Land of the Rising Sun; Day 3

We would definitely hit the ground running this morning and would have a very full day! Two workshops and then a very special evening.


We started at the Shibori Museum as we were going to learn to dye our own! Shibori is a Japanese manual resist dyeing technique, which produces patterns on fabric.


The stitch would produce the very tiny circles and the wind gave us the flowers!


We would pick our design, most of us selecting the rabbit and the blues/periwinkles. A few did the orange and it was really quite striking when it came out of the dye pot!


This is what we started with! The small ties or stitch was already done for us.


The young man explaining how we were to do it. He was Japanese but had lived in Australia for many years and his accent was most delightful!


Another demonstration of the tying techniques. No we didn’t have to sit on the floor!

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Here were our dye pots. And while they were drying we got to play and shop!


Debby called this the kimono hug!

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Mary Alice and Debby modeling for us. I think that they should have bought these kimonos as they sure looked great in them, don’t you think so?

After the Shibori pieces were dry, we cut out the tied threads to reveal our patterns. I wasn’t paying close enough attention and I knicked myself with the scissors and it bled more than I realized! I wound up with a lot of blood on my piece…


and I was holding this way as not to show it. But I am here to attest that YES your own spit does remove your own blood. Amazing as you would never know it was there!

What a fun morning and we got to leave with something finished! Isn’t that a great word to say, finished?

We were headed to our next stop and I am not even sure if we stopped for lunch. Midori was great for finding little places for us, so I’m sure we did, except that I don’t have any pictures of it! Okay onward to Yokoyam Studio to weave a bamboo basket!





And I have to wonder what Pat and Janet were up to here?


Another finish! A very fun project indeed and it sits on my coffee table for a special remembrance of an amazing trip!

I will continue telling you about our evening with maiko (geisha in training) at the Kyoto Cultural Center next time! Then day 4 would find us on the bullit train as we travel to Mt. Fujiyama. So much more to share. Brenda Hart is at our shop this weekend, so that might get in the way. Yes blame Brenda!

and for now I will say…sayonara


Day 2 in Kyoto

So last I left you we were walking through the Bamboo Forest, and I have been reading about this area on line, so if it peaks your interest…Google it!

We walked through a little village and it was my first glimpse of the Japan that I had imagined in my mind. Narrow streets, rickshaws, kimono clad women, little shops which I wanted to go into everyone and explore! It was also our first taste of shopping and throughout the trip many of us supported the local economy quite well! Unfortunately I have no pictures of the village, and that’s another reason to go back soon!

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We crossed the Togetsu-Kyo Bridge and walked next to the river to our lunch destination. It was follow Midori as she really was the only one who knew where we were going!


We would enjoy a Japanese style afternoon tea! The presentations are always so beautiful that you almost don’t want to eat it.

As if this wasn’t enough to fill our day, a bus ride would bring us to our next stop and something I was really looking forward to! A vist with a master Japanese embroiderer in his home!


Here he was signing books for us that we all purchased.

We were served tea and sat around the table for a few hours as we listened to him talk about his work, his craft…just so beautiful!


This one was my favorite! I am from the school that less is more.


a closeup of his amazing stitching!



The master was talking about this kimono which he said took him 4 years to complete. The strip that he was holding would be part of a Noh dancer wardrobe and would cost about $5000 in American dollars.


He was showing off his work that is published in the book that we all bought!


Another one of my favorites! The mums were done in the Shibori technique… and more about that on Day 3.


It was a true honor to be invited into the masters home! I could have listened to him for hours.


We said our goodbyes and thanks yous and headed back to our hotel. Where soon I would be reunited with my phone, which I would keep very close to me for the rest of the trip!

and for now…sayonara


The Land of the Rising Sun; Day 2

okay…I’m on the trip of a lifetime! I added Cloud storage to my phone ’cause I know that I am going to take a whole lotta pictures, which I did. Had our amazing breakfast buffet at the hotel and we usually went back upstairs to do whatever and then meet at our spot. Wellllllllll I took my phone out of my pocket for the moment, took care of what I had to do and left the building. Didn’t realize till we arrived at our first stop that I was without it! Do you realize how much we depend on these things and to be without it…OMG!

