Betsy's Crafty Adventure to Japan - Part III

Previous 2 days' exhibition visits had been truly enriching. Then it was time to finally go looking for knitting & yarn shops in Tokyo. Found a few shops on the internet, tried emailing them before my trip, but only 1 replied. Found out from my Japanese friends that apparently English mails tend to go into their SPAM folder :(
After Earth Day Tokyo the day before, I actually checked out Azabujyuban, where supposedly a knitting cafe carrying organic cotton yarn is operating. To my great disappointment, when I reached the address, it was a shop selling children's clothes instead! & I found out from the lady boss that they have taken over the shop for about 10months already! Argh!!! :(

20th April 2008 - Knitting Shop Hunt
Unbeatened, I decided to start my hunt with a knitting shop within Shinjuku itself. As I was asking my way around, I realized one thing. The Japanese may have produced amazing craftwork & craftbooks, but the locals (at least those at Tokyo) don't seem to be that into craft afterall! Well, maybe except for beads, which is really popular now. Just like how accessories shops are very popular in Singapore now. No one, not even the vendors at Bead Art Show & Earth Day Tokyo, knew where I can find knitting shop in Tokyo! Well, I surely seems to be the one having the most information about knitting shop then!
My 3rd disappointment when I finally found Okadaya in a back alley near Kabuki Cho... They are closed on Sundays! Argh!!! Not willing to give up just as yet, I stopped by a Udon restaurant for a quick lunch before I headed to my next stop - Shimokitazawa.

I was almost devastated when I saw this bright yellow, cute gate tightly shut before my eyes!!! Also closed on Sundays!!! How I wished I'd done more research! I would have started my trip with shop hunting then the 2 exhibitions! :(
I refused to let these disappointments spoil the whole trip, so I decided to go slow & just let whatever came my way surprise me... I was lucky afterall.... Just 5min away, i saw this very interesting shop (in fact, I wasn't even sure if it was a shop!). Even though it was not open, the sign made me giggle: "Obaachan Chi" (House of Granny). Hehe... I asked a salesgirl at the shop opposite, in our broken languages, I figured out that it was a mini gallery! Anyone can rent the space to showcase & sell their stuff. It need not be Art though. Sometimes there are also people selling their 2nd hand items there as well. How interesting!
As I walked around this cosy neighbourhood, I notice even more hidden treasures! The shops here are all very nicely decorated & their stuffs are beautiful! There are lotsa vintage shops here. Zakka trend is indeed the "in" thing now in Tokyo. The shops are so full of individual personality & style. Well, for those who know me, you know I am so not a shopping person! Yet, it sure was a great shopping experience for me at Shimokitazawa!
Here I saw a shop just like our InQbox. The things here are mostly handmade items by students & put on consignment. Must be where InQbox got their similar idea. Things are cheaper here, but no offence to anyone, honestly, nothing very unique, look just like what we see at our local "InQbox" shops.
After shopping for almost 3hrs (yes, u read it right, 3hrs! Quite a record for me indeed!), I decided to head back to my hotel & start packing for my departure the next day. Who knows, another surprise was awaiting me just outside Shimokitazawa Station! Another interesting Street Artist, Noboru-san, has been doing his weekly live drawing there for the whole of April in preparation for his exhibition in May. Noboru-san is an Art student. His friend, Rokuhisa-san, was there to give moral support. We chatted, almost lost in translation :P, exchanged emails & I headed back to my hotel as the sun was beginning to set... What an eventful trip... 
Tokyo, I will be back! :)

Betsy's Crafty Adventure to Japan - Part II

Day trip to Yokohama was eye-opening. Besides beads, there were other interesting experiences, including this encounter with a group of old friends who gather ever Sunday to do some life drawing. They do pencil sketching, pen drawing & sometimes water colour too.
Even on my way back to my hotel the night before, something really kawaiii caught my attention. Wasn't sure if it was made of real flowers or fabricated flowers initially. Had to touch it to know for certain that they are made from fabricated flowers :P Kawaii ne!

