Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Woollies

Goodness it's getting cold here in Osaka. It was trying to snow today, but didn't quite manage it. We'll be hitting the snow this week anyway, as we are going snowboarding for Christmas. I've stocked up on thermals, but I realised I was going to need a heavy duty draught-stopper or two, so out came the needles and the stash.

I hate feeling chilly breezes around my neck, so I got stuck into a snug little neck warmer. The pattern is the Rios Locos Neck Snuggler by Amy Klimt, available for free on Ravelry. After I started knitting, I got a bit woried that the lacey holes might make it less than wind-tight, so I added a polar fleece lining. It is SO. SNUGGLEE.

It's made from the red yarn left over from the flowers in the last post. It's a lovely 80% wool 20% silk blend. I'm using the left over purples to make leg warmers based on the Horcux Socks by Susan Lawrence (free Ravelry download again - I <3 Ravelry). Basically, I'm just gonna knit the fun, patterned bit of the sock without farting around with the heel.

Speaking of farting around with the heel, here's where the chevron socks are at:

I usually get pretty excited at this stage, 'cos it's like the home stretch. And then I realise I've gotta do the same thing all over again to get the second sock. Durrrr.

And finally, since it's that time of year when we're getting our balls out, here's a cool Christmas dec I made from a pattern by Alexis Winslow.

It's intended to go over a Christmas bauble, but I used a capsule toy capsule instead and it worked out great. I stopped after one, because I realised they'd be a pain to pack and take back to Australia, and I would also be very sorry to leave them behind. However, I think it's an awesome idea, with a lot of potential for customisation and recycling and, best of all, stash-busting. I will definitely make a whole lot of them next year. For now, I exhort you to try it. It takes less than half an hour. Make one for your mum, she'll be stoked.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Loligoth Moustache

Last weekend, I went to a theme party. There were about half a dozen themes to choose from - so there was no excuse for not being dressed appropriately. I could have gone for Tie-dye, Flourescent Colours, or Bad Christmas Jumpers, but in the end the theme I went with was Moustaches.

I began with the intention of knitting a moustache, but the yarn I used was to chunky, and it didn't turn out well. So, the first moustache turned into a tawashi, and I cleaned the bath with it. Bath-stache!

Luckily, I have a whole lot of fake fur hanging around, left over from helping a mate with their Halloween costume. So, with the addition of some ribbon bows, some silver charms and some necklace chain, I moved on to Plan B...

I give you the Loligoth Moustache!

In the photo, it's hard to see all the bits of shiny stuff in there, because of the shagginess. However, it was generally agreed to be the Best. Moustache. EVAR. by my fellow party-goers.

In other news, I finished the sashiko squares I was working on.

I'm not sure what to use them for yet.

I've also been making knitted flower brooches for Christmas/Thankyou presents for my Japanese teachers. (They don't know each other, so I made two the same. Lay-zee!)

The pattern is from a book my aunt in the UK sent me, called 'Beautiful Knits for Heads, Hands and Toes', by Alison Dupernex. Most of the patterns are fairly basic, but there's some interesting patterns in there, too. I'm looking forward to trying the sideways knitted gloves, and the cable socks. Though, I do think the photography and styling lets the book down a bit. There are a few odd presentation choices, and some iffy focus - petty, I know, but it bugs me.

Anyway, while we're talking about bad knitting photography, here's some more, featuring my WIP red and orange Jaywalker Socks. I decided to go with a nice, straight-forward chevron sock, because I feel like I've got the hang of basic socksand wanted to mix things up a bit. But there's not much sock yet, so the chevron isn't obvious. Better photo when it's clearer... The pattern is by Grumperina, and is available for free from her blog, or on Ravelry.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's What Mother Would Have Wanted.

Here comes my monthly post :P

Well, October was mostly a waste of time because I was sick, but it had a happy ending because Dear Father and Dear Younger Sibling came for a visit, and we hit the fabric stores togther. We did Kansai, and then we went to Tokyo.