My awesome travel buddies, knowing my dispair, shared their pictures with me for that day. So all the pictures that you see for day 2 in Kyoto were generously shared to me by Mary Alice, Janet, Debby and Pat, a dear BFF. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I think that I failed to say that we are in Kyoto. We started off here and we will end this amazing trip in Kyoto after moving to Mt. Fuji, Tokyo, Okayama, Hiroshima and back to Kyoto. I have to say that Kyoto, well besides Fujiyama was my favorite!


We arrived at our first stop; Saga Arashiyama and Tenryu-Temple, Buddhist Temple as Pat explained it to me. If it was Shinto, then it was a shrine.


We removed our shoes and were quickly in awe at the beauty of it all. There were tatami mats all over for you to walk on…but I always love a reason to be shoeless! This is Midori and Mary Alice and they are the ones that put together this amazing “embroidery tour” which I never wanted it to end!


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the gardener was hard at work! He had an incense pot burning and I would later learn it was to keep mosquitos away.

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This was our walk on the way to the Bamboo Street. So peaceful and beautiful!


This is a little bamboo shoot and I was told that…


just overnight it could grow to this height!





This is a lot of our group here on the left.

and this was just our morning! we would walk into town and do a bit of shopping on our way to a very Japanese lunch. Then Midori had a very special afternoon planned for us, which I will save for next time. Just too many pictures to get it all in one post!

so for now I will say…sayonara


Land of the Rising Sun; Day 1

Remembering that I had this info sheet while doing a little more research on the Aoi Matsuri Festival which I thought I would share with you…“it is one of the most solemn and graceful festivals in Japan and has been well preserved throughout the ages ince the th century. The aoi leaves which are used to decorate the costumes are believed to have all sorts of powers, including protection against lightening and earthquakes and guaranteeing easy childbirth.

The procession consists of 511 people, 36 horses, 4 cows and 2 carriages and runs 1 kilometer from front to back. The highlight of the festival is the saio-dai, a young woman which in the Heian period was always an imperial princess who rides on a paanquin with a multitude if followers wearing the colorful clothing of the imperial court. She is dressed in 12  layers of imperial Heian robes.”

What a fabulous way to throw ourselves into the Japanese culture and start off our time in Japan. Off to hop a bus/train and venture our way to Nakasyu Studio in Kyoto where were to experience Yuzen dying.

We saw samples ahead of time and were supposed to pick out our color. I really do love blue/purple/periwinkle, but I selected the brown as I got to see that sample in person and it was very striking, so that was my color!


We walked into the studio of course after removing our shoes, which is still the custom there. There were always slippers offered, but I prefer not to use them and just walk in my stocking feet!

Our fabric was prepared for us and mounted on these special frames. As we sat we were served tea and welcomed to the studio with proper introductions and bowing of the head.


This is before the colors of paint. The silver actually is albana (if I said that correctly) and would not absorb colors.


This was the gold sensei demonstrating his craft.


This is the sample which I would try to follow the color placement.


We were all busy painting!


This pictoral collage was created by Leslie who was sitting across from me. We both were lovers of baseball and cats, so we really hit it off!


Our sensei

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My buddy Debby. She would share many laughs and pictures with me throughout our trip!


Focused on my painting!


a little help from our sensei.

It was hard work which made us work quite the appetite! We walked around the corner to have lunch, but first you needed to put your shoes away in the shoe locker before you entered.



The wooden blocks were numbered as to where you placed your shoes. Hopefully I would remember where they were!


Most delicious lunch! and then of course there was dessert…


Soon it was time to go back to our pieces.


Originally we were supposed to add the gold outlines, but it was decided for us that it would be done and we would get the pieces back in a week. They would need to be washed first and then the gold is added as if you were using a pastry bag.

