Saturday, November 30, 2013

TAST 91-93 Straight, Crossed, and Plaited Feather Stitches

This week I’m doing three stitches because they all go together.  You can check out Take a Stitch Tuesday on Sharon B’s Pintangle Blog to see how they’re done. I like all three versions and had fun working my samples.

TAST 91 is the Straight Feather Stitch (worked from right to left).  I tried it out with perle #5 (yellow), perle #8 (hot pink), perle # 12 (light blue), and accentuate (black). 

TAST 92 is the Crossed Feather Stitch (worked from left to right).  I did the first step in hot pink, with the second step in hot pink part of the row and light pink the rest.  The second try, I used black accentuate for the first step and a black and gold accentuate for the second step.

TAST 93 is the Plaited Feather Stitch (worked from right to left).  I tried light blue perle #12 with black perle #12; gold keinik #8 with black perle #12, and black perle 12 for both steps in the upper row.  In the bottom row, I made a wider, shorter stitch.  First I used black/gold accentuate with green accentuate, then black perle #12 with green accentuate.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hexagon Pouch Finish

My first hexagon epp project was to be the hexagon pouch in Jessica’s Quilt on the Go book. I last posted about it here .  After getting the hexagons put together, I put it aside and started working on the blue hexagons for the quilt and forgot all about the pouch. I pulled it out again and was able to finish it in a relatively short amount of time. I quilted along the seam lines by hand, then squared it off with the rotary cutter.  I added the blue binding by hand and two snaps and it is finished.  It’s not exactly the cute pouch from the book because I didn’t read the directions.  (The hexagons I used were of a larger size.) I’m happy with it anyway.  I love the look of the Japanese fabrics, even though they were difficult to use on this project. Maybe I’ll make another pouch.  Maybe I’ll wait to start it until after the quilt piecing is done.  We’ll see.


I’ve only tried the 26 mm size hexagons so far, but plan to venture into different sizes and shapes in the future.  I especially want to try working with the teeny tiny hexagons.  Check out Susie's very tiny English paper piecing here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in Japan. Today is a Thursday like the other Thursdays. Most people here don’t know about the Pilgrims in America in 1621 or the Macy’s Parade or all day football or even Black Friday.

We did have the good fortune to be invited to a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner party this weekend with other foreigners in the area.  One family has an oven that is slightly bigger than a Cosco turkey, so it was a traditional turkey dinner.  Two of the dinner guests (from Singapore and New Zealand) had never experienced a Thanksgiving dinner before.

I’ll try to give you a list of the menu items, but there was so much that I might forget something.  Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied sweet potatoes, coleslaw, vegetable salad, deviled eggs, four kinds of homemade bread, celery and peanut butter, pasta with vegetables, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, jello, pumpkin pie.


I am thankful for my husband, Ted, (who is a great photographer  and unfortunately doesn't always get in the picture) and thankful to be here in Japan with him.  I’m thankful for my friends all over the world. I’m thankful to be able to stitch as much as I do.  I’m thankful Ted has such a great job – he gets to do things he’d be doing even if he wasn’t getting paid to do it.  His job also allows me to stitch every day and not have to work.  I’m thankful to have my little part time jobs that allow me to interact with people here. I never forget how fortunate we are to have this wonderful opportunity to be in Japan.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blogs I Read

If you read my blog from a mobile device, you may not see the right side bar.  From the computer version, you can see one section showing a list of blogs, which is in order as the blogs in the list are updated (most recently updated at the top).  Some of the blogs are written by my friends, some are written by stitchers I like, some are written by stitch bloggers who have become my friends, some are about Japan, and one is my husband Ted’s photography blog.  I have removed some blogs because they weren’t updated, but I won’t be removing Ted’s even though he doesn’t update often. He is my husband, and I have faith that he will have time to post more at some point.

I want to recommend a relatively new blog called walktalk, written by my longtime good friend, Karen. She writes on a lot of informative walk topics, with a personal perspective. She gives great information, without being dry or boring. Not only is she a caring and compassionate person and a fitness expert, she practices what she preaches.  Check out walktalk For Walkers.

