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Seoul: Needle Story – A Knitting Cafe In Edae

Sadly, I have been neglecting my blog of late.  After taking a short break in Seoul at the end of May, I just cannot seem to ‘restart my engine’ where many things are concerned.  I haven’t even been chasing Korean dramas!  

While in Seoul, I visited a cute cafe in Edae.  It is not really a cafe, but a shop that sells yarn, wool and all sorts of knitting and crocheting things. My kind of place1  I love the concept and this would really be the type of hobby-cafe that I dream about setting up.  A place where like-minded needlework-mad people can hang out and make beautiful things together.  
For some reason, crocheting, knitting and sewing do not seem to be very popular hobbies in Singapore amongst the younger generation.  Scrapbooking, yes.  I know quite a number of people who are scrapbooking-fanatics but I don’t know anyone who likes crocheting and/or knitting (besides my aunt).  

 photo IMG_2579-150528-v2__zpsgext1bvb.jpg photo IMG_2576-150528-v2__zpsvztwpgs9.jpgPhildar yarn!  I was so excited to see the French brand at Needle Story.  I have never seen the brand in Singapore, and I have been toying with the idea of buying some online. I love Phildar’s wide selection of colors, which are popping bright and cheery. I wanted to grab every color that was available in the shop. Needless to say, I spent a huge amount of time deciding on the colors to bring home.

 photo IMG_2575-150528-v2__zpsdfh0utxy.jpg photo IMG_2574-150528-v2__zpsut7wvxf7.jpg photo IMG_2573-150528-v2__zps4eyas4yr.jpgI love the cushions, especially the cream lace one and the vermillion one with little puffs.  So I bought a pile of Phildar yarn from Needle Story to make a cushion, which I have just completed.

 photo IMG_2572-150528-v2__zpssosu7mt7.jpgI have tried my hand at amigurami and I suck at it.  Maybe I should try crocheting a top one of these days.  Looking at the beautiful knitwear on these models is giving me ideas.  I could try making something quite simple, something along the lines of one of these kimono tops.

 photo IMG_2577-150528-v2__zpsq8emtvkm.jpgThe cafe.  Nothing to shout about, but I like that it is quiet and a great place to relax and browse the crocheting pattern books that I bought from Needle Story.  

 photo IMG_2570-150528-v2__zpsdvf7td9b.jpg photo IMG_2569-150528-v2__zpsjipwy2ej.jpgNeedle Story is a place that I must stop by on all future trips to Seoul, to stock up on Phildar yarn.  It is very easy to find, just a short walk from the Ehwa Womens University subway stop on the green line.

Alight at Ehwa Womens University subway station and leave the subway station via Exit#6. Once you exit, walk straight down the street until you see the cafe on your left.  You cannot miss it.

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Crocheting: Daisy Vintage Purses

Despite feeling lethargic during the weekends (all I want to do is to lie down on the sofa with a glass of wine), I managed to find some time to crochet a new purse, in July 4th colors of white, blue and red.

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I learnt how to sew a simple daisy from one of my Applemint crochet books.  And sewed a pearl bead onto the blue part of the purse.  

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Fairly simple design.  I just didn’t have the energy to do more.

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Crocheting: Jar Covers

 photo DSC_0693-150104-v2__zps59b6a600.jpgI received a Japanese crochet pattern book called “Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts” for Christmas which contained loads of cute, lovely crochet patterns – coasters, square and round dollies, tissue box covers, coin purse, phone covers, jar covers, baby shoes, pot holders, etc.  

I have been wanting to try my hand at crocheting jar covers because I have a number of empty jam jars that I would like to recycle to use as holders by dressing them up with a nice cover.  The pattern for jar covers in Kyuuto looked easy – just repeating rows of double stitches and single stitches.  You can easily increase or decrease the number of rows for the base to accommodate varying jar sizes.

 photo DSC_0692-150104-v2__zpscc89acb4.jpgA bright and cheery cover for a small Ikea glass that I use to hold a little pot of succulent.  I concealed the ugly joining stitches of the cover with two big wooden buttons that I bought at one of the shops in People’s Park Centre.  This is a good crochet craft to make while watching a Korean drama because I do not have to keep referring to the pattern, or count stitches. πŸ™‚

 photo 760_0Image_zpsa240224b.jpgThis is a really good crochet pattern book, with easy-to-follow patterns in English. It was on my to-buy list, and was so glad to receive it as a gift! So this jar cover went to my friend who gave me the book.