I am absolutely thrilled with the way mine came out! They are used to cover your Japanese embroidery pieces. But since I don’t do JE, I have something in mind that I will work on with my framers. Next on the agenda was making a little coin purse, so we would have something to take with us. I didn’t download any of those pictures, so another time!


Our day was done! and it was off to a sushi spot that utilized a conveyer belt and you would just help yourself to what looked good…and it all did.


They would figure your bill by either counting your plates, or if you really ate a lot of selections, they would measure your stack with a ruler. Very clever!

And wow that was just our first day. Tuesday would take us to Saga Arashiyama, Tenryuji Temple, Bamboo Street and Nagakusa Embroidery Studio.

and for now I will say…sayonara


Nothing to do With Needlepoint!

Okay fair warning! My trip to Japan has absolutely nothing to do with needlepoint! We were all stitchers, wether it be needlepoint, embroidery, Japanese embroidery, counted work, etc. So as long as I share with you my amazing trip and it will take a while, there is no needlepoint involved!

It was considered an embroidery tour and we had many activities revolving around stitchy type things. I did bring a few projects with me, but I did absolutely no stitching! By the time I got back to the hotel at night, I was too tired! So watched a little Japanese tv, checked email and Facebook, had some tea and crashed.

I do have hundreds and hundred of pictures…seriously! and it takes a while to sort through them all, get them cropped and adjusted and especially now that my computer is really aging. Actually I am not even sure I can get finish the first day all in one posting.

Okay I’m really in Japan and I barely slept as I couldn’t wait to get my day started!


These were the plates that were available for breakfast. Wow the possibilities were endless! Dozens and dozens of choices both Western style breakast and Japanese.


Just a little taste of a few things, most of which I enjoyed. I would try a few different things every morning as I am a very adventerous eater!

During our trip here we experiened every type of public transportation from bus to train to bullet train, subway to cable car to street car, rickshaw to ferry and what else I am missing? And I can’t always remember which one we did when…anyhow Monday morning found us off and running to view the Aoi Matsuri! Matsuri is Japanese for festival and this is one of Kyoto’s three most famous ones. It takes place on May 15th and is a celebration for aoi leaves, a species of wild ginger which are used to decorate the costumes of the participants.

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The grounds are just beautiful! and in the windows you can see kimono-clad women watching the parade.

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What a way to start our trip! We stayed for but an hour or so as we need to get to our yuzen dying class. In order to really enjoy the rest of the day, I will save that for the next posting! which will be sometime next week as I head for Dallas to take a class at Creative Stitches and Gifts, instead of going to market…see that’s needlepoint and that’s for another time!

and for now I will say sayonara…

A Trip of a Lifetime!

Well I left you with AlleyCat, so why not start with out with her? She was being a very good girl, not sleeping on my clothes or in the suitcase! She was busy supurr~vising here!

and here we were bonding as much as possible before I left! She really does sleep on my lap while I’m stitching for hours and does not mess with my threads, believe it or not! Felix was the same way.

So Friday morning May 12th… and would it ever get here? found me winging my way to San Francisco where most of us would meet and fly on the same plane to Osaka.

Well it was really time and here’s our plane!

As much as I thought I would stitch on the plane, I did not. I slept, I read, I watched movies, had a glass of wine or two and slept some more. Before I knew it, we were in Japan!

Here we are, the whole motley crew! MaryAlice is front and center towards the left and Midori, our Japanese tour leader was not in this picture, but you will see her often enough! We then had a long bus ride to our hotel in Kyoto.

a little Japanese beer to celebrate with everyone and a light snack!

It’s just a tomato, but look at the presentation!

It was a trip of a lifetime and in my wildest dreams did I ever expect it to be so special, so memorbale, so moving, so motivating, so… well I think that you get the idea! I will go back, someday soon. I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures and then many of us were sharing them through Moments on Facbook, so that’s even more to go through! So, it will take some time, but I hope to talk about our first day with you before I take off again this weekend… but shhhh please don’t tell AlleyCat I’m leaving her again.

