Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Japan 2011 Day 3: Up way too early...

It's just after 5:00 am here & we've been awake for at least an hour :(  Usually the early-morning waking starts to wear off by day 3. Ah, well. Charlie's in the shower & Brendan's doing the crossword puzzle in the International Herald Tribune, which we find outside our door every morning. It's become a ritual to do the puzzle together & I've been having fun sharing my solving techniques with him. Soon we'll eat breakfast, pictured above, an assortment of Italian pastries, Japanese wagashi treats, & fruit.

I took a couple more pictures to share before we find ourselves in uncertain internet-access territory, while we visit our friends in the south of Japan. First, another grainy picture from the window of our room:
This is the walkway to Tokyu Hands & Takashimaya, as seen from 30 stories above. It goes over the train tracks that lead to Shinjuku Station. It feels iconic to me, because it's been the pathway to so much treasure the past few days :) And as for the treasure:
This is usually a fibre & crafting blog, so I had to share my stash :D I went back to Yuzawaya yesterday after perusing the tawashi book & decided to look for the yarn that they use in the book. Ya-taa! I was able to find it pretty easily. Reading the katakana is so much easier this time & so shopping is so much less confusing & much more fun. (My husband trembles at this thought...)

The taxi will arrive at 8:15 to take us to Tokyo Station to catch our train, & I'm looking forward to eating ekiben (train station bentou) for lunch & having a relaxing trip to Kokura, where we'll meet our friend Tomoko & take the last train to our destination, Mizumaki, where her family lives. Tomoko was our first Japanese teacher & one of the highlights of our first trip to Japan 4 years ago was our stay with her family- her mom, Nobukosan; her sister & brother-in-law Keikosan & Kazehirosan; & their sons Shinkun & Daichan, who are a few years younger than Brendan. All of the boys have grown so much in the past 4 years & I'm rally looking forward to seeing them, as well as the grown-ups. Although Tomoko moved 4 years ago from our town to Minnesota, where she's working on her PhD, she spends part of New Years with us every year (we also exchange holiday gifts a couple times a year with Tomoko's family) so it feels like we're one, big extended family. I am very much looking forward to conversing with everyone, something I wasn't able to do last time because my Japanese language skills weren't up to it.

So, I'll be back as soon as I can to share our adventures in Mizumaki! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Japan 2011 Day 2: Shopping & Train Tickets

Well, Charlie managed to sleep past 4:00 am today- he took melatonin & it worked! Brendan & I woke up between 4:00 & 4:30 & read until 6:00 am :(  I think I'll try the melatonin tonight...

Breakfast was pastries that we got last evening when we bought our dinner, from a bakery that, rather surreally, had all of the pastries labelled in Italian (in Japanese katakana) & then the English name below, also in katakana. In the picture above is my cappucino bread- it was delicious! It was made like a melon pan, which is yeast bread with a layer of sweet cookie on top, but coffee-flavoured. I also had cold green tea & part of an orange. Also in the picture is Pikachu & the cute socks Momo gave me yesterday that are okapi-patterned.
The bottle on the right was supposed to be Charlie's breakfast beverage, to go with his cinnamon-raisin bun. Unfortunately, I didn't read the label very well, which says that it's orange-flavoured jelly... in a bottle. He put it in the fridge, so it was nice & hard when he tried to drink it :D Only in Japan will you find jello in a bottle.

Today's major goals were to get our Japan Rail passes & to shop. We bought the rail passes in the US & then you have to turn them in at the right office, along with a bit more paperwork & show your passport, after which you are issued rail passes that work on all of the JR Line trains. We decided to head out to Shinjuku Station around 9:00 am to see if the ticket office was open. On the short walk over there, the incredible mass of humanity streaming from the station made us think twice about even going in that direction, so we stopped off at our nearby Starbucks instead for a hobbit-like second breakfast. After about half an hour the people thinned out (there were a lot of people running out of the station as we watched, clearly late for work) & we felt we'd successfully be able to swim upstream, so we went to the office & found that it opened at 11:00 (it was then a little after 10:00).

