Saturday, 14 May 2016

HappyBerry Crochet in Japan

I was really lucky enough to have the pleasure of visiting Tokyo recently and to taste a little of not only the wonderful Japanese culture, but also find out what's available in Tokyo for the yarn lover out there.

Some great recommendations of yarn stores came my way, but first I headed to Shinjuku and the Takashimaya department store.

At first Takashimaya was a little tricky to find, (even though the building is huge) as Shinjuku station is a labyrinth of exits, but soon I was up in the lift heading to the 7th floor.

This building really does have it all, from restaurants to fashion, to beauty, furniture, you name it, but I was of course only interested in the craft section! As soon as the lift doors opened the floor blew me away. Where to begin! Buttons and fabrics for every occasion, including beautiful kimono fabrics, craft books, everything! The floor was huge and quite a few ladies present may I add.

What I really liked about Takashimaya, and in Japan craft stores in general is that they display finished items to showcase off the yarn. We don't seem to do a lot of that in the UK and I think it's a great way to inspire people. Including this cute clutch bag I came across.

I of course had to purchase something, but was a little overwhelmed, and limited by my luggage. Although I love the suggestion by one of my Instagrammers to just buy more luggage he he. I did manage to pick however a book and some fabric samples, which I hope to turn into handkerchiefs and a t-shirt for my little one. I was even lucky enough to pick up some small samples of kimono silk, although I am not sure what to make with this yet. Suggestions welcome! It was just too beautiful to leave behind.

The book is a crochet pattern book for small miniature items. Japanese crochet books come in chart form and obviously Japanese, but because of the charts you can usually follow along if you don't understand Japanese, and can be quite exciting. If you would like to learn more about chart patterns then check out my beginner video tutorial here:

Later on my trip I was visiting Hama-rikyu Gardens, a beautiful park in central Tokyo that is home to a tea-house, a beautiful tidal lake and many many walks amongst beautiful flowers and trees. Although a very hot day that day I had to pause at a small stand I came across selling hand-dyed silk scarves. These ones in particular were 100% silk and completely naturally dyed using cherry branches or indigo plants. I of course had to pick up a pink one, where else could you buy such blossom luxury!

These scarves are the beautiful work of Keiko Koike and you can find out more about her work here: (Japanese).

Of course as my time in Japan went on, one very special craft store was recommend to me to visit, and so I had the chance one day to head back to Shinjuku and find what I would say is the rather famous store Okadaya. A hidden gem of two buildings, one full of fabrics and one full of crafts and other fashion items.

Perhaps trickier to find from the station as the building is down a smaller alley, but if you check Google Maps before you go and head out of Exit A8 or A9 it is pretty much straight ahead of you over the road crossing.

I didn't head into the fabric store, instead I headed to level 5 of the second building on the main street where the yarn was. Although much smaller than Takashimaya, this shop has such a charm. Again full to the brim with craft treats, yarns, books and everything you can dream of, from sewing machines to clever tools you may have never even heard of. I could have spent hours in here as well, but sadly time was against me. I did however manage to pick up another crochet pattern book, this time for small food items. I think I was becoming a little addicted to cute miniature projects, and I think I will be designing some more myself now I am full of inspiration!

Again, Okadaya had some gorgeous finished projects on display, such as this chunky stitch clutch, and this gorgeous lace top.

I was also rather impressed to discover Wool and the Gang in Okadaya! Their wools beautifully displayed with some finished projects on display. It made me feel proud to be British.

I also discovered a lovely Japanese yarn called Paume, which is a 100% Pure Organic Cotton yarn. It came in some gorgeous colours and felt amazing, but sadly there was no room in the luggage. I'm secretly hoping I can get access to some in the UK.

So my time in Japan came to an end, but I didn't leave you guys out of the Japanese cuteness. Just before I left Okadaya I picked up these adorable buttons, which I will soon be giving away to one lucky reader. So keep your eyes out for that.

Until then, happy crocheting and see you soon for some more crochet fun!


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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Crochet Road Play Mat CAL

It's been nearly a year since I launched my Crochet Road Play Mat CAL (crochet-a-long) and since then I have been amazed by some of the creations that have come alive from you guys!

Launched last year in April 2015, the initial Road Play Mat CAL made up of differently designed crocheted squares, consisted of a few basic patterns to get you started, including road pieces, railway pieces, farm squares including a vegetable patch as well as ponds and trees, even cars and animals! Since then though the Road Play Mat CAL has taken on a life of it's own, and has included additional designs, not only from myself such as a beach complete with boats and little beach huts to a huge roundabout with car parks, but also you wonderful crocheters have gotten your design mojo on and produced some amazing additional pieces such as houses, bridges, complete fairy-tale worlds to even an intricately detailed petrol/gas station!

You guys have inspired me! and you definitely have some amazing patience for detail (^-^)

But it's not over, more additional designs will be coming soon from myself. In the meantime why not check out some of the beautiful creations from the crochet-a-longers themselves, kindly shared from the dedicated HappyBerry Facebook CAL group, which you can find here:

This beautiful Play Mat was created by the very talented Michelle Eckert, which includes some wonderful additional designs of her own such as the awesome beach design, airport strip, bridge and some clever ideas for various landmarks and houses!

The sheer size is also so impressive. Much love and patience has gone into this mat and I am hugely impressed.

I love this mat by crocheter Marietjie Wagner, who has not only designed some clever house designs and landmarks too, but she has also added a beautiful personalised trim for someone special.

I love the detail and different areas a little ones imagination can lose themselves in, and I especially love her tractor addition! I must design one for you guys too.

Again such patience with a huge mat! There really are some lucky children out there. (^-^)

This mat was crocheted by Bettina Andersen and I love its super symmetrical design.

This mat includes a lot of the original pieces such as the roundabout and the farm fields, and I am so glad she has also added in some of  my loop stitch grass squares!

A beautiful mat with so much texture, and delightfully finished with a neat trim. I also love the different green tones around the roundabout! What a wonderful effect for added interest.
This beautiful mat to your right is the work of Judy Goodchild and I absolutely adore her scarecrow addition! What a lovely idea for her farmer's field, along with what I think is a traffic light too.

I'm glad to see she has also attempted my tricky vegetable patch design and done a great job too! But I have to say I adore the additional playground. Such a cute idea and it works so well.

Kelly Zuercher from KellzBellzCreations is the crocheter behind this next mat, and I love her focus on the railway line, which runs all the way around. A great way to finish a mat, and such patience with that loop stitch trim for long grass, a clever adaption of the loop grass square, which works so well.

Some awesome additional tree designs in this mat too such as her loop stitch tree and palm tree!

And these are just a few of the amazing creations that have been shared. If you would like to have a go yourself then you can check out my free crochet patterns here to get your inspiration flowing:

Emma Lennon
Here are a few more amazing mats that have been kindly shared with me for this blog article, crocheted by some amazingly talented crocheters in the group!

Cassondra Lynn Hill

Thank you to everyone who has shared and followed on with this CAL. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed designing it. Happy crocheting!

Celeste Thrower
Alice Bryant
Chiara Gianangeli

Laura Milne-Young

Kathie Boatman
Gail Morrison Curley
Melissa Martineau

If you would like more crochet tutorials and patterns to enjoy then please do check out my channels here;


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