Saturday, 26 April 2008

Busy Bee Me

hi people,
with my obaachan
this is just a quick note to say that i have not fallen off the face of the planet. i am just busy. the outlaws are in town (as seen above) and i have been sewing omiyage (basically gifts) for them and some clothes for me (still in progress...). i have been lurking and sending the odd email out but not replying. please give me until midday wednesday because i am otherwise engaged until then.

oh i will quickly announce the blog giveaway tomorrow if not then wednesday too. i had 3 guesses (one a week late due to family reasons, another on the blog and an email from the third). i asked okaasan (mil's official title) if she would draw the giveaway (and she was stoked) but we forgot to do it today. to see what i have been up to, look here and here.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A Very Murphy Lunch Box Swap

Have you ever had a jinxed swap where Uncle Murphy helped you every step of the way?? I had one of those for Oh Fransson's Lunch Box Swap.

I wanted to do something a little different so I thought may be a messenger bag would be good. Um I would like to know where the cut out bag got hidden. Sometimes inviting CT into the studio creates a few issues.
murphy lunch box swap
So then I decided to make one of those lunch bags that are commonly found in Japan. I worked in metric instead of imperial, so I feel that the lunch bag is a little on the small side. This has me a little worried. So that was Murphy number 2, size.

Then my overlocker (serger for American readers) decided to break the underlooper thread (why use it? um the fabric was the shred heaps kind...), we broke the underlooper threader (yes, that would be a joint effort between S and I), threaded ki (that's what I've named the sodding thing) incorrectly, got a loooooooooooooot of thread stuck on the stitch forming tongue, had to hack thread off. No swearing in English, picked a few fights with Ki in Japanese (um not really offensive when translated in English but pretty offensive to Japanese sensibilities). So Murphy number 3 Ki the demon overlocker from the ninth pit of hell (I stand by that and may we battle again, soon.).
Something blue.
I decided the lining needed a zipper and lots of little pockets (um because I am always looking for them for all the junk I carry for CT). I broke 4 needles because I wasn't thinking late one night about the metal zipper stops. Actually I smashed the needles so badly you could hear the timing belt clattering around inside. Nothing seems awry but no doubt Happy could find plenty. I was really worried about the zipper bust ups so stopped sewing each time 2 days it took... Should I also admit that I hugged Ma (the machine) and apologised (refuse to with Ki).So the zipper was Murphy number 4.
murphy lunch box swap
It gets better bear with me as I moan bond with you (I don't whinge because whingers are cringers and I don't do cringe)... Murphy number 5, I sewed and unpicked the side seams several times because, I had to change seam allowances for the zipper debacle and kept getting it wrong.
murphy lunch box swap
Murphy number 6, I forgot that the lining needed to have the right side facing (late nights because I HAD to get this project out of my life, procrastination and a little monkey not sleeping well at night are my defence here). The photo taking probably didn't help either (at that stage I was thinking of a tutorial (ha).
murphy lunch box swap
Murphy number 7, I embroidered the draw string bit (for want of a technical word) and I put it in upside down (It matters to me if the Japanese is upside down peeps). Oh it says lunch on the pic above and the back says box.

Murphy number 8 I sewed the handles on the inside instead of the outside the second time I put the draw string section in.

Murphy number 9, I sewed my finger only on the side but what was I thinking??? (Nothing, otherwise it would not have happened. Um good it wasn't in the middle of a fingernail. I've done that before....)
murphy lunch box swap
Murphy number 10 I asked S for his evaluation (he said it looked professional despite all the unpicking and swearing I did at it) in front of CT. Peeps, if I didn't have the outlaws descending on me on Thursday evening, I would have gone with plan C (the prototype worked today, but I should have been making myself some much needed clothing....). It broke my heart when the little sweetie CT chucked the biggest wobbly that I have seen yet, when I packed it up this morning.
murphy lunch box swap
If you have made it this far, thanks for reading the moan bond. I also sent a zippered coin purse for an coffee, cold drink etc and a long draw string bag (for putting your projects for working on outside the home) and other goodies but I will not post that picture below until it has reached its new home. Everything crossed that my swaper likes the bag and other bits. I am really nervous over this swap. Oh it is a blind swap so I can blog about the Murphing now (to get it off my chest).

