Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Tasty Japanese Takeaway

Today, after I made some Cold Process Olive and Shea soap, I went to get some stuff for DH's shed.
I happened to pass by a Japanese restaurant in Shelley that I have always wanted to try (but have never seemed to be near when it is open). That restaurant is Kuhmon Takeaway. Miho showed me a flyer from the restaurant about 3 years ago and several Japanese friends rave about it and now I am too.

I ordered some Chicken Kaarage as a small bento set. It was delicious! I can't believe that 3 types of pickle and a huge serve of rice was just $1.50 extra... Why would you just get a serve of the Kaarage?

The chicken was hot and crispy just how JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken lol) should be. I could barely finish the bento, the serving was so large, but I ate the whole lot. I cheekily sent Miho a text while I was waiting for my order to be cooked. She was suitably jealous, but we have organised to visit for lunch together next week. Maybe we will get takeaway and eat it by the river.

If you live near Shelley  (South of Perth) drop in and try some authentic, cheap but tasty Japanese eats.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Today I made...

An Angry Bird Temari.

A few weeks back I saw this on KomusumeRita's Blog. I showed Mr W and he immediately danced up and down 'requesting' that I make him one. Mr W wanted a regular sized temari, by that he meant the size I usually work on which is about 24-27cm. Also he wanted the beak to stick out instead of being flat. The temari featured by Rita was a really small one at 2.5cm and as you know the dimensions of temari change drastically with the size of the ball. Those lovely curved surfaces get rather flat as the circumference of the temari increases.

He has been waiting patiently for me to begin this project, which I told him would need to wait until after I had taught a temari class on the 25th of Feb. On the way home from the workshop he sweetly suggested that perhaps now I could make this Angry Bird??!!?? Last night I cranked up the computer and did a search for Angry Birds so I had some inspiration (from different angles) and set to work. It took until 1am to get it done to a level I was happy with. I used a pencil to mark out the basic area I wanted to cover but apart from one white line (I used to hold the tummy spindle stitching) there were no other marking lines. 

I began with a spindle for the tummy but it was impossible to get it wide enough (and Rita used 2 to fill the tummy area) so I added some additional lines along the sides to widen the spindle without making it longer, Then to cover the jagged edge at the front and back I added a few rows of outline stitching. Next I got some yellow pearl cotton and make a thick braid by twisting 2 strands together which I then crocheted into a beak cone (and stuffed with the excess thread) which I stitched onto a diamond shape using a single strand of the same thread. Then to smooth the look out I stitched a really close star-burst around the outside of the diamond.

Next I worked the whites of the eyes twice (the first set got unpicked when I realised that they needed to be almost joining at the beak) in a double strand, and I outlined them in two rows of black. I made 3 French knots for the pupils and then bound them together to keep them roundish. Then I freehand stitched the eyebrows.

To make the crown of feathers at the top I had my very first go at Bullion Knots. The longest feather had 50 wraps around the needle. I had to keep pulling the needle through some of the wraps and then carefully wrap more thread around the needle before pulling it completely though to stitch down.  I am not exactly sure how Rita did her top feather section (but they look much better than mine). 

At 1am I popped this Angry Bird onto Mr W's bedside table so he would see it as soon as he woke up this morning. He came jumping onto the bed with it at 6am so proud and excited with the temari, but after only 5 hours sleep all I go manage to say was that I was really happy he loved it but I needed just a few more minutes of sleep to de-zombie if that was ok.

Now he wants a Doraemon temari. 

Thank you Rita for inspiring me to try making this one. Mr W says thank you too!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Temari Booty

This week I made a bunch of temari bases. I have a cream shade of over-locker thread that I really like using, but being down to my last cone, I headed down to my local Textile Traders store in Myaree to stock up on more. 5000m spools of over-locker thread sells for about $4 at Textile Traders but I was surprised to see these spools on special for just $1.95. BARGAIN BARGAIN BARGAIN I had to read the sign twice before the price registered in my brain and then I found a basket and filled it to the top with 26 cones of thread.

