katsu, the ninja squirrel

 Last week I mentioned making a ninja squirrle, Katsu, for my sister. Finally written up a pattern, so you can make your own ninja too! :D 

And unlike most squirrel plush, Katsu is grey. Because most squirrels in Toronto are actually grey, charcoal, or black, (and on extremely rare occasion, white!) but not brown.

Alright, here’s the pattern…

I used: 

Patons Shetland Chunky — Charcoal

3.75mm hook

Bit of black craft felt — for the satchel

Two 4mm glass beads — for eyes

Star confetti — for ninja stars

Straight pins, tapestry needle, sewing needle, black thread

Stuffing (I used bits of scrap yarn)

A note on yarn and hook: I used Shetland Chunky because that’s what I have. Other chunky or heavy worsted weight yarn would do. Or one could probably substitute with a worsted weight yarn, but may have to use a 3.5mm hook instead. I like to have a fairly tight gauge when crocheting plush, so it would keep its shape. 

A note on pattern: I like to crochet while watching TV and I don’t like to count stitches. So what I started to do is repeating the same stitch (or set of stitches) around and around until the pieces gets to a certain length. As such, the pattern is written in steps rather than in rows. I find that easier, and I hope it works for you too. But if you need clarification please feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I’d be more than happy to connect with you :D

Katsu is very small (about 2.5 inches tall) so it helps if one is familiar with crocheting in the round on a small scale. The upside is, because he’s so small there are not very many stitches involved and so it doesn’t take very long :D

The stitches involved are:
chain (ch)
sc (single crochet)
sl st (slip stitch)
2 sc tog (work 2 single crochet stitches together)

Here it goes…


Step 1: ch 3, 5 sc in 3rd ch from hook, sl st in top of beginning ch.

Step 2: ch 1, [2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc] for 2 rounds. (So you’d see 3 rows of stitches altogether all around.)

Step 3: sc in each sc until piece measures 1″ from beginning.

Step 4: 2 sc tog until there are 5 sc left, sl st in next sc, leaving a 6″ tail, fasten off.

Stuff head, weave tail in the 5 stitches around the opening and pull taunt, tie off.

*Head position: beginning of step 1 = nose, tie off = back of head


Leaving a 4″ tail, ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook, leaving a 4″ tail, fasten off.

Position ears on head. Using crochet hook, pull tails, one at a time, through the head and out through adjacent stitches at the bottom of the head.

Tie tails at the bottom of the head.

Repeat for the other ear. 


Cut a small strip of black felt and pin it to head with straight pins to determine position of eyes. I happen to have straight pins with black bead pinheads, which make perfect stand-ins for eyes.

Take mask off head. Note where the pin holes mark the eyes, and cut the holes bigger with an Exacto knife.

Trim the mask between the eyes and bottom left and right to create a more mask-like shape.

Sew mask to head, then sew on eyes and embroider nose/mouth. Head is complete! :D

 Now we move on to the body…

BODY, LEGS & ARMS: (all made in one piece)

Step 1: ch 10, sl st in 1st ch to form a ring. 1 sc in each ch around.

Step 2: sc in 1st sc, continue to work 1 sc in each sc for 2 rounds. (So you’d see 3 rows of stitches altogether.)

Step 3: 2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in each of the next 4 sc, 2 sc in  next sc, then 1 sc in each sc until piece measures 1 1/4″.

You’ll get a tube shape. Flatten the “tube” for the following steps.

Step 4 (leg): ch 4, sc in 2nd st from hook, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, sc in the stitch beside where the ch 4 of leg began.

Step 5: Crocheting through both front and back piece of body, sl st in each of the next 4 sc.

Step 6 (other leg): ch 4, sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each of the next 2 ch, sl st in next closest stitch of body.

Step 7: sl st up the side of body until 3rd last round before neck. 

(Begin arm) ch 4, sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, sl st in next sc of body.

Step 8: sl st across neck opening in front layer ONLY

(Begin other arm) ch 4, sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, sl st in next sc of body. Sl st down the side of body until beginning of leg. Fasten off.

Stuff body through neck opening. Sew head to body.

Squirrels cannot stand on their own without their big fluffy tails. To make tail:

Wind yarn around 4 fingers 7 times.

Cut yarn. Take yarn loops off hand while keep the loops. Thread a needle through one of the yarn tails while keeping the other yarn tail free. Wrap yarn tail through the loops, like so…

Bunch the loops together and wrap yarn tail around the bunch of yarn loops, like so…

Tie the two tails together. With the needle still threaded, pin the tail to the squirrel :D and secure with a few stitches.