In Shibuya, quite near the famous crossing, there's a marvellous, marvellous multi-floor fabric store called Marunan. I picked up some AWSUM fabric, check this shit out...

Cool, huh? I just bought a metre of the cats and the two tatto designs, for the general stash. But I bought 2.5 metres of the purple and orange dragon fabric. I have it in mind to create a frock of some sort.

Something else I picked up on our craft store trawl was a sashiko embroidery kit. Sashiko is something I've wanted to have a go at for a while, I think it's beautiful - so simple and elegant, and the bold geometric patterns remain very contemporary, I think. I figured a nice, basic sampler coaster kit would be a good starting place for a beginner. I did a little last night, and I'm pretty happy with how it looks so far.

I really like this kit because along with the printed fabric and the thread, it included the sashiko needles (which are extra long compared to normal embroidery needles) and a traditional-style sashiko 'thimble' (near the top right corner of the embroidery). I also bought some old-skool Japanese thread snips. Heh. Cooool.

The other thing I've done in the past week is finished this pair of socks:

I started them six years ago :S They were intended as a birthday present for my late mother. She picked out the yarn, and decided how the colour pattern should go. But the first sock came out the wrong size, so I got discouraged and put the project down. I always meant to finish them properly for her, but could never quite bring myself to face the first, failed sock. Anyway, six years later, Mum has died and I still had all this perfectly good sock yarn hanging around. So I knuckled down and finished them in memory of Mum, just in time to wear them in my Docs to keep my feet warm for winter. Which is entirely suitable.

Moral of the story: Life is short. Knit hard.

Anyway, it was a long time since I last knitted socks, and this did get me back in the mood. So to lighten the tone after that sorry tale, here's the cheerful, lurid yarn I bought for my next socks. It is the softest, softest, dreamiest merino. Yum.

ttyl :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Housewarming Soot Gremlin

Oh wow, time sure does fly! It's October already... Finally, the weather is pleasant again.

In between working, sleeping and the non-stop social whirl that is the life of an English conversation teacher, I haven't had much time to myself. I have managed one short burst of creativity, though. One of my mates from work recently moved into a new flat, so I wanted to make him something that would be useful around the flat as a housewarming present. He is also a big fan of Ghibli movies, especially My Neighbour Totoro. So, I made him a soot gremlin tawashi! Here's the little guy:

I just made the basic circular tawashi pattern, added eyes. To make the hairs I threaded short lengths of yarn through the crochet and then knottted them in place. The knotting was a bit of a pain in the arse, but the result was effective, I think.

Of course, despite my intention that it should be useful, the recipient has refused to use it to do the dishes on the basis of it being too cute, and it's stuck to the side of his fridge now.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tawashi Explosion!!!

One of the things I love about Japan is the huge range of really interesting craft books that are easily available. I am building up quite a library of books full of ideas just slightly outside of what I usually find outside. If I need blog space filler I might run you through a few :)

One of the books I've bought and actually made things out of is called 'Gotouchi Kyara Tawashi de Ecoraifu' (or roughly 'Eco-life with Local Character Tawashi'), by Sachiyo Fukao. It's a book of crochet mascot tawashi for every prefecture in Japan. Soo cute!

There are 61 tawashi (some prefectures have two), so I figured out what the minimum number of colours of yarn I could get to make the maximum number of tawashi. I ended up buying red, black, yellow and white. I've made six so far: a toki (Niigata), a daruma (Gunma), a kibidango (Okayama), an octopus (Hyogo), a ninja (Mie) and a donko mushroom(Oita).

Here's a closer look at them:

As you can see, at about the ninja I got a bit bored of the prescribed colourways. So I have a DOOM NINJA tawashi... And that mushroom is probably not as edible as the donko it was based on.