8L4YQ9 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

This store has recently gone bagless (more stores are promoting reusable shopper bags in Perth) and I realised I had forgotten a bag of my own so I found a really nice piece of fabric (on special down to $2.5 for 1.5m) to use as a makeshift Furoshiki. The shop assistant thought I was mad when I undid the fabric, laid it on the counter and started piling all the cones onto it. I explained it about Furoshiki as I tied together the fabric corners to make a bag and she then saw what a good idea it was. She did say it reminded her of an old swagbag , you know the type that Swagmen* would tie onto a stick and carry on their shoulder.

Swagman's version of Furoshiki
I think I might actually use this new fabric to make some proper Furoshiki. If you want to make one too here is a tutorial.

* An Aussie Swagman is probably equivalent to the American Hobo of the 1920's and 30's. A swagman was a transient labourer that travelled by foot to seek work (usually sheep shearing). The name is derived from the blanket (swag) he would carry on his back. The unofficial Australian Anthem is Waltzing Matilda which is a story about a swagman. Hearing this song is almost guaranteed to get any homesick Aussie misty eyed... some of us don't even need to be outside Australia for that though.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Post #400

This is the 400th post I've written. I am quite shy in person (with people I don't know well) so it amazes me that I have managed to keep posting to this blog fairly consistently for almost 3 years. In real life I am sure I'd run out of things to say in under five minutes but somehow I can almost always find stuff to chat about here. Over time I've posted about all kinds of things: baking, chickens, driving, family, all the other crafts I try out, but it always comes back to temari.

When I started temari making I stitched with a group but as the years have gone by our weekly group temari making got less and less regular... some ladies went back to work or changed jobs, others had more kids and many moved on to pursue other crafting. I got ORBsessed with temari making and am the only one from the original group still stitching temari on an almost daily basis. We began this blog as a shout out for our group and more importantly to shout out to the rest of Australia to say 'Hey, you like temari? So do we! Let's chat about it.'

So on to chatting about temari...

I have been experimenting with things to contain my rice hulls while I wrap my mari. I used to use stockings but no one I know wears them anymore and I can't see the sense in buying them just to cut up to make temari. Then I used freezer bags (much cheaper, you get a hundred bags for less than 1 pair of stockings) but recently the local grocery store has stopped stocking the small size that I use and using a larger bag is too cumbersome (and creates too many potential airpockets). This week when I picked up the dry-cleaning I caught myself looking slyly at the bag and wondering if they would cut nicely into squares to hold the rice hulls.

The answer is: They do, I got twelve approximately 8 inch squares cut out of 1 dry-cleaning bag and I dumped about 1.25cups of rice hull onto the centre of a square before gathering up the edges very carefully and hoping it wouldn't burst onto the carpet. It was weird to gather the loose hulls into a flat sheet of plastic but I seem to recall seeing more than one Japanese video of rice hulls being wrapped in what looked like sheets of some kind of thin paper. Once I got over the fear of the very thin plastic breaking it was actually quite easy to mould the mari as I wrapped them... and I only spilled 2 bits of hull on the floor.

I like to stab the plastic bags with a needle lots of times to help remove air pockets and reduce the risk of deflating the ball while stitching on it later. This did prove tricky as the dry-cleaning bag plastic seemed to grip onto the needle and poked out of the yarn layer a few times. By the time I finished wrapping the outer layer of threads you would not have guessed that the hull had been contained by anything different...and the bag was totally free, better yet it was saved from going into landfill.

Today I had oven chips for lunch. Ok, I felt like eating steamed rice but wasn't in the mood to pull out the rice cooker. I also didn't want to wash up the oven tray so I lined it with baking paper. (I usually buy a really good quality baking paper but one day a while back I was feeling a bit stingy so I opted for a cheaper brand which requires me to use 2 sheets to get he same effect as the more expensive version - talk about false economy) So as I covered the tray in two sheets of paper it occurred to me that because this paper was quite thin and unwaxed it might be good for holding the rice hulls for my temari making. While the chips cooked in the oven I went and tried the paper idea out, did it work? Yes it did. I was really surprised that not only did I manage to get a sheet of baking paper filled with 1.25 cups of hull without spilling any on the carpet but it then rolled into a sphere during the yarn wrap. I stabbed it all over to help release any air that might have been trapped during the gathering together of the paper corners.