So, we went shopping instead! I had some definite shopping plans, based on yesterday's excursion to Tokyu Hands & Takashimaya, so we split up & Charlie & Brendan agreed to meet me at 11:00 & then decide what to do next. I headed to Yuzawaya, by way of Uniqlo (which I just wanted to see), & had a great time looking at yarn & crochet books.
I got an amigurumi book & a tawashi book. Tawashi are scrubbies that are very populat in Japan because they're reusable ("eco"). The book has some absolutely adorable patterns- all sorts of shapes & themes. I also found bamboo crochet hooks, which I can't get at home, & a couple skeins of gorgeous, sparkly yarn.
That shopping took me to 11:00, so after we met up we went to the stationery department of Tokyu Hands & bought stickers, pens, notebooks, & origami paper, mostly for gifts.
One thing I find fascinating about shopping in Japan is how beautifully everything is wrapped. The paper bags in the picture above are the pens & stickers all neatly packaged.
The bags are sealed with tape at the top:
For lunch we went back to the tenpura restaurant we went to yesterday because it was so yummy. I regretted not taking pictures then, so I got some today:
Sooooo delicious!

The other thing I really wanted to photograph yesterday was a sign that had Brendan in absolute giggles yesterday, after coming back from a bathroom trip while we were at the restaurant:
These are the instructions for using the "washlet" toilet that is pretty standard everywhere you go.
A close-up shows the source of Brendan's hilarity. How often to you see the word "buttocks" on a sign in a department store?

After Lunch we went back to the train station, discovered that the office that was closed at 10:00 wasn't the right office after all, & so one map & two inquiries later, found the right place! We got our rail passes & also reserved our seats on the trains tomorrow, for the next leg of our trip, going to the southern island of Kyushu to visit friends. The ladies in the train office were lovely & very helpful.

It's another hot, sunny day in Tokyo & I'm really glad that our hotel is so close to so many cool things to do! I'm also glad of the sun, in small doses :) Brendan & I are both pleased by how easy it feels to communicate this time. For example, I bought 2 copies of one of the crochet books, one for a friend & one for me, & when the checkout lady asked me if I wanted 2 copies, I not only understood her question, but was able to explain why I wanted two. I am really enjoying the smiling faces of the people we speak to :D

This afternoon we're taking it easy. Charlie & Brendan want to try the ofuro (Japanese-style bathtub) & it's too hot to go far outside right now anyway. Later we'll go back & get dinner & breakfast across the way at Takashimaya, just like yesterday. Tomorrow at 9:30 am we board the shinkansen (bullet train) for Kyushu, & after one train change & ~6 hours, we'll get to see friends we haven't seen for 4 years! 

Japan 2011- Day 1.5 part 2: Jet-lagged But Doing Stuff Anyway

Hi again! We went out exploring in the morning & found a Starbucks really close where we had some breakfast. Then we visited the Tokyu Hands (not Tokyo Hands, as I've been writing it) store right across the way. It's huge & has lots of cools stuff- we only saw 2 of the 8 floors & it took most of an hour...

In the afternoon our good friend Momo came to see us today, & in spite of being very jet-lagged we had a fun visit with her. Top picture is Brendan after a lovely tempura lunch across the street from our hotel in the Takashimaya Department store, plus Pikachu, posing with dad's ginger ale bottle. It was very strong ginger ale (more like ginger beer) & we all had to have a sip :D
After lunch we took the Yamanote Line train from Shinjuku Station a couple stops to Harajuku to go to the Meiji Jingu (shrine) which is associated with the Meiji Emperor. We'd visited Harajuku during our last trip 2 years ago, on a very busy Sunday afternoon & appreciated how much less crowded it was on a Tuesday afternoon.
Here are a tiny Charlie, Brendan, & Momo at the first Torii gate of the Meiji Jingu. The imperial golden chrysanthemum, symbol of the emperor, is seen all over the place, here at the top of the torii gate.
And a close-up of me, Brendan, & Momo at the foot of one of the gates- they're really huge!
There was a nice, relatively cooler (it was hot & sunny & humid today) walk to the shrine down a wide, tree-lined street. It smelled peppery, which we decided must be from the cedar trees that lined the road.
The shrine itself is beautiful in an austere way. I always love to see the trees with the paper streamers that show a tree where the Kami (Gods) reside. We put go-en (5 yen) coins in the box & said prayers before looking around the shrine.
Brendan decided to make a special prayer, for the healing of Japan after the earthquake, which he wrote in hiragana on a special board that you can buy, then it's hung near one of the sacred trees & the priests send the wishes to the resident gods.
I love collecting omamori when we visit shrines, so I got 2 of them at the Meiji Jingu. Omamori are good-luck charms that are an important part of Japanese life. They deflect bad luck from the bearer & are made for specific purposes, often from beautiful brocade fabrics. Lucky Pikachu!