Cut all the yarn loops open. Fray the individual strands of yarn. Then gently roll the tail between palms.

Tail complete! :D

To make Satchel, where ninja squirrels keep their ninja stars:

I cut from black felt these pieces…

Then I sewed 3 sides of the rectangle to the belted part, leaving the top open. Then I just put it on Katsu and pinned the back together with a tiny safety pin.

Here’s Katsu with his satchel…

The pattern for the coconut, if you’re interested, is part of the pina colada pattern. (Wonder what the coconut is doing here? Full story in last week’s post.)

Aiming at target…



today’s awesome finds!


My mom gave me a box of craft supplies that someone else gave to her, and in the large box of supplies there was a small box of buttons. I just tucked the box of buttons into my craft drawer for the longest time and only today did I look through it. There were these delicious-looking green and pink buttons just begging to be made into something, but I didn’t know what… and then I went browsing on Pinterest and guess what I found? This post on Homemaker’s Journal about making buttoned bobby pins! It’s such a simple idea but it’s absolutely perfect.

I’m in the process of trying to grow out my bangs so I use bobby pins to keep my hair out of my face, and having a nice buttoned bobby pin rather than a plain old bobby pin really brightened my day. It’s the small things, you know? :D


Also in the box of buttons was this antique Hong Kong $5 coin, from 1976!

It’s a decagon! (new word I learned today thanks to Google :D) Nowadays $5 are round, I’ve never seen a 10-sided $5 coin! And here’s the queen on the flip side, of course.


That was in the morning. So then I thought, I must wear one of these pretty button bobby pins out somewhere. I planned to visit the thrift store sometimes this week for some back-to-school clothing. I was debating whether I should just take it easy at home or venture out. The bobby pin gave me the motivation to go out (it’s the small things, really).

And guess what?

The thrift store was having a one-day 50% off clothing sale!

So with under $20 I got 4 dress shirts and a cardigan. I was really happy with the dress shirts, which aren’t all that exciting but something I need for work-related occasions (I’ve learned that adding a cardigan doesn’t really make a graphic tee look more professional). But the cardigan needed some work, because it was too big. (I wish I had taken a “before” photo with me wearing it).

I wanted a neutral colour cardigan for a couple of upcoming weddings, and I do like this one because of its lace pattern and the delicate-looking collar. It was a size-large.

So I took in the sides and the sleeves…

… and cut 5.5″ off the hem, and then re-hemmed it…

… and TA-DA! A cropped cardigan! :D


I’m quite happy with it, though I didn’t know how it was going to turn out because I’ve never sewn sweaters with the sewing machine before. I was a bit concerned that it would all stretch out. But over all it didn’t stretch much. The cardigan was just kind of shaped funny… it was kind of twisting (you might be able to see that a bit in the picture) and wouldn’t lie flat when I tried to line up the seams. But I think it looks alright! :D

Oooh, and check this out…

The tag on the cardigan was all bunched up so I had to stretch it out and pin it like a butterfly specimen to take a photo (because the tag says “no ironing”, I think). But can you see that it says it’s made of 20% polyester and 80% acetate

I did not know that one could make clothing out of acetate. By acetate does it mean acrylic? Hmm. I wonder how old this sweater is…

Other awesome find today that’s not pictured: tikka masala chips! Mmm curry.

Have a wonderful day, friends!






weekend wonders

Saturday was a really sunny day, and we were thrilled to see that the large red flowers in the park near our building are once again in full bloom! Not sure what they’re called but they look like hibiscus, which is a very common flower in Hong Kong and are called 大紅花 in Chinese (direct translation: big red flower. We Chinese are a very practical bunch when it comes to language. And other things…). They are so HUGE! And made me so happy :D


Tonkotsu ramen! I was most impressed by the perfectly boiled egg. I think it’s the best boiled egg I’ve had in a ramen. The broth was also excellent — good to the last drop :D I would totally recommend this place if you’re ever in town! 


Seeds (?) from the smoke trees, tumbling down the streets like giant dandelion seeds.


Sunday afternoon we enjoyed some handmade milkshake — just cookie dough ice cream, milk, and ice all whirled together in the blender :D


Also spent the afternoon hand-sewing — more on that later :D

Was a good weekend over all. Hope your weekend was lovely — wishing you a great week ahead!



sunday video: lightning storm

Lightning storm in my neighbourhood this week! I was walking home from the subway station just as it was starting — just lightning across the sky and thunder rolling in the distant, but no rain. Everyone coming out of the station just put their heads down and walked as quickly as their legs could carry them. It was kind of scary. 

