A few images from our Iceland trip…
This is a piece of glacier ice.
A few images from our Iceland trip…
This is a piece of glacier ice.
It’s been almost 3 months since I last posted on this blog! It hasn’t been three months since I have written one – I have written several drafts but did not have energy to finish them. Blogging has been a big part of my life in the last 15 years or so, and I intend to keep it that way. I need to figure out how to do so.
Many new things happened in the last few months. I am engaged to be married (yes – if you take a look at my life list, you can see how I had had low expectation of ever finding someone I want to marry, but I miraculously did). Life is very different when you have someone to talk to every morning and night, someone to cook for, and that you cannot spend all weekend watching an entire series of a TV drama and knit 12 hours straight. It is wonderful, yet it needs a serious getting-used-to. I haven’t reached to the point where I can contemplate how things are changed in my life. I will eventually get there, I guess.
Another big thing that happened recently was that I got to scratch off another item in my life list – I went to ICELAND!!! I never imagined Iceland would come before some closer parts of Japan to visit. I think I can post some images from the trip on this blog post, if you can check back in a few days. I just don’t want to take time choosing photos before publishing this post. That would surely cause this post to remain in my “Draft” folder forever.
Iceland was, as I had dreamed, beautiful and magnificent… and strange and barren, all in a curious good way.
Last but not least, we now have a space in Portland. I am not sure how that happened, but it happened. We are trying to start something new, while our business in Japan is still struggling and in the process of figuring out. It feels like, everything happens in a series of incremental decisions, each one being very very tiny, yet in accumulation, the decisions lead to something big. Things are a bit out of control, and I am not sure where they are leading us towards.
Anyway, that’s it for now. I am just very afraid if I try to write something grand, I end up not posting this at all. So, I am keeping it small and simple. See you again, hopefully soon.
It was a little more than 4 years ago when we started to work together towards our mutual goal: to launch the first online and independent knitting magazine in Japan. Never did we imagined that we were creating something that would eventually become our careers. The biggest agenda for both of us was to make a difference. Like, making a dent (a tiny tiny dent) in the universe.
Last fall, right after we entered a new stage of our journey, I was interviewed by Ashley Young of Woolful Podcast. I talked (very unskillfully) about how our endeavor started, and how we got to where we are now. The podcast went live yesterday, and is available for your weekend relaxing knitting.
Every morning, when I get up to make myself a cup of coffee, and every night before I go to sleep, I think about how my life has changed, thanks to Tokuko and amirisu. I no longer want to take a day off from work, just to get away from it. I always look forward to tomorrow, knowing that I have many challenges to tackle. I am thankful to knitting, our community, and people who support us so generously.
Tonight we are staying in Tokyo, after finished teaching a workshop at a thriving bookstore. We are so lucky to have been invited to set up a table right by the main entrance of their store, for as long as a month. The event went very well, all in all. I feel there is something happening around us.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The above is an early morning view from an airport hotel in Seattle. I missed my connection in Seattle due to an unfortunate happening, and came back to Japan on the New Year’s Day. Thank you for your worries and cheers. I wanted to be back for my family, but alas, things happen.
(It was amazing that those construction workers in the photos started working well before sunrise…I was awake from 4 AM, so the noise didn’t bother me at all. They must have seen a hell of a sunrise.)
In the last several years, I had always been pondering and looking into my inner soul and hidden desires to figure out what I wanted with my life. Always try to make plans for the year ahead. Nothing really went as I had planned.
Since the end of 2014, I had just way too much going on that I couldn’t really stop to think “oh, what is my future plan? How I want my life to be?” – and everything went great. I lived and worked as fully as I physically can. I intend to continue that way in 2016.
Having said that, I decided to use a tactile daily planner for the first time in several years. I rely so much on e-calendars on my iPhone, but I started to miss doodling and putting my thoughts down by using my hand. I tried using them so many times in the past, but failed every single time. Let’s see how it will go this year.
How do you feel at the beginning of the new year? Hope you will have a peaceful and joyful one.
Below are some photos I took on our drive back from Nashville, TN. The sunset was crazy beautiful.
We started talking about holiday cards and Christmas decorations these days, and it already feels like the end of the 2015. A lot has happened this year. We have been climbing this mountain without ever looking back, and have just found ourselves so high above the ground – this is what I feel like right now. We are yet to see the peak, let alone our destination, but we cannot see the bottom of the mountain, where we started, either.
Last January, about a year ago, we hired our very first part time staff. She started helping us handle shipping, then sometimes man the shop all by herself, and things took off from there. All of us have been working really really hard since then. We/I moved 3 times this year, had just finished the retreat, and have just sent Issue 9 data to the printer. What a relief!
Yes, Issue 9! It’s been about 3.5 years, so approx 3 issues per year. We, just two of us, make this 100 page magazine, 3 times a year, and this makes people surprised. Actually, we only spend a couple of weeks to make one issue. At least, on my part (of course, Tokuko spends a few months on pattern production). It’s not the kind of work where you can do a little every day. I write most of the article in one breath on my own, then translate almost everything in a day. Layout only takes a couple of days, tops. I also get a lot of “doing all the layout on your own must be challenging!” comment, but it is actually the easiest, the least time consuming, and the most fun part of the work. The hardest part is, of course, to come up with the contents and the theme. I don’t like the kind of design where lots of decorative fonts are mixed together, so I always try to keep it simple, using beautiful standard fonts.
The theme of this issue is various hues of blue in winter. Deep blue and navy are my most favorite colors, and I have been curious about making an issue around the color. I am grateful for many talented designers to have agreed to and be interested in the idea, and did wonderful jobs. Our photographer and I have spend much time to discuss about the image I wanted to create – the result is, I believe, truly magical. Hope you will love it as well. The new issue will be released on December 12. You can preorder a copy from our Etsy shop.