After visiting the shrine, we went to the hyaku-en store (dollar store) in Harajuku. They are much nicer than the ones we have in the US!
I got all this (mostly bentou-making equipment) for 525 yen (~ $6.00). Pikachu was pleased...

Momo left before dinner time, so we rested & then went across to the Takashimaya Department store, which has a grocery store plus specialty food kiosks in the basement.
Here is dinner! Sushi, korroke (potato croquets), goodies, & beverages, including CC Lemon & ramune. Pikachu was very pleased... :)

And then Brendan fell into bed around 7:30 pm!  Charlie showered & went to be while I was writing this, & I'm following him as soon as this is posted. Can't wait to get over this jet-lag!!! However, I'm noticing that it's much easier (& fun) to communicate with people than it's ever been before, even with the jet-lag. Hooray!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Japan 2011- Day 1.5: We're here!

Hi! We made it! The flights were uneventful, but there's no getting around the brutality of 13 hours on an airplane... Since we were flying west from Upstate New York, the sun never set on us at all until we actually landed in Japan, making the night quite surreal. Brendan managed to sleep some, but every time I nodded off my head jerked & I was awake :(  Charlie listened to music to mellow out & I read a whole discworld book ("The Wee Free Man", the first of the Tiffany books, & the first of my Pratchett re-read project). Brendan alternated between his own discworld book & playing Kana on his ipod, Kana being an app to help him learn to read Japanese kana. He's known the hiragana for a few years but in Japan you need to have katakana as well (same alphabet but different symbols) & he was motivated to learn, which has already payed-off, as he's been reading every sign, package, & tin since we arrived :)

We are staying at the Century Southern Tower Hotel, in the heart of Tokyo's Shinjuku area. Shinjuku station, the busiest train station in the world, is nearby, & I can see Tokyo Hands & Takashimaya Department store from our room (see above). We took a shuttle bus directly to the hotel from Narita airport & were settled-in by about 9:00 pm Tokyo time. Our bodies thought it was 8:00 am but were so tired from being awake so long that we got some sleep... Charlie & I were awake by our customary 4:00 am (the jet-lag witching hour :) but Brendan slept soundly until 6:00 am while we read & listened to music, all on our i-devices (what a blessing!).
These pictures are the view from our hotel room window, on the 30th floor. They provide a map of the view, which is really neat. It's very foggy today, but at least the sun's out right now. It was pouring rain when we landed & all the way into Tokyo, but that's not surprising because it's still tsuyu, the rainy season.

Right now it's about 8:00 am & we're getting our bearings (the guys already found a vending machine with cans of coffee & bottles of iced ocha :), munching some of the pastries we brought from home, & thinking about breakfast. My friend Momo is coming up to Tokyo by train & will meet us at 12:30-ish for an afternoon of fun. I can't wait!!! We are here!!! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We Interrupt This (Ir)regularly Scheduled Programme...

Hi there! As of tomorrow, June 26th, 2011, this fibre/craft blog will temporarily become a travel blog. We are leaving tomorrow for nearly 3 weeks in Japan! We've been planning this trip for nearly a year, & the prep included my having reconstructive back surgery (!) in January because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to tolerate flying.

This will be our third trip to Japan, our first being 4 years ago. As I may have mentioned before, my son & I have been studying Japanese for 6 years. Our first trip was a reward of sorts, & a boost to continue our studies. Brendan was 11 years old then, & part of this trip was a visit to the family of our first Japanese teacher, Tomoko, on Kyushu. We stayed with her mom, who lives next door to Tomoko's sister & family, including 2 boys slightly younger than Brendan. While we were there we visited the boys' elementary school & took a weekend trip to Asosan, an active volcano, & stayed at onsen & ryokan (tradition hot springs & inns). It was absolutely amazing!! We also discovered one of our favourite places in the world, Uji, which is near Kyoto in the tea-growing region there. It's a beautiful town with many old temples & shrines & very historic.

For our second trip, 2 years ago this past Spring, we decided to go during Spring Break, rather than in the summer, to see the cherry blossoms (see top photo). We could only go for 2 weeks that time, which I found to be a bit short. We didn't make it to the south of Japan that time, but did go back to Uji for a day while we were in Kyoto.

