Happy New Year Wishes for You!

Best Wishes for you this year. I wish you all the best in all you endeavors and adventures.

Also wishing you lots of monkeys to take over your bad habits from you!

Thanks for reading the Spendy Pencil and here’s to another year of sharing and learning from each other.

I’ve also gotten rid of Candy Crush games from my phone so that’s one goal done. Thanks Mock Sonkey the Sock Monkey!


Talking About Art

In the middle of writing a blog post reflecting on everything going on this autumn, I end up writing about art and and the way we talk about it. It’s still a work in progress but I thought I would throw out some questions before I finish it.

Ikamura Gessozaburo wants to talk about art.
Ikamura Gessozaburo wants to talk about art.

I know how I feel about art and talking about it, but what about you good people?

  1. How do you feel about art?
  2. Do you feel comfortable about talking about it?
  3. Do you have any notions about what you can or can’t say about it?
  4. Do you think there are requirements or that there should be?
  5. Do you have any stereotypes or specific images about art discourse?
  6. What kind of experiences have you had?

I’m interested in your opinions. Please share them. Don’t worry about being right or wrong. Just be honest. I look forward to hearing from you.

Hand-stitched Piggy Charm

Walking around in Jiyugaoka in December I came across a branch of Hobbyra Hobbyre. This store sells higher end yarns, fabrics (Liberty Cotton mainly) for quilting, sashiko (a Japanese embroidery style) supplies and some small toys. I looked in the window, saw yarn suddenly I needed to increase my stash. I was browsing wool, then my husband found this piggy charm.

I couldn’t resist. To buy pre-made  cost 9000 yen. To get the kit and make your own was around 1500 yen and came with needles. The pig was super cute and it was interested in getting a kit to learn a new technique and maybe design my own stuff later.

The hardest part was the yellow diamonds on the purse. To get those lines with nice even stitching required heavy use of  a stitch ripper. I also had a hat, but it made the piggy charm look way to elderly. But I’ve got the little chain on it to attach to things and it is ready to go out into the wide world—or a jungle.

Piggy Charm in the jungle
Piggy Charm in the jungle


Yarn Addiction Thursday: Palla, my Finnish Owl.

A while ago on my Yarnspiration post, I posted about the Finnish wool I bought at Lanka Deli by Novita I had originally intended to make mittens but I have a multitude of mittens. What I didn’t have was a stuffed owl. I’m really inspired by the Estonian toy animals in Kiri Kari by Anu Raud and Anu Kotli. I couldn’t find a copy of the book to buy so used them as an inspiration.

I created using an app called StitchSketchLE (look for my review on that next week!). It’s not the most creative design but it was good for a test. I made some pieces that were ok. I find color stranded knitting really hard, especially when I add a third color.

owl_piecesI decided the test pieces would be a good base for my new owl. I originally wanted to just make a flat toy but I get caught up in the challenge of adding form to a design. I ended up adding side pieces and a bottom to give it more volume.  I picked up stitches from the ends and kept knitting from one end to form the tail and the base and the other to make the head.

I used double pointed needles to make the beak and the talons and needle felted the eyes.

And here is the end result:


The Finnish word for owl is pöllö but umlauts are hard to type and plain pollo is Spanish for chicken–not the effect I’m going for. If I were to spell it the way I heard it on Google translate, I get Palla, so Palla it is. One of my friends asked me if there was a connection to Pallas Athena, so yay for coincidence.


argievsalbie_sketchI had several glorious pairs of pure wool socks. Eventually, they stretched and lost their ability to stay on my feet, plus got quite worn in the heel. Their lives as socks were over. But I loved their color and pattern. How to save them?

I like sock monkeys but I already made one and these socks just didn’t strike me as monkey material. I went to my trusty sketchbook and tried out a couple designs.

20140621-101733-37053833.jpgArgie was pretty easy. Inspired by a pair of dragon earrings by Clio Blue and Dr. Seuss, he’s fun but has a kind of elegance. He’s two flat pieces sewn together. The stuffing gives him the volume. The wings were a bit tougher to make. Stitching along the seam once I turned them right-side flattened them and gave them a bit more structure. The necklace and key charm were fun to add. Argie has the key to your heart. It took a long time to decide on the eye style. I thought about simple button eyes but ever since the movie Coraline, I feel a little creeped out by the four-hole button style. I needle-felted the eyes. I like them but maybe he needs eyelashes. Maybe someday but he is done for now.