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Making Jewelry With Woon Hung

I like Woon Hung’s jewelry.  They are handmade, using mostly natural materials sourced from various places in Asia, such as Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines. Her pieces are unique, and go quite easily with most of my work clothes.  

When I heard that she was conducting classes at Soon Lee over a weekend, I signed up for it.  Not that I have any serious interest in making jewelry, but I was quite happy to spend a couple of hours learning something new, and having fun while doing so.  Also, I get to bring home the two pairs of earrings that I make during class!

 photo IMG_0455-141123-v2__zps8ff7e97b.jpgThe first thing that she taught us was wire work.  Using two pairs of pliers, we practised measuring, snipping, twisting and turning the stainless steel wire into small, symmetrical hoops that connect the beads.  It was very challenging trying to shape the wire to give you tiny hoops that were of the same size and shape – I get oval hoops instead of perfectly round-shaped ones.  Making jewelry is not so easy.   

 photo IMG_0461-141123-v2__zps6696fb20.jpgAfter an hour of practice, we were ready to make our first pair of earrings.  A simple pair of one-strand dangling earrings.  Woon Hung provided us with quite a wide selection of beads, in various colors, sizes, shapes and materials.  It took me ages before I could decide on the teal-and-coral combination shown above.  

For the earrings, we used gold-plated wires which were not as strong as the stainless steel ones, so more care was required not to “over-twist’ the wires, as this will cause them to break easily.  I was quite proud of how my hoops turned out.  Got some help from Woon Hung along the way.

 photo IMG_0469-141204-v2__zps36e11bbc.jpgThe second piece was a more complicated chandelier-style earrings.  I decided on green and light purple colored beads.  By then, I was quite comfortable with shaping the hoops, and Iless obsessed with getting perfectly round-shaped circles.  So I finished making this pair in a shorter time than the first pair.  I was really pleased with the results – not too shoddy for a first attempt.  Quite pretty, I must say.  Have I worn these earrings?  Nope, my mom wanted both pairs, so I gave them to her.  I had fun and that is what’s most important!  

I follow Woon Hung on Instagram, where she shares photos of new designs, her home and travels.  Besides her jewelry, we both share a love for Korea, and can yak non-stop about that country. πŸ™‚

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Making Scented Candles At Bloesem

We are always tempted to veg out at home on weekends. But still, we try to do one or two light activities such as going for brunch, grabbing a coffee or ice cream somewhere, visiting the nursery to get fresh flowers, and aim to head home after lunch.

A couple of weekends ago, I signed up for two classes over Saturday and Sunday. One class was to learn how to make scented candles, and this was held at Bloesem, a charming and cosy studio in Tiong Bahru. The other was to learn how to make jewelry at a class taught by Woon Hung at Soon Lee in Haji Lane.  I love Woon Hung’s handmade jewelry, and I have purchased a number of pieces made by her.  

It was clearly not great planning to schedule two classes in one weekend, because this meant that I spent most of that weekend out.  

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The scented candle making class, held on a Saturday, was a 3-hour session.  I really liked the vibe and look of Bloesem studio – it is basically an old Tiong Bahru apartment with a kitchenette, a bedroom and a living room, that has been converted into a bright, airy, modern space.  The living room became a work space for conducting classes, the kitchenette is a functioning one that is used to make coffee, warm up snacks and prepare lunch for the participants of the class.  

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The class was conducted by the folks behind Deckle & Hide, who supply Bloesem with their homemade scented candles out of their home studio in Brisbane.  They talked us through the theory of making scented candles – their philosophy when sourcing for ingredients, the type of aromatherapy oil that is best for making candles, what to consider when selecting a combination of scents, how to mix and match them using cotton bud sticks, and the ratio of oil versus wax (we used soy wax in the class), points to think about when selecting the shape of containers for the scented candles.