So this time we are going back in the summer, so we can stay longer (although it will be hotter...). When we first get to Tokyo we're going to de-jet-lag for a few days in a hotel in Shinjuku, normally not a place we'd stay because it's so busy. Which is why we thought it would be fun to stay there briefly. And, as it turns out, one of the coolest stores for crafters, Tokyo Hands, is right across the street from our hotel! Whoo hoo! Plus, a branch of Yuzawaya, another wonderful place that sells crafts, yarn, etc is right next to Tokyo Hands. I visited the main store on our last trip to Tokyo & it was amazing...

After we've recovered from flying (& before I buy too much yarn & stuff...) we're going back to see Tomoko's family in the south of Japan. We've got our JR passes & will board the shinkansen (bullet train) on Thursday for Kyushu. All of our boys have grown so much in the past 4 years & we're looking forward to seeing Tomoko & her family. While looking for an activity for the boys to do together, we suggested to Tomoko that they might like to try Dungeons & Dragons (since they really like computer games) & she thought that was a great idea, so I found the starter set at and Brendan used it to learn the Japanese terms for gameplay & to make a scenario for a game (plus had our present Japanese teacher translate the character sheet for him). Brendan's been our local DM for over a year (we have an intergenerational D&D group that meets about once a month) & he's looking forward to stretching his DM skills in another language :) I'm looking forward to doing some cooking with Tomoko's mom, & have translated some recipes for scones & cookies into Japanese so we can make some together as well. Kind of a cooking exchange :)
Here is our dining room table about 4 weeks ago, with Settlers of Catan battling it out with 4 boxes that we sent to Japan in anticipation of our trip. The boxes have presents & baking paraphernalia & weighed a total of 32 lbs. It was quite a project to get them sent (customs forms, 'nuff said) & a great relief as well.

After about 5 days with Tomoko's family, we head back north to Uji to stay for 2 nights in a lovely place called the Hana Yashiki (Flower Mansion) right on the Uji river. Then we head to Tokyo for a week to see Momo (yay!) my good friend who I met while she was living nearby while her husband was in grad school. Momo moved back to Japan just a year ago & even though we skype regularly, I can't wait to see her!! We'll also see our neighbour's daughter, who is a school teacher in Tokyo & who we do fun things with every time we go, & will meet up with some other folks as well.

To prepare for this trip, I also did some crafting :) First, there was the tea cozy project, all of which were packed into the boxes sent about a month ago. Over this past week I've also made rhubarb marmalade, which I often send to Tomoko's family because they really like it, & a bunch of lavender-mint lip balms.

The lip balm is my own recipe & made with all-organic ingredients.
I am particularly happy about the labels (thank you Avery label maker!):
I managed to make them in Japanese & English! When we're in Japan we often give small gifts to people we meet who have been kind to us (it's a custom there) so I like to be well-prepared. We also bring postcards from our home town because people like to know where you're from, & candies made locally.

So please stay tuned for updates over the next few weeks. We won't always have internet access, but I plan to put up a post (eventually) for every day of the trip. おたのしみにしてください!Please look forward to it! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nerd Wars 2 Dissertation hats- halfway there

In and around preparing to fly to Japan (this Sunday!) I've been trying to get a bit ahead on my Nerd Wars 2 Dissertation hats. I explain a bit more about the Nerd Wars on Ravelry & my dissertation in this post. I've been having fun matching hats with illustrations from manga & vice-versa. For the dissertation I decided to make 14 hats over the summer, one for each week of Nerd Wars 2. The first two hats that I made are posted here & here. I've also decided to make a pair of mittens for each of the dissertation hats, since it only makes sense to send sets. Where I'm sending them is to Knit for Japan, a site set up by a lovely woman, Bernd Kestler, who is studying at the Nihon Vogue knitting school in Yokohama, Japan. After the March 11 earthquake & tsunami in the Touhouko region of Japan, Bernd started collecting hand-made items for the survivors & taking them there. She also teaches knitting in the shelters to help people there pass the time (&, I think, to feel a bit more control over their lives, which is how I feel when I make things). If you follow the Knit for Japan link above you'll find pictured my first donations, the Twin Spica baby hat & mittens, which I made for another Nerd Wars challenge. It was such a thrill to see the picture on her site & know they'd arrived safely! Bernd sent me a lovely message through Ravelry (which is how I found her site), saying that she'd be going back in July & find a baby to give them to.

