls
My Japanese friend Noriko told me these ones were also rumoured to be used by noble women as...ahem...a sex toy, so possibly that's why they have apparently been cast out of family homes everywhere. I certainly wouldn't put a dildo over my fireplace but each to their own.

Baskets abounded.
Woven Baskets
Both conventional and the more modern.
Woven Bags
Shinto shrines for home use.
Shinto Shrines for the Home

Beautifully carved. Rice pounding sets with the huge bowl and hammer.
Mochi pounding bowls and hammers

And then lots of other stuff too - new and old.
Tenugi Cloths
Frame Purses and handbags
Vintage Glasses
Vintage Stall

It is on again in January but only for two days and then that is it until next December - I would definitely recommend it. It was a Shoreditch vintage shop's idea of nirvana.

After all those crowds it was rather nice to arrive at a garden far away on the other side of Tokyo. Even nicer was this visit was at the prompting of Mr Pooch who had almost visited it on his first visit to Tokyo but had never quite got in. We were initially joined by a group of teenagers and a teacher but later they left and we had the place to ourselves.
Foliage at Happo-en
Happo-en Gardens began life in the late 1600's and its name means "Garden of 8 Views" meaning it is beautiful from every angle.
Foliage at Happo-en

90 degree trees

Huge Koi Carp

Foliage at Happo-en
I could have stayed on that bench watching the fishes for hours - if it hadn't been only 6 degrees outside!
Me looking at the Koi
The Gardens are also known for their collection of Bonsai, some of which are over 500 years old. It really staggers me everytime I hear about a plant that is that old.
Bonsai Trees
They were are clearly the work of crafts people.
Bonsai Tree at Happo-en Garden

In the evening we headed off for dinner...but I'm going to save that for another day!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Final Craft Shopping

I thought I'd had my final splurge when I bought bits to finish existing projects last week. But... since I was visiting Shinjuku Gyoen Garden (yesterday's blogpost) I was so near to Yuzawaya so as to make it rude not to just pop by. There was one thing in particular I was keen to find. I had seen some decorated rotary cutters in a Japanese patchwork magazine and told myself at the time I had an Olfa yellow one and didn't need another one. But it stayed niggling in the back of my mind...
Last Craft Shopping in Tokyo
And then since I was in the shop...has anyone seen these pins with bells on in other countries? I first saw them when I took something to a local mending shop to be adjusted and was amazed. They certainly make it easier to find where you need to sew when you're dealing with a lot of fabric, plus one in a pincushion is just going to sound lovely when you are using the others around it. And then they just happened to have half price metal purse frames.
Last Craft Shopping in Tokyo
The circles at the bottom are the binder rings I'm going to use to bind the quiet book I made last week. I'll just need to check how easily Jasmine can open them. They are quite stiff for a toddler though. And then of course I had to walk past the button section to get to the tills.
Last Craft Shopping in Tokyo
The red riding hood and puss in boots ones were too cute to ignore. My sister loves monkeys so those will make their way onto something for Jasmine next year. The others are MINE ALL MINE. Jeez I love buttons. I'll be happy to be reunited with my full collection back in England! Oh and of course my family and friends...!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Farewell to Shinjuku Gyoen Garden

I first saw this garden on 1st December last year. This year I was 10 days later and initially I thought I'd missed all the beautiful autumn foliage.
Bare Trees in Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Not that bare trees don't have their own kind of beauty, but I wasn't in the mood for a Tim Burton kind of stroll.
Bare Tree in Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
I consoled myself that there were still the lakes to look at and headed off for the 'Japanese Garden' (which does make sense in a Japanese park because some of it was formal french - whatever that is - and so on). It turns out they'd kept a little bit of the autumn colours for me.
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
View of the Chinese Pavillion
Red Japanese Maple Leaves
There is also a huge greenhouse on site. It's so humid inside there are lots of signs about dripping condensation falling on you.
Palms inside the Greenhouse
Pond inside the Greenhouse
They had a special display of orchids.
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
These unfailingly remind me of the singing flower scene in the proper Alice in Wonderland film. I adore that film and that scene in particular.
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Definitely a bossy woman in a bonnet telling someone off (probably me)!

The gardens in Japan have been such an amazing resource and I wish I'd got into exploring them earlier last Spring. I told myself in the summer that I'd be able to go back to them in 2015 but that was when we thought we'd be here til May so now I won't have that chance. Here we are just a week from leaving and there is still a fair bit to get done. But then we may come back here to live one day. Pooch loves it here and if it weren't for the language barrier I would too. I just need to start learning it now, then I'll be ready in about ten years or so!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

More Finished Objects

These are a combination of more christmas presents and some of that stress induced creativity I posted about a few days ago.

My final make for my niece is these Meg and Mog dolls. I was surprised not to be able to find a pattern for them already out there so maybe I'll share mine when I once again have a scanner. My one went on Sunday. The closest I found was a knitted Mog on Ravelry but I wanted to sew these.
Meg and Mog Toys
I used a thin blanket fleece kind of thing in black and white and then some yellow felt for the eyes and shoe buckles. Where suitable, the sections are lightly stuffed to make them huggable. I've also got her a set of books in a bag and she already adores the first book so hopefully these will go down well.

I have also finished the Clapotis and hat for our Japanese husband and wife friends
Luuk Hat 3
Clapotis for Noriko
The hat is another Luuk one, linked in my previous post. The Clapotis is, I think, my third and I had forgotten how boring they were to knit. I remember the novelty of dropping stitches on my first one but this one was a bit of a slog! These are joined by a pair of Mojo socks for a different recipient. The balls of stripey blue were 30g (common in Japan) so I needed a little additional yarn for the toe - bring on a bright yellow remnant!
Mojo Socks in Blue
I have another pair in shades of white/beige (so also have yellow toes) on the needles. Then this one actually needs the button to be sewn on but is a small cowl.
Cowl for Rob

Finally, this is something where I bought the bundle of plastic flowers about six months ago because they were so bright and cheerful, and decided to add them to a hair barette about 3 months after that. It's taken our leaving for me to finally get the glue gun in gear.
Flower Hair Clip Front
Not exactly seasonal, but very cheering! And it's good to have a bit of a cheer when you've no kind of chairs to sit on, or tables to sit at, and spend your days maniacally crafting between bouts of dividing possessions between five boxes. Rubbish and charity (both unlimited), suitcase (extremely limited), air freight (very limited and will take 2-3 weeks to appear in London) and sea freight (limited and will take 2-3 months to appear in London). I am maintaining my sanity by crafting (maniacally) and watching Muppets Christmas Carol. Watched it three times already. I sing along. Maniacally.

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.

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