Author Archives: Sanae

I make things. I like to call my work space a "crafty little atelier in a grey city". Grey is my favorite color.

Happy Thanksgiving


Just a little note to wish you and all your loved ones a spectacular Thanksgiving! We’ll have our usual unconventional movie + Chinese food Thanksgiving of ultra low stress. Since I won’t need to slave over the stove, I’ll be using the extra time to sew a recital dress for K, work on the annual Advent calendar (see previous ones here and here and here) and finish up the next Furoku (it might be a day or two late…).

I have so many thanks to give. Too many, really, and I think I’ll leave it at that. I am sending you all a flurry of good thoughts, and I’ll be back next week with some fun updates. Happy Turkey (or in my case, Dim Sum) Day!!


P.S. I will be participating in Indies First Day at Queen Anne Books on Saturday, November 28th at 10am. Stop on by if you’re around!


Happy Friday + Randomness


You know, it’s been a pretty tough couple of months for me. I have a built-in Pollyanna functionality, so I do find the silver lining in most situations, but these last two months nearly did me in. With illnesses and financial/career issues and things falling apart one after another, October and November may very well rank up there in the top 2 worst months of 2015. Two days ago, as I administered Benadryl to alleviate the humongous hives that mysteriously appeared all over K’s body (and her hands swelled up like mitts and lumps the size of golf balls protruded from her feet), I had this sudden and visceral realization that the problems will never cease. I don’t know why this felt like some thunder clap a-ha moment, but it did and somehow, that made me feel less overwrought. It’s rarely about the actual situation but the expectation I start to uphold that problems shouldn’t exist. So silly. It’s sort of like swimming or surfing in the ocean and becoming indignant about the water going up our noses or waves knocking us over. In many ways we can revel in the majesty and beauty and awesomeness of it all and — to a certain extent — prepare for the worst, but it’s a force that’s much bigger than us and uncontainable in its unpredictability.

Ultimately, in the satellite view of things, my dramas are ridiculously insignificant. Especially in the aftermath of events in Paris.

The pendulum seems to be swinging the other way, and although there is a fresh crop of other minor inconveniences, overall things are improving. We’re recovering from our multitudes of ailments, and financial bits are heading in the right direction, and we’ve patched up leaking/breaking/exploding elements.

Yesterday morning, K traced her fingers around my eyes and murmured, “So many wrinkles, Mama. Don’t get old. Don’t.” Sorry honey, no can do. Just as problems are an inexorable part of existence, my crow’s feet will continue to deepen and time will march on, widening my waist, depleting my elasticity, blurring my sight. And that’s okay because I hope to live long enough to wear unfashionable house dresses because I’ve long stopped caring what other people think; to smile from a face full of permanently etched laugh lines; to peer delightedly at my grandkids through my trifocals. We can only do what we can in the best way we know how in the amount of time we’re given.

And what does this have to do with swans? Not a thing. I just like to ramble and throw in an image that I’ve painted.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

Next week’s Thanksgiving
I’m taking a few days off
I’ll try to post once

Things That Make You Go Calmmmmm


It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I’m already beset by the holiday fatigue. Retailers are streaming jolly tunes about Santa and snow everywhere I turn, and I find myself scouring online sources for gift ideas and feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Luckily, I’ve been reading all of your comments from the giveaway to amp up my mindfulness cultivation toolbox. Knitting kept cropping up so I took up my needles for the first time in years even though I’m a self-proclaimed non-knitter.


It’s like riding a bicycle, I was pleased to note. My hands automatically started casting on stitches while my brain was saying, “How do I do this again?” Knit-a-row-purl-a-row…it really is a very soothing activity.


I don’t have any particular plans for this pretty indigo yarn (enough with the indigo, I’m sure you’re thinking), but if I keep going, it would make a cozy scarf. And hey, I had meant to knit a scarf last fall, remember? I’m noticing a trend: it takes about an extra year for me to fully carry out my plans since the skinny jeans are still in progress as well.

I’m still coughing, I’m sad to report. It’s throwing a wrench in my Zumba plans (I recently tagged along to a free class with a friend — I can’t help but think “Zumba” is just an exoticized name for the kind of aerobics reminiscent of the 90s, but it’s a lot of fun so I got a 5-class punchcard). I’ve had to skip the last few weeks due to the hacking that causes people to instinctively shift their bodies away from me.