So, now I have six tawashi... Too bad I never do the dishes :P

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Shiny Things That I Found On The Ground

While I was out and about in Amerika Mura on the weekend, something shiny on the ground caught my eye. I stopped to pick it up, and noticed another one... And another one... And another one... Dear SO waited patiently while I retraced my steps a la Hansel and Gretel, and then he noticed there was a shiny thing next to his foot...

In the end we found fourteen shiny, metal, bone-shaped beads. I guess someone kissed good-bye to their expensive wallet chain earlier that evening. Anyway, I have given the beads a good home in a cool new necklace:

There were exactly enough beads.

Hardcore, eh? :P
BTW, the rest of that 'viking' t-shirt says "it conquers the world! courage and adventures", and has a picture of a pirate on it. Hooray for 300 yen t-shirts!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Which Nothing of Note Really Happens

Here is the completed plastic bag bag:

It's been done for a while, but I'm not totally happy with it, so I wasn't terribly motivated to blog. To be honest, although it was an interesting experiment in alternative yarn, the plastic bag yarn wasn't a good match to the shoulder bag project. The yarn's just a bit too coarse. I think that it would be good for something like baskets, that just sit on your desk and hold stuff.

For the curious, here's a couple of close-up shots of the resulting fabrics - the knitted bag, and the crocheted strap:

Anyway, I have another new bag now, which is actually a tool pouch. It's awesome - it's compact, everything fits, and there are even pockets for my phone and my ipod. It can hang off my belt, which is great, though depending on my outfit a shoulder strap is better sometimes - so I whipped this up, for the ultimate in convertible bag convenience:

It ties on like so:

This strap is made from some cheap n cheerful acrylic that I bought for another project, but it turned out to be too chunky for that. So I bought some other, finer stuff, and I am embarking on a new thing - or, a series of things. Cute things. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Weakness For Shiny Things

Do you remember when you were a kid and you were told to go and tidy your room? How you'd start but get distracted part way through - instead of tidying, you'd just be playing with the toys you were supposed to be putting away. Well, that happened to me when I was sorting through my nascent craft box on the weekend. I came across the following things:

1) A large, decorative safety pin that I found on the ground a while ago. (I'm such a magpie. I always pick up shiny things I see on the ground.)

2) A 'silver' chain necklace that I had to stop wearing because the cheap metal was giving me a rash on my neck.

3) A random 10cm length of chain that I picked up fuck-knows-where.

4) A brooch back that came off a broken badge.

Looking at this random constellation of junk reminded me of the dangly chain pins that the trendy host boys wear on their shiny suit jackets. I find the host boys fascinating - they're just so exuberantly, un-ironically trash and their hair is some kind of miracle of engineering. They are like some kind of exotic wildlife. And they are shiny. So very, very shiny. So, with a few jump-rings that I fished out of my craft box, I cobbled together the following item in honour of the host boys:

It is the dangliest of all dangly chains. Kind of half-way between a necklace and a brooch. A brooch-lace, maybe?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hisashiburi, ne?

Waaa, it's been a long time. What with moving back to Japan, going back to work and moving into a new place, I haven't had much time for making stuff. Especially since I am basically flat, stony BROKE. I can barely afford to even just look in a craft shop. Or even a hundred yen shop. Man, those places ae dan-ger-OUS! Not that I've ground to a complete standstill, of course. I've just had to use a bit of ingenuity to find cheap-as-free craft materials.

One thing there is plenty of for free in Japan is plastic bags. A while ago, I found this very interesting tutorial on recycling plastic bags into yarn. So, I hopped to it. Here's a sample of the resulting yarn:

And here's some knitted up:

It's going to be a handbag - my current go-everywhere satchel is falling apart faster than I can save for a new bag.

The yarn is a little hard to knit with, because it's got no elasticity whatsoever. And obviously the resulting fabric is extremely bulky and not at all soft. But, it's cheap as free and good for the environment, eh? I think with a little imagination you could get a whole lot of really good stuff out of crappy ol' plastic bags.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I've been meaning to blog for a while, but I keep playing Plants vs. Zombies instead. It's a problem.