I recommend checking out all of the blogs on my list.  Some you may be familiar with because I’ve linked to them in the past. Isn’t it amazing how I can be in Japan and stay connected to people all over the world by blog?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Books and Beads

I’ve written before about how much I like my Japanese language class, even though I’m not very good at it.  Recently, I have noticed our teacher speaking and reading faster and encouraging us to do the same.  She must hate listening to our one-syllable-at-a-time robot speak.  Sometimes (often) I write my book's hiragana and katakana out in romaji ahead of time, in an attempt to be able to read faster in class, even though I know this isn’t helping.  I happened upon a giant book fair in the underground eki mae dori in Sapporo the other day and bought six children’s books for 100 yen each. A happy elderly Japanese man helped me pick them out.  I told him I wanted katanna hon (easy books) with no kanji. Two of the books read from back to front and he said they are traditional Japanese stories.  My plan is to try to read them out loud at home (try is the key word here) to improve my reading and speaking in class.

My teacher finished her bead necklace and wore it to class this week.  She is very pleased with it and I am very happy she liked making it.  The teachers who made this necklace said it was much easier than the beads and cross stitch on perforated paper that they made before this one!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Morning Star Count - 216

This week I made 11 more flowers for a total of 216.  Now I need to join flowers to free up hexagons to make more flowers.  I still don’t know how many I will need for the full quilt top.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hardanger Progress

This week, two people were ready to start cutting and the other was finishing her kloster blocks. Here are my directions for the cutters.

I just can’t explain this in Japanese. I demonstrated with my own piece and they were ready.  With scissors in hand they were giggling and saying it was muzukashi (difficult) and kowai (scary).
I was happy that no one cut the wrong thread. Even though I could fix my own if I cut the wrong thread, I don’t know how to explain how to fix it.

Our project only uses wrapped bars, but I pulled out this practice piece to show examples of other fillings. 

I think they were happy with their progress for the day. I am.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

English Teaching Jobs in Hokkaido

I subscribe to a service that emails announcements about English teaching jobs in Hokkaido, and sometimes other types of jobs, to its subscribers.  This is how I found the job at the children’s English school where I work part-time. Recently there was an announcement for an English teacher in a high school and it specified only Australians from the Gold Coast could apply.  Another was for a tenure track professor at a university.  Applicants had to be under 40 years old and have earned a Ph.D. within the last ten years. Not all of the job announcements are so restrictive.

About two weeks ago, I saw an announcement looking for native speakers to work with adults.  I emailed a letter and resume and was contacted within just a few hours, asking me to come for an interview the following evening, which I did.  Shortly after I arrived at the school and started talking with the owner, a student came to the door.  The school owner had forgotten he had a class at the same time I was to be interviewed! After I had traveled an hour and a half by bus and subway (and had that distance to return), I was asked to come back two nights later to observe a class.  In the short amount of time that I did talk with him, he told me he never gets women as teachers, only men have applied.  He also told me how much he pays his teachers, which is very low.  He said he couldn’t pay more because many of his students come from a Group-on type promotion for four very low cost trial lessons. I specifically asked if I should prepare anything for the class two nights later and he said no.
So, two nights later, I returned to observe him teaching a class and found out he would be teaching a children’s class in one room, and I would be teaching a single adult in another room. I was able to pull a lesson out of my head with the help of some materials in my bag from another class.  I was surprised that not only was I not observing a class, he was not even observing what I could do. I chalked it up to his disorganization, but was still interested in the teaching job with adult students.  He said he would put together a contract and email it to me and thought he had several classes a week for me to teach. He also told me the trial teaching period would pay 75% of what I considered an already low hourly wage. I went home, thinking I’ll wait to see what the contract says, but I didn’t have a good feeling.
I never did receive a contract, but over the next week, every couple of days he requested different documentation and contact information for my references (he hasn’t contacted them yet).  This added to my uneasiness.  I thought he should know what he needs and ask for it all at once.  Thursday, he emailed me four times in about 20 minutes and it was feeling creepier and creepier, the last one about being grabbed by immigration and being deported.  As much as I want a job teaching adults, I had to email him back and say I would no longer be pursuing employment with his school.  I have had very few “creepy feelings” since moving to Japan and they have all been with foreigners, not Japanese persons.
I will continue to watch the job announcements for another teaching position with adult students.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Walk Down the Street

I was in Sapporo the other day, on my way to a shop that had been recommended to me and I snapped a few pictures as I walked down the street.

This was hanging outside a popular hamburger restaurant chain that specializes in fresh ingredients, MosBurger. None of these sandwiches look like burgers to me.

