Kyoko aka watanwatan runs her Etsy Shop “Cotton & Cloud” out of her London home. She draws inspiration from the act of crafting and shares her skills on her blog, like this how-to make a neat round bottom for your sewing porject. Here’s her story:
Cotton & Cloud is named after my two cats called Kumo and Wata meaning “cloud in the sky” and “cotton wool,” respectively in Japanese.
I was born and grew up in Tokyo. I came to the UK during my early teens and went to a boarding school in Cotswalds, in the beautiful English countryside. I then went to study pharmacy in Nottingham for my university degree. I always wanted to live in London so as soon as I graduated I moved here. I have been working as a pharmacist until 2006 then decided that I wanted to seriously spend more time making things, as I have always been creative. Strangely, knitting is really the main craft that I do. My nanny taught me how to do the basics when I was seven. Until then I was doing an imitation of knitting with chopsticks! I loved it so much and learned everything else (including sewing) from books. The rest is history.
The majority of my sewn bags and pouches are all designed for knitters on the move. They are influenced by how I could put my knitting, knitting needles or notions in it. For example, my pencil zipper pouches are designed so that you can put double-pointed knitting needles and crochet hooks as well as pencils and cosmetics.
My pouch with handles are primarily designed to carry sock knitting. I always take my knitting everywhere I go and I wanted something practical and pretty to neatly hold my sock yarn and half-knitted sock on a needle. Coincidentally, it turned out to be that many people liked the idea and it is now the best selling item on my Etsy shop. Currently I am designing a big posh market tote so that you can also put your knitting in the middle compartment.
Here’s a knitting tutorial I posted on Youtube:
As I spent my childhood in Japan, I am naturally attracted to the country, especially now that I am living in London. So I can say that my main inspiration comes from Japan — both traditional and modern. Traditional Japanese crafts are just out of this world but modern creations are also amazing. The same is true for fabrics. I usually use Japanese fabrics for my bags and pouches because they are simply just so attractive and unique. I only use what I love.
My friends and family also inspire me. They are all supportive of what I do and always seem to know the answer to whatever I am stuck on at the time. I recently got engaged to my partner, Wesley. He is always interested in what I make and gives me advice from a busy, city worker’s point of view, as he works in the financial district. My pleated shoulder bag is the result of Wesley’s input. He thought having a small shoulder bag is useful for women who may want to make a quick trip to a shop during lunch breaks rather than carrying a large bag.
Living in London is wonderful. It is multicultural and there is always something to do. The best thing is the London markets (crafts, food etc.). My favourite is Borough Market in London Bridge, where you can get the best kinds of food. Some craft markets have such a high standard and it is just so inspirational to walk around and see what they do. I live in Greenwich, which is famous for Cutty Sark (a clipper ship) and the Royal Observatory. There is Greenwich Market where you can find all sorts of amazing crafts and food. London fashion is also great. If you go to a department store like Liberty you can find many fashion clothes and accessories from young British designers.
Until recently, I never thought to connect my interests in arts and crafts with England, where there are many artists and craftsmen. It was all serendipitous that I am now full-time knitting and sewing. It’s all meant to be. I am constantly inspired by whatever is there at the time in London. To quote Boswell’s Life of Johnson, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” and it will take a while for my craft life to get tired of it!