A simple offer can lead to so many things

Way back in 2014, back when sewing blogs felt a little different from the current vibe, I was approached by a marketing person at Tuttle Publishing about reviewing a couple of Japanese sewing books that had been freshly translated into English. I said yes, of course. As I was corresponding back and forth with the marketing person, I offhandedly mentioned that if they ever needed another translator, I was happy to help out. A single sentence in a short email.

A few months later, an editor from Tuttle Publishing reached out and asked if I would be interested in translating this book. I said yes, of course. And then I kept saying yes and the other day when I received another translation assignment, I noticed that somewhere along the way I had stopped keeping track. I was shocked to count up the books — I am currently working on my 20th translation project!

There are 17 shown up there from 2014 to 2020 and three more will be published next year, which I can’t show yet. Translation projects are a different animal from working on the books I publish through Sasquatch Books and Little Bigfoot. I am paid a one time fee for the translations and don’t get any royalties. I love doing the translations because they require me to use a different set of problem-solving skills. It’s still writing, but with a twist since the original words aren’t mine and I’m tasked to convey the nuance of the Japanese text while keeping an English-reading audience in mind.

I’m learning all about natural dyeing right now via this latest translation project, and it’s so educational! Very much like a science project!

More than anything, I was marveling that all of this came from putting out a simple question. It makes one wonder, “What else can I ask?”

I hope you are all doing well, my friends! I’ve decided to make some website/blog changes over the next few weeks, so I may skip a blog post for October, but I will definitely be back for November. I apologize in advance if things get glitchy around here. In the meantime, I am sending you all shiawase* thoughts!

*Shiawase is a Japanese word that roughly means happiness or good fortune.

SUMO books giveaway [CLOSED]

Today is the birthday for my newest book babies SUMO COUNTING and SUMO OPPOSITES! I’m doing a little giveaway on Instagram, but in case you’re not on the ‘gram, I’m offering up the chance to win a set of these darling sumo books here on the blog.

These bright, cheery board books are ideal for babies, toddlers and beyond! I loved every moment of creating them. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment and I’ll select a winner this Friday, September 10th.

On IG, I asked about favorite seasons. If you would like something specific to comment about, how about a beloved book from your childhood? I gobbled up Japanese comic books and folk tales as a kid.

International entries are welcome, and I can’t wait to see who wins! Good luck!

SUMO COUNTING + SUMO OPPOSITES!

Wow, August just vaporized and I’m reeling from the fact that September will be upon us in a matter of hours. How are you, my friends?

I’m doing a quick check-in today for a couple of reasons:

  1. I wanted to say hello – August has been somewhat rough for me and my monthly ritual of updating my blog has a helpful, grounding effect. Though I’ve been pretty overwhelmed especially in the last week, there’s a chance that life will calm down very soon. Whew. My favorite autumnal season is just around the corner, and I’m excited to savor it. Things are starting to look up!
  2. I have new books coming out:

Oh my goodness, aren’t they CUTE?????? SUMO COUNTING follows a typical day of sumo wrestlers with little rhyming couplets. SUMO OPPOSITES is just that — opposite words, plain and simple. I did try to incorporate lots of Japanese cultural elements in the  illustrations for the OPPOSITES book too, though. Plus, there are Japanese words accompanying the numerals and English terms. I always love it when board books are informative and interesting for adults as well as for the littles, and I kept that in mind as I created these.

The official release date is next Tuesday, September 7th! They are available wherever books are sold (you can click on the book images on my sidebar or click here), and pre-orders are always awesome!

I am particularly in love with this spread from SUMO COUNTING (the most elaborate one):

The Japanese garden I painted is a mash-up of three local gardens: The Seattle Japanese Garden, Kubota Garden and Bloedel Reserve. All three are incredibly beautiful and it was such a delight to incorporate various aspects of the three gardens.

This is the opener for the SUMO OPPOSITES book:

I loved trying to balance the minimal and complex illustrations for the series.

So! I like to include fun extras whenever possible, and to celebrate the forthcoming launch of my adorable sumo guys, I designed a little repeat pattern, which can be used as gift wrap for small presents. Click here to download the printable PDF file.

I taped two sheets of the sumo paper to wrap both books. As you can tell, I’m very into blues and greens lately.

Here’s what’s even more thrilling: there are TWO more Sumo books in the pipeline! Like all of my kids’ books, the next two will be published through Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books. The entire set will be a great addition to any library, and these make excellent baby gifts. The best way to describe how I felt making these books is “joyful,” which was much appreciated since I was working on these during the height of the pandemic lockdown last year. I’m so grateful to have had these sumo books to keep me company during these uncertain times.

Yay! Please order these joy-boosting books for every baby/toddler you know :-)!!!

 

And time ambles on…

Hello, hello! How are you?

