Ichiroya Newsletter

The Kimono flea Market ICHIROYA News Letter just arrived in my inbox. It arrives weekly since I ordered the kimono silk from them. I enjoy reading it – it’s about some small aspect of life – this one about Senko hanabi (a kind of sparkling firework – I’d call then sparklers) which used to be made in Japan but haven’t been for about 15 years and of course the know-how for making the item has almost been lost. It’s been about the cost of producing the sparklers which can be manufactured in China much more cheaply. Ichiro (or whoever writes the blog) is lamenting the loss of craft knowledge:

Not only kimono but all the traditional art work are in the same  difficult situation- they are seeking for survival, finding new concept and trying to appeal people. I knew this is happenng all over and by seeing the new products like this Senko hanabi, I almost scream,

`Don’t go, Kimono! Hold on! Hold on Senko hanabi, too!’

‘Don’t go, Kimono! Hold on! – that’s because the most beautiful kimono fabrics are becoming too expensive to make in Japan and cheaper, inferior ones are being imported from China. The fabrics Ichiro sells are often old ones – obtained from who knows where – and when they’ve been sold, they’re gone – no more of them being made.

How many of our craft skills are being lost because the cost of doing hand work has become too expensive? I know I don’t sell my quilts because I can’t get what they’re worth – I prefer giving them as gifts; that way I know they are treasured and might survive as family heirlooms (and I’m not angry that I was paid poorly for my efforts).

Ironing A Shirt

I just finished ironing a couple of shirts; I manage to do a reasonable job after having watched the video by TM Lewin (a shirt maker in England). Click here if you want to learn how to iron a shirt in just three minutes. You’ll find several useful tips in the video.


I originally got the link from Pam Erny – a professional shirt-maker who makes wonderful shirts.

I’ve got fabric for several shirts – purchased in New York and Portland – time to think about using some of it.


Thinking about starting a new quilt so I went through my scrapbook of quilts I might like to make and decided Intersections by Cheryl Malkowski (Hoffman Timeless Treasures – free pattern) would work well with the green scrap bag I purchased from Keepsake Quilting some time ago. Here’s the picture of her finished quilt:


It’s constructed as an 8 x 10 block quilt – with a finished quilt size of 68″ X 85″ – too big for me to handle. I’d like a finished size of no more than 48″ x 64″. The basic block is this:


They get assembled in groups of 4 to form a pinwheel at the center


I have 12 fabrics to work with (9″ x 44″) – I need a quilt constructed from 6 x 8 blocks – to give me complete pinwheels – so how large does each block have to be to fit within my dimensions?

Turns out 7″ finished blocks will work – so I need to cut from each fabric:

  • 4 blocks – 4″ x 7 1/2″
  • 8 blocks – 2 1/4″ x 7 1/2″

I did a sample to see how it would work (these are scrap fabrics not fabrics from the set of greens):


This let me know my dimensions will work – BUT – I will have to more meticulous in my piecing because the finished block should be a 14 1/2″ square – and this one isn’t quite!

The assembled blocks will be 42″ x 56″ – which will allow me to add a 2 3/4″ border around the outside to make the final dimensions: 48″ x 62″. A good lap quilt size.

I also played around with some ideas for quilting the finished quilt – I think I may go with this one for each block:


This will give me an overall design for each of the finished 14″ x 14″ blocks which I will be able to do in my grand dream hoop. I don’t have a longarm quilter, I quilt in the hoop of my embroidery machine.

[Interested in the Mathematics of this quilt? Click here for the description embellished with the math involved!]

Replacing Sock Heels

I have a friend who wears holes in the heels of  her socks. Rather than throw them away I repair them. (We joke about her having a “lifetime guarantee”—she loves to wear the socks and I enjoy knitting them.)

It used to be I salvaged the legs and reknit feet. But that’s wasteful—the feet often have another season’s wear in them. So I changed to fixing just the heel—first I tried darning the hole but often the hole is too large for a successful darn. Next I tried knitting a patch over the hole, but the sides of the patch created a strain on the sides of the heel and she ended up with holes on the side. Sometimes I’ve reinforced the bottom of the heel with a double strand of sewing thread but where the thread ended on the sides left that area vulnerable.

I have finally figured out a way to reknit just the heel itself.


The link above is to the complete set of directions (with pictures) showing how I replace just the worn heel of a knit sock!

If the hole is under the ball of the foot – no option, you can only really salvage the legs – ya  gotta reknit the foot and of course by then you don’t have any of the original yarn left so you end up with something that contrasts well with the colours in the leg.



The Echinacea has started blooming. It looks to be a sturdy plant. I’m hoping it will survive the winter in its pot. The last time I tried growing some in a pot it didn’t make it through. This pot is in a sunnier location so it may return in the spring. I will harvest seeds, though, just in case. I want to start a couple of plants in both the back bed and in front of the house.


Kaffe Fassett Quilt 3

FINALLY! I finished the quilt I began before I went to Portland. I have been working on quilting the quilt for the past week or so; I still had ten blocks left to quilt and got them all done this morning. I then added the binding and label. Finally that quilt is done – I’m ready to move on to a new idea.

IMG_2098 IMG_2099

It’s a two sided quilt – I hesitate to call one the front and the other back – although I did consider the blocks the “front” when I was constructing the quilt. However, I like the second side equally well – I was pleased with how the bright strips sashed with the royal blue tones down the very strong green fabric. The embroidery I created to quilt in the hoop had four elements – one down the sash on the left of the block, the small square, along the bottom sashing, then finally the large square. That left some sashing/small blocks to be embroidered along the outer edge and top – but those elements went quickly.

Kimono Silk II

The third bolt of kimono silk arrived this morning – it is just like the picture I saw online. It will definitely work well with the pale fabric.


I just have to finish a second swimsuit, complete the quilt (made with the Kaffe Fassett fabrics), cut out the winter jacket that’s been sitting ony dining room table for four months, then I can begin making something from the kimono silk!

Kimono Silk I


Two of the three “bolts” of kimono silk I ordered from Ichiroya in Japan arrived this morning. Now I’m just going to have to look at them for a while before I have any idea what to make from the silk. I ordered the silk after the visit to Ann Williamson’s studio in Portland. I will make some kind of pieced jacket like one of Ann’s. The bolt still to come is in navy which should go with either the brick or the pale blue.

Swimsuit Fabric

The swimsuit fabric arrived yesterday! I ordered it from Spandex House in NYC (I have actually shopped there) on Sunday, they called for my credit card info Monday afternoon, the parcel arrived Wednesday morning.

I have made swimsuits for myself for more than thirty years. Lately it’s become very difficult to find interesting patterned Lycra/spandex fabric. The day I shopped at Spandex House I wasn’t looking for swimsuit fabric; I bought a black and silver sequin fabric to make a dressy top.


I took a chance on the weight of this fabric – it turned out to be a good mid-weight. Now to make the two suits I’ve cut from other fabric. I’m down to a single suit – the pool “eats” them – I’ve tossed out three suits this past week. Since I do water aerobics three times a week, I need two/three suits on hand.