P.S. I have a habit of being secretive about what yet to be released, but the above is the real cover of the magazine. The other image is a dummy :)
This is going to be a lazy post, again. By “lazy”, I mean “no translation”. These days I find it more and more painful to translate what I have just written into the other language – I hate repeating myself.
I believe I get to be a bit lazy today, because I finished sending all the Issue 9 files to the printer this afternoon. Not only that, I worked until 9:30 PM, then wrote an article after returning home (for the website I have been freelancing for more than a year now). I worked till late, because I was so happy to be done with the magazine work, that I wanted to work on something else for a change.
Looking back, the last time I had some room to breath was last June, while I was wandering around Portland. July was dedicated to making Issue 8, August and September to organizational change and moving our shop, October to settle in, hiring, then to our retreat, and finally, the last 3 weeks to Issue 9. This time, I mean to breath deeply and slowly. I am determined to take things easy at least until the end of the year. I mean it.
Because, I want to let my current situation sink in. I want to cherish it and appreciate it. I am truly happy, and feel centered. I am being exactly where I want to be.
Yes, there are bad days, and many things do not go as planned. The boxes I ordered almost a year ago has not arrived yet, and I feel resentful. I feel super stressed before deadlines. But these are minor things that do not shape my life, nor affect the way I feel about myself.
Although, it took me by surprise when Elizabeth emailed me, out of the blue, congratulating me for what I have done in the last couple of years. For two people living in almost the opposite side of the globe, she and I have spent a good amount of time together in Italy, then in Providence when she let me stay at her place for more than a week (I am still very very grateful!). Because back then, I was burned out from my corporate job, and was at one of the low points of my life, my memory is all blurred. She reminded me that I said I wanted to make amirisu my full time job (I had seen there was a small possibility), and I wanted to move to Kyoto (it never occurred to me that I would actually do it). Both, check. I wanted to launch an art retreat in Japan. Check. I’ve met a wonderful guy. Check. The other thing I remember telling her is that I wanted to keep a big dog, like she does, unchecked yet. But, still.
My life had never been easy, all along. I had always been sick, for one thing, and I was never happy in the corporate environment. So, happiness scares me. I admit it.
I was so scared that, when I had what seemed like a small health problem (which turned out to be nothing at all), on the next day, I got on a bullet train to see my doctor in Tokyo. I thought for a moment, “here it comes – yes, I knew things have been too good to be true.”
Elizabeth’s email made me realize that I am not fully allowing myself to be happy. Somewhere in my mind, I still feel that I don’t deserve it, and am probably looking for reason not to be happy. But, yes, I’ve taken great amount of risks, and have been working hard to get here. I deserve to enjoy it.
But it takes time, and I need the time. So, going back to my first point – I will be lazy and take it easy for a while. I hope you are either where you want to be, or on your way to get there. Allow yourself to be happy.
I realized that I haven’t posted anything about my Cowichan vest since the swatching. Once I got started, I finished it in no time – a few weeks tops, while I was moving our shop. Knitting it was a great fun, while at the same time, taught me a lot.
My notes and thoughts are posted on Karen’s blog (Fringe Association) today – hope you enjoy reading it.
I’ve returned from my very short but uplifting vacation up north. A new Slow Fashion October post has been added to amirisu blog today (please head over by clicking here).
I love late autumn through early winter! Can’t wait for the chill to descend to Kyoto as well.
I’m on a short vacation to the east side of Hokkaido, as usual. I realized that living in Kyoto doesn’t change the situation… I need a clean-cut break from work sometimes, and I need to get away. So, here I am.
As promised, I’m participating Slow Fashion October representing amirisu, and my first blog post is up. Please head over to amirisu blog to read the stories.
The super crazy September is over, and my quiet life has returned. Yes, our shop has moved. You can see some photos over here at our shop blog. Considering that we had only 5 weeks since the contract to moving in and reopening the shop (1 week to design the space by myself, 1 week for the contractor to purchase wood panels and everything, 1.5 week for construction, 0.5 for painting the walls, 1 week to move and reorganize…whew!), I think we did a pretty good job. During that time, we also launched a new issue, went to Sapporo for an event, and I had to restock our shop for the fall season.
The new shop building has two floors, and the second floor is our office. As you can imagine, our office space is still in a total mess. We are going to turn it into a cozy working area, eventually.
So, after all these are over, yesterday was the first day I can really rest and settle down. I spent a lazy day in the neighborhood, watching a Starwars movie (we are re-watching the whole series now), then cooked dinner. I couldn’t get up until 10:30 today, again, and we went out to check out a hiking trail that goes along the east end of Kyoto. It’s been on my “to do” list since I moved here, so I felt like I had actually accomplished something big today. I am making (restocking) granola at home for the first time since… July? It’s been such a long while so I can’t even remember when was the last time.
Along the line of “Slow Fashion October”, the Cowichan vest (Fringe & Friends KAL 2015 #fringeandfriendskal2015 on Instagram) is done, and looking great. I got hooked. I want to make another Cowichan vest, because it was so much fun. The details will be posted on Karen’s blog soon.
I also made a hat and a half (2nd one is on the needles now), and started a sewing project. It feels so nice to regain my rhythm – being able to set aside time to read, to take a relaxing bath, to go for a long walk, and to go to hair and nail salons.
The last time I felt this way was probably 2 full years ago. My life is really here, in Kyoto, and I am loving it.
Beauty and creativity are everywhere.