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Blooming Lovely.

I love blousy flowers.  Flowers just at the point before they get too tired.  When they are full, and rich, and velvety.

Last week I bought some flowers.  It was sunny.  I love Spring.  A heady mix which always sees me perusing the flower shop. 

Today the flowers became blousy.  Here they are. 

Blooming lovely.

Pretty Little Sew and Sew

Until this week I have been sewing using this as my pin cushion.

I know.  It's a travesty.

Very shabby.  Not very chic.

So, flying high on my success with my Cath Kidston bag (you can read the full story here), I put needle to cloth and created this...

One more for the road...

I think it's a pretty little sew and sew.

I Won

Having not won a thing since walking away from the school raffle with a smile on my face and a Caramac easter egg under my arm when I was 8, I was made up to find out that I had won Pixiedust's giveaway at her blog, Faerie Nuff.

Faerie Nuff is a gorgeous blog about Pixiedust's creative adventures.  Pixiedust and Faerie Nuff.  I'm already somewhere over the rainbow just hearing the names...  Lovely.  Please visit Faerie Nuff.  It's a gorgeous place to spend some time.

So, it happened like this...

Catching up on my blog reading a couple of weeks ago I noticed that Faerie Nuff was hosting a giveaway and left a commment asking to be included.  I thought nothing more of it, until I received a message from Pixiedust at Faerie Nuff telling me I'd won.

I know.

And here is the proof.

Picture courtesy of Pixiedust at Faerie Nuff

Picture courtesy of Pixiedust at Faerie Nuff

Picture courtesy of Pixiedust at Faerie Nuff
Yay!  That's me!
And how cute is that table cloth?

And here is what arrived in the post on Saturday morning while I was all cosied up with tea, toast and a purring cat.  (Aren't they the best mornings?)

A parcel full of pretty things.

Thank you Pixiedust.

All individually wrapped with a lovely card.

Aren't they all lovely?

I have found each thing a great place in my home.

It was a special treat to have a parcel full of gorgeous surprises arrive through the post. 

And then Eric came to check things out.

And have a think.

Thank you Pixiedust.

Woolly Love

On my birthday last year, my lovely friend, Ange, gave me a bag full of vintage goodies that included a beautiful bundle of vintage pink wool all tied with a ribbon.

So for Christmas I decided I  wanted to spread some woolly love by knitting her up a cheeky little something.

Here is the little something I made for her.

A Spring-time neckwarmer.

Spring has arrived and I think this little neck warmer would be perfect with a pink dress, just to keep the Spring chill off.

The wool is very fine and delicate.  I knitted it on larger needles so that it would have a cobwebby feel to it.

It's deliciously warm and light to wear.  (I had a cheeky try-on).  And I have enough wool left over to make one for myself.

Ange was really happy with it.  And that made me happy.

Sassy Sewing

A few weeks ago, my lovely mum gave me the Cath Kidston book "Sew!"
Thanks Mum.
The book is chock full of gorgeous patterns and ideas for sewing projects.
And came with a wee package on the inside flap. 
The material needed to make the bag featured on the cover, as well as the paper patterns needed to make everything inside.

I set to.

The bag is supposed to be sewn on a machine, but I wanted to sit and do it by hand.  To make the fun last longer.

So, here it is.

My finished Cath Kidston bag.  All hand sewn.  A true labour of love.

Ladies and gentlemen.  Prepare yourselves for some serious bag porn.  (Sorry Mum...)

The finished article.  Isn't she beautiful?

Yes, my friends, I stitched those wee pink stitches myself.
My first ever button hole.

Look at those teeny tiny stitches.
I am now slightly cross-eyed.

The bag pattern didn't come with instructions for a lining. 
So I got jiggy with some serious creative thinking and made a lining and a covered base.

My first rolled loop.  I am such a sewing trollop.

Ernie checking out the finished goods.

One more gratuitous bag shot.

I'm now working on a pin cushion with matching needle case.
I'm bad.

A True Story

When I lived in Japan, I was friends with a World War 2 kamikaze pilot.

Really.  I'm not making this up.

I didn't encounter him in a scary "Ghost Whisperer" kind of way.  I met him in a "standing in front of me breathing" kind of way.  Hand on heart, he had been a WW2 Kamikaze pilot. 

He was very self-contained.  Formal.  Very dapper.  Very charming.  And not at all forthcoming about his own life.

In 1994 I was working at an English language school on the Tokyo/Yokohama border.  I taught college students who were going to travel to America, housewives who wanted to fill their spare time, and business men who needed English for their work.

