Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lunch at the Diner

I had a very tasty lunch with my special people today.  It was DS's choice to go to the Jubilee Garage and I have to say I wasn't over keen, not being a great fan of burgers and hot dogs, but it was his birthday (28, how did that happen?)  Anyway, it turns out that the food is beautiful, very authentic, very tasty.  I had a cheeseburger and it was a delicious piece of meat, as good as any of the diners we visited in Florida a few years ago when we rated our burgers out of 10, mine was easily a 10/10.  The Jubilee Garage was once a garage and was decked out with car parts, oil cans etc etc, a good atmosphere with the Olympics showing on televisions around the bar.
Here we are, ready, steady, go:
My DS, David, and his fiancee, Jessica, 
tackle a cheeseburger and pancakes and chilli with fully loaded fries:
Little GS, Sam, prefers Grandad's chips to his own meal:
DD, Saz, was beaten by the large portions:
But Jessica and David had forgone breakfast and emptied their plates:
Next time we're going to go for a shared nacho platter and leave room for desserts!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Shifuku Finished

Last night I finally finished the little bag I started while I was in Japan.  It is a Shifuku (仕覆), a drawstring pouch
and something like this would be used for holding the utensils used for the Japanese tea ceremony.  I have ordered a Chasen (茶筅), a whisk, from the Japan Centre which I will keep in my shifuku, the dimensions of the bag suit it although strictly speaking the chasen is not Dōgu (道具, literally tools).  I shall have to make more bags!  This one is very special.  The fabric is katazome, dyed at Noguchi san's, the indigo master and the drawstring is my first kumihimo.
The shifuku is lined with vintage silk
that sensei Bryan gave us (and the offcuts of which I included in my bojagi).  It is a wonderful momento of my time in Japan earlier this year.  I know it is not perfect (not good enough for something Japanese for sure) but it is made to the very best of my ability, maybe I could dare to say it is Wabi sabi :-)

Edit:  my Indigo Sister, Nat, has written a great post on bojagi, full of inspiration, it's here .

Friday, 27 July 2012

Ring Out Those Bells

This morning at 8.12 we took part in Martin Creed's "All the Bells", twelve hours before the London Olympics begin at 20.12 people all over the country rang bells of all kinds for three minutes.
You'll see that DH is feeling a lot better :-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

What A Day!

As I posted on Facebook yesterday didn't turn out quite the way I expected.
Plan A:  quick trip to the dentist, pop into the garden centre, home to get glam, lunch at the local Italian with friends...
Actual day:
  • half an hour with my mouth open while the dentist did a dressing and temporary crown on my broken tooth and then the decision that I'll have to have an extraction
  • pop into the garden centre for perpetual spinach seeds and courgette seeds (as they were sold out of plantlets)
  • home to get glam
  • stressful phone call from the Job Centre Plus people with way too much information to process but I gathered they will continue to support me with Employment and Support Allowance and are sending all the information in a letter
  • think Al is being silly when he can't seem to remember the friends we are having lunch with...then recall that FAST campaign for strokes and call the GP (as I wasn't quite sure) then 999. 
Then everything got blurred and frantic.  I phoned our friends and the restaurant to cancel lunch (what a waste of make up, Al definitely owes me), and while waiting for the ambulance the dispatcher stayed on the line reassuring us.  What a pleasant surprise and relief when a local guy arrived on the doorstep armed with various medical equipment.  Clive is a member of LIVES and a first responder which is an invaluable service when you live in the rurals as we do.  He stayed with us, monitored Al and was very supportive and then handed over to the paramedics when they arrived.  More tests and checks, and by this time Al was almost back to normal, if rather shattered, and then off he was taken in the ambulance - after a brief moment of hesitation when he realised he'd put odd shoes on while getting ready to go to lunch and would I swap the brown walking shoe for the brown brogue please?!!
I followed the ambulance and in A&E Al was tested, checked, bled, scanned and finally given a nice cup of tea.  He had had a TIA, a transient ischaemic attack, a mini stroke as it's called, a miraculous self-repairing warning of possible strokes to come.  The emergency department at Pilgrim Hospital were really good and Al came home yesterday evening with mega doses of asprin to thin his blood.  We have just had a call from the hospital and he has to attend the TIA clinic this morning for further support and an action plan.  He has no lasting effects at all (although he isn't permitted to drive for a month which might cause some difficulties) which seems to me to be a miracle for which we are so thankful.
It all endorses our attitude of living for the moment - you just never know what's around that corner.
Oh, and while sitting with Al in A&E I managed to finish a piece of sashiko that Carin gave me when I was in Japan - just to reassure you, dear reader, that this is still mainly a stitching blog!!
Thank you to all those wonderful people who helped and supported us yesterday. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Four Seasons Bojagi

I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph my bojagi today, unfortunately it was rather breezy and the bojagi took on a life of its own!
I'm calling it "Four Japanese Seasons".  I need to square up the cloth and decide how I'm going to edge it, probably a simple rolled seam, and I'll have a deeper hem at the top to allow me to hang it at the window in my sewing room on a pole or wire.
On a technical note:  those expensive Black and Gold needles I used for this project were a nightmare.  I broke three before I gave up and went back to trusty John James' quilting needles.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Summer time and the living is easy...