But this surprise package from one of my favorites — Frances of Miss Matatabi — cheered me up and helped me forget about my health issues for a bit. What should I make with it? It’s so lovely. And indigo! The woman knows me well.


The holidays are barreling down, so I’m doodling and thinking, thinking, thinking. How to make it simple? As stress-free as possible? Thinking, thinking…

Sewing Little Things


K made me a tote bag! We discovered a while ago that my attempts of teaching her sewing was not an enriching experience for either of us, so she’s been taking an after school class taught by Little Hands Creations. Brilliant move if I do say so myself. At first K was dubious about the class, but now she’s officially hooked.


She told me that she chose this fabric because I “don’t like color.” I love it! I thought it was interesting that they taught her to add the straps without finishing the raw edges, but I’m very impressed with the overall quality of my new tote bag. “Mama, use your new bag!” K said, eagerly tossing it in my hands when I dropped her off at a sleepover birthday party on Friday, and as I ambled home, I noticed that my wrist suddenly felt empty. Somehow the bag had fallen off!

I backtracked my route twice, but it was such a dark and rainy night with little in the way of street lights, it was nearly impossible to see anything on the ground. Why I didn’t think to use my iPhone flashlight, I don’t know, but on the second pass, there it was midway between the friend’s house and ours. Crumpled and drenched but intact. Whew…


Bursting with relief that I found the bag and to say thanks, I made her a little pouch. I had in mind the time we went to the pet store to get frog food the other day — there was a rescue cat that K fell in love with named “Epic.” Though he seemed affable and gentle, M is allergic to cats so it was a no-go. Epic was inky black and big, but I figured cream-colored and little would be just as appreciated. It’s the size of a coin purse that easily fits in my palm.


The back is a simple envelope closure and I’m debating whether to add snaps or velcro…or maybe leave as is? K was thoroughly delighted and immediately went to show the neighbors (a sign of utmost approval). I didn’t use a pattern or anything and made it up as I went along. It was a snappy and fun project that took less than an hour even with the embroidering and painting on the blushing cheeks.


Despite our unsuccessful history of sewing together, we’re giving it another joint effort with a small puppy toy. It’s not looking too promising so far since I downloaded a free pattern from a Russian site assuming I would be able to wing it, but I’m a bit mystified by how the pieces go together. I need to find a different pattern, preferably in a language I can read.

All these non-garment sewing projects are making me think about the holidays. Are you gearing up for the craziness? I’d like to scale way back this year and keep it super simple. That’s sounding mighty good to me right now.

Happy Friday + Randomness + Giveaway {CLOSED}


Happy Friday! Since there was no school on Veteran’s Day this past Wednesday, K and I headed to the Japanese Garden to meet up with some friends.


It was so beautiful and serene. I almost felt like I should whisper and suppress my coughs.

The autumnal leaves boldly accented the lush green landscape. Red, gold, persimmon (there were actual persimmons too).

japanese-garden4 japanese-garden7

The koi fish gathered under the small bridges. Many were autumnal in color too, but the one that caught my eye was indigo, of course.


A stately heron camouflaged itself into the foliage and scenery.



This calming, meditative and meticulously manicured bit of nature was just what I needed (we found two women hand-plucking moss off of a small tree; they smiled and explained to us how the moss hinders the beauty of the branches). It reminded me of these coloring books. I’ve always had a weakness for coloring books, and right now there’s an explosion of them on the market. These were meant to be research — I wanted to know what “anti-stress art therapy” looked like. I’m all about anti-stress, as you know. It looks lovely, it turns out, with simple line drawings ranging from geometrics to nature-inspired scenes. I find, however, that I’m not inclined to color in other people’s drawings (I keep wanting to create my own) and it seems a shame to let these sit around without de-stressing anyone.


I’m not sure if anyone would be interested in these but I’ll throw ‘em out there to see if there are takers. Even if you’re not into coloring, I think these would make sweet gifts. I’ll select two winners, one for each book, and to enter the giveaway, I’d love to know: what do you do to cultivate mindfulness or a sense of calm? Do you meditate? Take walks? Drink a special tea?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday, November 20th and will contact the winner on the following Monday. International entries are always welcome. Good luck!

Mindfulness is good
But monkey mind is my norm
How about for you?

Have a superb weekend, all!