Well, I finally finished Dad's jumper. It's come out a treat. I knew I was on the right track when one of my aunts picked up a partly-done sleeve and spontaneously remarked "It's a bit Time Team, isn't it?".

Here's the jumper in action:

Having completed this mammoth (for me) project, I indulged in a little instant gratification and stash-busting:

Dragonfly, by Kate Jeffery, is a free download on Ravelry. It's a little fiddly just because there are so few stitches, but it's otherwise pretty straightforward. Good stuff.

The cat and the cupcake are from 'Amiguruni World' by Ana Paula Rimoli, or based on the patterns in there (screwed the cupcake up a little, but it's still cakey 'n cute). It's a pretty good book. I got it out of the library, but I might buy it sometime when I have cash for these sorts of things...

Also, some sewing has been happening. I used a little more of Dear Younger Sibling's jeans scraps to make a choker and matching wrist cuff:

And I made myself some summer trousers. The pattern I started with was McCalls 8576, but I mucked around with it big time. I've had the pattern for about ten years though, and when I first cut it out I was a bit skinnier. Also, the pattern expects me to go in A LOT further in the waist than I do (it's designed for frickin' Betty Boop or something...) so I had to extemporise a larger size as I cut out the pattern. This has led to the trousers not fitting quite the same way as the ones on the pattern envelope, but they do fit ME comfortably, which is the main thing. I whacked some belt loops on, because I like to wear my awesome belt at all times and I also like to have my wallet in my back pocket without my trousers falling down. So I added pockets, too. And I stuck the zip in the front instead of the back, because if you're wearing a belt, you want your fly in the front. Then I added a little tab over the top of the fly to make it look tidier. I lengthened the legs, because I felt like having extra-long, crinkly trousers. And to make things really weird, I randomly decided to cut some of the patterns on the bias, for extra crazy tartan insanity. Yeah, so... I guess they're not really McCalls 8576 at all by now.

So, I'm gonna try and not make anything for the rest of this week, since I am trying to finish reading Godel Escher Bach before I jet away at the end of the week. It's probably the best book ever, but goddamn it's huge and heavy and I'd prefer to not have to lug it back to Japan with me...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waist, Not Want Not

Haha, so as you can see, Crafty April is over and I've slowed down a little, as other things have been demanding my attention. However, I have not ground to a halt...

A couple of weeks ago, Dear Younger Sibling had a big wardrobe clear out. It was like having my very own private op-shop! The prize find was several pairs of jeans from his highschool puppyfat phase. They'd almost fit two of him in now, so they were not worth keeping, but to me they represent miles and miles of usable denim. Wahoo! Here's the fate of most of the first pair:

Not my usual sort of thing, but it's nice to have something different. And I am rather proud of it, because I knocked it together without a pattern. I slashed and sewed the legs into a length of denim, pinned it inside-out into a tube around me, and then just grabbed handfuls of extraneous denim and pinned ad hoc darts about the place. Then I sewed them in place, and repeated the last step until it fit right. Then I whacked some button holes in to lace it up with. At the moment, it's just laced up with some random bias binding I had to hand. I reckon I'll get something more interesting, eventually. I kinda want to decorate the corset, because it's a bit plain, but I'm not sure how yet. I guess I'll just wait until inspiration comes...

DYS also ditched a couple of black t-shirts, which was handy since I'm gonna need running shorts when I get back to Japan:

Speaking of getting back to Japan, I've also made a kick-arse work shirt. Check this shit out:

This is the pattern close up:

I used to have a good shirt pattern, but I couldn't find it, so I had to buy a new one. This shirt was made using Kwik Sew 2849, and I reckon it's a pretty good pattern. It's nicely fitted, with princess seams instead of darts - I think that's a plus, because personally I find darts fiddlier than extra seaming, and I think there's a lot of potential to make cool shirts with contrasting side panels. So, I think this is the beginning of a long and beautiful freindship because I was so damn sick of wearing uninteresting shirts to work!

