Inspiration file 38
Season with heartwarming knitted stuff


Winter has settled in. While the northern part of Japan has weathered heavy snow, the low temperature is near freezing here in Tokyo. On such a cold day, don’t you feel like lounging and sewing in a warm room?

Today I feature a handmade “una-na” doll by mimiwn. In the cold season, the doll is wearing a warm knit poncho as we do.

una-na, a rag doll made from fabric scraps and dresses, and is unique. You may recognize the doll since it was previously introduced in this column.

According to mimiwn, this una-na was inspired by “croquembouche”, which is the French pastry consisting of cream puffs piled into a cone with a thread of caramel, and it is popular as a wedding cake. Admittedly the una-na’s hat can look like the pastry.

mimiwn says, “It’s a little surprise that the cheerful colored body is hidden under the knits. By taking off her hat and poncho, the placid una-na will transform into the vivacious una-na.” The transformed one is posted on mimiwn’s website. Do check it out!

Her fabric doll has a more expressive and heartwarming atmosphere with knitted stuffs. Like this doll’s dress, partially knitted bag or purse may warm your heart.

How about adding knitted item to your sewing project in winter?

For mimiwn’s website, go to

Inspiration file 37
Animal sanctuary ~ a hand-embroidered art of peaceful landscape


The coldest season called “Daikan”*) has come to Japan. On such a freezing day, I introduce a beautiful and heart-warming embroidered art.

The embroidery artist Yuki Horiuchi created the work in the above picture. Can you believe everything in the picture is needlework? The flowers and animals depicted in detail by using colorful threads and various embroidery techniques are just incredible! While sheep’s crimpled hair looks startlingly real, Bambi the white-tailed deer with beautiful fur is depicted adorably. The reflection on the pond of the sheep drinking water was embroidered as well. This tranquil landscape with animals has a whimsical atmosphere. It may be the image of animal sanctuary that came across Horiuchi’s mind.

Going to Horiuchi’s website, you can see a lot of her embroidered art depicting plants and animals. Each has a lovely title named by Horiuchi; “Kokoro no izumi (spring in the heart)”, “Nemuranai yoru (sleepless night)”, “Fushigi no mori no okufukaku (deep in the dreamy woods)”, “Kagayaku inochi no atsumari (ensemble of bright life)”, “Hitotsubu no yuki no monogatari (tale of a drop of snow)”, and so on.

Horiuchi says, “In the picture is a part of my latest production. The work itself is approximately 30 centimeters in diameter. It is the biggest one I have ever made so far.”

What does the whole piece look like? Apparently it is a rather elaborate masterpiece. The work will be displayed at “Sesse – Contemporary Embroidery Exhibition” held at Hankyu Umeda Main Store in Osaka from February 5, 2014. I cannot wait to see it!

For Yuki Horiuchi’s website, go to

*) The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms. “Daikan”, which is the 24th term in the lunisolar calendar and literally means “great cold”, is considered the coldest period in the year. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around January 20 and ends around February 3.

Inspiration 33
Flower bouquet necklace you can wear many ways


During the holiday season, many shops offer elaborate gift-wrapping service with specialized papers, ribbons and bows in glamorous gold & silver or in girly pastel colors. The catchy packaging and wrapping intensify our desire to buy a present for someone special.

But wait! Don’t you want to reward yourself for your hard work? If so, why not look in a jewelry store? In the picture are the two-strand necklaces by Hiroka Natsume who produces jewelries for her brand named “positive edge”.

Natsume says, “My necklace collection with a detachable pendant that can be worn as a brooch is inspired by a flower bouquet. I am always fussy about arrangement of parts and beads to effectively show each of the various vintage beads. As you see, the inner strand and outer strand differ in appearance. While the outer has a retro-look with matte beads, the inner is more radiant with transparent gemstones and vintage beads.”

This collection can be broken down into their components, to be worn together as a set or separately as necklace and brooch. The transformable jewelry gives you different options to accessorize your clothes.

She continues, “It can be used for most occasions. For example, a plain black turtleneck sweater that is the most popular and versatile outerwear in winter will become more stylish with the necklace. Depending on the occasion or even on your mood, it can be used as a single strand necklace, as a two-strand necklace, as a brooch or pendant on a necklace. You can enjoy it in many ways.”

Natsume who is also a personal color & style consultant sometimes helps to find costume jewelry to suit her customer. “Costume jewelry to enhance your charm may vary by its coloration, material or design” she says.

For further information about Hiroka Natsume of positive edge, go to

Inspiration file 36
Jewelry making you feel happy


A Happy New Year to you all.
I hope we will have fun together through this year too.

In hope 2014 brings you a lot of happiness and brilliant success, I feature a radiant jewelry as this year’s first article for this column.

The brooch in the above picture was the creation of the jewelry maker named tin. It is actually bigger than what you might guess; just main piece is approximately 7 by 6 centimeters in size. “When I got a lovely roundish antique French tassel, I was tempted to create something with it. This is it.” tin says.

tin’s creations are decorated by using bead embroidery technique that she stitches small beads one by one. She continues, “The brooch consists of both contemporary and vintage materials. As well as the antique French tassel, I set Swarovski’s vintage copper beads in the middle of the brooch. Antique French lace, tons of freshwater pearls, my hand-crocheted stuffs, and vintage beads were also stitched with.”

The concept behind tin’s jewelries is “making you feel happy with it”. Each creation is with tin’s wish that it would be worn for both ordinary times and special occasions. The brooch must be a charming accessory for your party dress. Or, the dress-down casual such as a white sweater & jeans can be more stylish.

Check tin’s other jewelries including dazzling hair accessories, corsages, and earrings at

Inspiration file 35
Yummy-looking strawberry cakes


What do you suppose the cakes in the picture are made of? Must be whipping cream?

No whipping cream. No fresh strawberries. Neither butter nor flour. The yummy-looking cakes are all made of wool roving by the needle felting artist Rio Fukuda. Needle felting is the process of intertwining or tangling wool fibers using barbed needles called felting needles. As the felting needle is moved up and down, the barbs on the needle catch the scales of the wool and entangle them creating a material called felt.

Halved strawberries as a topping on each cake are appetizing. The fruit’s pith and pink flesh recreated in needle felting technique are true to life. Fukuda says, “I added achenes, which are usually called seeds, to strawberries to make them look more real. Then I realized the ones without achenes would look way prettier and luscious.” It is the knack of her lovely creations that Fukuda dares not make them too realistic or detail.

The enjoyment of a real cake will be over after eating it up. However, the needle-felted strawberry cake that can be displayed for a long time may be a nice gift for your friend or someone special. Would it be a big challenge for you to do the same project in the picture? If so, how about trying to make a piece of cake first? Once starting, the fluffy wools will soothe your heart.

Fukuda has her own studio named “Coffret de laine”, which means a small box of wool, in Kawaguchi City in Saitama prefecture that is a typical suburban town in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Colorful and delicious-looking pastries with felts are displayed in the studio. She periodically holds a workshop there, too.

It may be a good time for you to relax by touching soft wool roving to form an adorable thing with your felting needle.

You can see the website of Rio Fukuda at