And so, now that the storm has come and gone, and I’m sitting down in the comfort of my home, I can finally look at these lightning bolts through my computer screen and just marvel at the power of nature. Look how it strikes the CN Tower

I hope the weather is nice wherever you are, and if there’s a storm you’re able to stay warm and dry!





favourite things friday

Such a simple idea, but so meaningful, not to mention cute! A parent made these for toddlers to ease their first-day-of-school jitters. Having something to hold and squish definitely helps ease anxiety sometimes. From Curly Birds.


Glitter and homemade play dough! Definitely adds another dimension to plain old salt dough. How-to on Fairy Dust Teaching.


I know exactly who to give this to! Now they just need to come up with a new baby! :P I especially love the fish. I hope I can find a similar fish… Tutorial on how to make sushi with baby towels, onesies, and socks from Creative Dollar.


Baby food jars have a lovely quaint quality to them, I’ve used them in my artwork before, and I love to see herbs planted in them. Here’s another clever use of baby food jars, and its shape works so well! Lego head containers! Brilliant! How-to on obSEUSSed.


I’ve been wanting to make a hook case for a while. This one uses the lovely star stitch (I made a belt with star stitch a while ago) and I love how simply the hooks are held in place, no need to make compartments. Follow Tangled Happy to see the pattern!


I saw rings with fabric flowers in a small shop in Hong Kong once. They were very pink and whimsical. These from Martha remind me of the ones I saw. Wouldn’t it be cool if the flowers were on metal ring blanks? Might try that sometimes…


What do you think these lovely roses are made from? Paper, of course. But what kind of paper? :D Any guesses? Alright. It’s coffee filters. Coffee filters! Another excellent example of turning something ordinary and humble into something extraordinary. Totally fit for  a centerpiece at parties… at a wedding even! :D No one would ever be able to tell that you’re decorating the tables with coffee filters. Unless of course you tell them. And telling them would be the best part! :D And the even better part? There is a How-to! From Kuchnia Pelna Cudow.  The blog is in Polish but the photos are pretty self-explanatory.


Also in Hong Kong I came across lots and lots of miniature food tutorial books. But they all call for a kind of latex air-dry modeling clay material that I’m certain I won’t be able to find in Canada. But here is a tutorial for miniature pastries using the humble salt dough! :D From thecraftartykid on Instructables.


Here is another tutorial using air-dry clay, which can be bought in art supplies stores. I love that it incorporates textures of everyday things. (There are examples of small walnut bowls and a wood grain plate as well.) From Family Circle.


A brilliant tutorial on how to make foaming soap! It does require one to get a bottle of foaming soap first, because the foaming action comes from the magical mechanism of the bottle (I’m sure it’s not all that magical, I just don’t know what it is and prefer to think of it as magical). I’ve come to prefer the foaming soap rather than the straight liquid soap because the foaming stuff doesn’t leave as much residue on my hand, and therefore doesn’t take a lot of time/water to rinse off and feels less drying afterward. (I suffer from dry, flaking hands all year long) And I think one really doesn’t need that much soap when washing hands. So this handmade foaming soap would make soap last much longer! :D Give it a try if you like foaming soap too! From The Frugal Girls

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! :D


adventures in refashioning

I’ve been seeing a lot of tutorials on refashioning men’s shirt lately. They look pretty simple so I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s one shirt that Mike doesn’t wear anymore and donated to me. I basically just cut off the collar and made two straight cuts down the sides…


Ta-da! Not too shabby, as Mike himself would say! I just hemmed the neckline by folding the edge over twice and stitching it. The sides and arm holes I sewed together like I did for the pillowcase dress, to make fray-free seams. And for the elastic waist, I measured and cut a piece of 1/4″ elastic by wrapping it around my waist without stretching it, then sewed it directly to the mid-section of the tunic by stretching it slightly as I sewed. There must be a better way of doing that though, because it was really hard to get it even all around… but it looked alright in the end.

And the back…


Here’s another refashion with Mike’s white dress shirt, inspired by this shirt refashion tutorial. Again, cutting off the collar and the sides…


I had to cut off so much of the bottom as well because for reasons I don’t remember I’ve cut of a rectangle of fabric from the hem of the shirt a while ago…

And I didn’t roll up the sleeve cuff like it is in the tutorial, because of my fray-free seams construction, but I think it looks alright :D

Oh yes and I swapped the white buttons for blue ones :D

Also looks alright with a wide belt.


And as you can see, I’m still very much in love with the wall of yarn, even though I haven’t yet worked on a better solution to contain the yarn — it makes a fun background for photos!