In other creating news, I have finished 4 aprons (2 for MIL and 2 for SIL), I have 2 shirts cut out (and awaiting overlocking with Ki. Bring it on demon...), 3 pairs of shorts to cut out, 2 bullfrogs on the go (one for CT and another for one of her playgroup pals who is about to become a big brother) and I want to make something for the little person who is going to make their presence felt really soon. This all needs to happen before Friday. So if you wonder where I have been the Murphy lunch bag took a whole week to make and I still have a back log. So you will probably see pics of the disaster area tomorrow but after that I am taking another hiatus. So see you later alligators...

This is... my discovery

I know that this post is 2 days late and I skipped last week's this is. Last week was too tough for me seeing that I have only just moved to a foreign country so how could I choose only 6 of my friends and family to dinner. So I sat it out. This week, I thought that I would share these Japanese Home Ec textbooks for grades 5 and 6 as my discovery.
this is my discovery
An unexpected find in the book boxes still waiting for their book case. But then I saw this
this is my discovery
on Sunday. I just needed to wait for the right moment to capture this discovery. I have been trying to work out how the monkey child was getting on the bed. It seems that she was completely willing for a photo shoot because she got on the bed, off the bed again and again and again.
this is my discovery
I guess it is better than her climbing the kitchen cupboards or try to reach the window ledge (dangerous when you live on the fifth floor and the windows have no sort of protection.... I guess it is the lesser of a few evils...

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

More Secret Squirrelling

Evening all,
Secret Squirel Business
I have another secret squirrel report tonight and keeping this one a secret nearly killed me. This time I sent Smoothpebble a mobile and some yo-yos. Because it was not a swap and I was repaying some crafting karma, Kwoozy created my crafting karma. which I have wanted to pay back. You might ask why. Well, Smoothpebble, often writes lovely comments about CT on my Flickr photos and she made the most awesome mobile. Besides, a few of her posts have struck a chord with me (probably because we were on the same wavelength at the same time). She is still in mobile limbo like me. Unfortunately we are not the only two.
Some more mobile movement
I had so much fun making the thread painted fish that I made three sets. One with an outline and crazy stitching inside, another with just an outline and the third set for CT (I will finish that project pronto so you can see what they are for). I had 4 little fishies looking for a 'home' in two senses of the word, a project and a place to reside. I liked the fishy mobile that I made for Painted Fish Studio and wanted to play with some of the leftover beads, I had bought to make shaker toys for CT last year. When I read in the mobile swap discussions that Smoothpebble still hadn't received hers. I will admit that hers was one I was hoping that would come my way (as well as several others) but I knew that the colours were not right.... I had to get her address. This is where I got sneaky and Painted Fish Studio. That's right the very lovely Jen helped me in this venture, as well as My Purple Crayon, though she didn't know it at the time. :D
Even more mobile action
Do you remember a few weeks ago how I posted a few photos with the title secret squirrel on Flickr? Well that is the morning we posted them.
Let's do Lunch
Yeap, I dragged the family out, went to lunch (which both my favourite peeps love to do) and spent an hour in the postal queue (I was the only one who posted anything by the way). And while I waited to hear that the parcel arrived, I nearly went round the twist. It was extremely difficult not to give the secret squirrel away.

Mischief managed. I have another 4 in progress...

Friday, 11 April 2008

This is... a give away.