I really liked how this mari felt in my hand, I felt happy with how wholesome and natural it all was... just paper and rice hulls (no foam or plastic)... then it occurred to me that I was wrapping over the paper with polyester yarn and that blew the 'natural vibe'. LOL! I think my happy-in-love-with-the-whole-world vibe was due to low blood sugar at this point because next thing I knew the fire alarm started beeping to tell me I had forgotten the chips in the oven and the had been charred beyond recognition. I had a pear for lunch instead.

I thought that tissue paper might work really well too, I've got some packing grade tissue paper so I gave that a shot too (over the tiled floor instead of the carpet just to be safe). It worked really well and crushed down nicely. I also remembered while making the two mari with tissue paper where it was I had seen the video. It was featured on the Ogijima blog.

So what do you use for the core of your mari? If you use something loose (like lint, orts or rice hull etc) how do you keep it all together while you are wrapping with yarn?

I don't think I will get time to post again this week, but next post I will share some things I have learned about a design I have been working on lately.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sorry to be AWOL

I have been absent from writing on this blog for a few weeks. Sad to admit but even the last few post were scheduled in advance. Real life has been a bit busy lately and I have been a little bit too swamped (haven't managed to get organised to post much). Also our blogoversary is coming up in 12 days and I will soon publish the 400th post here so I have been at a bit of a loss as to what to write about.. nothing seems quite special enough. So I decided to just bite the bullet and write... something... to get me back in the right frame of mind again.

The last few weeks have been full of highs and lows. We feel like we've been riding an emotional roller-coaster!
  • Mr W started back at school as a 5th grader on February 1st. For the first time he has male teachers (which he thinks is AWESOME) and is really happy about going to school again.
  • We lost our 94 year old Nana on February 8th, 'Old' Nana had a stroke the week before Christmas and had been in hospital since then.
  • A huge fire stated burning in the National Parks 350km south of Perth which blanketed our beautiful clean city in thick smoke. Cough, cough, cough! The smoke keeps blowing out to sea and then coming back to land.
  • One of my best friends came to stay with us for a weekend. We laughed, caught up and marvelled at how fast the years slipped by since we met when I was 8 or 9.
  • Our broody hen hatched out 5 little chicks. They are so cute!
  • I got a really lovely bunch of red roses for Valentines day, I made a really cute red crochet heart for my hubby.
  • We buried Nana on the 16th. She had a lovely service, the Priest remarked how extraordinary it was to see so many people at the funeral of a lady of her age. Rise If Possible Nana.
  • My Aunty Nona (who make the most delicious food in the world including my wedding cake many years ago) told me the sweet dishes I made for Nana's wake were the nicest she had ever tasted and asked if I could pass along the recipes. What a compliment that the best cook I know personally should ask that.
  • After procrastinating for weeks, I finished all my temari diagramming and pattern writing for the next workshop (to be held this Saturday).
  • We cleaned out Mr W's bedroom and got to throw out all the little broken bits of useless junk he had been hoarding. (Now I just need to do the same in my craft room and office.)
  • We got a record 30 eggs in a week from our 5 hens!
  • I got asked to make my mini lemon meringue tarts for actual money for a birthday party of my Mum's friend.
  • Our neighbour, who suffered serious burns in a really horrible drag racing accident on Boxing Day, will finally come home from hospital this week. His house has seemed very sad without him and we've missed his presence in the street (and his little dog too).
  • We are being 'treated' to listening to Mr W's clarinet practice sessions. Last week was just hooting to move the reed and this week is the note of G or was it B... you know I can't remember what it is called but I could probably recognise it if I heard it again - and I will tomorrow!
  • I got about 8 inches cut off my hair, the hairdresser nearly broke her ankle slipping on all my hair as it fell to the floor. My Mum gave me the thick hair DNA although I didn't get her curls. I considered asking to keep my hair trimmings to use in a temari base... but luckily I quickly came to my senses because that is too gross.
I am experimenting with different items for wrapping the mari again. I'll post about that tomorrow. For now I'll leave you with a quick video of our chicks shot earlier this week.

Monday, 13 February 2012

fanTASTically behind schedule

I signed up to do the TAST challenge this year and the first two weeks were no problem, but my time has been really restricted the last few weeks and while others  are catching up, I am falling woefully behind.
I hope to catch up over the next month or so but I know there is no time to spare before the end of the month. I also haven't started the HHG stitch along on TT (which is now finished so I'll be doing it as a stitch behind).