It’s good to be home, but Japan did keep a piece of my heart there.


So What’s New PussyCat?

I thought that this was the purr~fect picture to use for my Japan post. It is a canvas by Brenda Stofft and it combines my love for cats and my fascination with the Japanese culture. Rumor has it that Tony Minieri has a fabulous stitch guide for this canvas and when I’m ready to start it…and who knows when that will be? I will order it from him.

So my trip! We all meet in San Francisco the day before we leave for Japan and you are probably wondering why I’m going the day before when I am so close to San Fran? Well flights quite often are cancelled because of fog, so I am not taking any chances. I am even flying early enough so if worse came to worse, I could rent a car and drive!

I am sure that there will be some sort of celebatory dinner Friday night amongst us. There are 10 of us plus Mary Alice and Midori san, the latter 2 who have planned this trip. Leaving Saturday, flying into Osaka where we will then take the train to Kyoto. Now is that the bullet train perhaps? A regular train would be nice to see more scenery, but the experience of the other would be awesome!

Staying for 4 days in Kyoto where we will experince Yuzen dyeing, sightseeing, making bamboo baskets, Shibori dyeing and more sightseeing.

The 5th day we travel to a new hotel, visit the Icchiku Kubota Museum, experience Mt. Fuji, monkey theater and shabu-shabu dinner.

Next stop is Tokyo where we will enjoy an evening of sumo watching and dinner. A few days here where we will take in the Sky Tree Aquarium, sightseeing and then a Japanese Bead Embroidery project. Next day is onto Okayama and visiting the Hiroshima Peace Park is on the agenda. Toho bead factory is up next which is a great line of beads such as Miyuki. Originally we were told both bead places, but I don’t see the latter on this new intinerary!

Return back to Kyoto for the last 3 days where we tour museums, more sightseeing such as Golden Pavillion, a textile factory and ooh so much more! and then back home where actually we leave on Saturday morning and I get back home on Saturday mornng. Go figure!

As I write this, maybe I am thinking that I need to bring a little notebook with me or a travel journey. I didn’t do this for London, but maybe for this I should. I am almost ready with all that I (think that I) will need… just need to order my yen (Monday!) and add international travel on my phone.


So you know I need to leave you with a cat something, something! I have been seeing these felted cat caves amongst my friends on Facebook lately. Thinking that I will be leaving my poor cat to fend with her nanny for a bit…why don’t I get her one? I was just starting to look for one, when Warwick’s my favorite La Jolla store (besides the Needle Nook of La Jolla of course!) happened to call me to say “we have a cat something that just came in and you will love it!” well of course curiousity got this cat and I needed a look see.


For me, it was love at first sight…but for AlleyCat not so much. She gave it a thorough catscan and proceeded to walk away and that’s it! and that’s why she is known as “the brat.” But it’s cute and I like looking at it! Maybe sooner or later she curl up inside of it, if not it will be here for the next kitty or kitties that come and live with us. Yes AlleyCat sooner or later that day is coming!

So I want to say that it will be well over a month or more before I check in again… soon after I come back it will be off to the summer trade show too. So see you later!


A Big Finish for Me!


From the Women with Attitude series by Penny MacLeod, meet who I fondly call the Umbrella Lady! Really it is called “Raindrops” and it is in the collection’s line. Yes that’s how they spell it “the collection” and sometimes referred as All About Stitching…so confusing!

It is a large canvas, but with this awesome background that my sistah Meredith Willett gave me, it went quickly…well all things considered. It was her stitch, but it was my choice of threads changing from what she originally suggested…in which she quickly called me “insubordinate!” Well it was a great stitch, but the wrong thread as it brought the background forward and was no longer a background!


So now do I want to have it put in this frame that was created for this canvas by Deux Bijoux Bijoux which is meant to hold umbrellas! Or do I want to frame it? Well its a shop model and really no hurry deciding.

