What I made in 2022

I like to do these end-of-the-year recaps of what I finished in a year. It always makes me feel productive, and I even want to start more projects.

Knitting

Hats were my thing this year. They are my go-to project when I need something to do. Several were donation hats, and the rest were gifts for friends.

Left to right, top to bottom: tape yarn pouch with vintage cloth lining, Antler toques for donation, Feather and Fern wrap, Year of hats, March hat, Scrapy shawl, Felicity hat for donation, Jelka hat, Kaarre hat, Maize mitts


I’ve also been slowly getting rid of my yarn stash. Luckily I meet “L,” an amigurumi crocheter, at the thrift shop. I’ve been giving her yarn for projects.

Stitching

I’ve been using stitching in my upcycling project this past year. The stitching keeps me present as I usually don’t have a well-laid-out plan, and I’m letting the stitches inspire me on the subsequent placement.

Left to right, top to bottom: Stitching to cover up staining, bookmark, top stitching on the underside of the whale, stuffed whale out of a vintage dress, Hawaiian quilt pillow for donation, Aloha shirt patchwork, blanket stitch top of trivet, trivet made out denim scraps and hand stitching, cat toys made out of scraps of fabric from my cousins mask making venture.


Cooking

I’m breaking this section down to savory and sweet, and I’m not including the jam I made this year. I’ll say the strawberry guava is always a hit and the cherry jam is also a favorite.

Savory

I’ve been trying to be more healthy for dinners. I need to use a lighter hand on the salt. Ahh, signs of getting old. My recent favorite is Mapo eggplant. Here’s the link to the recipe I used from Just One Cookbook: https://www.justonecookbook.com/mapo-eggplant/

Left to right, top to bottom: roasted tomato salsa, zucchini and caramelized onion quiche for Julie, my attempt at pad see ew, cheesy biscuits, tuna and tofu patties, pickled veggie slaw, lemon and capers halibut (thank you, Dave, for the fish), mapo eggplant, ginger pork.


Sweet

I’ve been going through my mom’s recipe box, making my favorite recipes. One day, I’ll put them in a book for my family. I made several batches of Tanaka bars (a family favorite) for my holiday bake, and a few bakes came out too gooey. I googled “blondies too gooey” and found an article from food52 saying the batter needed more air. I need to return to my hand mixer to get the air into the batter. Here’s the link to the article: https://food52.com/blog/21928-why-your-blondies-are-raw-in-the-middle-the-stella-parks-cure

Left to right, top to bottom: Pumpkin bread, pineapple cookies, garbage cookies, lilikoi coconut pie, mixed berry creme fraiche scones, Nutella rice crispy treats, Tanaka bars, Laurie’s pear cake, cherry scones, lemon loaf cake, Tre Leche cake, apple crumb cake, apple vanilla pound cake, lemon blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate birthday cupcakes for the birthday girls.


To my surprise, I worked on a lot of stuff. It didn’t feel like it. I’ve been struggling this year to find what I should be doing with my life since my freelance gig has dried up.

I’ve discovered myy stitching is good for my brain. It lets me move through the piece spontaneously, letting the stitches decide for me. So I decided 2023 would be my year to sell or show more of my works. I need to be brave and put it out there. So there will be more to come. I hope you stick around to join me on my journey.

Seams and Scraps

What do you make with jean seams and aloha shirt scrap? I made a trivet using hand-stitching. I also taught myself how to use a thimble. It helped a lot with all the stitching on denim.

I love the look of all the ends but decided against leaving it as is. It would probably get too dirty.


I lined the back with a large scrap from my whale project to hide the rough edges and give it a little more support. I tried out the blanket stitch technique from the Zen Stitching workshop from Mirjam Gielen .

In the end, there really isn’t a front or back. I guess whichever you prefer. This project took longer than I expected. Stitching through denim is tough. But I liked the finished product. More to come.

Three Whales

I’ve been working on several upcycling projects, and I’m proud to show you what I’ve done. I worked with a couple of jeans and a batik print dress. I started out with the jeans, one dark, and one light denim. I decided to try out the denim whale I’ve seen on Pinterest. I got the pattern from FourSixtyTwo.

