Shakin’ things up

 We had an earthquake here the other night. Just a tiny one – personally I’d call it a tremor – although some of my friends living in multi-story apartments felt it more severely. Charlie had squirmed out of his blankets and cried because he was cold; I went to tuck him back in. While I was sitting with him to be certain he would sleep again, I felt a rhythmic thudding. At first I thought Greg had gotten out of bed and was pounding down the hall (our house has hardwood floors with a crawlspace underneath; if you’ve lived in a house like that before you know how heavy footsteps can shiver and vibrate the floors under your feet), but I realized first that it was harder than he would be walking and second that it lasted longer than it would take him to get from our room to the boys’. Almost as soon as I realized this, the thudding stopped and was replaced by a trembling that felt like a large truck was driving by (when the excavators go by it rattles the dishes in our cupboards, but I think it was fainter then that). And then, in far less time than it took me to write this, it was over.

So, that was my first earthquake. It wasn’t terribly exciting – I spent most of it being confused – and I wasn’t really sure it was an earthquake until I talked to some other people (although I thought it was). As an interesting side note, the Japanese don’t commonly use the Richter Scale to measure their earthquakes.

The Japanese “shindo” scale for measuring earthquakes is more commonly used in Japan than the Richter scale. Shindo refers to the intensity of an earthquake at a given location, i.e. what people actually feel at a given location, while the Richter scale measures the magnitude of an earthquake, i.e. the energy an earthquake releases at the epicenter.
The shindo scale ranges from shindo one, a slight earthquake felt only by people who are not moving, to shindo seven, a severe earthquake. Shindo two to four are still minor earthquakes that do not cause damage, while objects start to fall at shindo five, and heavier damage occurs at shindo six and seven.

If I had to guess based on that, I’d say that it was a shindo two. Several of my friends say they were woken up by it, but it wasn’t anything like hard enough to cause damage.

In yarny news, I think I’m learning how to read yarn content in Japanese. I went the other day to a hundred-yen store I hadn’t yet visited and bought some interesting yarn to play with. First was the ‘Silk Mable’ by hello! happy handmade! (I love Japan. It’s so cheerful.)

hello happy handmade silk mable

Which, as you can see, is 90% something, 10% something else. It was a good guess that one of those was silk, and an even better guess that for 100 yen it was the 10%. (A quick check against something that proclaimed itself to be ‘Cotton’ and ‘100%’ proved this to be correct.) To sum up, then, ‘Silk Mable’ is a 90% cotton, 10% silk fiber that looks to be about the same weight as size 10 crochet cotton thread.

Next I snagged a ball of ‘Zakka Linen’ (also by hello! happy handmade!).

zakka linen by hello happy handmade

Neither of those are cotton or silk; I guessed that the 18% was the linen. (I realize that I’m working on the assumption here that the content actually matches the English portions of the label, but it seems to correlate with my perceptions of the yarn and I’m not concerned enough to do a burn test.) A search of surrounding yarns provided a match to the 82% – a pile of big, bright balls of yarn that proudly proclaimed themselves to be ACRYLIC in inch-high all-caps. So the Zakka Linen is 82% acrylic and 18% linen, in about a fingering weight. (I think there’s only about 30 meters of it, though: enough for a good swatch to see whether I like it but not much more.)

I also bought a retractable tape measure shaped like a strawberry. Still 100 yen! (It measures in cm and inches – I checked before I bought it.)


And then I bought something for which…there is no explanation.

attack of the mangy yarn

The color is really quite fascinating in person, and up close. When I picked them up I hadn’t surveyed enough wrappers to know what it was made of, but it was soft and fluffy in the thick parts, vividly colored, and interesting. These sat in my basket while I shopped for everything else, and though a few misgivings about the practicality of the purchase squirmed up (especially after I learned that I had three balls of superbulky thick and thin acrylic, each 20 yards), I went ahead and bought it anyway. They are performing some strange novelty yarn voodoo and I won’t be surprised if a project for them rears its lumpy head soon. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Then we went to my favorite hundred-yen store (that would be The Daiso) and I made a much more respectable purchase.

sparkly fingering weight cotton

It’s 49% acrylic, 48% cotton, and 3% polyester (that would be the small metallic thread running through it) although figuring that out was no great trick, since much of the yarn at The Daiso is also labeled in English. It’s fingering weight, and I have 800 yards of it. That’s enough for a summer top, or a shawl, and I might make either of it. The acrylic content softens the cotton considerably – I’ve actually seen a great many cotton/acrylic blends around here, with nice colors. I look forward to using them.

At any rate, I realize I haven’t shown a lot of projects lately, but I’m working on several behind the scenes that should be very exciting when they’re finished.


  1. bezzie says:

    Great to see you introducing your stash to Japan!!

    Yeah they had an earthquake in Chicago too–I’m sure it will be hyped for days and it was just a 5.4–pish!

    The other night Chunky asked about earthquakes, and I got kind of sad that he probably won’t grow up with them. :-(

  2. Abi says:

    Wow, that would be interesting to be in an earthquake. Something I don’t think I ever wan to experience. All the yarns look so fun and I just love the tape measure, it’s so cute. The only yarn I can find at our Dollarama is fun fur type stuff which I’m not a big fan of. Did the all the sparkly yarn cost a 100 yen or was it 100 yen each? I would love some of that to make a skirt out of.

  3. sukigirl says:

    I’m so enjoying hearing about your experience in Japan. The happy yarn that you mentioned caught my eye…I bought a kit here in Canada with Japanese yarn called make me happy, so I guess what I make out of it will make me happy LOL!

  4. Katie says:

    After coming across your site while searching for hat patterns, I have spent the last month reading through the archives of your blog (I figure, if I’m going to follow a blog I should fully follow it). I just love your blog, and would like to thank you for sharing your life with all of us.

    There is a technique I used to attaching a new skin of yarn that I think you might appreciate. Not a fan of weaving in ends, I came across this method in “Knitting into the Mystery” – and use it at every opportunity.

    Take several inches of stand A, and place it over strand B.
    Using a similar colored thread sew/darn 1-2” of the yarn together.
    Knit or crochet as normal, working past the thick spot with extra tension.
    Cut excess of the strands.

    The Cherry trees sound and look beautiful. I hope that your transition in Japan is going smoothly.

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