20140621-101723-37043163.jpgAlbie was a lot tougher since I wanted to try a more 3-D style. I had a paper mockup but decided to YOLO halfway through. It was challenging to fit my pattern within the limited fabric amount. In the end I compromised by using some felt that I had in the house. I considered needle-felting the mouth parts but decided that was too much work. For the eyes, I played with a lot of buttons I had. I like the pink flower buttons because they balance reptilian aura of the blue yarn slash with cute, pink flowers.

Argie Albie
2 pairs old socks
Plastic beads
Felting wool: black and white
Key charm
2 pair socks
Poly fill
Plastic beads
2 pink flower buttons
Navy yarn
Felt: red, blue, white

INFLUENCES  for Argie and Albie
Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton: I love their sense of whimsy and curly design elements.
20140621-204325-74605511.jpgClio Blue: these are my favorite earrings. Also, they have that curly thing.
Ikamura: a previous plushy I made using similar curly style and sewing method for Argie
Godzilla, Pacific Rim: The movies inspired the post name and naming style.

Unexpected Contrasts

I’m bringing Ikamura with me on my flight to Canada because he makes a surprisingly good neck pillow. I took a photo of him at Saza Coffee in Shinagawa Station. I was really surprised at the lighting effect. It’s like a inverted fishbowl or aquarium.


Unexpected lighting can make interesting photos. It’s worth knowing how light will transpose onto digital or film images. This photo is with my iPhone and unedited. The auto white balance set for the cafe giving an odd color cast to the hall outside.

If you can change the white balance on your camera, it is worth playing with the white balance settings. One of my favorite tricks is to use tungsten white balance for color night shots. Skies turn a nice velvety blue-black.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Novelist Gesozaburo Ikamura

Ikamura-San is busy writing his latest opus. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have already seen one of these photos.

In my interview with Ikamura, he stated that the squid’s point of view is poorly represented. He notes that International Cephalopod Awareness Days (October 8-12) is a great start. Action ever being Ikamura’s watchword, he is already taking steps to remedy the dearth of cephalopodic literature written by Cephalopoda.
I suggested that his work so far is a little too Clash of the Titans but he informed me his inspiration was actually Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman.”

So come on and support Ikamura! If you have a squidly yarn, tale or link, share the inky squid love.


Some inky links to get you started:
International Cephalopod Awareness Day on Facebook
Nat Geo video of giant squid

Ikamura was designed and made by (me) Lori Ono. You can occasionally see his adventures here. I posted this under Yarn Addiction Thursday because he is handmade and the suckers were needle felted.

Hanging Out With Kitijiro Nekowski


‘Nuff said!

Froggio Froggeddabaddit

Froggio Froggeddabaddit is based on a La Drougerie pattern with a few modifications. The pattern is very similar to the one I used for Kitijiro Nekowski so it was really easy to make this one up.


The first modificiation is in the feet. Sewing up the fabric for the footpads really annoyed me. It was the least fun part of the cats and Froggio so I made my own needle felt footpads. I put the number 2 and 9 on the feet because the 29th is my birthday. If you notice the back paws, the dice show two and a nine as well.

The second modification is the addition of a mouth. My favorite part of a frog is that the tongue can lash put and nab an unsuspecting bug. And the fact that the long tongue fits in the mouth? Any frog of mine had go have a tongue that could go in and out.

I had some scrap pink fabric and made a little sack. I made a needle felt tongue, sewed it into the mouth then sewed the sack inside the frog. The tongue rolls up and fits inside the little sack or can stick out and be long. I toyed with the idea of putting Velcro on the tongue but since Froggio is made of easily snaggable wool, I nixed the idea.




I still made some little felt bugs for him to eat. There is a little pocket for the belly where his dinner goes.

They ended up being a little larger than I originally envisioned. They just became fun to make.

These are two bugs I needle felted for Froggio.


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