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Trial and error!  My favorite combination – orange, lavender, cedar and lime. After a while, you can get quite overwhelmed by the aromatherapy oils that you have to keep sniffing at.  Olfactory overload. Good thing is that good quality organic botanical oils were used during the class; otherwise, I may have felt quite nauseous.

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I like how they serve you little tea cakes, cookies and coffee at the start of class.  Tasty treats.

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My scented candles – using a little peanut butter jar and a milk bottle.  I was advised not to use a cylindrical type container as the flame gets too close to the mouth of the bottle which may cause an explosion.

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We ended off the class with a light and tasty lunch – pomelo salad tossed with shallots, peanuts and prawns.  Loved it!  I have to learn how to re-create this.  

Bloesem has pretty interesting classes, if you look at their past workshops.  I am already thinking about signing up for the next one.

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Vintage Coin Purse In Christmas Colours

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I love these little coin purses.  They are useful for keeping not just coins, but for storing jewelry  in your handbag, or when you are travelling.  I decided to try making one myself using bright green cotton yarn.  The shade of green makes me think of Christmas trees, and thought about added a red flower just to give the purse a pop of color.  It would be even better if I had sewn on a little pearl button in the middle of the flower.  Will have to hunt out some pretty pearl buttons for my next piece.  I had so much fun making this!

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Crochet: Red, Green & White Hexagons

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These days, retail therapy for me is hopping onto the Downtown Line and heading to People’s Park Centre to buy yarn at Golden Dragon. I just want to get as far away as possible from the crowds and the usual shopping malls.

Made this hexagon doily in Christmas colors with my latest haul of yarn!  I like the pop of colour.  Bright and cheery. 

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Pierrot Yarns Amikomo Lace Doily

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As a step forward in my crocheting activities, I picked up this free lace doily design from the website of Pierrot Yarns, a Japanese yarn company. The pattern is simple which is great for a beginner like me.

I made two pieces of Amikomo doilies using a 100g ball of Cotton DK in French Navy from SIRDAR and a 3.0mm hook. I think this yarn is perfect for doilies. It is not too soft or too stiff and has a nice sheen. I took approximately 3 hours to make a piece, while watching dramas on the Internet!

I am so motivated to try another pattern soon.

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Picking Up Crocheting

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I don’t exactly know what made me pick up crocheting again. I am guessing it has something to do with my three-week trip to Japan where I was exposed to way too many beautiful vintage-y doilies in zakka shops. I came home and felt the urge to pick up the crochet hook and learn how to make granny squares.

Last week, I popped by Golden Dragon in People’s Park Centre and bought myself several balls of yarn and a couple of crochet hooks. Oh my gawd, it has been YEARS since I last visited People’s Park. Walking around in that neighbourhood dredged up so many memories of my childhood days spent in People’s Park Complex with my mother and her friends, shopping for fabrics to make clothes.  Her clothes, not mine.  

As a kid, I could never understand why my mother refused to buy ready-made clothes from Metro or OG, and insisted on going to the dress-maker armed with fabrics from her People’s Park shopping spree. In those days, I deemed People’s Park to be such an un-cool place and resented having to spend any time there watching my mother bargain for her fabrics.

 Thirty years later, I realise that just like my mother, I also love shopping for fabrics.  (It is scary how much I resemble my mother as I grow older.)  I could have spent the entire day in Nippori, wandering in and out of the fabric shops with delight.  Heck, I could have spent half a day in Tomato happily, if not for a grumpy husband who could not fathom why he was sitting on a bench in a fabric town in Tokyo waiting for his wife, when he could be elsewhere that was more fun.  Like Omotesando.

Anyway, I digressed.  I came home from Golden Dragon and glued myself to the computer, watching crocheting tutorials on Youtube.   So here I am, halfway through crocheting a baby blanket for a friend who just had her 5th kid.  Yes, FIVE kids.  She deserves a silver medal at the National Day awards.  Instead of tea, I opted for some whiskey to keep me going.

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