This shrine is in the middle of a busy commercial shopping area.

Little packages of tissues are often handed out in Japan, as advertising, I suppose. 

This store Christmas decoration (maybe it’s a tree?) has a paper turkey dinner and paper donuts on it.

This is my destination, Mariya Handcrafts.

What a beautiful shop! I didn’t buy anything on this visit, but I’m certain I will be back. They have many craft books, especially stitching books, in all languages.  There is one whole section of hardanger books. They have bolts of beautiful linens and banded linens in many different widths.  (I’m picturing a stitched purse out of some tan banded linen I saw that looked to be about 12 inches wide.) On another floor they had spinning and weaving and dyeing supplies, as well as Japanese silk print fabrics. I’m sure I will be back.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Tiny Cushion

This is another of my unfinished New Year’s Resolution 2013 projects.  As you can see, the stitches are extremely tiny. I started this project many years ago, when I had a doll house I wanted to furnish and decorate.   I no longer have the doll house, but I did save the chair the cushion was to sit on. This has been hanging over my head too long and I would like to finish it.  If I do 20 stitches a day, maybe I could finish it sometime in the foreseeable future.  What do you think?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TAST 85 - Raised Cup Stitch

Here’s one I missed awhile back – the raised cup stitch. The blue at the top is done with #8 perle.  The three in variegated yellow are done with #5 perle.  The shiny blue at the bottom is done with YLI shimmer ribbon. You can find out all about Take a Stitch Tuesday at Sharon B's Pintangle blog.

A bear was sighted recently in the ToneBetsu Forest, very close to where we live. I wrote here about the bear warning this year in Hokkaido because of the meager acorn crop.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beginning Hardanger Project

My weekday stitching group is working on a small beginning hardanger project. Here is what the finished piece looks like. (I made this one last year.)

With four of us working on these, we are each working at our own pace.  Mine is ready to demonstrate cutting threads and I think at least one person will have all of the kloster blocks stitches by this week and will be ready to start cutting.

If they still like the project after doing the cutting and woven bars, we may try another hardanger project with dove’s eyes and picots.  We’ll see how it goes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Morning Star Count - 205

This week I’ve completed the third bed length strip of flower clumps.

I’ve also made 14 more flowers for a total of 205.  
Check back next Monday to see what comes together next.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be able to experience another Japanese cultural event, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, with the English students at Hokusei High School. (Last spring I participated in the kanji calligraphy workshop with these girls and wrote about it here.)

These students are preparing to study abroad for a school year and hold these events to practice telling about Japanese culture in English. I was very flattered when I first arrived at the school and one table of girls chose me to join them.  They said they remembered me from the last event and described the “handmade” necklace I was wearing.  (I checked the photos and saw that it was one of the bead and cross stitch on perforated paper necklaces).

The girls are just as cute as they can be.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how excited they are to be going to the US to study.  Exactly where they will be going is yet to be decided, but they told me they are going for ten months. When I asked if they are going for the school year, they said no, ten months. When I told them the school year for most schools is August – May (ten months) instead of April – March as it is in Japan, they told me Americans get big vacations.  Some of the things they are looking forward to doing in the United States are: going to prom, joining the cheer dance team, and going to the hamburger shop and eating a big hamburger with friends.  They have exciting adventures ahead.

The tea ceremony was first demonstrated by the tea ceremony teacher and her two assistants.

Afterward the demonstration, the girls and their guest made tea for each other and had a delicious Japanese sweet to eat. Members of the Tea Ceremony Club were on hand to give each table help and advice.

I know that women study and practice for years to master the tea ceremony, but I enjoyed my little “taste” of how it is done.  The tea cups are really beautiful bowls. One and a half of these tea spoons of green tea is put in the cup and hot water is added.



The bamboo tea whisk is used to mix the tea and to create a froth on top. First the whisk goes in a circle around the cup, then back and forth, before removing the whisk straight up so the froth stays in the middle. When it was my turn to make the tea, the girls told me I was a good froth maker.   The tea maker then presents the tea cup to the tea drinker.

The tea drinker turns the cup, and drinks the entire cup in three swallows. The girls told me that between the three drinks, the drinker shows her delicious face. When she finishes drinking, she says the tea was delicious.

The girls adore their English teacher, who coordinates these events, and it’s plain to see that he enjoys them also. 

Thank you, Hokusei High School English Students!