Speaking of solutions for containing the yarn — thank you so much for all your wonderful suggestions! I have a pretty good idea that I want to try and it really came out of reading all of the comments left on the wall of yarn post. Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas and knowledge with me!

Have a lovely evening, or morning, or afternoon — wherever you may be! :D



ninja squirrel! (忍者松鼠!)

Meet Katsu, the ninja squirrel accompanying my sister to the land of cute things (aka Hong Kong)! 

My sister is going to Hong Kong for a year to pursue a graduate degree in English-Chinese translation, which is why the title of this post is directly translated to Chinese in honour of that :D

I decided to make my sister a gift to bring with her on her year-long journey. One of the ways we connect, since she was born, is through making up stories for our stuffed animals. So I thought it would be fitting to make her a plush.

Katsu’s story stems from something that my sister encountered. My sister would have been able to write this much more compellingly, since she has a degree in English and creative writing, but my little description here will have to do…

One day in the winter, my sister came across some squirrel tracks beside half a coconut shell in the snow. She found it strange but thought nothing of it until after school she took the bus home, and spotted through the bus window some squirrel tracks and half a coconut shell in the snow in a field just a block away from home.

Pretty eerie, she thought :S

That must have been a ninja squirrel travelling with his coconut, I thought :D (“Shtealth!” the ninja squirrel says, in my head)

I actually didn’t think of making a ninja squirrel until one day I was hanging out in a park with two friends from school. We saw some dogs chasing a squirrel and we joked that the dog would never catch up to the squirrel, and then spontaneously we started taking photos of ourselves posing as ninja squirrels… (well, what do you expect from art therapists?)

One of the friends suggested that a ninja squirrel would carry his ninja stars in a satchel. The other friend said that he should have a pouch like a kangaroo. I think they would be happy to know that I’ve found a happy medium — a fanny pack! :D (I still call it a satchel though, because it’s one of my favourite words.)

I can’t find four-point ninja stars but I have star confetti. There’s even a purple one — my sister favourite colour :D I stuffed them all into the satchel and put it around Katsu’s mid-section.

But you can see his agility better without his satchel.


I’m pretty proud of Katsu, so I’ve written down the pattern and will share that next week. But for now, I’m going to write about what I’ve learned from my sister.

Though I have to say, isn’t it kind of sad that I don’t reflect much on how much I admire the people around me until there comes a time when I wouldn’t see them for a while. Good thing my sister is only going to be away for a year.

But I must write this, about how awesome my sister is. Even though she’s much younger, she taught me many things. 

I learned from my sister how she humbly accepts her mistakes and shortcomings. She humbly acknowledges that she could have done better and doesn’t give herself excuses. 

I learned from my sister how she serves and helps others in all the ways she can even without any kind of acknowledgement or reward. She spend hours and hours every week volunteering at different places. She only shares what she learns and the people she meets and maybe the challenges she was concerned about, but she never complains about the amount of work she’s been asked to do for free

I learned from my sister how she simply accepts things the way they are, and not complain. Her commute to school was a whopping four hours on stinky Toronto buses with constant delays and I never hear her complain about it (and you can probably guess how much I despise and therefore complain about buses…) Her school’s administration is extraordinarily disorganized (as I’m experiencing it now, starting at the same university next month…) but my mom doesn’t remember the last time she complained.

I learned from my sister her courage and determination. From getting her driver’s license to speaking a new language to deciding to stay a year in Hong Kong. Leaving her comfort zone. Doing what she feels is right even though it also feels tremendously scary.

I learned from my sister how she truly cares about everyone around her. From the bottom of her heart she truly, truly wants them to do well and be happy, and she’s reliable and keeps her promises when her friends need help.

My sister is someone who would look past all of my mistakes and shortcomings and love me with all her heart. I must say, I was rather miserable and deranged in my youth and I have done some pretty thoughtless and mean things toward her. But still, she wept with me when my heart was broken and cheered with sheer joy when I celebrated all my milestones.

So today I celebrate my sister’s milestone, a new chapter in life, as she heads toward the future (indeed, Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Toronto!) and embarks on a new exciting adventure in just a few hours. I am cheering with sheer joy but also feeling in my heart a sad, sad void as I think about not seeing her for a whole year, which is kind of unimaginable, but I’m sure we’ll deal with it just fine. And I’ll try not to complain :P 

Cheers, Cil! May your journey be safe, happy, and full of blessings! Know that I’m very, very proud of you.




weekend wonders

This past weekend we visited my parents. My dear sister is heading to grad school in Hong Kong (!) for a year and she is leaving later this week, so it was good to spend the weekend with her.