19th April 2008 - Earth Day Tokyo
Totally looking forward to this day... I have been so hoping to meet Kitta-san in person! Remember this "Jian3 Dan1 Jiu4 Shi4 Mei3 - Kuai4 Le4 Chu1 Zou3" on Channel U? Kitta-san & family were featured when Peifen introduced Brown's Fields in Tokyo. I managed to get intouch with her via email, through a Japanese friend. Kitta-san told me about Earth Day Tokyo.
I was told by the vendors over there that Earth Day Tokyo happens 3times a year - April, September & December. Well, April being the international Earth Day, it is the biggest fair of the year, with over 200+ stalls!!! I was sooo.... overwhelmed!
Was planning to take an overview 1st, then narrow down to a few stalls to return to. However, the fair was so huge & all the stalls look so tempting, I simply couldn't help but started chatting vendors up with my broken Japanese almost immediately! :P
Hiromi-san, Director of Yuga told me that these baby clothes are dyed using natural dye process. The most interesting of all, is the deep purplish blue created from kyanite (natural semi-precious stone)! They call it the "Healing Dye". How cool!
This is Secco Shop, a Swedish Company. Check out these recycled accessories. Familiarly amusing :) The zipper flower brooch is real pretty too!
Mami-san, founder of Italist, has an interesting life story that inspires her. This now very trendy & novel convertable groccery bag idea has in fact been around for the longest time! Mami-san's Grandma made one for herself (the black one) & has been using it for 40 over years! Now Mami-san adds new colours & taste to give it a facelift :) "Italist", according to Mami-san, means "one who lives naturally" in Jamaican English. Something new...
Maeda-san is the President of Made-in-Earth, which is the pioneer company in manufacturing Japanese Organic Cotton. He was conducting a workshop on traditional way of spinning cotton yarn from cotton plant. It is a very simple concept, but to master it, it definitely requires lotsa practice, just like crochet! :P
Came across this sweet lady, Yoshimi, who imports Thai knit/crochet wares into Japan. She introduces me to her friend, Shoichi-san, who imports natural hemp from Nepal. Very beautiful hemps! I bought 3 different colours from him :)
Finally found Kitta-san & her family! We were both so thrilled to see each other! I spoke to people from Brown's Field too! So happy to see "familiar" faces in a foreign land... :) 
Look at Kitta-san's hands. These blue stains are from the blue dye that she has just done for her exhibition this week. Imagine how her hands "change colours" seasonally with each different natural colour she dyes onto the fabrics. :) I LOVE this purple dress! Kitta-san's husband, Sawa, is a musician. He's made his own album of 6songs. I bought a copy fr 
him, & I got his autograph! :P My favourite song is "Arigato".
Even though it was the 1st time we met in person, both of us felt kinda sad when we had to say goodbye. We promised each other to stay intouch. Afterall, I think we can somewhat relate with each other on how we are following our dreams & beliefs. Life can be simple & beautiful. :)

There were of course other very interesting stalls at Earth Day Tokyo. Let's just say I spent almost 6hours there, yet I did not really see everything! :P
On my way back, just outside Harajuku Station, I came across this very interesting Street Artist. He does cartoon portrait & you pay what you want between 1000-2000yen. Isn't he adorable? So cool, smoking a cigarette, yet everything he draws are so cutely round, & he's even wearing polka dots! He made me smile. :)
[Part III - to be continued...]

Betsy's Crafty Adventure to Japan - Part I

I'm back!!! It sure was an eye-opening experience filled with much excitement & wonderful memories! In my travelogue, I'll just focus on my crafty experience. Hopefully it'll be as inspiring to you as it was  a fruitful learning experience for me... :)

