Monday, December 17, 2012


I've been away for a long while. Now I'm back, and we have a new addition to the family.

I'd like you to meet Clinton Ryu.
 He arrived on December 10th, at 6:50pm, weighing in at 4156 grams and measuring 55cm. He was the biggest baby at the hospital by a full kilogram that week, although he did not come close to the hospital's record 5400 grams.
We came home on December 13th, and I got to dress him up in the hat I knit while in labor. (And yes, I made it to match my own.)
Of course, when we arrived home the cats were curious. Clint passed the security inspection with no problem.

Now I'm adjusting to my week-old son and his non-schedule of eat, sleep, poop, repeat. But he's totally worth it.
And check out that hair!
Anyway, I'm going back to sleep now.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Introducing Tomodachi

I was reading through my recent posts, and discovered a glaring oversight: the introduction of the newest family member. No, not the little dude still swimming around my belly. This little guy:

This is Tomodachi. Tommy, for short. He was rescued by my friend Emmett from the bowling alley. (Yes, you read that right. The bowling alley.)
See, Emmett works part-time over there, and one night a couple months ago he was on a closing shift. The guys working on the snack bar side were moving some pallets around, when a tiny blue-and-white kitten fell out of a pallet, landed on the floor, then bolted to a corner to hide. The ladies working thought it was a rat, and screamed, and Emmett came running to save them from the vermin...only to discover the two-month-old kitten, cowering behind a mop bucket.
I have long been convinced that babies of all species are adorable to ensure their survival. You see someone so tiny, so cute, and your instinct is to protect them. This was Emmett's instinct that night. The problem was, his landlord won't let him keep any animals besides a goldfish. So, he called us to help.
And of course, we couldn't say no.
Tim actually drove out there to collect him. (It was pretty late and I was pretty tired and had to work the next day, anyway.) He came home, set the kitten up in the room designated for the nursery, then came and told me I had to see this kitten.
He was tiny, very skinny, had a hurt paw and tail, and a couple fleas. (Thankfully, only a couple, and once we got rid of those they never returned.) His fur was matted, he needed a bath desperately, and he kept trying to nurse on my fingers.
Well, he sure didn't like the bath, nor did he like his paw being cleaned with an alcohol swab (although he didn't mind the antibiotic ointment so much). He absolutely loved the milk-soaked kibbles we fed him and the attention we lavished on him. And once again, I was blessed with a kitten that just used the litterbox with no training.
Fast-forward a couple of months, and Tomodachi is doing fantastic. When we finally got him in to see the vet, his paw was healed, his tail was healed, he'd gained enough weight that you couldn't count his ribs just by looking at him...and he was still flea-free. Not to mention worm-free. The vet commented on how healthy he was...which goes to show how much a little love and attention can help. (Food doesn't hurt, either.)

In case you were wondering about the name..."Tomodachi" is Japanese for "Friend." What's funny is, he and Buddy are practically inseparable. (Star, in her usual aloof manner, could care less about hanging out with them.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekend Windup

Well, I got quite a bit done this week!
For starters, I finished the baby quilt:

Now I just need to convince Tim to drive up to Fukuoka with me and visit Ikea, so I can get some furniture for the needs decorating.

Next, I finished the Halloween quilt with 2 months to spare!

This is probably the easiest quilt I've made. It took 2 charm packs, a panel, plus the backing & binding. The quilting design was pretty easy, too:

It seemed so obvious, as soon as I had it basted I just knew it was going to be a spiderweb design. And it looks pretty cool from the back, as well as the front. Now, we're just waiting for October to arrive so we can deploy this one on the couch...

And I'm still knitting. But this weekend, I decided to go with a sweater, rather than another soaker. Tim tried telling me that sweaters are useless, the baby will never wear them, he never wore sweaters as a baby...I pointed out that he was born in May, which is typically warm anywhere in the States, and his family moved to Hawaii before he was a year of course he never wore a sweater. Of course, I was a winter baby, and came home from the hospital in the worst blizzard of the decade, and in every picture of me I'm in a sweater, hat, mittens, and several blankets.
So I win.
Here's where I am today:

And tomorrow, hopefully, I will finish this one and start the next.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday! Check out the button on my sidebar for more info.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Nesting by Knitting