When I looked at the fabric, I could see in my head exactly how the shirt should look. Shoulder tabs were involved in this mystical vision, so I added some in. I think they get a little lost in the busy pattern, but not to worry. Here's a detail view:

I also really like the buttons - they are all different, odd ones that we had in the stash at home. I had a sudden epiphany about buttons, and realised that there's no real reason why they all have to match. Visual cohesion does not have to mean 'everything is exactly the same'. Yeah! Subvert that dominant paradigm! W00t!

In other news, I have recently acquired a new toy, per kind favour of Uncles Kev and Wayne. So, I crocheted it a cosy, to keep it safe in my bag. I just sat and kind of free-formed - it worked out ok.

(Yes, yes. I am that obsessive. Guess who's the iPod wallpaper...)

And, on top of all of that, I have been churning through Dad's Time Team jumper. I have finished the front and the first sleeve. I reckon I'll probably get the last sleeve done while I'm sitting in front of the Eurovision.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why, Yes. I Do Have Too Much Time On My Hands.

So, Samurai Champloo, yeah? Hell, yes. You know what I'm saying. Talk about a series composed entirely of win and awesome. There are many, many things I appreciate about this anime, but in particular it taps into my chronic weakness for pale, dark-eyed boys who wear glasses.

So, don't question it. Just marvel at my awesome, snuggly, Jin-tastic new pyjamas:
(Once again, photo credits go to Dear Younger Sibling, who also insisted that I pose with his old shinai.)

I am particularly proud of the top because, yes, it is actually a kimono. I made it according to the directions in 'Making Kimono and Japanese Clothes' by Jenni Dobson. It's a pretty good book, though the instructions are kinda wordy and a bit hard to follow. Once I figured out what they meant, though, the actual process was easy-peasy. Just a lot of very long seams. I'm keen to make more, out of things that are not flanelette. (But, oh! I do love flanny jammies. Snugleeeee...)

The diamonds were a bit of a pain, all that fiddly cutting-out and folding over and stitching corners in place... Until Dad said "What about if you use the iron-on bonding stuff?" "What iron-on bonding stuff?" Said I. "THIS iron-on bonding stuff," said Dad, after rummaging around somewhere in the depths. This house is truly a Mary Poppins bag of craft supplies. And iron-on bonding is my new favourite thing. Good work, Dad!

Oh, glee. I love it when a crazy idea comes to fruition.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's What's Underneath That Counts

Hmm... Snappy title, not sure how to follow that up!

So, I've been making undies. I was originally inspired by this post on Threadbanger. But that post is all about making massively ruched knickers with non-stretch material, and I prefer a sleeker line. Luckily, I had some cute printed knit in my stash, so I grabbed a pair of knickers I already really liked and copied a pattern off those. A bit rough, but I'm super pleased with the results.

I used to be a massive undie-buying addict, but I stopped because the fashions changed and the stuff in the shops no longer appealed to me so much. Now I think I'm going to be hooked on making them. Can anyone say t-shirt recycling? Ooooooooh.....

Also, I've been working away at Dad's jumper. The back's done and I've started on the front:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Altair Ego

How do you get by without your trusty hoody? Answer is, you don't. Unfortunately, all my trusty hoodies are elsewhere, and I've been having to borrow some grody old one of Dear Younger Sibling's. But, I found a stack of polar fleece scraps in my room - left overs from making Valentine's Day dressing gowns for myself and Dear Significant Other a few years ago. So, I decided to patch something together. I stitched the scrappy bits together into larger pieces of fabric, then just traced the shape roughly off a nice hoody of DYS's. Whizz it all together on the machine and, hey presto! Snuggliness.

The credit for the idea for the long hood must go to DYS. I like it, it feels sort of neo-medieval. I've never played Assassin's Creed, but when I put it on I felt just faintly reminiscent of the promo art for it. I realise this doesn't come across in the photos. But trust me, from the effect from inside the hood is epic.