DIY: Mini Carp Streamers for Japanese Children’s Day

May 5 is Japanese Children’s Day, a holiday during which Japanese families celebrate the health and well-being of their children. As part of the celebration, families fly carp wind socks, or koinobori, outside of their homes. Koi are a symbol of power, energy, and determination. This is my miniature version. Instead of fluttering in the wind, my koinobori display will sit on the kitchen table.

What you need:

scissors, glue stick, origami paper, googly eyes, wood stick, spools (or something to serve as a base for your koinobori pole)


Step 1

With the white side of your paper facing up, fold lengthwise about 1/2″–this fold will serve as an inside fold to be used to glue your koinobori together. Now fold lengthwise again–about 1 1/4″ for larger fish; for smaller carp, about 1″. (Larger koinobori represent the parents in the family; the smaller koinobori represent the children, descending from oldest to youngest.)

Koinobori Step 1 by    Koinobori Step 1 by

Step 2

With paper folded, draw a pencil line at the edge of the fold. This will be a guide for trimming off excess paper. You should now have a rectangular sandwich with one 1/2″ inside fold.

Koinobori by   Koinobori Step 3 by

Step 3

Trim triangle shape from one end of your folded rectangle to make the carp’s tail; then trim your rectangle to a length that suits you. I made larger carp about 3 1/2″ long; for smaller carp, I trimmed them at 2 3/4″.

Koinobori Step 2 by   Koinobori by

 Step 4

At the center fold, cut a 1/2″ or 3/4″ incision (at the opposite end as the carp’s tail). This will be where you fit your carp streamer to the pole (your wooden stick).

Koinobori Step 3 by

Step 5

Time to make the fish scales. Fold a piece of origami paper (you can use the leftover paper from the koinobori you’ve already made). Trace a a half circle (I used a small spool). Cut out your fish scale and use it to trace and make more fish scales. Glue one side of your scale and adhere to your koinobori. I used two fish scales per carp.

Apply the googly eye!

Koinobori Step 4 by

Step 6

Apply glue stick around the incision at the center fold and along the inside fold. Position where you want the koi to go on the “pole.” Wrap the incision around the wood stick and press; then press together along the inside fold. One koinobori should be in place!

Koinobori by

Once all of your koinobori have been glued in position, use modeling clay or a wooden spool to create a weighted base.

Coloring Books for Grown-Ups

When I was a kid, my mom bribed me with coloring books. I’d sit still in the rose-scented, plastic-wrapped parlors of old aunts–for a coloring book. I’d eat pan-fried chicken livers–for a coloring book. I’d get my long hair chopped into the dreaded pixie cut–for a coloring book.

Folk Art Coloring Book by Lisa Congdon

Between the lines. Outside the lines. Whatever. A fresh coloring page and crisp crayons from a 64-pack felt both orderly and filled with possibility. I still feel that way.

But who knew I was in the zeitgeist until I stumbled on this article in the New York Times: Grown-Ups Get Out Their Crayons!

(OK, maybe not a large, well-peopled zeitgeist, more like a mini-zeitgeist of like-minded colorers.)

I recently opted for the Folk Art coloring book by Lisa Congdon pictured above, but here are some other pages that might inspire.

Clockwise from top left:

Secret Japan by Zoe de Las Cases

Splendid Cities by Rosie Goodwin & Alice Chadwick

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

The Mindfulness Colouring Book by Emma Farrarons

A Coloring Book: Drawings by Andy Warhol

DIY: Brownstone Matchbox

Time for a new matchbox house! This one is a Brooklyn brownstone, pre-gentrification. Get out your fine-point Sharpies, because the free printable coloring page is here: Brownstone Matchbox by Note: I printed the page at 115% to fit the matchbox I had on hand. You may have to do the same. Happy Spring!

Tried It: Wooden Beads & Tassel Necklace

Recently, I’ve spotted a number of bead and tassel projects on Pinterest. Chunky beads plus mini pony-tail tassels equals a kind of folly that appeals to me. I followed instructions from to make a multi-colored tassel, but if you don’t mind going monochromatic, this how-to from is even simpler.

I used 3/8″ wooden beads and bead cord (twine? I’m not sure what it’s called–sorry!) and embroidery floss for the tassels. I have to confess that the necklace is probably too chunky for me to wear (I’m afraid it bears too near a resemblance to the painted macaroni necklaces preferred by preschoolers). I plan to break mine up into stretchy bracelets with tiny tassels. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Make: Table Runner

This runner was crazy easy to make–a fabric sandwich edged with bias tape. Sadly, I couldn’t be bothered with photographing each step because as I was sewing, I was binge-listening to all 12 of the Serial podcasts. (Which further illustrates just how beautifully mindless this project is: you can devote your whole brain to murder courtroom drama while you work).

Materials: 1 yard cotton canvas (this print is from the Outside Oslo Collection by Jessica Jones), 2 packages of extra wide, double fold bias tape (3 yards in each package), matching thread.

1. Cut two rectangles to desired length (mine were 55″ long, the width of the canvas).

2. Sandwich the two pieces, bad sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam allowance along each side.

3. Sew on bias tape. As a self-taught seamstress, I didn’t go to bias tape school so I followed these helpful directions from oliver + s.

That’s it. As I mentioned, it’s so simple, you can annex your mind toward more worthy goals, like gobbling up whodunit podcasts.