Umm you might be wondering why. It is not a 50th blog post entry or anything like that. While CT was going through all the interesting trinkets in the weekly 'This is..' meme, she stumbled upon these earrings.
This is...a give away.
I won't bore you with the reasons why I no longer wear earrings, anyhow, I don't think My Purple Crayon (if she lurks here) needs to choke on any more coffee (read here for the reason why she did it in the first place). Seeing that it will be years before CT will be wearing anything like this and I agree with Donnie's philosophy of not hoarding what you don't need (S has just snickered at this as he cruises past the computer, he thinks my supplies are more like Smaug's hoard...), so I think they need a loving home. What do you need to do to be in the running for these pretties??
This is...a giveaway
What do you think CT stands for? Kwoozy and Painted Fish Studio as you are both secret squirrel keepers, so sadly you have to sit out this one. It will be interesting so see if any of Donnie's pals lurk here as well. In the case of Donnie's pals, I would like to know what you thought CT meant before Happy proudly explained his moniker for our muse. You have until 12pm my time next Friday to submit your thoughts and S will choose the winner. There will be other goodies with the earrings but that is secret squirrel business, so you just have to let your imagination run riot as to what I may or may not include.

Nite all.
Ps A secret squirrel rant. I would like to say that a postal service in an unnamed country is slowly driving me round the twist. Do you have snails delivering your mail?? Well today is day 12. Where is it!!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

On my desk

I am on time with this one.
Ummmmmm it was a mess.
So I tidied it.
Waiting for a home and inspiration
Some inspiration here
Inspiration corner
and there.
While I cleaned....
and another view. At least she investigated the contents of the box. It is special and it is hers. Not mine to play with anymore. These are all the scraps from fabrics of her first wardrobe made by me. I wonder what will become of all these treasures???

This is... my favourite trinket box

Like I have said before, better late than never.
This favourite trinket box
This is a very special trinket box because it belonged to Donnie, who gave it to me in the late 1970s (yes I admit to being of that vintage). My plans for this box is to fix the lining as I decorated it and then give it to CT in a few years time.
This favourite trinket box
I have always loved the inside and outside of the box. The Japanese lacquer work, my favourite view of Japan, Mt Fuji, the mother of pearl, the read against the black and the size.
This favourite trinket box
I can't remember if it still had the musical part still going. I suspect that there was a dancer?? I do remember the mirrors. Donnie did I break them? But I do remember taking them out when I was a pre-teen. The inside was a magical stage (with built in practice area, what girl doesn't dream of ballet??), the front area was sometimes the music pit. The sides was where the audience sat (like in the stalls at the movies). Anything became a doll; buttons, small dolls, pegs, anything I could lend my imagination to.
This favourite trinket box
The trinkets? Most are not worth much but the memories are priceless. Besides, what is not treasure to us....

We're Happy Little Vegemites

Ave out there,

I have hit my happiness nirvana, happy little vegemite status. My week keeps looking up and up and up. (S is loving it too...) What have I done??? Oh for those of you who do not know what vegemite is. It is an Australian food spread for those who like strong smells and it can be a little salty for some (but actually doesn't have much salt in it per 100 grams). S hates it with a passion but the girls in the family do. Wan-chan (is a boy as decreed by the man in the house) isn't so keen either because vegemite fingers = a wipe down. He is allergic to cleanliness. For more information please go to the vegemite official website. Oh make sure you listen to the song too by clicking on the tv.

So I guess I had better tell you how my week got even better.
Surprise Mail
Well take yesterday for example. A random package from okaasan lobs up. Sly old fox didn't even hint at it... Look at a sample of all the goodies. One had been feeling a tad guilty that I had not been making CT new clothes because her first wardrobe is on the tight (but not unwearable) side. Okaasan had the sixth sense.
Surprise Mail
She also decided that I needed a choice of BIG bags to lug stuff around in and look stylish as well as a sweet necklace which CT kind of broke before I noticed it but it is repairable. Repair first photo later. Ties for S, boring in my eyes, but he desperately needed more appropriate ones for Singapore. My bright ties just don't cut the mustard here. Japanese snacks, kurogoma (sweet black sesame seeds,heaven) and the osembe (rice crackers).
Surprise Mail
I have heard of these, they're Tales of Genji Kyoto osembe, but had not tasted. Heaven. CT thinks so too. While I was loading up the photos to Flickr someone woke early. My theory is that she smelt the osembe. I had just opened the packet peeps, I only got one.... But I think a much better snack alternative for a little person.
Strike a pose
Yesterday also saw the little girl take her first step (and fall). So we can stand and take one step independently. I guess life is going to change again (isn't change a constant in life anyway??) but I am so proud. She was also practising the stepping thing today all morning (may be another reason for a very short nap) but more than one step is elusive (and frustrating for her). But another jig moment.
Arab St and Surrounds
Today?? A trip to Arab St. If I am making aprons for okaasan while she visits, it would be rude not to include oneesan. I have nothing that is to her taste so I needed to make a little trip. I didn't side track with purchases but explored more. Have I mentioned that there lots of scrummy places to eat at?? Well consider it done today. I took more photos too. When I feel I have a good mix for a decent blog post, Arab St according to Ayama-chan will be written (along with dozens of other projects that are begging to be done).
Also I got the hugest compliment today. Donnie told me that I had talent and she was impressed and proud of my sewing. It might sound strange, but I grew up in awe of Donnie's sewing. She's designed and sewn bridal gowns, was an in demand dressmaker, owned a patchwork store and designed quilts.... Did I mention that Donnie is extremely talented?? So I take it as a compliment. Thank you Donnie. And I did my little victory dance when you told me too.