17th April 2008 - Changi Airport
It has been at least 6years since I last travelled alone. No wonder Mom & Da
d, & especially Edward, were so worried :P Journey to Tokyo, was somewhat smooth despite th
e rain & long walk to my hotel in Shinjuku. Decided to just stay in hotel to pl
an for my Yokohama trip the next day.
18th April 2008 - Yokohama
It was only a 35min train ride to Yokohama. Noticed a group of ladies who seems to be walking to same direction as me, so I tried starting a conversation with them. In my broken Japanese & their broken English, they were surprised to learn that a Singaporean had travelled all the way especially for the exhibition! I'm also surprised when they went, "Singapore! Ah... lotsa jewelleries!" Hmm...
When we finally reached the Osambashi Hall, it was an exciting
 sight! It was a hall about 1/2 the size of a typical hall at Singapore Expo, & it was filled with stalls showcasing beads, semi-precious stones, & other handmade jewellery items. It is a pity that Sandra can't make it to Bead Art Show with her Unique Paper Earring. She'll be the only one showcasing this trade!
I was totally mesmerized by Crystal Flower's intricate beaded accessories! Incorporating bead-crochet & bead-tatting, this non-speaking beading instructor creates the most feminine & dainty jewelleries.
Atelier La Mer is run by Lirica, who incorporates the most beautiful wire work with semi-precious stones.
Akiko, owner of Bead-It!, carries a wide range of bead art kit sets. She made these beautiful accessories herself too! I got 1set for my friend, Deborah, who's into beading. Will try to get a photo of Deborah's complete work & post it up here. So Deborah, we're all waiting... :P
Check this out! How cute & delicate! these are all created with the tiny seed beads! the Little Red Ridding Hood is probably only about 1inch tall! Sandra, I know you'll love this!
These amazingly beautiful work of art reminds me of coral reefs! This famous Japanese Bead Artists uses seed beads, shells, pearls, semi-precious stones in her creations. Simply mesmerizing!
Don't you just love Naomi & Mie's display? Makes every shot potentially good for a magazine coverage! :)
After immersing myself amongst all these intriguing Bead Art, I decided to take a walk to a nearby tourist spot (recommended by my guide book) - Chuka-gai (Chinatown). O well, what was I expecting right??? "Chinatown", "tourist spot"- of course lotsa Chinese merchandize! Hehe... so had a late lunch (yes, Chinese Szechuan food! :P) & shopped around. Surprise, Surprise... I found this very exciting & exotic shop that I love! Amina's Collection has many branches all over Japan, even in Hokkaido. This rustic bohemian style is apparently very popular in Japan now. Ironically, all their products are from Nepal, India, Thailand, Cambodia, & Mynmar! :P
Hmm... I think I should plan for a trip to Nepal soon. The last time I visited was about 1o years ago! I'm sure it'll be a fruitful treasure hunting experience... 
[Part II - to be continued...]

Tokyo, Here I Come!!!

Yay...!!! I'm going on a business trip to Tokyo tmr! I'll be back by next Tuesday. I will bring back exciting new things to share with you all wonderful Knotty Fans! So do check back after 27th April for more exciting updates!

For orders, enquiries, pls drop me an email ( & I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Gentle reminder: KBCC is next Sat, 26th April. Seats are filling up real fast. In fact, I think we can only take in 5more participants. So RSVP now to avoid disappointment!

Especially for Lina...

As most of you already known, Knotty Bicsie's official online shop was launched on 31st March 2008. This would never have been possible without the help of my supportive husband, Edward, & helpful Sis-in-law, Lina.
  Lina LOVES Snoopy *understatement*. So I decided to make an amigurumi snoopy for her. Was very worried, not sure if my creation even looks like the real thing! It was a great relief when I gave this li'l guy to her over dinner & she exclaimed, "Snoopy!!! Hen xiang! Ni hen li hai!" (Snoopy! Just like the real thing! You're good!) Yay...!!! She loves it. Now Snoopy has found a loving home at Lina's :)

Exploring Amigurumi with New Friend, Jullie

I've recently got to know a new friend through online networking :P Her name is Jullie. She's so bubble & friendly, we literally talk non-stop even during our 1st meet-up to visit many other LYS (Local Yarn Shops) hidden in various corners of our sunny island. :)

Since we "clique" so well, I decided to invite her to join me at MAAD to see if MAAD can work for her. Her Hubby, Alan took a day off to drive her to MAAD to show her his support. So sweet... Honestly, craft sellers like us can get quite lonely working on our own sometimes & really need lotsa assurance & support from our love ones. i must say I'm very blessed with Edward's unconditional love & support so far for Knotty Bicsie to have come so far... Thank you, Dar! :)

Well, Jullie managed to sell 2 of her Amigurumi (hand-crochet stuffed toys) & is really motivated! So She's gonna take a table of her own at next MAAD! & Guess what? Her Dad gonna be here too! How exciting! :)

Jullie, Happy crocheting ur new Amigurumi & all the best for May MAAD! Wang Wang! :)

April MAAD

Got this cute little fella - CJ7 this weekend & we (Cindy, Ayako) had so much fun taking photos of him!

Our Online Shop!!!

Finally!!! It's up!!! All thanx to my wonderful hubby & amazing sis-in-law! They've made our beautiful *blushing* online shop possible! yay! Check us out now!