Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Introducing Japan Crafts

This month's sponsor of the Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew giveaway is Katie, who runs Japan Crafts, my online source for beautiful Japanese fabrics, kits and Sashiko supplies.

As some of you may not have come across Katie's lovely store before, I asked Katie to provide us with an introduction on how she found herself having to visit Japan several times a year to replenish her fabric supplies!

Here is how it all happened:

"I've been crafty from being a small child (I once asked for, and got, a roll of Sellotape for my birthday!), and passionate about Japan ever since reading Memoirs of a Geisha at the age of 18 and deciding that I HAD to go to Japan and become a geisha! Having my daughter a couple of years later put paid to that idea (luckily...?), and when she was at nursery, I took some silk painting lessons and started selling my silk paintings of Japanese ladies in kimono. The more I researched kimono, the more I loved them!"

Red Dragon, Tsumugi Cotton

I started Japan Crafts in 2006 with a few silk painting kits and some handmade Japanese 'washi' paper, and it snowballed over the next few years into a sustainable, full-time business, to the point where I now travel to Japan 3 times a year to buy fabric (I know, it's a hard life!).

Kanzashi Flower Brooch Kit

Over the years I have learnt and experienced so much and I hope to share this through my talks, workshops and kits. I love attending the major quilt shows and meeting customers, and being able to delight them with gorgeous, authentic fabrics.
Sashiko Sampler, Asanoha

In my personal life I study Japanese (speaking and reading), kimono dressing (I wear kimono regularly to shows and events, as it is a good excuse to have to buy more!) and iaido which is the martial art of Japanese swordsmanship. I also love knitting and traditional quilting and am currently working on a quilt for my daughter with 1930s style fabrics.

Vintage Advertising
Having attended one of Katie's workshops I can vouch for her enthusiasm and knowledge for all things Japanese!You can see the results of the Sashiko workshop here

2.5" Mini Charm Pack, Linens

Japan Crafts have just launched a new website so if you want to get your hands on some of these gorgeous fabrics or try your hand at Sashiko then now is the perfect time to stock up and benefit from the free shipping (UK only) on all orders over £25!

Don't forget to link up your Christmas and Holiday makes over at Practically Pippy too, to be in with a chance of winning this lovely Mini Rice Bag Kit, courtesy of Japan Crafts

So, there you have it, another great example of the entrepreneurial spirit of fabric lovers :) Isn't it lovely when you come across suppliers who are so passionate about their businesses?

Monday, 25 May 2015

New to Me in May

Welcome to another New to Me link party, where we celebrate the trying, if not the mastering, of new to you activities!

This month, I have tried a new pattern from a well-used book,

Lauren Bag, Making Vintage Accessories by Emma Brenna
and tried two new patterns from a new book

By the time you read this post however, I will, hopefully, be experiencing my latest New to Me activity!
 Seeing the sights of Moscow, on our latest holiday! Looks like there will be lots of quilt inspiration on hand :)

So, that's my New to Me activity this month, now it is your turn to share your New to You challenges. As ever please help to spread the word by linking back to this post in your post and/or adding the blog button to your sidebar.

Check out the other links too and, maybe, leave an encouraging comment along the way. The emphasis of this link party is to celebrate the trying of something new, whether it works out exactly as planned or not, so a little encouragement here and there would not go amiss! 

The link will remain open until 23.59GMT on May 31st, so you have some time to try something new and link up and join the party :)

Monday, 18 May 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew - the Snowflake edition

Welcome to another Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party!

As ever our mission is to have you all organised and calm by the time December 25th comes around, and to help us we have gathered together a great bunch of bloggers, who are posting tutorials for gift and home decoration projects throughout the year. This month, our guest host is Karen, who blogs at Practically Pippy. I first came across Karen when she lived in Germany, and was very grateful for her sage advice on the etiquette of mulled wine drinking on our first German Christmas Market trip. My daughters-in-law were thankful too :) A few months ago, Karen moved back to the US, so I am delighted that she has found the time to craft a Christmas Mouse tutorial to share with us for this month's Link Party.