I know we Brits go on about the weather but...
Summer has arrived!  
After months of mainly awful weather, a drought followed by incessant rain and grey skies and temperatures that hovered in the low teens, we are finally enjoying some sunshine and warm weather.  I have even been wearing my sunglasses and a summer dress today!
This weekend we have been able to get into the garden, which has looked more like a jungle with weeds enjoying the wet and reaching new heights.  DH did some digging and I removed a lot of weeds. 
We have now planted some veggies, at long last.  I didn't think we'd get anything in this year and, although the soil is still too wet to stand on, we have planted some climbing French beans (green and purple varieties), salad leaves, pak choi and basil plus parsnips and curly kale for the winter.  Monty Don said on Gardeners' World on Friday that it's not too late to plant things - and in fact when I succession plant I find things usually catch up with each other and all arrive at the same time anyway. 
We'll go to the garden centre on Tuesday (after I've been to the dentist, oh joy) and buy some seeds for perpetual spinach and a courgette plant and then that'll be that I think although I do need to get a new batch of strawberry plants, mine are about exhausted and did next to nothing this year. 
We keep finding rogue potatoes and the ones DH found while digging today were very tasty with our lunch!  Here's a picture of one glorious rose that survived the deluge, a gorgeous little harvest that we'll be having for supper and other highlights in my garden this weekend:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Bojagi Blues

I've finished the final "quarter" of my bojagi, the blues.  I think this is my favourite.  As some of the fabrics are quite dark I decided against adding prairie points to this section. 
Now I need to decide how to assemble the pieces.  I have some vintage grey silk that Bryan shared between all the Indigo Sisters when we were in Japan, I'm thinking of using it as a kind of sashing but I need to do a mock up and have a think....

The Orange Section of the Bojagi

I finished this piece last night, the orange section of my bojagi project.  I now have to decide whether to continue and add the blues and browns or if they'll be too dark.  A little mock up in the sunshine (ha ha, I can dream) would help me make up my mind.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I Say Bojagi, You Say Pogaji

Some more bojagi links to inspire:

Chunghie Lee


Deanna's great tutorial

Cindy's pojagi post

I have discovered I am not doing my seams properly on my bojagi.  I have been doing a half remembered version of the French seams we did for lingerie in school needlework lessons.  They work, in that they hide all the raw edges of the fabric and create the stained glass effect when the work is held up to the light but I don't think they are as strong as proper gekki seams which are stitched three times, beginning with an oversewn hem.  I will carry on as I am for this project and then try to do it properly for another project I have in mind.
It is so lovely to be hand sewing.  Not only is it easy to have some sewing with me at all times and I can do it anywhere but it is therapeutic to be in close contact with the fabric and thread.  It feels good.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bojagi Greens

Thank you so much for all your kind words and virtual hugs, I really appreciate every one of them.
I'm on a bit of a roll with the bojagi and have completed the green section, next up, orange I think.
We are all getting well and truly fed up with the miserable summer we are having in England and in particular, the constant rainfall.  At least we don't feel guilty about sitting indoors and stitching, and, more seriously, at least it is not as bad as in south Japan, the pictures on the news last night were awful.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Bojagi Beginnings

It seems a long time since I wrote a post.  Things have been a bit on the down side here recently for various reasons that I won't go into at the moment but if you could send a hug I would appreciate it.
Anyway, on the plus side, I have finally got my head around some of the amazing things I did in Japan and have started stitching again.  I haven't started where I thought I would i.e. with something indigo, but have a lovely portable project which will use all my little pieces of Japanese silk.  Some I bought in Japan, some have been gifts and some I bought here, but all are vintage/pre-loved Japanese silks.
I am making a bojagi, inspired by those made by Jean and Nat.  Jean brought one she had made to Japan with her for show and tell after featuring it on her blog.  It was even more gorgeous in real life and Janine modelled it for us.

I love the prairie points that Jean included in her bojagi and so I am using them in mine.  I started by thinking I would mix my colours quite randomly, but have since decided to piece them in areas of one colour.  I started with the pinks.  I am using YLI Silk thread which is a dream to use and my very expensive Clover Black Gold needles (I'm using #10 applique/sharps) which are lovely although I have already broken one when going through a prairie point in a seam :-(  Nothing is pressed yet, it is very much an organic work in progress.  I am going to start on the greens this afternoon.

For more bojagi yumminess, hop over to Won Ju Seo's collection.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Parcel from Japan

Today I received an exciting parcel from sensei Bryan in Japan
Look at these wonderful stamps, I have a neighbour who is going to be over the moon to get these
I knew the parcel was on the way because I received a demand for money from Parcel Force
I can (just about) accept paying the VAT but the "handling fee" was beyond the pale, especially when Bryan had already paid 2100 yen in postage

Never mind, the contents were well worth the cost and hassle
When we were in Fujino we overdyed skeins of cotton thread that had already been dyed with madder.  We dipped them in the indigo vat leaving some areas of red and letting some areas become a rich purple.  The combined threads, knitted up by Kurihara san, created a harmonious mix of red, white and blue, perfect for Jubilee year and the Olympics (she writes with her tongue firmly in her cheek).  Seriously, I love the accent the madder gives to the indigo blue, a very successful mix I think.  Thanks Bryan and all my Indigo Sisters, we shared the length of knitted fabric.  Bryan suggested making pygamas, I'm wondering whether a skirt is possible...