I started this on a rainy day probably over a year ago and just finished it on Easter Sunday! I really don’t make that much time for stitching these days and this has gotta stop! I really did fall right into my stitching zen this last weekend and I am not sure if it was the baseball or my supurr~visor…


It’s rather a dark picture, but you should be able to see someone’s tail poking out!


and then she stretched and showed her paws on the other side. She does not bother my threads, moving or not! cam you believe that?


and here was the next night as I was working on a much smaller canvas!

Okay time I stop in to say hi, I will tell you all about my trip to Japan… and that will probably be it until I get back, when I will take you day by day. I am trying to go through all the pictures on my phone and in my cloud so I can clear up some space before departing which is now 3 weeks and 2 days. But who’s counting?


Do You Know What Day it Is?

AlleyCat is stopping in to tell you that it is National Pet Day! But I look at my cats (and for right now it is just the one cat!) as part of the family and don’t consider them pets. I think that they agree!

AlleyCat absolutely loves these cardboard beverage containers from Starbucks or any of your local coffee spots. The girls at the shop take good care of her and am always leaving them for me to take to her. She loves to claw them as I am sure that you can see the marks and the stuff on the rug. She will flip them over and claw some more!

And then… see I told you she was a silly girl! She takes a cat nap in it, on it or leaning against it. She stayed like this for a few hours the other day.

But we’re not here just to talk about AlleyCat! A proper way to celebrate National Pet Day would be to share these new canvases with you from Tango & Chocolate.

I see that I didn’t shoot the pictures very straight, which bugs the heck out of me! I really do love this new line of canvases and since its time to change the window displays, these 2 will go in the window as we celebrate flowers and spring and planting gardens and so much more.

Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and I am in official countdown mode to Japan which will be 32 days… but who’s counting?


Lets See…Do I Remember How to Do This?

Or more importanly, will the computer behave? My Mac is aging…well aren’t we all? and sometimes it misbehaves and tells me to upgrade the browser. Well its too old to upgrade! and Mac’s don’t come cheap, especially when there’s needlepoint classes and trips and well we’ll save that for later!

I will take you on a whirlwind of what my last 3 months has been like. First we had the trade show in San Jose. First time for that location and really not my fav. Hopefully it will not be going back there.

This was my pick of the show called Decisions, Decisions by Sandra Gilmore. Love, love, love this canvas!

This was a close 2nd! Easter basket by Pepperberry Designs. I ordered them all to be stitched up for a shop model.

Then I started to celebrate my birthday weekend, first of all by having a class with the Divine Miss Meredith and selected this canvas. A cat of course, what were you thinking?

A few days later the girls and the stitchers that were in Brenda Hart’s class gave me a bucket full of money for my birthday! and why did they do that you ask? Cause I’m going to JAPAN the last 2 weeks of May! More details at a later date.

And then there was the Blue Bonnet Retreat where I took 2 more classes! Fire n Ice with Tony Goerdes and Feline Frenzy with Dawn Donnely… both of which I’ve had absolutely no time to add a single stitch to either one! This was our banqeut and the absolutely hilarious Debbie Steihler had us in stitches!

If you are a member of Needlepoint Nation, Debbie posed a question of what are you favorite stitching supplies? well like I said she really nailed it and she was so funny! Debbie is way, way, way back at the podium BTW.

We had some early blooming blue bonnets!

Now I’m starting to get ready for our big Needle Nook of La Jolla Getaway. These were our door prizes!

It started on St. Patrick’s Day, so we were in the spirit. I found these mugs at The Royal School of Needlework while I was in London, and a dear friend ordered them for me. They were filled with tea and crumpetts, needles and a 4-leaf clover magnet!

Some of the girls were really into the spirit of it all!

Just a small portion of our almost 60 attendees and this was part of Sherry Bray’s group.

It was a great weekend and we all had so much fun! More details later… now I need to get caught up at home and at the shop.

This was AlleyCat and I while we were down for the count the day after!

ooh and how can I forget! only 1 week till opening day! and the World Baseball Classic was some of the best baseball…unfortunately I couldn’t make any of the games as work got in the way this time.