I’ve been taking an Instagram break for the last month, so I’ve been feeling extra disconnected from the online world. As I’ve stayed offline as much as possible, we’ve packed other activities into July. It’s been good. Better than good, really, and much, much needed. We’ve been spending time with family and friends. Traveled. I’ve read so many books. Wrapped up quite a few deadlines. A couple of days ago, I read this thoughtful post by Rebecca Green, an illustrator/artist that I respect a lot, about taking Instagram breaks and I’m determined to remove myself more from social media in the future — in fact, I think I’ll continue to stay mostly off of Instagram for August as well. My mental health has definitely improved over the last month, and I’d like to cultivate this well-being some more.

Anyway. Today is K’s 15th birthday!!!! Can you believe it? I can’t. I made that photo book you see up there back in 2010. K was 4 in the picture, and she’d just gotten her face painted with a crown and pink unicorn at her birthday party that we held at the neighborhood park. She was so, so delighted.

And here she is a few weeks ago, on our Michigan trip. She’s undeniably a young woman, and a very lovely one at that. She’s actually sitting right next to me right now, telling me to “write some heartfelt stuff.” Hmmm…that’s hard to do on command. How can I possibly express how much this girl means to me? She’s the baby I’ve always wanted, the one I was lucky enough to give birth to. “You were meant to be my daughter,” I tell her. M and I both feel that way. I’ve heard her ask, “But what if you got someone else?” M always responds, “I would have sent that kid right back and demanded my rightful child.” Never mind that it doesn’t make any logical sense, the sentiment is what’s key here.

Alright, I’m off to prepare for this special bday!! Hope all is well with you, friends.

June Round-Up


Hello, my friends! We just survived an epic, record-breaking Pacific Northwest heatwave (108 degrees on Monday) and I’ve never been more thankful for our scary-and-fit-for-a-horror-movie basement that remained at least 15 degrees cooler throughout the onslaught of scorching temps. For some reason, I always associate heatwaves with that bit in The Great Gatsby when the characters are all resting on tasteful settees or davenports with white curtains billowing about. My own situation was decidedly the exact opposite of that — we sweated up a storm in a dark, airless, bunker-esque room.

Katara, our cat, was flopped on her side the entire time. She refused to go down to the basement and stubbornly stayed in the sweltering upstairs levels, If she could speak human, she would have said, “I’m done. Stick a fork in me.”

Heatwave notwithstanding, I had a decent output in terms of illustrating and sewing. I’ve now posted on Instagram every week for six solid months, and my friends, it’s time for a break. I’ve decided to delete Instagram for the month of July to fully unplug. I wanted see if I could consistently produce illustrations and sewing projects without making any excuses and the answer is clearly yes. This was meant to be a personal experiment just for me because I’d always been a procrastinator and excuse-maker and I didn’t want to be those things anymore. I’m glad I’m creating this new level of trust with myself.

Next week we’re heading out to visit family in Michigan and we’ll be celebrating M’s and K’s birthdays later in July. We have camping trips and outings planned and really, I just want to enjoy a few weeks without the constant pull to produce, produce, produce, which is probably both my strength and downfall. I do have a few deadlines, but compared to the sewing book deadlines, the current projects on my docket are easy-peasy.

So here are the illustrations and sewing projects from June:

SEWING PROJECTS

I quickly made the reversible ironing board cover for the sewing book photoshoot, and I’m so glad I did! It’s not that I minded ironing before, but now it feels inexplicably special to be pressing fabrics and sewn items on a custom cover. There’s a quick tutorial on how to make it here.

The flutter-sleeve tops are self-drafted based on an old Anthropologie top, and I’ve been wearing them a lot. I started sewing a lot more for K these last few weeks and she’s been requesting cropped, puff-sleeve tops as teenagers are wont to do (I’m told). The first top was a flop. I drafted it but it didn’t fit well, so I tried out the Tudor Blouse pattern by Stitch Witch Patterns, which was recommended to me via IG — social media can be wonderful at times. K loves both her button-down and wrap Tudor tops!

ILLUSTRATIONS
I used Spoonflower to test a couple of my repeat patterns (the bunny and birds), which was fun. I originally had the idea of getting fabric printed regularly but didn’t realize that shipping would take so long…I may just add my designs to Spoonflower and see how the mock-ups look — how amazing that the mock-ups are instantly created on the Spoonflower site! In general, I’m having a blast practicing seamless patterns and I’m really loving my morning routine of painting simple watercolor illustrations.

More details on my Instagram feed here.

I hope you all had a lovely June! As I mentioned before, I turned fifty this month and after much contemplation, I came to the conclusion that my fifth decade is simply about being unapologetically myself. Aging is marvelous and I wish I’d had more examples of people expressing that. No matter, I’ll be that example. Aging is awesome, y’all. It really is.

Alright, I’ll be back at the end of July with a quick update, and my weekly Instagram postings will resume in August. I’m looking forward to taking this break and to come back refreshed and raring to go! I also have exciting updates later this summer! xoxo