But everyone was busy in the morning so Mike and I went off to have Hong Kong diner-style breakfast special, with really runny eggs and extra strong tea. (Next time I’ll have to request that the eggs be more cooked :S)


Later in the afternoon we picked heirloom yellow tomatoes from my parents’ tomato bush. 

It took me a while to spot some in the bush, but they weren’t ripe.


My mom, on the other hand, had found quite a few in a minute or two.


It’s really not easy to spot the ripe tomatoes, given the size of the tomato bush. But I think Mike found one here.


Then we went to the Chinese mall to find Angry Birds capsule toy machine! :D


Capsule toy machines are definitely one of my favourite things!

Though I kind of cheated here… Mike got the yellow woodpecker from the machine and I got the white egg-shaped bird, but my very favourite was the blue ice birds. The shop that owns the capsule toy machines also sells the Angry Birds plushes out of the machine, but charges a bit more, of course, for the convenience of choosing specific ones to buy. *sigh* I’m such a sucker for plushes.




Happy Monday, everyone!





sunday video: sky scarf

Sky scarf is a very neat project, part of the Conceptual Knitting Project by Leafcutter Designs. (via WhipUp)

It documents the weather by knitting a stripe that matches the colour of the sky each day. Intrigued? Here’s a video with more details.



I love that one doesn’t have to spend a ton of time on it each day, but it still requires commitment and consistency — commitment to do something creative each day. It even makes one look up at the sky once a day in the midst of busyness and appreciate it for what it is. A great project for the fall when school and work and everything else is starting up again!

There are Flickr and Ravelry groups for the project as well — it would be fun to see all the different weather patterns in different corners of the world!

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.



favourite things friday


Time to plan the last blast of summer parties before school begins! Martha offers this brilliant idea of a fish bowl jello treat, with Swedish fish! :D 


Then, if you’re looking for some party favours, consider these fish-in-a-bag soap! I imagine the soap can be used by just cutting and peeling the bag off. And when the soap is all used up one gets a little fish! :D I love soap that comes with toys! How-to on Little Birdie Secrets.


More party ideas — why not bring in some party animals, bearing candles? Instruction on The Sweetest Occasion.


Since we’re thinking about going back to school / work busyness maybe it’s also a good time to plan some Christmas crafting. I so hope that this year my tree will be filled with Angry Birds. Even a few green pigs. Brilliantly simple to make with ready-made ornament orbs, from Obsessively Stitching.


But maybe before we fast-forward too much to Christmas we can look forward to fall… I’d take these candy corn pumpkin over the carved ones any day. From Better Homes and Gardens.


Okra has got to be one of my least favourite foods (just can’t deal with the slime :S), but look at the beautiful imprints it makes! From Bloesem Kids.


Oooh, nifty! Knitting with a comb! Instruction on Cut Out and Keep.


Love this basketweave pattern, lovely on a belt. Pattern on ChiCrochet.


Turn a plain old tee into stylish empire waist blouse. I’ve attempted something similar before but I kind of just pieced things together — I’d love to try it with this very easy to follow nifty diagram. From Guaya.


This is very clever. Perfect to place by the door with keys and things. Spotted on Pinterest.


Another clever use of a common object! What a great way to start a seedling, then the whole pot can be planted into the ground — no waste! From My Roman Apartment.


I’ve been contemplating attempting a bird nest necklace for a while. I’ve come across quite a few tutorials but this one I like a lot. Unfortunately the photo is small but I hope you can see — the wire is actually very nest-like and messy, I think it’s the best part! From EEBeads.


These are some awesome-looking bracelets/bangles! Love the grey-yellow one. Crochet pattern on The Boy Trifecta.


If made in red this could be another stylish version of the Kiki headband :D How-to on Momtastic.


Have I told you that I’m a big fan of headbands? Here’s another tutorial for a dainty lace headband. Wouldn’t it look pretty with a big flower on the side too? Hmm… except I can’t put my hair up like that because it’s so straight and slippery… but I’m sure I can find a way to make it work if I ever make one :D From McLaughlin Design.


We have a type case and I would love it if one day it turns into a coffee table. Instruction on Craft.


Popsicle for breakfast? Yes please! :D Recipe on Janice’s Mash-up.


Finally, something ridiculously awesome and fun — check out this diary of Daily Levitation by Japanese photographer Natsumi Hayashi. She takes pictures of herself in which she appears to be hovering in air. The ones with the train are just incredible! Just how does she do it? A lot of perseverance, it appears :)


Hope you enjoyed this week’s favourite things collection! Have a great weekend! :D