So here are 5 more of the hats that will be going to Touhouko later this summer:
The Kobato hat, based on the manga character of the same name by CLAMP:
It's a mutation of the Lion Brand earflap hat pattern that I like so much. I looked through the wonderful book of crochet motifs from Japan & found a motif that ended-up with 72 stitches around the edge, which the number of stitches you get after all the top increases. Then I made the rest of the hat from the pattern & added the motifs on the flaps, to get the Kobato effect :) I used KnitPicks Swish DK & an I/9/5.50mm hook.
This is the Tsubasa Sempai hat, for a character in the manga Gakuen Alice.
Tsubasa Sempai is an older-brother figure to the main character in the series, & he wears lots of funky hats. He's wearing an earflap hat in the black & white manga illustration. This is also the Lion Brand hat pattern, using Swish DK from the Bare line that I dyed using procion dyes.
For this little hat I redesigned a newborn hat pattern that I created before Brendan was born & have been using ever since for gifts. The pattern is part of a set of hat, mittens & socks, all using fingering weight sock wool. I made the hat a bit larger, to fit a better range of baby-sized heads, & a little longer, too. I used Deborah Norville's Serenity Sock Weight yarn, with size 0 & 2 needles. I call it the Card Captor Sakura hat, for the character from the series of the same name (also by CLAMP), I made little motifs from onion skin-dyed yarn that match the hat Sakura's wearing in the illustration. The little mittens that I plan to make will have motifs as well.
Next is the Ouran Cosplay hat, which is the Antelope Hat by Kelly McClure, pattern found at ravelry. I found the pattern, which I really liked, then had to spend some time looking for a manga character/illustration to fit it to! I found this illustration from Ouran High School Host Club of the club members cosplaying in turbans with bangles hanging off them. The hat reflects the bangles in the yarn-overs. Whew! I made it from Woolease yarn & size 2&4 needles.
And hat #7 is the Nausicaa hat (& mitten set). Nausicaa, the heroine of this manga by Hayao Miyazaki himself, wears an aviator-style hat with chin strap, like this Avitrix Hat by Justine Turner. This was another case of finding a cute hat that I wanted to make & then having to match it to an illustration, but Nausicaa came to my rescue :) I made it from Bare Swish DK that I dyed with procion dyes.

And there you have it! Half-way to the 14 hats for my dissertation & for Touhouko. This project has been a wonderfully concrete thing I could do while waiting until I could kick into high gear, Japan-trip-wise. I also plan to turn this blog into a travel blog, & I'll be posting pictures & stories from Japan as we travel around & visit friends. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Last Two June Nerd Wards 2 Projects Posted!

Hi again! I'm still trying not to think about getting on a plane to Japan 2 weeks from tomorrow (as much as I'm really looking forward to being in Japan :) which has resulted in my last 2 June Nerd Wars 2 projects being finished. Above is the Frog Hat, inspired by this illustration:
It's from the June 2011 LaLa magazine, which is a manga anthology magazine published in Japan. This illustration is from the "Gakuen Babysitter's" manga. So cute!
Mr. Froggy is made from Woolease in forest green. I used my favourite Lion Brand earflap hat pattern & an I/9/5.50mm hook, just like the Naruto & his Mom Hat. I designed the eyes myself & am very pleased by the way they stand up without any support (hooray for firm crocheting :). The embroidery was inspired by the illustration. I made this hat for the 3-D challenge & it will go to Touhouku along with my dissertation hats.

And this scarf (modeled by Brendan) is for the "I See What You Did There" nerd culture challenge, where we made things that reflect a favourite YouTube video. I chose this video:
It's Inoue Orihime from Bleach, by Kubo Tite. Orihime wears 2 hairpins that are not just decorative. They are her "ShunShunRikka" or "Princess Shielding Flowers" (the "hime" part of her name means "princess" in Japanese). They become little fairies that protect her & allow her to heal others, among other cool things.
You can see one of the hairpins here, from the cover of a Bleach manga.
And are the Rikka, from the manga. I decided to make a scarf using a 6-petal flower motif, so I re-engineered the Splashy Flowers Shawl, which was originally a scarf pattern, changing it quite a bit.
You can see the little flower motifs just like Orihime's hairpins. I used KnitPicks Andean Treasure yarn in the colour "Blue Ribbon" (it took about 3 1/2 skeins) & a K/10/6.50mm hook. It's about 95" long & very cushy.