Ummm I better catch on my, 'This is....' post from Sunday. Forgive me a lot of living has been happening here at casa da yamas.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Time for Some Secret Squirrel Sharing

Warning, this is a photo heavy post because I am going to be a show off.

This is the first in a series of secret squirrel reports. He was revived for me by my obstetrician last year who joked about his secret squirrel routes around the hospital. Jen is not the only one who may or may not be expecting mail from me and I would hate to spoil surprises. Oh and I hope I am sounding a little cryptic. I'm hoping to have another secret squirrel report sometime this week, next week and the week after. It does make it hard to post photos of what I am doing.

Okay back to the secret squirrel report. Through Meg's mobile swap, I have met some pretty awesome people, Jen being one of them and we agreed to do a swap. I hadn't seen Jen's blog before until I found her through her flickr badge. That was a late night with a few wines reading most of her blog. She is more art than craft and got me very curious. When My Purple Crayon asked if anyone was up for more swapping and Jen replied yes, butterflies raced in my stomach when I contacted her. Now 2 months down the track, I have a friend. :D

Most of the items I made are fishy because they were the rush of ideas I had when I sent the initial email. If I had of read more closely before I mentally ticked off what I was going to do, I would have included her two lovely dish lickers as well. (There is always Christmas guys.) I also wasn't keen on a mobile because S isn't really into them. It's his girls that do.
Jen mentioned that her job in her profile job so I assumed that she spent a lot of time in an office on a computer, so I immediately thought of a wrist pad. S loved the one I made him. My thoughts strayed to a fish I had seen in ISBN4-539-03489-5 and the fabric mum had given me for Christmas 2006. I modified the pattern, used different fabric, but the basic shape (I feel) still belongs to the author of this publication. I called him sushi because I thought he looked mean. Wouldn't you be if you had such an unfortunate name??
Making the gang
I also thought of the mono-oki, in their original context from omiyage, they are actually purses. I played a lot with the goldfish pattern (the size, the curves, the closures but once again I feel that they are still essentially the author's design if you look at the book). I really enjoyed it and when I can find where CT squirreled away chernobyl's brother, I'll take a photo. The fabric of both mono-oki are recycled.
Saying good byes
Chernobyl's fabric is very special to me. My first host mother gave me a lunch box, lunch box bag and a furoshiki to wrap my lunch box in. When I went through my I-hate-my-host-school-let's-wag-school phase (which my final host family whole heartily encouraged), this furoshiki and I went to lots of places, Kamakura, Ueno (mainly for the pond and getting lost looking at the vintage kimonos), Meiji Shrine, any shrine that I saw in aimless walks. So in a way it was a partner in my crimes.
Chernbyl's contents
I had been wanting to do something special with this fabric for awhile, besides who needs 2 kingyo mono-oki??
Were you listening?
Fudge, was made from a girlfriend's grandmother's kimono scrap I was given. The name?? I made the zip closure up as I sewed along. Well I did sit with the pattern and measure a 'perfect' fit for the top but chirimen is a very forgiving fabric, it stretches as you sew. So I had to pull a bit here, cut a bit here, stick my tongue out there and ease the piece in. S calls this technique, fudging. So the name stuck.
Disaster included
Twirl mobile twirl
The mobile was more what I had in mind for the mobile swap. Well the copper coil bit. I wanted it to twist like on a swivel and create a never-ending coil visual effect while in full flight. I have something for curves and circles, which was lucky for me because Jen, likes them too.
The Whole Gang
The organza thread painted fish (which I like much better than my original idea) came about from my crimes to antique kimono remnant post. These were the fish, that I wanted to hang on the fishing line. But the fabric was too old and frail to sew, even by hand. I am still kicking myself for ruining such a beautiful piece of fabric. The beads were Arab St finds as well as the bell. The Japanese hang furin in windows and on porches in the summer to catch the breeze. One host family even hung ordinary bells, they told me it was to attract the wind gods. I fell in love with bells in Japan. They are very lucky.
Putting together
I needed to share some of my origami papers. I have tons and I am looking forward to the day that CT and I can make origami together. At the moment, the paper itself are treasures for her. But she will watch me make her simple animals and toys. They get loved to death, which is what they are meant for. I sent my favourites. Finally I included a few postcards from Yoshitomo Nara. I really like his non-pc pictures of children and his dogs. Sorry Jen, I can't part with the dogs.