The Denim

Mom’s capri jeans

I had two pairs of jeans, mom’s capri jeans and old pair of acid-washed ones. Yes, acid-washed, and it had a high waist and pleats. It was straight from the 80s. The first task is to take apart the clothing. I cut the legs off on the jeans, getting as much of it as possible. I’ll save the top of the jeans for later for another project. I then rotary cut the seams and put them aside to see if I could come up with a use for them. I also took off some buttons from the darker jeans.
I used the darker jeans for the top of the whale and the acid-wash for the belly. I started out machine sewing, starting with the tucks on the stomach. So far, so good. Then I started on the fins and tail. It was a no-go when turning it to the right side [for all the non-sewers, you sew the pieces together with the right sides facing together, stitching on the wrong side]. The pointy tips looked bulky and bumpy because of the thickness of the denim. Boo!
Instead of fighting with the seams, I ripped out the stitches and decided to hand-stitch the tail and fins [for the hand-stitching, it is sewed right side out]. Then I continued with the hand-stitching with the top-stitching on the tail and fins, and to be consistent, the body, once I attached it to the body.

Tah Dah! Whale #1: with pleats on the belly

Wow! I liked the look of the finished product. I decided to do another whale because I had enough fabric. I made a few adjustments to the pattern to help the points of the tail and fins lay better. I also decided to try eliminating the pleats on the belly and machine-stitched the underbody instead. And for Whale #2, I hand-stitched the entire whale except for the top-stitching on the underbody.

Closeup of the machine-stitched underbody

Batik Dress

batik dress from the 80s

I thought the whale would look great in a print, maybe an aloha print. I liked the gray and navy section of the dress for the whale and thought the bleached pattern looked like marks on the whale. The fabric was rayon; it was soft and flowy. I lined all the pieces with some lightweight material to give them stability.

The lined pieces were lighter than the denim, so I decided to use the machine on the larger sections of the whale. I added top-stitched the underbody where the pleats should be, then stitched the underbody together. I handstitched the fins and tail together to keep the points sharp, lay flat, and added top-stitching.

Hand-stitching

I took a stitching workshop in May through Zen Stitching to get inspired. It was five days of classes. I was able to take almost every session I wanted to. I loved that I found others who combined upcycling, boro, and hand-stitching.

I added a few techniques to the whale. I added groups of running stitch using a bleached print to inspire the pattern. I also added French knots. I like how it came out. Now, if I can only get these posted on my Etsy shop.

I made little animals

Out of odd-shaped scraps, that inspired me to make something with them. They are simple and more graphic than “Hot Wheels”.

They are made of scraps of materials, stuffed with the little remnants of thread fabric, and hand-stitched together.

Something to pass the time, something to make me smile.

Cat
Elephant

Dad’s Art

Dad has been enjoying drawing and collaging in these recent years. It’s not an everyday thing. When he’s in the art mode, he’ll whip out his sharpies or start cutting up cardboard.

His materials of choice are old newspaper, discarded cardboard boxes, and his trusty sharpie pens. He uses the newspaper as his canvas with the sharpies. And the cardboard is the structure of his piece. These pieces are ones that he wants to stand on their own.

The key to Dad’s art is upcycling. He has always been a frugal man and has made many things from scraps around the house. He’s our MacGyver. But these days, building things is hard for him, and his drawing and pasting has taken its place.

He’s medium of choice is sharpies and old newspaper. I’ve bought for him sketchbooks, paints, and watercolor pencils to no avail getting him to use them. He would always fall back to his sharpies

Sourcing Materials

Dad does think about sourcing his material. One day, he asked me if I ate a fig bar. He said, “I want the wrapper because of the foil inside of the wrapper.” I asked him why he needed it? “I’m going to use it for the eyes on my turkey and snowman to make it stand out.”

He sourced the Depends box for the Christmas tree because of its green color. One day, I walked past him, sawing away with a serrated knife at the box, cutting the tree’s triangle shape. I just had to smile, he still has that making thing at 92.

I’d thought I would give my dad art a show case so I gave him a tag on Instagram and Facebook if you like to continue to search for new work. #jo1drawing. I made his tag from his first name, Joichi. “Ichi” means one in Japanese. 

Have a Happy Holidays. Eat well and stay safe.