Of Kokeshi And Secret Santa

Gentle reader,

Workplace Secret Santas can be quite fraught with anxiety, especially when you’re perhaps not terribly close with your work mates or have little in common with them. I thought luck was on my side this year, since all my work mates are not only awesome peeps, but most of them are my really great friends even outside of the workplace.

But rather than being on the easier side of the Secret Santa issue, this situation presents all new challenges. When you draw out the name of one your favorite people ever and your budget is $10, how in the world are you supposed to stick to that? I know a lot of peeps don’t take Secret Santa seriously and use it as an opportunity to have a laugh and give gag gifts, but I am not one of them. I’ve never been a fan of gag gifts. I don’t know why. But I digress…

Judith is a doll collector, but I’d just given her a gift voucher to an amazing doll store for her birthday three days before, and I didn’t want to do the same again, and what $10 wouldn’t get her much. At about midnight the night before, I decided to exploit the “make a gift” loophole. I figured I wouldn’t technically be spending any money, because I already had the materials so the $10 budget was no longer an issue. But what to make?  Then I remembered that we’d been oohing and ahhing over a book of Japanese cross stitch designs, and all of a sudden the idea formed: make Judith a Japanese doll; a kokeshi.

Now, kokeshi are traditionally made of wood, and very simple in design. I don’t have any wood lying around, but I have lots of fabric, so after a bit of clicking about Google Images for inspiration and dig through my “useful boxes”, I was ready. I drew up a pattern and got to work. And here she is:

こけし!

Now, as with any “first editions”, there are definitely things that I’d change about her – if I make another she’ll be narrower at the bottom and less bell-shaped, and I’ll use a different fabric for her face because it was difficult to draw on and a bit smudgey – but regardless of these “lessons learned” I’m really very pleased with her, and Judith seemed to love her.

Wikipedia Fun Fact: The design of "Mii" player avatars on the Nintendo Wii are inspired by kokeshi.

As for me, I did very well in the gift stakes. I’m completely besotted with my dear friend Marelle and she drew my name! She gave me these neat little magnetic bookmarks and told me that the spiffy chap is me and the pretty lady is her. N’awww! And they were a perfect gift too, because of late I’ve gotten in the repugnant habit of dog-earring my pages to mark my place. I know, judge me as you see fit. But! No more! (In case you’re wondering, I’m reading “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach, and so far I’m loving it).

Raynor & Marelle: In yo bookz, keepin yo place.

What’s the best (or worst) Secret Santa gift you’ve ever gotten?

– R

Pierrot Yarns Haul 2.0 – It May Look Like I Have A Problem, But…

Gentle reader,

Now, I’m writing this post to present my second Pierrot Yarns haul to you, and though it may look like I may be in the fledgling stages of a serious self-control problem, I assure you it’s not the case. Or at least, I can rationalize those niggling thoughts away for now…

A good part of this haul was on behalf of my dear friends, Judith and Jules. Their interest was piqued when I showed them the bounty of my first haul and we poured over the color card together ooohing and aaahing at the delicious little snippets of beautiful yarns. And so I ordered them each two cones of Irish Linen. Naturally, I had to throw in some goodies for myself and so I chose a ball of Pop Merino, three balls of Zakka Acrylic Namibuto which are for an amigurumi project I need to get started on, and a set of Hamanaka double-ended crochet hooks.

Yarnie delights from Japan!

The Pop Merino is a lovely aran weight single spun 100% merino wool yarn. I had actually intended to buy the #6 color way, but accidentally ordered the #7 (this happens to me far more often that is humanly probable), but I’m not at all bothered, #7 is still a very nice color way.

The Irish Linen is absolutely gorgeous; it has a beautiful texture and the most amazing sheen to it. I’ll definitely follow up with Judith and Jules to see what they think of it.

Now, the Zakka Acrylic Namibuto is an insanely soft and squishy acrylic yarn that is somewhere between an 8 ply and a 10 ply. I’m sure some of you are turning your noses up at the very thought of acrylic yarn – I know, how reprehensible of me! – but hey, acrylic is awesome for amigurumi, especially if they’re intended for children to put their grubby, unforgiving little paws on them. I’m totes not a pink person, but I have to make a pig to test out a pattern I’ve written (the pig I made while writing the pattern was stolen! True story.) and I’ve been procrastinating like WHOAH. I was pleasantly surprised by how soft and fuzzy this yarn is, so it’ll be perfect for a little pig.

