Yarn Shopping in Tokyo, Japan

Currently, my husband and I are in Japan. We are really loving it. The people are lovely and the food is fantastic. Before we arrived I did a little research about yarn shopping. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few sources to locate yarn stores. I used a list from Travel Knitter as well as Knitmap. Just my luck there was a craft store about 1 km from our hotel! The description sounded like this place was a crafter’s heaven.

Okadaya is located off the Shinjuku metro stop across from “Godzilla Road.” Okadaya stocks fabric, yarn, buttons, sewing notions…etc. I headed right for the yarn floor (Floor 5). The area was spacious and there was quite a selection to choose from. I also appreciated that the staff didn’t hover, but when I had a question they were friendly and helpful.

Most of the brands stocked were new to me. There were European brands as well as Japanese. I loved that they had all of the yarn out for petting! Okadaya’s stock was mainly wool, but I did manage to find some cotton yarn. I have two more knit tops that I want to make for summer. I purchased NaturaXL (aran weight) and Natura (fingering weight yarn).

My husband was with me and asked for some more hand knitted socks. Funny how whenever I go to the yarn store with him we walk away with a skein for him too. He found a pretty cool sock yarn by Opal. They took famous paintings and applied the colors to the yarn. My husband chose the colorway inspired by Le Café, le soir as he is partial to blue.

I also remembered that my Blaster sweater still needed some buttons. I went down one floor down to the button section. With so many choices I really had to stay focused. I ended up choosing buttons with a green and blue mosaic. I am not sure if they are the best fit. If they don’t work with my Blaster sweater I am sure I can find something else to knit up to go with them. 😉

Okadaya was a great experience. The shop had good prices (as compared to yarn prices in the US) and a variety of items that appeal to all crafters. Despite not specializing in yarn, I left feeling excited with my new purchases.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

If you are interested in learning more my about our travels in Japan please visit Smithberrys Abroad.

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Knitting On The Great Wall

Greeting from Beijing! More specifically from the Great Wall of China! My mother-in-law (MIL), husband, and I are in the north of China for Christmas. It is mighty cold here, but the chill allows us to get great use out of our knitwear.

I am wearing a slouchy beanie I made a while ago. I used a swirling eyelet design that I free-styled. My MIL is wearing a Snuggly Loops Cowl that I made for her when I first published my pattern. Both of these items kept us nice and cozy.

The thing that surprised me the most about the wall was the steepness of the stairs. At one point, I had to use my arms and legs to hoist myself up. My husband pointed out we were on a wall on top of a mountain and steepness was to be expected (😬 duh!). In any event, we made it from towers 1-6 in a little less than 1.5 hours. I have to say the whole experience was quite impressive.

I did sneak in a row or two on my Chuck Sweater. I thought I would have it done by now, but time ran away from me. It would have been perfect for this freezing cold weather.

What a great day! I got to see another New 7 Wonder of the World in addition to getting some serious exercise in. Win-Win for Whit!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Jet Setter

Hello all! I realize I have been super inconsistent about posting. There are several reasons for this. 1) The internet in my new home is sooooooo slow in the evening. Therefore, if I try to load photos it can take 30+ minutes . 2) Work has been busy and I just have less time to knit. 😩However, this week the husband and I are on vacation in the Phillipines so I plan on logging many knitting hours! <<<<<<
his week, in China, is National Holiday. I am picturing it to be similar to the 4th of July in the USA. We heard from many co-workers that China gets VERY busy so we opted to take our first international adventure. Currently, I am in Boracay and boy is it gorgeous! Do you like white sand beaches? Crystal blue water? Delicious food and drink? Well then Boracay might be for you.

So what am I knitting? Well I am making a short sleeve cardigan. I plan on the cardigan falling around my waist and having a boxy silhouette. I made a swatch and a sketch, but I am not using a pattern for this one. I started vacation with 3/4 of an inch so please check back to see how far I made it! <<<<<<
ext Time,

-Whit-

P.S. I plan on moving more of the travel related content and how my life is going in China to another space. Please follow me at Smithberrys Abroad. 🇨🇳

Cotton Cardigan

Before I left the USA, I knit up a lovely cardigan called Summer Lace Cardigan Shrug by Vera Sanon. I used GGH Linova in Knospengrun (cotton/linen blend), which I purchased from Love Knitting. Sometimes there is great cotton yarn and sometimes there is not so great cotton. In this project’s case, I ended up with a scratchy cotton blend that didn’t really soften up until after a few washes.