Of course it wouldn't be a Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party without a giveaway for one lucky linker. The winner of last month's Alpine Skier cushion cover pattern from Bustle and Sew was Sandra, aka the Novelty Pouch Factory, who made the link up with her fabric baskets posts by the skin of her teeth :) This month, the giveaway prize is generously provided by the wonderful Katie of Japan Crafts, who I had the good fortune to meet when she ran a Sashiko workshop at my local Embroiderer's Guild meeting.

Katie has donated this lovely Mini Rice Bag Kit for one lucky winner, it is just perfect for gift wrapping a special present.

 Having made a similar bag from one of Katie's kits already, I can attest to the clarity of the instructions and the high quality of the materials!

So, if you want to be in with a chance of winning head on over to link up your Christmas and Holiday makes at Practically Pippy

My own Christmas make this month came about when I accidentally spilled a tube of beads all over my craft room floor! Whilst laboriously picking them up I remembered that I had originally purchased the beads along with wire blanks to make a beaded snowflake. So, once I was up off my hands and knees that is what I did, and here is the result!

I think that I might look out for some different coloured beads to make a few more before December.

I also spotted this book on a recent IG'ers destash, so needless to say had to snap it up straightaway :) Hopefully there will be lots of inspiration for future Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew projects in there.

Looking forward to seeing all your holiday makes and as always a big thankyou to all of our lovely giveaway sponsors.

Crafty Trimmings

Logo Sew Hot

Plush Addict Logo

Quilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop

Friday, 15 May 2015

Not one but two finishes!

I am surprised to find that I have not one, but two finishes to report this week! I shall probably have to lie down in a darkened room for a while after writing this post to recover :)

First up is this paper-pieced patchwork pouch (that's a bit of a mouthful to say!), which I have been wanting to make for a while.

The pattern for the pouch is from Patchwork Please by Ayumi Takahashi, which I bought when it first came out a while ago, but this is the first project that I have actually made from it. I am delighted with how the pouch turned out, but there was some head-scratching involved in interpreting the instructions.

"Mark the centre points on both long edges of the panel 1.25" from either corner"
I still have not been able to work out this one!

Emboldened by my success though, I decided to have a go at another project from the book. Rather rashly I thought that I would have a go at the Embroidery Pouch, where I hit my first problem. The pouch in the book has a delightful patchwork star pattern for the front panel, but although there are several other paper piecing patterns for other projects in the book, readers were blithely instructed to draw templates on paper to create their own. Now, it may just be me, but I feel that if I have paid good money for a book of patterns then maybe it is not unreasonable to expect that the patterns might be included! As it was the templates provided to piece the star block front panel needed to be resized and given my recent problems with the photocopies I didn't really think that my son would take too kindly to another request :)

So, I decided to do my own thing instead!

I rummaged through my scrap basket to find all my sewing related fabrics and used them to create this front panel.

The interior of the pouch includes a see-through vinyl pocket with binding. Given that vinyl is not a material that many sewers will have a lot of experience with, I thought that the instructions for the pocket were particularly sparse. Again, I never could get my head around the binding instructions, so after one failed attempt trying to understand them I gave up and did it my own way. It seems to have worked :)

Again, I am happy with how the Embroidery pouch turned out but I do feel that it was despite rather than because of the instructions.

I won't be put off trying other projects in the book, but I will be more wary of the instructions for the projects from the outset.

If you can make head nor tail of the marking instruction do let me know, as it has me completely baffled :)

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Sew the Library at Weekend Doings

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Nessie's Rivals - The Kelpies

What's a Kelpie you may ask? Well, you might have already heard of the most famous Kelpie, Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, as a Kelpie is the name given in Scots to a shape-shifting water horse. Now, however, Nessie has a couple of serious rivals for her crown.