(As an aside, do you know that in Japan women over the age of 25 who are not married are known as Christmas Cake?  No, good after the 25th.  I know.  I was 25 at the time.  Each lesson it would go something like this,  "How old are you?"  "25."  "Are you married?"  "No".  "Ooh, like Christmas cake."  "What's that now?")

The gentleman in question was in his mid seventies when I met him in 1994.  He was very slim, carried a sleek briefcase, was wearing a suit and tie, and had a hearing aid that received feedback.

"This is a pen."


"That is a book."


He spent a considerable amount of time trying to dial it down.  Sadly for him when the whistling disappeared, so did his ability to hear anything.  So he would turn it up again.  PAAAAAAAAAARP.  It was hard to maintain a sense of decorum.

Every week for the next year we worked together on improving his English.

He was polite in the extreme.  He had a commanding sense of who he was.  He was very warm behind his formal exterior.  And he brought with him to each lesson a sense of fun.  He was not in any way cold.  I would go so far to say that he was a bit of a flirt.  I looked forward to our lessons.

At the beginning of each session it was customary for each teacher to ask the students what they had been up to since their last lesson.  It was an opportunity for students to warm up and have time to think in English.  Every student without fail would have some piece of information about their work, or family life.

Not so my dapper septegenarian.

"What have you been doing this week?"

"I've had a lovely week thank you."

"And what did you do?" 

"This and that."

He liked that phrase and would often use it.  Always followed by a naughty smile.

After a year of teaching him I knew absolutely nothing about him other than his formal title.  Tsushima San.  I didn't even know his first name.

When it came time for me to leave the language school, Tsushima San had a change of heart.

"I want to tell you something about my life.  But please don't talk about it to the other teachers."

"OK."  (I don't think he fully appreciated the risk he was taking.  I can't hold my own water.)

"I was a kamikaze pilot during the second world war."

I have never told this story in it's entirety to anyone as I felt I needed to honour Tsushima San's wishes, even though I'm sure he wouldn't have minded.  Sadly, as far as I know he's dead now.  So it feels ok to share it.  This is what he told me in the summer of 1995, as I remember it...

Tsushima San was the second son of two sons.  He and his older brother were both called to duty during the war.  According to Tsushima San, and contrary to my understanding based on books I have read, pilots did not volunteer willingly to be kamikaze pilots.  According to Tsushima San, they were generally very young men, who wanted to appear to be loyal to their country, who were placed under enormous emotional duress by their superior officers to be seen to be volunteering. 

In 1944, Tsushima San and the other pilots in his unit were ordered to fly  to the Eastern coast of China.  They were not told why.  Over a period of several weeks all the men in his unit were ordered by their superior officers to build a wooden model of an American battle ship on the beach where they were based.  Each day, each of the pilots was ordered to practise repeatedly flying towards the wooden battle ship in manouevres that were different to the manouevres usually practiced.  After several long weeks of doing this the pilots were visited by a different superior officer.

In Japanese society it is the eldest son who is responsible for taking care of the rest of the extended family.  Any oldest sons within Tsushima Sans unit were told that they were exempt from volunteering for the next call of duty, as their responsibility to Japan rested on their supporting their family.  As Tsushima San was the youngest son, he was not exempt. 

Tsushima San told me that the superior officer explained that any pilot who was eligible to volunteer, who did not volunteer, would be bringing great shame to his family.  Those who did not wish to volunteer would need to understand the implications of how this shame would damage the rest of their family's lives.  It was suggested that they would need to consider honourable suicide as a means of regaining their family's respect, and right standing in Japanese Society.  A loss of face within Japanese society at this time was considered impossible to live with. 

This emotional manipulation lasted for quite some time, and no pilot within the unit felt able to not volunteer.  Tsushima San was very sad as he recounted this part of his story.  He told me of pilots who tried to hide their crying in order not to bring shame on themselves, but who were so scared,  they didn't manage to remain composed.

The men were then asked who wanted to volunteer.  In order to show how loyal they were seen to be to their country the men shouted in louder and louder voices, trying to out do the "loyalty" of the previous "volunteering" pilot.  Tsushima San told me that this went on for several minutes until there was a general frenzy of patriotic shouting and fervour, in order that no man was accused of not volunteering enthusiastically enough and therefore of bringing shame onto his family.  Tsushima San told me that in this way, the Western world has been led to believe that Kamikaze pilots volunteered out of patriotism.  According to Tsushima San, it was out of fear of what would happen to their families if they were not seen to be volunteering enthusiastically enough.