As the cough subsided in K, it snaked its way into my throat. I imagine this cough to be a rather heavyset creature, shifting its ample hindquarters this way and that in my trachea, settling in for the long haul, probably knitting something scratchy and long to cause those pesky dry hacks. It happens every year around this time.

Instead of fighting it, I’ve learned to submit. I figure it’s my body’s way of telling me to shut up already, just rest. The beginning of the school year is always so frenetic and after about a month, a collective exhaustion seems to disengage the immune system, and the flu spreads like wildfire. Interesting factoid: I was talking to a friend who grew up in Japan and there, where the school year starts in April, they have something called the May sickness because a large number of students go through a similar spate of illness approximately four weeks after the start of a new school year.

So I am resting this week, using my voice as little as possible. But I can’t help but want to keep my hands and mind busy. I’m not very good at sitting still and doing nothing. Last week, I passed a storefront with “ReCreative” splashed across the window, and what caught my eye was a small sign that read, “yarn: $1″. Seattle Recreative is essentially a thrift store for crafters, but it’s also a community space for art classes and exhibits. The place was hoppin’! Filled with a mish mash of supplies from fabric to jewelry-making doodads to what appeared to be ancient tubes of paint, moms with strollers and toddlers were arriving by the droves when I ducked in to see what this whole dollar yarn situation was about. I ended up with a few skeins in my favorite shades, and snagged a couple of vintage National Geographics at 50 cents a pop too:


$6 well spent. I’ve also checked out a couple of promising reads from the library:


Still working on my Gingers. I started anew with a size 6 since my last attempt at size 8 yielded über mom pants with too much wiggle room around the tummy and thighs. I got my size 6 pattern pieces all prettily cut up, selected a denim from my pile that wasn’t quite stretchy enough, and alas, I couldn’t even get my calf in. I dove back into my pile, found another denim (in grey this time) with significantly more stretch, basted it up, but no, still too small. And the size 8 mom pants are fitting much better all of sudden, though still a touch loose. I am somewhere between a 6 and 8, it seems, though I have a sneaking suspicion that my monthly cycle may morph my body into two completely different sizes, depending on the time of the month. Since I clothe myself exclusively in knits and worn out jeans, this is difficult to verify.


Sigh. I’m getting mighty comfortable at the drawing board.

Anyway. Quietly, quietly. Time to pipe down and soothe, to still my overactive tendencies, to drink tea and let lozenges slowly melt in my mouth. To wait for the departure of my cough. And maybe dream about knitting something.


Monday Outfit: Faux Fur Vest


Good Morning! We had a bustling weekend filled with celebrations and Ultimate Frisbee (in the rain! K called Uncle midway to avoid getting sick again). I also stole away for a few hours to luxuriate in some crafting, and remembered my minimalist sewing plans. The warm zip vest seemed like a practical item to tackle for these days with rapidly cooling temperatures, but I couldn’t get myself worked up into a frenzy of excitement about sewing with batting.

As I waded through my stash of fabrics, I came across a piece of white-and-grey pelt the size of a placemat and recalled how K lingered to touch a faux fur vest at Target. I believe it was this one. K rarely stops to look at ready-to-wear clothes, so that moment stuck in my mind. Naturally, I had to make one for her.


I used this book, which actually has a pattern for a faux fur vest. I am thrillingly close to have sewn every pattern, and I’ll have to do a round up of all the clothes I’ve made from this book soon. I derive a lot of satisfaction from seeing all the outfits lined up together — it’s the small things in life, right? Or maybe it’s the touch of OCD in me.


I did change things up a little bit:

– K wanted a cropped vest, so I cut out the size 130cm, but shortened the length to 110cm.

– There are separate instruction for spring and winter versions for this vest pattern, and the winter faux fur version recommends a hook-and-eye closure. I didn’t have one, so I used one of the other closure options of a loop and button (the third option is a tab closure). The loop is leather, and the button is a vintage metal one from my mom.

– Since I had so little of the faux fur, I used it for the front only, and found a nice neutral grey wool for the back piece.

– I lined it with leftover jersey knit from the Halloween costume cape instead of rayon lining fabric that I usually use. This was purely out of laziness since the knit happened to be right there by my cutting table. I’m glad it wasn’t too fiddly!


I love quick, unnecessary and fun projects. Necessity sewing gets me down for some reason (underwear comes to mind).