22 weeks pregnant and I'm getting some serious nesting urges. Unfortunately, I can't decorate the nursery just yet (the crib is still making its way across the Pacific, and we haven't set up a day to make the trek to Ikea up in Fukuoka yet.)
So instead, I've been knitting baby items. Mostly soakers, since Tim can't "veto" useful items. (Sweaters are not classified as "useful," somehow, which is just his own ignorance. This baby is arriving in December. He will need sweaters.)
Here's what I've made so far:

And of course, I still have about a half dozen skeins of Cascade 220, just waiting to be knit or crocheted into something fun...
Patterns used, with links to Ravelry, from the top:
Bobbled Bloomers by Kat Coyle
Plain Wrap by Warm Heart Woolies (the two yellow + first olive green)
Snapdragon Soaker by Blossoms & Bits
I am very curious to see how these will fit, but have to wait a few more months...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Almost There...

Tonight, inspiration on how to quilt the baby quilt struck while Tim was out catching some Taco Bell for dinner. (Don't judge. I'm pregnant and had a craving for Mexican food. In Nowhere, Japan. I'll take what I can get.)
Anyway, I'd been fretting for over a week on how to quilt this thing. Did I want to use a free-motion quilting design, or just make neat, parallel lines all over it, or make a nice diamond pattern? At one point, I had a tab open for each of Leah Day's heart designs...but decided to hold off on that until after last week's sonogram. And I'm glad we did, because I know I would've regretted putting hearts all over a quilt destined for a baby boy's nursery.
---Which is where I take a moment to say, "HooRah, we're having a boy!" On my mother's side, this is the first baby boy in 3 generations. On my husband's side, this is the first time the firstborn was a far back as anyone can remember.

Ok, back to the quilt. I realized that because the number of squares going down the long side was prime (11), there was no way I could get any kind of diamond pattern to look right. No matter what angle I used, they would all look just a little bit awkward. And I didn't really want to just stitch-in-the-ditch, but I also couldn't imagine an appropriate FMQ design.
So I compromised, and used steps...
It's sort of stitch-in-the-ditch. I just outlined those nifty stair patterns the fabrics made. The back (which I will totally photograph once the binding is done!) has zig-zags all over.
I had the binding all pinned, and was getting ready to sew it...when I realized that 1) I didn't have any bobbins filled with red thread, 2) the only red thread I have is Aurifil, which is great except that 3) my primary Brother sewing machine, a CP-7500, does not like winding bobbins with Aurifil and 4) my backup Brother was tucked away in a closet in the tatami room, with an upended loveseat blocking the door. ( Also- 5) It's after 10 pm here.)
So tomorrow, I will finish this quilt.
(At least, I hope I will.)

Linking to Fabric that cute button with the sewing machine on my sidebar to check it out!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend Wind-Up

Wait a's Sunday evening and I'm actually writing a blog post?
It seems I may be getting back on track.

After I accidentally stayed up until 3am the other day, I decided it was time to get back to work.
"Work" did not entail cleaning, cooking, organizing, going to the office, calling the office, ironing clothes, folding clothes, putting clothes away, making the bed, or any of the myriad other tasks that often comprise my weekend. Thank goodness.

I finished the apron I started back in...well, I don't remember. It was a while back. January, maybe?
I'm pretty happy with it.
Here's a pic of me actually wearing it:
(I assure you, my hair is not that high. It's a shadow.)(My skin, on the other hand, is that red. Stupid pregnancy hormones.)(I never had a problem with acne before.)

...notice the cool part? It's reversible! The pattern came from "Sewing Vintage Aprons" by Denise Clason. I have no idea what the fabric is; I found it in the clearance tab of months ago.
I did have leftover fabric, and used it to make a grocery bag for my sister. (She already knows she's getting it, so sharing photos won't ruin the surprise.)(Although, Babs, if you're reading and you want to be surprised, stop reading now.)

This pattern came from "Sew Serendipity Bags" by Kay Whitt:
The cool part is how it folds up and tucks into that little pink pocket on the side:
And then can hang on a hook with other reusable fabric grocery bags:

These will get dropped in the mail eventually. Really, they will. The nice thing about them, of course, is there is no seasonal rush to send them. Completely unlike with the beret and scarf I made her, then didn't get a chance to mail until March. (To be fair, though, Chicago is pretty darn cold in March, so they weren't entirely wasted.)

So now the only thing I have left to worry about is How the heck do I quilt this?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Night turned Saturday Morning

The best part of the week came Friday morning, in the form of a telephone call informing me that I no longer have to work overtime. Which is really, really great, because it was honestly getting quite difficult to take care of everything. (Bending over and reaching into a knee-high metal box with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver? With 20 weeks of baby belly? Not fun.)