Just along from the Falkirk Wheel you will find these amazing structures!

Each of these Kelpies stands at 30 metres tall and weighs over 300 tons, so there would be no mistaking them on a misty evening, and unlike the sightings of Nessie there is definitely no chance of them being likened to a floating log in a photo :)

The structures were erected in 90 days in 2013, and were designed to both reflect the industrial heritage of the area, with their steel construction and the commercial past of the draught horses of the  canals, where they are based. I have to admit that their unveiling in early 2014 passed me by and I only became aware of them in a recent TV programme of a canal journey across Central Scotland. They are absolutely stunning though, so if you ever get the chance to go see them then I definitely recommend that you go!

I have to confess to taking rather a lot of photographs of The Kelpies as I just found them fascinating! The photo below is a particular favourite, and you can see more clearly in it, the steel plates which formed the construction of each Kelpie.

You can watch a time-lapse video of the construction process here

Linking up to

Live A Colorful Life

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Wheels in motion

A couple of weeks ago we had to go up to Edinburgh to hand in and then collect the visas for our holiday later this month. So, we took the opportunity to spend a couple of days exploring whilst our passports were being scrutinised.

We started off our trip visiting my parents on the West Coast of Scotland

Then headed further North and East to Loch Lomond

We had absolutely glorious weather on our trip, although as you can just see it was still early enough in the year for there to be snow still on the hills.

After Loch Lomond we headed back over to Edinburgh via Falkirk to see the Falkirk Wheel. I have to confess that I hadn't heard of the Falkirk Wheel until recently when I watched a TV programme about canal boating that included a trip via the Wheel. To say that we were impressed is definitely an understatement, it is amazing!

The Falkirk Wheel joins the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. There is a difference of 115feet between the two canals, so the Wheel was designed as a rotating boat lift to move canal boats from one level to the other. It is apparently the world's first and only rotating boat lift!

Here's how it works - Canal boats sail into the basins at the top and bottom of the Wheel, which are then sealed.

The Wheel begins to rotate around the central point

And continues to rotate

Until the basins are realigned

and the boats can continue on their way :)

Amazingly the Wheel only needs 1.5KwH of energy to make each turn, which is apparently the equivalent of boiling 8 kettles! It is beautifully graceful in action, so I can definitely believe that.

If you ever get the chance to visit the Falkirk Wheel, do take it as it truly is a modern wonder. Equally stunning were the nearby Kelpies but they are the subject of another post :)

Linking up to

Live A Colorful Life

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Oops, I did it again!

Not read the instructions that is!

Last month in the Siblings Together Quilt Bee we were asked to make Wonky Log Cabin blocks so I made this

STQBee block April 1
and this

STQB April 2
and blithely sent them off to our April Queen Bee.

Feeling very pleased with myself I checked the instructions for the May block on May 1st and set to making this for our May Queen.


Done and in the post before the month even reaches double figures, you can imagine how smug I was feeling :)

Then I had a second look at the photos in the Siblings Together Quilting Bee Flickr group and had my first twinge of concern. The blocks posted for April didn't look quite the same as mine did!

A rather frantic look at the link for the instructions and another look at the photos already posted and all thoughts of smugness flew out of the window.

We hadn't been asked to make two 1/4 Wonky Log Cabin blocks!!! We had, in fact, been asked to make 4 and join them together to make one large block, Oops!!!

Fortunately, it was only the beginning of May so still time to whip up another two Wonky Log Cabin blocks and get them in the post quick with fingers crossed that nobody had noticed :)

STQB April 3

STQB April 4

Another trip to the Post Office and my conscience could almost be salved. A thousand apologies to Carol, our April Queen Bee, and hopefully I have now learnt my lesson to read the instructions fully before I start :)

Linking up to

Fresh Poppy Design

Quilter in the Closet 
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