Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SEPTEMBER BLOG FEATURE: Vicky Kobayashi from Ice Flower Crochet

I’m originally from Derby in England, and came to Japan twenty six years ago on a one year contract!  (How did that happen? ) I live in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, with my Japanese husband and the younger of our two sons, who is a high schooler. The elder is at university in Tokyo. 

I came to Japan originally to teach English, and twenty six years later that has morphed into my own small English school where I teach all ages, from toddlers to retirees. I love it, and I love the connections it gives me to our community.

I learned to knit and crochet from a friend while at university, and have never stopped making things since! So many people said “You could sell that,” that two years ago I took my courage in two hands and started Ice Flower Crochet, my small bespoke crochet business. My true love is making blankets, but I also make hats, scarves, garlands, wreaths, seasonal decorations, washcloths - almost anything that anyone asks me to make or that I’m inspired to make. I love to play with colours. The more colours the better, in my opinion! I love that I can make the same blanket with the same stitch but change the colours and get an entirely different result each time. I take pride in the quality of my work and my attention to detail. I also use high quality easy care yarns for most of my work, so that it can be used, worn and loved for years.

It is my pleasure to listen to what clients would like, to consult with them over colours and materials and to produce something that they will love and use. Some people have a very clear image of what they want, for others anything goes, and for still others, “They’ll know it when they see it.” Any of these approaches is fine by me! I love to get to know my customers and see glimpses of their home that they share with me for colour and style inspiration. I like to think that we become friends during the process.

My other love that rivals crochet for me is my garden. We moved into our house fifteen years ago and it has a big garden compared to most houses in Japan. It was already established, with trees and rocks placed by the previous owners, but we have changed a lot, and each year add more plants and move things about a bit. My aim is to have colour throughout the very short growing season, (we have snow for five or six months of the year here) and to have a space full of textures, colours and height. The summer here is short and intense and I want to wring every drop of colour out of it before being plunged back into white and grey. I take inspiration for my crochet from the colours and textures of the flowers we grow there. I’ve learned that in nature, colours never clash, and so I try to find new and interesting ways to combine colours that are pleasing to the eye and exciting to work with. 

Eclipse blanket

Ice Flower Crochet is very much my love but it’s not my main work, and I have to be careful to balance crochet with my regular career, which is pretty busy to be honest. I don’t think I can do *more* crochet, so I think I’d like to do *more inspired* crochet, but I’m not sure exactly what that will be until the inspiration grabs me. When I do get inspired, food and housework go out of the window for a few days, but the family have learned to see the signs, sigh, and get out the kitchen knives for themselves! 

My husband laughs at the places he sees me wielding my hook:  In the car, of course; in any sort of waiting room, here and there throughout the day as I have little gaps of time, and this past summer at a jazz concert and in a beer garden!  I always have three or more projects or commissions on the go at any one time; a little one that fits into a cotton bag that slips into my handbag, a giant blanket project on the sofa next to me, and on my desk is usually a difficult fiddly thing that needs bright light and a flat surface.

If you are interested in commissioning a piece, please contact me via Facebook or Instagram and I’ll be thrilled to discuss what you’d like with you. And if you’d enjoy lots of colourful photos of current pieces in progress, and occasional shots of my garden too, then please “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram for regular updates.

Contact and follow me here: 



I currently only sell within Japan, and everything I have available for immediate sale is in the “Available Now” photo album on my Facebook page.