So this evening, I intended to work on the baby quilt. The backing fabric I ordered arrived in the mail, I had everything pressed and laid out and...well...'s pin-basted! (That's something, right?)

But I have no idea how I should quilt this thing.
Should I go for just a stitch-in-the-ditch, and let the fabrics show? Should I make parallel diagonals? Should I stipple? Or bubble-quilt it? Or something else entirely?
Unfortunately, Tim is zero help on this. He usually gives color approvals or vetoes designs he doesn't like. But that's it.

So, any ideas? (Seriously, I need suggestions.)

In the meanwhile, I've got a crochet afghan I can work on...

Monday, July 9, 2012

More stuff I accomplished while away from blogspot

On Sunday, I mentioned I had more projects to share.
Here they are.

My mom sent me the BHG All Small magazine with a sticky note that she liked this pattern. The sample in the magazine was very cute, but it was done with all pink fabrics. I couldn't do that, even if I did know we were expecting a girl. (We won't find that out for a couple more weeks.)
So, I used a Fat Quarter bundle that had a pretty good mix of green, yellow, red, pink, and blue. The fabrics came from the Apple of My Eye and Millie's Closet collections from Riley Blake. (Note to self: when you get a fat quarter bundle that is only available for a month, write the collection names down! You don't want to spend hours clicking through thumbnails online, trying to find the pattern just to order backing fabric.)
The backing & binding fabric is on order, along with more batting. I'm really excited about this quilt, because it's intended for the nursery!

Ok, like many, many other women, I have a thing for bags. So I found this pattern and had to make some:
The funny thing about these fabrics, when I first received the bundle I just set it aside, thinking that I didn't care for them. Silly me. That purple? It's got moons, stars and storm clouds!

And that green floral-looking one? There are tiny skulls hiding in it!
How did I not see those earlier? I noticed them when I was cutting the fabrics. Anyway, these things are darn cute and take about 20 minutes to make. If I were back home, they would totally be favor bags for my baby shower. But I'm not home, so I don't get one of those. (Neither did my mom. There seems to be a pattern of moving very, very far away before the first child is born in our family.)
My point is, I am going to wind up with a ton of these little things, because they are pretty addictive once you start.

There's also my jump-start on decorating for the holidays...since we had just moved here last fall, we weren't able to really do much for Halloween or Thanksgiving. So right now I'm working on a Halloween themed quilt to toss over the couch come October:
The plan is to finish this one before August, so I can maybe finish another afghan before September, and perhaps get the Christmas stockings and quilts done before the baby arrives (which will hopefully happen before my parents arrive, since it would really suck for them to fly across the ocean only to spend half their visit waiting for us to come home from the hospital.)

Seems like a lot, right? Except I've been ignoring my blog for the past few months, so it really isn't as hectic as it seems.

Linked to WIP Wednesdays...Check out the button on the right-hand side of the screen! You know you can't resist it...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Definitely Summertime...and lots of photos!

I've been seriously remiss at writing anything in recent months. It's a bad habit to get into, since the less I blog the less I think about blogging, and the less I feel like blogging...
So I'm back. Sort of.
And I have a lot of catching up to do...

Let's start with the quilts. Remember that quilt top I pieced back in March? Well, I finally finished it:

I machine-stitched the binding on this one. It's something I tried when I finished the quilt for my nephew Lincoln, and it really works for me. It may not be quite as pretty as hand-sewn binding, but it is so much faster (and requires far fewer curse words!)
Here's a bit of detail on that:

Those mitered corners turn out great, too.
This quilt is currently adorning the back of our new sofa, along with my City Lights quilt:
And the Painterly Stripe Afghan:
Yes! I finished afghan #2! Which means I still have 4 more to go if I'm to make my goal of six for the year. I think I'm behind schedule.

There are a bunch more projects that I've finished, but I think I'm going to save those for a bit later this week. I need a reason to keep blogging, after all.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh Hi there!

Yeah. I get it.
I have been gone for over a month.
Well, actually, I've been gone for 47 days. That's almost 7 weeks.

Do I have an explanation? Well, Yes...and at the same time, No...

Since my last post, on April Fool's Day, I've been very, very busy with work. And I mean busy. For a few weeks there, the number of Americans in this town roughly doubled. Now it's back to normal. I am glad.

I did get some crafting done:
A couple new panels in the Babette blanket.

