October 2009

The pattern is finally ready. I’ve decided to keep it free because I’m still getting the hang of this pattern writing thing. I’d love any feedback. You can also download the PDF from Ravelry.  

cozy wrist warmers

cozy wrist warmers






Click here to read on.



Thanks to the small-world of internerd knitters, I just read good news and some bad news from the Octopus and the Rose blog. The bad news is there are still hateful people in this world who abuse others based on sexuality. The good news is there continues to be encouraging and positive responses to such violence. Cheeky name and all, the Pansy Project is one such response.

(image taken from The Pansy Project)

(image from The Pansy Project)



















(the reward for reading to the end of my rant is a free knitting pattern!)


It’s getting on fall in Japan. There’s a chill in the air and it’s time to rake the leaves and harvest the last of the veggies from the garden. Plant bulbs. When we think of fall, it’s often the bold colours. Vermillion, Orange, Gold. But here in Japan it’s the muted colours I see most often: A rice harvest curing in a paddy, fallen chestnuts, distant smokey mountains finally visible as the summer haze lifts.

Back home it’s getting on winter. There are flurries in the forecast, my mum wrote to tell me. “A cute sounding word for something kinda cold and really unwanted just yet…”

The changing seasons were the inspiration for my latest knitting project. Knit with a cozy wool, silk, mohair blend. I’m in the process of writing up the pattern, but here’s a sneak peak.  

entre deux saisons

entre deux saisons

Can anyone remember back in 2007 when the City of Montreal handed out 100,000 pocket ashtrays? Yeah… didn’t think so. The goal was to help solve the litter problem. But after the press conference, I never saw another pocket ashtray until… I moved to Japan. 

People here actually use them sometimes. The little ashtrays are also at the heart of an anti-littering campaign lead by Japan Tobacco, with ads appearing on public transit and ashtrays all over the country. Complete with haikus in hilarious English translation, I just had to share a few of my favourites.


(Seen on Mt. Fuji) Inhaled. Burned. Thrown away. If it were anything but a cigarette it would surely be crying.

Inhaled. Burned. Thrown away. If it were anything but a cigarette it would surely be crying. (Seen on Mt. Fuji).


I’m not one of those early risers you often meet at backpacker’s hostels. You know the kind. Keeners. Alarm set for daybreak. Chipper because they turned in early the night before. Their efficient yet loud movements through the dorm elicit grumps and groans from those less-enthusiastic. The keeners pour over detailed itineraries while drinking coffee from high-tech mugs. They stride out the door while I stumble zombie-like into the shared kitchen, fumble with the kettle, and pick sleep out of my eyes. I’m not denying my own keener status, it just takes me a while to get going in the mornings. That’s why, on my first morning at the hostel in Kawaguchiko, I was surprised to be the first one up in the dorm.

Conveniently located near the base of Mount Fuji, Kawaguchiko is a good base-camp to tackle Mr. Fuji himself, or the many day trips in the Fuji Five Lakes area. I contemplated the empty lounge as I ate my toast. In some ways it made sense. It was almost October. The tourist season is over. Mt. Fuji is technically closed. We’re the stragglers; the ones who put it off.. slept in.. missed the bus.. missed the season..

For my first day, I had a long but easy hike planned up Mount Mitsu-Toge. Figured I’d work up to Fuji, and hopefully find some hiking buddies in the meantime. But, about to head out, I met some guys from New York who were going for it. 

You’re welcome to come, one said. The first bus up leaves in 20 minutes.
Sure. Let me grab another water bottle.

When I came back, the first guy looked at my daypack and runners doubtfully. I’ll be fine, I told him. He finished lacing his hikers and swung his own expedition-sized pack onto his back. Only then did we get around to introductions.

Piotr and Adam arrived late the night before, straight off their flight from New York. They were jetlagged, running on adrenaline. We stopped at the seven-eleven so they could grab a konbini breakfast of champions to eat on the hour-long ride to the 5th station. I grabbed some onigiri for the road. We caught the bus from Kawaguchiko station. The summit was shrouded in cloud, but the ride up was clear and bright. The trees started showing their fall colours as we climbed in elevation.

We arrived at the 5th station just in time for the rain.