Last Saturday was the last day of my Japanese language school for the 2014/15 school year. It has been 8 years since I started teaching Japanese to children. Every year the students in my class are different and each class is unique. Over the year I get to know my class by communicating, studying together, playing games, and doing activities, and by the end we have formed a bond. On the last day I had mixed feelings, because I was happy to finish another year and to send the students off to the next level class but I was sad to say good bye and not see them in my class anymore. But I know that the next year holds new students and a different teaching adventure.
Each year students have given me very special gifts; handmade thank you cards, paper cranes, animals made with origami paper, drawings, handmade stuffed animals, etc. I love to see their short, handwritten messages in the Japanese I taught. I love to see pretty drawings with their names in Japanese characters. Those are very special gifts from my students that I keep in a box. But most of all, I love to hear how much they enjoyed my class and that they look forward to coming back to school next year. I am fortunate to be able to receive these priceless gifts from my students.
While I stayed in Japan, I visited many stores that sell “zakka”. “Zakka” are small household and interior design items in categories such as the kitchen, bathroom, stationary, crafts, fashion, etc. They are all so pretty, of good quality and design, and very functional. Just looking at them makes me happy and always inspires my own crafts.
The pictures above and below are a lunch box from a store called Afternoon Tea in Nagoya, Japan. Each container has small partitions , and the three boxes can be stacked and tied with a belt. I can’t wait to go on a picnic with Cocoa and Haru with this lunch box full of food in the summer.
I found another pretty shop called “On and Off” at Odawara in Japan. I bought two pairs of chopsticks.
These are cup cake holders with pink and blue polka dots. Another one has a Paris themed design. I bought them to use for my needle felt crafts.
This schedule notebook with a buffalo check cover was a gift from my friend. There are all kinds of cover designs and are very popular in Japan.
Finally, this small pouch with a metal frame and a strap was found in a small shop in Kyoto, close to the Kiyomizu temple. There were many pretty items in the store but I picked this pouch. I think it is very simple, but colorful and elegant at the same time.
I made a needle felted dog named Hana. I made a dress for her with green lace trim and yellow shoes with hearts on them. On her back, I attached a flower shaped button.
These three needle felted creatures are the famous Totoro and friends. They were created by my daughter’s friend as a Christmas gift. The three of them together makes for an adorable trio.
These crochet mini bags are the perfect size for daily handheld things, like snacks, lunches, phones, or cosmetics. I bought 3 different kinds of yarn; green, orange, and ivory of 100% Peruvian Highland Wool to make bags in each colour. As I was making the crochet bag, I realized I did not have enough yarn, so I decided to combine the colours.
This is a star shaped crochet stitch, so a star shaped pattern can be seen in the bag.
The insides of the bags are lined with similarly coloured fabric and Kokobiyori’s logo.
Besides the crochet mini bags, I made a crochet doughnut shaped pillow for Haru, which she loves! As I was making the mini bags, she was lying on the pillow keeping me company.
This is my second post about hand warmers. After knitting my last pair, I decided to try out three new designs. One is grey, another is orange and yellow patterned, and another is an ivory color with eyelet stitches.
I like to knit hand warmers because I don’t need much yarn to make a pair and it only takes a few hours to make. Once I decide the design, I can knit hand warmers in various colors.
I especially like the off white colour because it gives the essence the snow.
Since I craft often, I have many left over fabric scraps. Although they are small, they have patterns that are much too cute to throw away. After a bit of brainstorming, I decided to make quilted pot holders with the leftover fabric. I sorted the fabrics by color and matched them with complementing patterns. This trial and error process of matching different swatches of colors and designs is one my favorite parts of crafting.
I made two kinds of pot holders; one with pink flowers and polka dots on brown fabrics and another with an herb pattern and blue polka dots on green fabrics. One side of the pot holder has a pocket so that I can insert my hand to hold a pan. I included my “Kokobiyori” logo and attached a ribbon in the corner so that I can hang the holder on the side of the refrigerator.
The pot holder was easy to make, and became adorable Christmas presents for my friends.
When the colored leaves begin to fall, I know that the hand warmer season has begun. Unlike structured gloves or mittens, the hand warmer allows for more flexibility. Without taking them off, I can pay a cashier using my credit card or pick up the bills and coins from my wallet. I can type on the laptop in my office until the heater works enough for me to feel warm. I can wander through the book store looking for a book and flip through the pages.
I made this pair of simple design hand warmers with 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. I also accented them with small crocheted flowers. I love the color of teal or ocean blue color of the yarn and I was instantly drawn to the yarn when I entered the store.
I made another pair of hand warmers of the same design, alternating a green and blue color.
Of course, I also wear the hand warmers when I take Cocoa and Haru on walks.
I love hand warmers, and for me, they are an essential for the wintertime.
I lived in big cities, small towns, and the countryside in Japan when I was a child. Like everyone, I have many memories from my childhood. I remember the beautiful Koi fish in the small pond in my grandma’s garden, the plum trees that my mom made plum pickles from, the uncomfortable kimono I wore for my 7 year turning of age celebration which I hated, roaming with my father and my dog in the mountain, picking mushrooms and persimmon in autumn, the beautiful lanterns lighting up the summer festival at night, and of course, the beautiful cherry blossoms in the springtime.
This “Konnichiwa paper collection” takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of all my precious childhood memories. Inspired by the designs, I transformed the paper into greeting cards, so I can share the importance of childhood memories.
When my daughter was in elementary school, I used to knit her all kinds of scarves and sweaters to wear. As she grew older, my focus shifted to my two other babies; wiener dogs named Cocoa and Haru. Like many other dog owners, I constantly spoil them and spend precious time and money buying them toys and little outfits.
One day I saw an adorable picture in my kitchen calendar.
The rainbow colored knit hat inspired me to make a similar one for my cream colored, long haired pup, Haru. So I picked up my knitting needles and alpaca yarn that I hadn’t used since my last scarf. Simply eyeballing the picture and about a million mistakes later, I had completed a pretty, pink, mini hat.
Ecstatic with the outcome, I excitedly plopped the hat on Haru’s head, and tied the bow below her chin. Much to my disappointment, the hat made her head look like a mushroom, and she looked like a canine water polo player. A bit distressed, I turned to my other dog, Cocoa, who was lying dejectedly on his bed. Calling him out, I hopefully tied the hat to his head. It turned out that Cocoa looked much better in the hat than Haru did, and my hat making efforts were rewarded!