The pilots were then given very small boxes.  They were told to cut their fingernails and to put the clippings in the box, and to cut a lock of their hair and place it in the box.  These boxes were labelled and taken from the pilots.  The lock of hair and clippings would be placed in the otherwise empty coffins for the family funerals of the pilots after their deaths.  Tsushima San said this was the most chilling part of the process for him.

The men were then told to write to their families, and tell them that they had been selected for a very honourable duty that would bring honour to their families.  To  say goodbye to their loved ones via a letter.

At this point the men were told that they were to participate in a suicide mission but were not told when they would be required to fulfill their mission. Over the following days and weeks, a different pilot was selected to complete his mission as a kamikaze pilot.  They set out at different times each day, and obviously did not return.  Tsushima San told me that he watched as his unit grew smaller and smaller, and waited to be called to perform his duty to his country.  He had no hesitation in telling me that he and other men in his unit did not want to die for their country.  At this time he said he began to pray that he would be exempt from his mission.  He said he prayed every day as he flew his plane in manouevre after manouevre at the wooden ship on the beach.  His unit grew smaller and smaller.

I don't know exactly how many men were left in Tsushima San's unit when Japan surrendered in 1945, but I remember Tsushima San telling me that he was running out of options.  After the war ended Tsushima San converted to Christianity, as he felt that God had answered his prayers by not letting him get called to complete his mission.  He said that he had a total faith in God.  And that everything the Western world read about Japan and the war was not necessarily true.  He made a great point of telling me that he had no shame in not wanting to die for his country, and that he loved his country very much.

This story in itself is amazing.  I sat and listened for two hours while Tsushima San shared his memories, only interrupting to ask a question to clarify a point I didn't understand.

What makes the story all the more fascinating for me is Tsushima San's career.

After he shared his memories, Tsushima San told me that he wanted to finally tell me what his job was, but that I wasn't to tell any of the other teachers or staff at the school, I was to keep it to myself.  And I did.  I didn't want to break his confidence somehow.  But as far as I know he's not alive so it feels ok to tell his remarkable story now.  Tsushima San presented me very formally with five different business cards.  All of which I have to this day.

Tsushima San was Kojiro Tsushima.

Vice President of The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Chairman of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Chairman of the American Sotetsu Corporation.

Chairman of the Sagami Railway Company Ltd.

Chairman of the Co-operative Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

And this hugely patriotic and influential man who had met with world leaders, including Bill Clinton and his advisors, wanted me to know that when he was a very young man he was not ashamed to not want to die for his country.

That's Me, Over There, On The Right!

Two posts in one day.  I am on fire!

So, I decided today to post a picture of myself on my profile.  I've been following different blogs and I know I like it when I get a glimpse of what the blog-writer looks like.

So,  here I am.

Oh, and as I'm an "in for a penny, in for a pound" kind of gal, my name is Emma.
It's nice to meet you.

Something For The Boys

It's been a bit chilly of late.  All of January and February.  And I haven't felt much inclined to venture out into the nippy wilderness to look for inspiration for new jewellery designs.  Instead I've kept my inspirational search much closer to home.  To objects within the home.  Great.  Snuggly warm.

All my jewellery designs so far have been for the ladies in my life.  And any men who like to wear chandelier drop earrings.  There's no judgement.

So for the past few days, I have been searching around the house for inspiration for jewellery designs for the men in my life.   

I have rattled through cupboards, and peeked in drawers full of clutter.  Looking for inspiration.  

I found a bobble, an old ribbon I thought I'd lost, plenty of plastic bags, and a few dust balls.  But nowt else.  Well, nothing manly.

So I took myself upstairs and sat on my bed.  It's where I go to have a think.  And sometimes the odd daydream over a hot cup of tea.  And my eyes fell on this...

...The scene on my bedside table.  (That tiny picture in the tiny frame is of me playing on a deckchair when I was about three or four.)  Back when I was rearranging corners of my home, a couple of months ago, I nonchalantly draped my favourite photo frame with pearl necklaces to vintage things up a bit.  And added an old silk rose or two.  I found the lace hanky hidden in the pocket of a vintage bag I bought. 

I know it's not a scene generally associated with testosterone.  Stay with me.  I'm going somewhere with this.

The frame caught my eye because of this...


...The gorgeous shapes and textures in the pewter.  Hmmmm.

How fab would that kind of texture look on a ring?  I thought to myself.  And set to with tools and silver.

And here is the finished result.  It's chunky.  And I like it.


I think this would make a great ring for a man.  It's chunky and "manly" and there's something very fluid about it.  What do you think?

P.S.  I've nearly finished sewing my Cath Kidston bag, and have started knitting a woollen patchwork quilt!  Pictures to follow!  I hope you have a great weekend.  Sending smiles.
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