Despite this, I ended up with a really cute finished project. A lot of my summer dresses are tank tops so this cardigan will make many of my outfits workplace appropriate. The cardigan pattern was easy to follow and included a chart for the lace detail. I really liked that it was made from the top down in one seamless piece.  Since I was traveling, I didn’t want to have keep track of all sorts of sweater parts. The cardigan was intended to have a button at the top, however, I opted not to sew one on. I made the button hole anyway in case I change my mind and/or find one amazing button in the future.




Here I am modeling my new cardigan on top of the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China. The Canton Tower is the 4th largest freestanding structure in the world. It stand about 604 meters in the air making for an excellent view. Lucky for us we went on a pretty clear afternoon. We got to see most of central downtown and the Pearl River.

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I have to say I am glad to add this bright and cheery piece to my warm weather wardrobe. It has been a little lacking in color.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Beautiful Istanbul

While en-route to China we decided to layover in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkey has always been one of those places on my “must see” list. The culture has always intrigued me. However, in the last 1.5 years, Turkey has had a lot going on politically. Things appeared calmer than they were this time last year so we worked it into our itinerary. We flew Turkish Airlines, which is a lovely airline, and landed in Istanbul at about 4:00 pm. By the time we made it through customs we had about 6 hours to explore the city. Knowing this time was VERY limited we made the most of it by heading to some of the famous sites and grabbing some yummy food.

Our first stop was Hagia Sophia. This beautiful and very old structure was quite an interesting sight. It began as a church and then was eventually turned into a mosque. Due to this, mosaics of Christ are positioned in roughly the same area as Islamic scriptures.


We decided to not enter the Blue Mosque as it was super crowded, but we did sit in the courtyard and take in the beauty of the architecture.

Our next stop was the waterfront. We followed the sidewalk along the Golden Horn and took in views of the Galata Tower in the distance. We ended up sitting in a square eating a fish sandwich (balık-ekmek) from this really cool looking boat. What great people watching. We then ended up at another restaurant by the water where we got some cold beers and watched the sunset over a local mosque. Talk about picturesque.

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I was bummed because I forgot to try some Turkish ice cream (as per a friend’s suggestion). However, I felt I got a good sense of the city. I most certainly hope to go back and have a more comprehensive view of the city and Turkey in general.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Life From The 20th Floor

Well, we made it to China in one piece…and with all our luggage! I have to say I am so thankful that our company did such a great job helping us get adjusted. I do not read or speak Chinese at all. Therefore, simple things like turning on the AC have been extremely difficult.

 And take this bottle. What do you think this is?

If you guessed dish detergent you are correct! Why there is a baby on the dish detergent beats me.

It is really quite weird living on the 20th floor. I feel so high up and it is a little scary looking down from our balcony. However, the views are fantastic! I started a pair of toe- up socks last week to keep myself occupied. We have a lot of orientation sessions and bus rides to endure.  I am using my favorite yarn Cascade Heritage Prints in Baltimore. My stripes won’t line up as nicely has my husband’s pair did, but I am not as picky as he is. I am still deciding on the heel method I am going to make as I would like to spice things up and try a heel I haven’t made. Check back to see what I decided on.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Visit Vermont

Oh Vermont, how quaint your state is. Considering the whole state is less populated than the city of San Franciso I didn’t know what to expect. The two days I was there I thoroughly enjoyed your green mountains, historic towns, and super friendly citizens. IMG_4564[1]

Your state capital Montpelier has that small town charm mixed with years and years of history. I was a huge fan of old brick buildings. The state house was also pretty spectacular as well.

Not too far up the road, there was the Ben and Jerry’s factory. It was the best place to stop on a hot day. We all enjoyed visiting the flavor graveyard, checking out the cows, and most of all sampling the ice cream.

Our adventures also lead us to the Trapp Family Lodge (yes the place where the family from the Sound of Music lived), the gorgeous Shelburne Farms, and Bristol Falls for some cliff jumping.  Coming from California, a state that was in a huge drought, Vermont was soooooo green. The grass looked like an emerald carpet.

Thank you to my dear friend J for showing us such a great time. She really convinced us that Vermont is a pretty amazing state to visit 😉. 

Until Next Time, 

-Whit-