If K could have given me a thousand thumbs’ ups, she would have. “I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE it,” she declared.


(She accidentally threw the hanger on which the vest was hanging, which is why she looks like that up there. I think it’s cute).

The only tricky part is that faux fur starts shedding uncontrollably once you cut into it, so I was very, very gentle about handling the front pieces. I looked like a 90-year-old offering up a sacrifice while concentrating on walking meditation: I carried the faux fur pieces on upturned, flattened palms as I took painfully slow micro steps from the cutting table to the sewing machine. It worked. There was minimal fluffy tufts floating about, and the vest practically assembled itself.

fauxfur-vest7 fauxfur-vest8

Fun fun fun. I can now cross off the knit tunic, the skinny jeans and the (modified) vest from my minimal sewing plan:


Not too shabby, I’d say. K agrees.


P.S. I did not make the jeggings, though I wish I had because they’re so awesome. They’re from the neighbor hand-me-down pile. We’ve made very little progress on the clothes elimination front….

Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! I’m scuttling toward un-sickness, and I’m optimistic that I’ll be all better before the end of the weekend. I had a good day yesterday, a day full of lovely moments and quirkiness. As we walked to school in the drizzly morn, K and her friend spotted two ginormous mushrooms flanking a tree trunk (they were red, but I painted only one in blue — I’m going through a Picasso phase).


And then amid the remnants of Halloween decorations, I saw a carved pumpkin carriage.




I splurged on and thoroughly savored a slice of olive oil apple bundt cake at the ridiculously charming Coyle’s Bakeshop and chit chatted with a new friend.


On a long walk back to pick up K, I passed a nail salon and caught a glimpse of a much, much older gentleman getting a manicure from a tiny woman with a bun.


And speaking of buns, when the walk became too much and I boarded a bus, I sat behind a woman with an expertly coiffed updo. I couldn’t help but notice the haphazardly inserted pen in her hair.


I was able to cut out most of the fabric pieces for my ongoing Ginger Skinny Jeans project.

Yes. A good day.

Have a refreshing weekend, all!


Gonna make porridge
in my crock pot this weekend
mmmm mmmm mmmm can’t wait





How to Make Clothes That Fit and Flatter


Oof. I’ve been struck down by the bug that’s going around, and I was utterly useless yesterday. As I floundered about, I realized that the pile of books by my bed is out of control. There are about 30 assorted books, of which I’m currently reading 10 at once. I don’t normally do that, but I feel like my focus has been scattered, so I keep finding myself picking up one book and reading a couple of pages, then reaching for another book for a couple pages. It’s a bit of a schizophrenic way to read, but then I remembered that this was exactly the way I powered through my textbooks when studying for college exams. I don’t know if I’m absorbing more material this way or not, but the variety is sort of refreshing.

Beneath the 10 books in rotation, I found the book above. I hunted it down and ordered a used copy from Amazon a long time ago when I read Sarai‘s lovely review of it. The cover speaks of a well-loved and oft-thumbed through copy. Published in 1969, it’s full of charming illustrations and what appears to be a gentle style of writing, and although it hasn’t made it into my rotation yet, its turn is coming soon.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m determined to become well-versed in fit. Yes, let’s call this Project Survival of the Fittest. I’m aiming to start this…evolution, I suppose, at the beginning of 2016 since there’s no way no how that I’ll finish the book before then at my current glacial speed.

But first, I have to survive this pesky quasi-flu. Off to stock up on cough drops!

Cough Cough


As I’m typing this, I hear the muffled yet constant coughing from K’s room.


Still sick. She insisted that she was all better and braved the cold and wind and rain, parading around with friends on Halloween night. Came home with her voice hoarse and cheeks rouged, fingers icy. She gleefully counted her candy: 80 pieces (AND I ate sooo many while trick-or-treating, Mama!). Collapsed in a coughing fit. All that candy was probably not wise.


So today (and maybe tomorrow and the day after) is all about herbal tea with honey and reading books and burrowing into bed and extra hugs.


Cough cough. Oh. I hear her…singing? Better check on her.

This is the part about autumn that I always forget: the flurry of fever and germs and little sniffling people. But the light is pretty this time of year and I find it endearing how she gets so engrossed in books that she forgets to eat.


I fought a good battle, but I’m toting a box of tissues with me everywhere now too…

P.S. Furoku 8 has gone out! Please let me know if you have any issues.



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