So now I can work along on my dissertation hats for another week, until it's time to pack! My biggest worry is that I'll be in Japan, with variable internet access, when the July challenges are announced :( However, I'll be in Japan... that's not bad at all! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Nerd Wars 2 Projects

Hi again! I've been really busy creating & it's a good thing, because otherwise I'd be thinking too much about the fact that we are getting on a plane in 2 1/2 weeks & flying to Japan! Don't get me wrong, I am very, very excited to be going back & seeing friends & eating wonderful food & just being there. But I also get very, very nervous when anticipating travel (particularly traveling halfway across the world!), so it's been a wonderful thing to be working on my Nerd Wars 2 challenges & not thinking too much about the traveling just yet.

For the "An Adage a Day" challenge (make something that illustrates a saying or adage) I chose the Japanese saying "ひゃくぶんはいっけんにしかず" which is very similar to the English "a picture is worth a thousand words". And to illustrate this adage, I made this pair of thumbless baby mittens using the 2-colour knitting technique (aka Fair Isle Knitting) which I learned from the photos in the book "Fox & Geese & Fences" by Robin Hanson. The yarn is KnitPicks superwash merino DK which I dyed using procion fibre-reactive dyes, plus a bit of pink Swish DK for the bunnies. The pattern is my own design.
For the team spirit aspect, the bunnies represent the character Haninozuka Mitsukuni (Honey Sempai) from Ouran KoKo Hosutobu (Ouran High School Host Club) by Hatori Bisco. As you can see in the picture, this character carries a pink bunny around (even though he is a senior in high school!). I found the bunnies charted for embroidery in a Debbie Bliss book, but worked them as Fair Isle instead.

Then there's this little bag, crocheted with KnitPicks Simply Cotton Sport & a size D/3/3.25mm hook. This was for the Team Spirit challenge "There is No I in Team". The challenge is to make something that expresses your feelings for your particular team/fandom. This one took some thinking... & I learned a lot during the research part of it. I settled on making something for a character in one of my favourite manga (& anime) series, Bleach by Kubo Tite. One of my favourite Bleach characters is the 13 Bantai (squadron) Taichou (captain) Ukitake Jyuushirou.
You can see him, with the white hair, in the pictures behind the bag. Along with being a beautiful & elegant man, he is also very wise & kind. He's an amazing warrior, too (he's a shinigami, a defender of the realm of the souls of the dead) in spite of having had a chronic illness (believed to be tuberculosis) most of his long (1000+ years) life. He's often shown drinking tea (when not in battle) & this led me to think about tea/tea ceremony/tea ceremony accoutrements. As I researched tea ceremony I learned about shifuku, which are fancy bags that hold tea utensils & canisters of tea. I combined the idea of shifuku with a design in Kumiko Sudo's book "Omiyage" for a sewn kusadama (traditional flower ball decoration, often made from origami) bag that is suitable for tea utensils.

I chose the "Granny Pentagon" motif from Heather Lodinsky's "150 Knit & Crochet Motifs" because, when made in the colour combo I chose, it looks like little, 5-petaled sakura blossoms. The white reflects Ukitake's white hair & Taichou Haori (kimono jacket), which is white & lined in the reddish-brown colour at the top of the bag. I really like the way it turned out! I think I'm going to make another one in a slighly different colour scheme for a friend in Japan whose birthday we'll be celebrating while we're there...
I also finished hat number 2 for my dissertation project, shown above modeled by Yoda :)
I'm calling it the "Naruto & his Mom Hat". In chapter 498 of the Naruto manga, we finally meet Naruto's mom (who died not long after he was born). The chapter is entitled "My Mom's Red Hair".  Naruto's hair is yellow, like his dad. This hat combines the yellow & red of their hair & celebrates their reunion- even if it was in Naruto's mind/soul. It was very satisfying to finally learn the back-story of Naruto's parents, who made the ultimate sacrifice so that their son (& everyone in the whole village) could live. I dyed this yarn also, using the KnitPicks superwash merino DK & procion dyes. I crocheted it using an I/9/5.50mm hook & Lion Brand's crochet earflap hat pattern (one of my favourites).

So, thank you Nerd Wars 2! You are providing me with great distraction when I really need it, the opportunity to learn things I might not have otherwise have learned, & a great sense of accomplishment, as 4 out of the 6 June challenges are done!!