And I got lots of snuggles in with these two:

And we got our first glimpse of this little guy: (The cursor. Look at the little arrow & where it's pointing.)

Should I maybe just have posted this one first & let that be the explanation?

But anyway, yes! We are definitely pregnant. If you look at the very bottom of this page, there's a little ticker that I added. The ultrasound was last month, for dating, and we are due December 7th. Which is Pearl Harbor Day. And I live in Japan. This is irony, right?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weekend Wind-Up

I think this weekend was too short. It's already Sunday night, and I am in no shape to go to work tomorrow. (Actually, I'm in perfect shape to go to work, but I just don't want to.)

The new quilt is...on hold. It's Tim's fault. No, really, it is...I use a spray starch method for applique (there's a great tutorial for it at Piece N Quilt). The problem is, Tim can't stand the starch smell. Nor can he stand the lemon-scented starch smell. And of course, our Japanese house makes it impossible to avoid smelling that starchy smell no matter where I am working (unless I go outside, and then how will I plug in the iron?). So, it's on the back burner until we have some sort of compromise.

Of course, I still managed to piece a quilt top today...I got the Blogger's Choice fat quarter bundle for March on the same day I received The Hunger Games books, which means that it was ignored until this week. And then I looked at the fabrics, made a decision and came up with this:
Now I just need some fabric for backing & binding. I'm not sure if I should use one of the print fabrics, or just a solid color...

Oh yeah. I had a bunch of triangles left over from this, so I tried making a Yankee Puzzle block:

And sometime during the Seinfeld marathon evenings (the library has the entire series on DVD), I managed to knit another dishcloth. These are almost useless in our house, though, since I'm the only one who uses them instead of sponges...and I'm exempt from washing dishes.

That about sums it up for the weekend. I hope yours was as productive as mine!

Linked to Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story...see the button on my sidebar? Click it! You know you want to!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I haven't been doing anything craft-related in an entire week.
It isn't because of work (although there have been a few late nights), it isn't because Tim & I joined a bowling league (although we did), it isn't because I haven't felt motivated (springtime does tend to push back depression a bit).
I'm blaming this on The Hunger Games.
A couple weeks ago, I was traipsing about, exploring what the site believed I'd be interested in. For the most part, they're pretty accurate. (I'm not sure if this should be a good or bad thing, that a company can have me profiled so well.) One of the items was The Hunger Games, and since I noticed a movie tie-in edition, I decided to explore further. It looked interesting, and so I ordered the entire boxed set.
Monday afternoon, it arrived.
Thursday night, I'd finished the first book.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I'd finished Catching Fire.
And today, I finished Mockingjay.

So, now I can return to the real world, and anticipate the film arriving in Japan.

I might even get some crafting done.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moving right along...

Despite working slightly extended hours this week, I managed to get another panel done on the new quilt. Then again, appliqueing the prints really does save tons of time. (Thank you, Kelli, for pointing that out!)
Music helps, too. For instance, I managed to get this 18" square completely done in less than 5 minutes 20 seconds.

How do I know this? I started right at the beginning of Eddie Vedder's Hard Sun (it's from the Into The Wild soundtrack, if you aren't familiar with it), and the square was finished before the song. (Yes, I do mean pinned & appliqued, with time to take a picture in the middle.)

The next square did take longer despite being half the size. This was largely due to the print itself, which demanded I turn it this way and that to get it going in just the right direction. Oh, and Trapt provided the background for it.
And then, Semisonic helped me finish it off with the gorgeous purple:
Seriously, I cannot imagine cutting these fabrics any smaller. Large-scale prints like this beg to stay in large pieces.

--Oh yeah, Mumford & Sons has been singing to me while I write this post. It's been a wonderful evening.

Linking to WIP Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced. Check out the button on my sidebar if you're curious.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My first sock!

The reason I decided to start knitting again was simple: I wanted to knit socks. This idea was initially planted several years ago by my dear friend Gina, who manages to make all things crafty look simple. I thought it might be neat to try, but just never got around to it while I was still stateside because of my anti-knitting attitude. (I blame the staff at that yarn store in Ventura for this. You can figure out which one I mean. There's only one store that sells exclusively yarn.)
Then I got to Japan, started knitting, and started thinking about socks again. And then I was exploring different yarns on Ravelry, and...
Have you seen how awesome sock yarn can be? I think it's amazing.