Hmmm more secret squirrel stuff to do now. I am having a lunch box bag break until tomorrow (because I am going to lick these suckers. I want to make one for my best friend Jane too. Her birthday was 2 days after CT's and....). Actually it isn't going too well. I am stuffing up all the corners that I am sewing. So one thinks that they need to go and rethink patterns to something where the corners are a simple and I will be happy with the result. The messenger bag I made has now become CT's library bag (photos to come). She loves it but I don't think wan-chan does. What self respecting dog would want to travel head first in a bag??

Still Walking on Sunshine

Salubrious Salutations all. A big thank you to all of you who take the time to comment or send me mail, I cannot tell you how much it means to me and a lot of your encouragement gives me the warm fuzzies.

You might wonder why I am still walking on sunshine. My fabulous weekend was kicked off with Jen's lovely swap on Friday. I still haven't put anything in my book, but I have collected relevant stuff to put in it. If Jen and I ever meet, I'll share....

On Saturday I got word that Jen had received the swap that I sent and that she loved it. So a phew, a little nervous tension gone and now I can have a show and skite. A whole set devoted to what I got up to there.(I'll talk more about that in the next post. 2 day post today peeps). Saturday also saw a jaunt to Singapore's Japanese ex-pat major hang out. So I was able to finally get a copy of the spring edition of Cotton Friend (more on that later), find some of CT's favourite Japanese curry roux and eat authentic (honest) Japanese cuisine. CT also had the staff in the restaurant in stitches at the end of the meal when she decided that she needed to wipe the high chair tray clean. I was a little disappointed that she did not eat the cha-han (Japanese fried rice) we ordered for her because why have cha-han when there is a vegemite sandwich in the bag??

Sunday's good news is that okaasan (that's the title for MIL) is coming to visit from the 24th to the 30th of April. Our last meeting was not positive as I was dealing with PND, mastitis and severe sleep deprivation. Needless to say that I was not my usual self which had my outlaws wonder if the person they met last time was 'the real me'. Nope they just had an irrational panicky me. It has taken a looooong time for okaasan to be friendly or trust me (One feels that it is back because when she calls, she rarely wants to talk to S), so I really want to do a lot of bridge mending with her. I am also very happy for her sake that she had the courage to come to Singapore without otoosan. They are a pre-WWII mindset couple so for her to come to Singapore without him is a HUGE thing. Part of me is dancing because he is not coming (because I think he is a chauvinist), however, the parent in me is sad that he can't enjoy CT before she cottons on to what 'naughty' is. Apparently the dental clinic is that busy that he can't take the time off as well as his back and type 2 diabetes preventing a visit health wise. I am really proud of okaasan for just doing it. My sister-in-law is also coming (otherwise I do not think okaasan would have had the courage to come alone, her English is zero). I haven't seen oneesan (big sister, well she is married to S's older brother) for nearly 4 1/2 years. It's a shame that when we go on overseas holidays we do not occasionally head to Japan but S and his family do not see eye to eye. I also got time in lieu as well on Sunday afternoon. What did I do?? Go to a specialist fabric store to check out their felt range. One should have checked if they were actually open on a Sunday but it was in such a lovely area I went for a walk in the park and talked to random dogs.