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A girls day out

This weekend we had surprise house guests. It was wonderful to share our home with these two lovely ladies. Ms S, a dear friend I made in my childhood, and her daughter Miss C invited me on a girls shopping day on Saturday. This is something I very rarely get to do (I have two boys in my home so shopping for non-boy things is always a solo expedition). We shopped for an outfit for Miss C's upcoming school ball. We did some recon on the Internet on Friday night... so many dresses to choose from, we got ball gown overload before we even hit the stores.

We travelled all over the metropolitan area heading East, West and South, but the PERFECT dress was found. Pale pink taffeta, with a netting overlay on which the most exquisite embroidery is featured. I admit I had to blink away several happy tears when I saw how beautiful Miss C looked in her dress.  We also had a delicious afternoon tea at Choux Cafe in Nedlands.

What a blissful weekend. Thanks girls for staying with us and I'm counting the days until April when you both relocate to Perth. Happy dance!!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

No it's not dejavu

Last October the ladies at my temari class requested a date for another class in February 2012. They liked a temari I had taken to show and decided it would be great to try out. No problem, I really enjoyed making this design and for once was really happy with the colours and how they turned out.

In late November someone agreed how lovely the temari was and I sold that ball at the Hinata Gallery, small problem, but not to worry, I took a few pictures before the buyer took the temari away and this week I have been making some replacements.

Of course it has been restitched (above) in the original purple colour-way but I've also made one in shades of slate blues. The blue tones are lighter in real life, more frosty looking I guess. Just what I need in such hot weather.

I really love how this one turned out (is it wrong to be in love with your own temari?) but this one really does make me feel happy all over.

Friday, 10 February 2012

On the road again.

This week has been one of those weeks when jobs get started but not finished. I have lots of different things that need to be done (all of equal priority) so instead of knuckling down and doing these things I drove to Collie on Monday and Dwellingup* on Tuesday. Actually these road trips do meet a goal (getting the odometer on our car to meet our tax obligation) but it is also nice to be in a cold car on a hot day.

Collie is a small timber and mining town a few hours south of Perth on the inland road. I guess I had been there as a kid, because my Grandmother's sister lived there with her family so it stands to reason we would have visited there. Collie is about 2 hours (200km) from Perth down South West Highway. The drives were quite pleasant with very little traffic (not even one Police car to be seen on Monday) so I got to drive almost all the way with my cruise control running.

The countryside seems to be overrun with orange and black butterflies (Monarch) right now. They are simply unavoidable and sadly there is powdery evidence on the car grill that I smashed a few of them in my travels.

I saw several closed down craft stores on the way which made me feel a little sad but also led me to wonder if crafting is dying out in these townships or are people just buying more online/when in Perth.

I saw a church spire as I drove into the valley that is home to the township of Collie and decided to drive around until I found it. It is decidedly flash for a township of about 7000 people. Click the picture to see the stained glass panels. Just lovely. I think we might need to take an overnight trip back to Collie to explore the area a bit more.

Harvey and Brunswick (on the way to Collie) are in dairy country, most of the area is still fairly green despite the long hot summer we've had. I saw some interesting sights along the way including a most unexpected Camel grazing in a paddock by the road. I stopped to take this picture of cows going to the Brunswick show. Classic!

* Dwellingup is the tiny township just South East of the E in the map. Full of glorious large timber forests and one elusive raspberry farm that I will find someday.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Wrap Happy

Last week I had a custom order for 16 temari bases. The customer had a specific colour palette and size requirement so that the temari will fit in a cabinet being made to house them.

I can't wait to see a photo when these temari are stitched and sitting inside their new housing. Hopefully my customer will give me permission to post the picture here.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Keep Calm and Carry on...

Today I was surfing the net for a few minutes and came across this site that lets you design your Keep Calm and Carry On... poster.

So what did I decide to make? You don't need to guess too hard right?

I also made two batches of tomato pasta sauce again today. Miho purchased another $6 box of tomatoes, so I spent part of the day chopping, stirring and bottling sauce... another 22 bottles.

I also wrapped and marked my next two temari bases which I hope to start stitching on tomorrow.