So here' my first sock:
And yes, there will be a second one to match. Hopefully with a bit more polish to it, too.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The New Quilt

Yesterday, I was able to do whatever I wanted all day. This meant watching movies and working on the new quilt. I still haven't figured out what to call it yet.
Anyway, I've had the fabric for a few weeks but I hadn't started yet, probably because I was a bit nervous of this thing:
 See, when I was calculating yardage, I realized I needed about 11.5 yards of solid fabric in addition to the prints. When I settled on this color (it's Bella Solids by Moda in Tranquil Aqua, if you're wondering), I was all set to just buy 12 yards (I'd rather have too much than not enough). Then I realized the discount on an order of 15 yards would be cheaper than 12.
At no point did it occur to me that 15 yards meant an entire bolt. 15 yards doesn't really compute in my head. I blame working in metric for this lapse in mental process. (Yes, I know how long 15 meters is. Let me blame the metric system anyway.)

Really, I was a bit intimidated by that thing. And it was a pretty darn big bit.
But this weekend, the sun was out, Tim was asleep, the movie had a good soundtrack...and I felt brave.

I'd already decided on a couple things with this project:
-I'll be doing this "Quilt-as-you-go" style. It's going to be a queen-size quilt, and my little Brother machine has a small harp space. Really small. As in, a twin-size quilt would be tough to fit, doing straight-line quilting. Forget about free-motion.
-I'm going to applique the prints, instead of piecing them. Why? Because I want to. Because it won't have visible breaks in the print patterns. Because it will still look nice. Because I won't screw up my math. Because I sometimes have issues with matching seams. Because I can. Because I feel like it.
Is that cheating? ....possibly. But if I have fun, and it looks good in the end, isn't that all that matters? I'd rather "cheat" at this and enjoy the process, than do it "the right way" and tear my hair out in the process.
Here's the justification on it looking good:
These are the first two squares on the first panel. See how it overlaps? If I pieced this, there would be a visible break in the pattern on the orange square. (Yes, I could have gotten extra fabric and taken great care to match the pattern...but really, I have neither the time nor the inclination to do that.)
Here's the next two squares:
Again, I have an overlap. Why worry about cutting so many pieces and then perfectly matching them up again? I'll stick with the applique. Besides, it's so much fun!
We'll see what else I manage to get done today...

Linked to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday!  Check out the latest button to hit my sidebar.

I get to do whatever I want? All day long?

Tim woke me up this morning by bringing me breakfast and coffee. An hour later he decided he'd been awake for too long (about 20 hours, as near as I can guess), and went to bed.

So what did I do?

-3 loads of laundry. This may sound mundane, but it's a big deal to me. Our Japanese washing machine is small capacity, and the dryer is so tiny it can't handle more than 3kg.
That's one towel.
So everything has to be line-dried (which I prefer, to be honest)...and given the recent rainy weather we've had, the clothes usually hang on my drying rack in the LDK, which really only has space for about 2 loads.
Today was nice and sunny and warm, so I was able to hang everything outside. That means I was able to wash more clothes.

-Watched movies starring Heath Ledger. Specifically, "10 Things I Hate About You" and "A Knight's Tale." I love both of these movies; if you haven't seen the first, it's a modern retelling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" and it is hilarious. If you haven't seen the second, it's an adventure movie about a would-be knight set in the middle ages, with a classic rock soundtrack-which I believe just adds to its awesomeness.

-Started another quilt. This one came at my husband's request; I was playing with colored pencils and graph paper last month, and he liked the look. His exact words were: "That is so asymmetrical it's symmetrical. You should make that next."

Then I saw Kate Spain's Good Fortune line of fabric and I knew I had to. So the fabric pictured above is being chopped up and re-sewn into something big enough to be a bedspread.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Coasters!

Despite my recent bout of depression, I have managed to complete a couple little items.
Like these coasters:
I have to say, I'm not thrilled with how the binding turned out. I tried something new, and it didn't work so well for me...but these were meant for our house, anyway, so it's no problem.
Actually, I tried a couple things new with these.
For one, I strip-pieced them. That's not really new for me, but I remembered to take a picture this time:
Then, I played around with free motion quilting. I did the green ones in a bubble pattern, the blue took stippling, and the pink...well, it was supposed to be a kind of angular stippling, but I need some more practice, I think.
Another new experiment:
See it? Yes! The backs are fussy-cut. At least, two of them are. I didn't exactly have a lot of scrap fabric to make these, so I did the best I could.
Overall, I'm happy with how they turned out, and Tim says "they fly well," so they must be ok.