Thursday, January 31, 2013

Before the Yuki Matsuri

Yesterday I went to Sapporo and while I was there walked past Odori Park, one of the venues of the world famous Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) which will be held next week. The park is closed off as the ski slope and giant sculptures are being built.  The park is about eight or ten blocks long and it is interesting to see what was happening a week before the festival begins.  These photos were taken from across the street in the midst of falling snow, so they aren’t the best. If you are interested in seeing what the giant blocks of snow behind the scaffolding might turn out to look like, take a look at this post from last year’s festival.

The big fabric/craft store, Kanariya, is a block off of Odori Park, so I stopped in there.  If they didn’t have signs warning a person not to take photographs in the store, I would love to be able to show you it all. I do understand the STOP NOT ALLOWED kanji, so I didn’t take any pictures in the store.  I went in looking for some specific beads and SoNo beading thread but found neither.   I saw quite a few things that looked interesting, but living in a small apartment makes one think twice about stash enhancement.

The train ride is about an hour each way, so I always have a stitching project with me.  This is what I brought along on yesterday’s ride to work on.

It’s called Huck Weaving or Swedish Embroidery and these two little dish towels are my first attempt at this technique. The thread, towels, and a page of instruction were a clearance packet from the Nordic Needle and I think a nice introduction.  It’s a good train project, requiring neither great concentration nor vision. If you aren’t already familiar with huck weaving, you might be interested in knowing the needle doesn’t pierce the fabric. The thread goes under “floats” on top, so no thread is seen on the back.  I may not be able to wait until my next train trip to work on these.  I’ll post pictures when I finish them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sweater with Beaded Edge

I liked working on the beaded edge scissor set last week and was looking around for something else to try out the beaded edging on. With plain black Mill Hill beads, I did the front of this black sweater. At first I tried to get a flat edge, but to do that I had to space the beads and I didn’t like the gaps.  The ruffled look wasn’t what I anticipated, but I like it. Here are photos buttoned and unbuttoned.  The sweater color is actually black, but looks different/lighter in the photos. Also, please excuse the wrinkles that resulted from having it wadded up in my lap when I was stitching.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sunglasses in Hokkaido

I don’t often see anyone wearing sunglasses here, even with the bright snow.  Most people living here have dark eyes and maybe the sun doesn’t affect them so much.  I have grey eyes and am very sun sensitive. I almost always wear sunglasses when I am outdoors in the daytime.  I have dark prescription sunglasses and indoor glasses that turn dark when I am in sunlight.  They don’t lighten up as fast as I’d like when I come indoors, but otherwise I like them.  Recently someone asked me about wearing dark glasses.  She thought it strange for me to wear dark glasses and told me only the Yakuza (mafia) wear dark glasses in Japan.  Really?

Stitching progress
I’ve put a few more stitches in the silk gauze neko.

I finished the beaded fringe and have been working on the beaded embellishment on the body of the shawl.  There’s no diagram or pattern to tell me what to stitch where.  I’m just making it up as I go along.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Soon To Be Hula Debut

Like I’ve said before, I never really know what is going on.  I thought I was agreeing to go to lunch, but I found out I was agreeing to perform in public.

This is what happened.  At the beginning of hula class, one of the teachers was making an announcement.  I always try to look like I’m paying attention, even when I have no idea what is being said. One of my class mates asked me if I would be teaching an English class a week from Tuesday. I said no, I was free all day.  She said she would pick me up at noon.  Doesn’t that sound like lunch? Next thing I know, they are talking about what color skirts to wear.  That doesn’t sound like lunch. That’s when I found out I had agreed to performing with the group.  I tried to tell them I’m not ready, I’m not good enough. They kept telling me jozu. No, I’m not!  Well, it’s going to be the white skirt and someone is loaning me the shirt and flowers to match everyone else. We had an extra hour of practice after the two hour class and I’m still worried.  We will practice again next week.  What have I gotten myself into?
Living in an apartment, we shovel the entrance way twice a month.  If you live in a house in Hokkaido, you have to be shoveling your roof and driveway and entry way all the time.  This house and carport are across the street from us.  Shoveling snow all the time is how people here stay so genki.
I’ve finished the beaded fringe on the shawl, and am now working on the beaded embellishment on the body of the piece.  I’ll try to have pictures tomorrow.  The name of the piece is actually Plum Panache, not Purple Panache, like I posted the other day.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The International Exchange Society New Year Party

Yesterday we attended the New Year pot luck party hosted by the International Exchange Society. When we attended last year, we were still fairly new to the area and hadn’t met many people outside of the university yet. I was pleased to recognize so many people this year from other IES events (like the mushroom party and the cooking class), and from the hula class, the ladies luncheon group and other local social events.  As it happened, Ted and I were the only two not from Japan at this party.

The event started with the food and it was all delicious.  Our contribution was Ted’s special potato salad. It was so good that there was none left to bring home.

Everyone ate and talked and ate some more. Many people in this group have English skills and like to practice with English speakers, like us.


There were Japanese games to play while the eating continued.  This was a very popular one.  A person is blindfolded, then given face pieces to place on the face.  It’s funny to see what the face looks like at the end.

This card game had pictures of people on the cards and the players took turns taking a card.  If you get the card that had the monk on a colorful tatami mat, you could slap other player’s cards and take them.  I think the object was to get the most cards.

This is like badminton, played with a hard paddle.

These little spinning tops are sumo wrestlers.  There were also some juggling packets and a few other things to play with.

One woman led the group in a couple of songs.  I think one song was about kites and the other was something about go away snow.

Ted and I had a very nice time and we appreciate how kind everyone is to us.  We look forward to seeing everyone again soon!