And as for the Hamanaka crochet hooks… well, I’ve not even used them yet and I’m completely obsessed with them. So obsessed in fact, that I became a bit snap-happy when I was photographing, and I felt that they deserve a collage of their own.

Hamanaka Hooks

I’ll probably get started on that piggily using one of these and the Zakka. My fingers are itching to get started even as I type!

Fear not, gentle reader, this will be the last Pierrot haul for at least a while, so this blog isn’t in danger of becoming a Pierrot Super-Fan page (well, not yet…).

What online yarn companies do you like ordering from? Comment below!

Dandy Lion

Gentle reader,

It’s been a fair while since I’ve made an amigurumi with the exception of a fish for work a few weeks ago. So, I thought what better to make with my new Japanese yarn that a cute ami! So, I took my ball of Poka Poka Hitsujichan and my 3.5mm hook to while away my public transport time, and came up with this over a few trips:

Almost done!

When I’d finished his body and head, I decided I’d use the Ethnic Denim cotton to make his mane. I’ve finished the first strip, but I’ll probably make a few more strips to give him a nice full mane. I’ll keep you posted and let you know what I thought of the yarns!

Pierrot Yarns Arrived! First Impressions

Gentle reader,

Pinch me! I’m must be dreaming! My Pierrot Yarns order has already arrived. Well, that was rather quick-quack. And let me tell you, I am one VERY happy customer. As I outlined in an earlier entry, I ordered one ball each of four different yarns just to for the sake of seeing what the yarns are like and how the online English store is. I placed the order on the 27th and it was here from Japan on the 6th!

So here are my yarns:

Scrummy Japanese Yarns!

But, wait! There’s more! They also sent me a free color card (which you could buy separately on their website for 1000 yen) and a book which showcases some of their yarns and even has a few free patterns (charted, of course).

Color card and booklet

All the yarns are so soft and lovely to touch, and they were sent individually wrapped so they got to me in perfect condition. There was even a little printed letter which had been addressed by hand thanking me for my purchase.

All in all, the prices and freight are perfectly reasonable, the service so far has been of a very high standard, and find me someone who’s heart isn’t warmed by thoughtful freebies? I’ll definitely be putting another, bigger order in.

Pierrot Yarns

Gentle Reader,

I received a notification today from Pierrot Yarns that my order had been shipped. Ever since I made my green hat from one of their awesome patterns, I’ve been so curious about their yarn. So, I went to the website and was pleased to find an English store front, incredibly cheap prices and very reasonable shipping costs. They were sold out of their color cards, so I just bought a few different yarns.

I got:

Yuyake No Sora

I got one skein of color 108. It’s a fingering weight yarn, and I thought it just looked so scrummy and delicious. (Click the pictures to see the yarn page at Pierrot)

Ethnic Denim

This one is a 3 ply cotton, and I got color 55 which is a lovely warm red. They have so many nice looking cottons, it was hard to choose one.

Poka Poka Hitsuji

Poka Poka Hitsuji is an 8 ply super wash wool. I got color 3, green (naturally!). Even though it’s super wash, it still looks quite fluffy and nice. I also like the color variation.

Junmo Namibuto2

This is another super wash wool, but Junmo Namibuto2 is a worsted weight yarn. I ordered color 16, which is a navy blue. I didn’t want to just get all green yarn, since I might give some away once I’ve made grabby hands at it.

There were so many other yarns I was curious about, and lots of it was really quite cheap. All in all, it came to about $40 AU, and about a third of that was shipping, which I thought was fairly reasonable, to be honest. I don’t know what postage costs are like in other countries, but it costs a bomb to post anything in Australia, so I’m never sure what is reasonable on an international scale.

Anyhoo, I’ll keep y’all posted and will give a full review of the yarn and the service when it gets here. So far though, I’ve been very impressed with the service and the English store front.

Have a great weekend, peeps!

(All images are property of Pierrot Yarns and are linked to the yarns they depict)