Oh and today, CT and I got accepted into another playgroup. We start on the first Wednesday in May. I happen to know a few of the other mothers and toddlers in the group as well. Today we hung out at the library. It's awesome with lots of board books for CT and her age group and set out really well for them. For a change (I tend to head to the library on a stormy day like today), there weren't many 'helpers' rather mums with their littlies. So why shouldn't I be walking on sunshine??? Or is it more the Simon and Garfunkel 'Feeling Groovy' kind of thing?? Nah mix of both. :D

See you in the next post.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

I'm Walking on a Small World

Peeps, I like to think of myself as the queen of spoonerisms. I love them and deliberately use them, blame Happy. So today I am mixing songs: I'm Walking on Sunshine and It's a Small World.

The small world part: I went to visit a dermatologist on Wednesday (Aside: another 3 suspect moles need to go. Hmmm may be there will be no skin left when I am 40...) and while he was getting my patient details (ie where I had lived to rate the melanoma risk) he mentioned that he lived in Brisbane. So I asked where, the same suburb as Donnie and Happy (and a lot of my late to early 20s), he asked which street (because we think it is the best 'burb), you could see the shock register in the guy's face. Who would have guessed that this doctor (out of the all the dermatologists in Singapore) lived a few streets away from where I was as a younger person.... So I spent the rest of Wednesday singing It's a Small World in English and Japanese. Oh I felt you needed to see the finished houses from The Lark (sort of seems appropriate given the doctor story). 'Spose that makes me a show off too....
The sunshine part: Look at what Jen sent me as part of our swap.
Happy Mail From Painted Fish
People, stalking the postie is not necessarily a bad thing. He was busting to give this hand this to me as I passed the letterboxes yesterday. I am one very lucky girl. I love books and paper and more so chiyogami. How lucky to have a book especially made and designed for me. (Yes I am a tragic, I've started to sing and groove again...) Oh and because a certain mobile is still absent, a 'temporary' was sent.
Happy Mail From Painted Fish
Jen, temporary my left foot, CT likes it,
Circle Joy
especially the new home. Even S likes it and he isn't a mobile person.

Hurry up postie, I have secret squirel photos I am busting to share. It is almost killing me to keep the surpises....

Thursday, 3 April 2008

This was on my desk Wednesday

Baa I am a sheep. I have decided to join the "On my desk Wednesday" meme. A day late but I ran the batteries out of the camera... again!
This is on my desk Wednesday
Seeing this a first, a view of the desk (hem hem Ikea table) from the 'studio' door. (Won't be taking one of these over exposed babies again in a hurry.) From the top kingyo wind chime, loathed venetian blinds, S's camera, Japanese lunch box carrier (pattern potential for Oh Frannson's Lunch Box Swap), wrapping paper (still there from some one's birthday), thread, Ma and Ma's cover, Obbakii (the over locker), water bottle, baking paper, blue container with all my cutters/scissors in it (note to self Suzy Reorganising can go go gadget them from there), bin under table and one of Granddad's very special stools. WIP below.
This is on my desk Wednesday
A shot of what is under Ma, because this is where all the action takes place here. This week I have been doodling on the machine. Donnie is extremely good at this and has two amazing pictures that she made. Donnie would you be willing to share them with others so I can have a show and skite at what a talented sewer you are?? You can also see a roll of baking paper (for tracing patterns), carbon paper, the original picture I based the doodle on and ric rac (was tinkin'...)
This is on my desk Wednesday
Seeing that I spend a lot of time here in a week too. Let's see how this space evolves... The packing boxes will be beautiful, they are part of the tunnels that we make, library books, DIY postbox, our water bottles, baby, Anpan-man, and stacking toy.