Monday, April 28, 2014

A fond farewell

After nearly forty-one years, Mrs. Oyama will be retiring from the store at the end of April 2014, turning her creativity towards her home and garden.

If you are interested in having her make your tsuru, Mrs. Oyama is still taking very limited orders based on a variety of factors, including complexity of pattern and timing. Please feel free to leave a message at 310.324.4255 or email her at, letting her know the date of your event. She does not always answer her messages right away -- after all, she is supposed to be "retired"! -- so please be patient with her and she will do her best to contact you.

Mrs. Oyama wishes to thank everybody for their support and kindness over the years. Please feel free to leave a comment for her below or send her an email message at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mrs. Oyama: the Tsuru Lady

At the urging of friends and family, Saeko Oyama opened her yarn shop on May 1, 1973. Although she had considered naming the store "Oyama keito-ten," her husband, Kiyoshi, thought that "Let's Knit Yarn Shop" was more to-the-point and easier to remember. With the help of her husband, brothers-in-law, nephews and daughters, counters were built, shelves were assembled and painted, and the yarn shop was born. The name -- and the store -- have endured through the years, and Mrs. Oyama continues to share her words of wisdom and good cheer with customers today.

Her dream of opening a yarn shop began in Japan. As a young girl, she was not only the fastest runner in her school's undookai (track & field day), but she was also the fastest knitter in her neighborhood. While in her teens, she was hospitalized with tuberculosis, and passed the time by crocheting and knitting, creating patterns and perfecting her skills. Saeko would crochet doilies, making "starch" out of rice and water, and blocking her pieces by stretching the doilies with the rice paste on the window. Her creations, finished in the sunshine streaming through the window, undoubtedly lifted her spirits, and probably those around her, as well. It was during this time that she started thinking about opening her own store someday.

In 1973, Mrs. Oyama realized her dream, teaching knitting and crocheting to her customers, many of whom began calling her Oyama-sensei. The store became a place where people would share recipes and advice, and find long-lost connections from "way back when," as well as the perfect yarn and pattern. Over the years, Mrs. Oyama began expanding her talents beyond knitting and crocheting. She became a licensed bunka shishu (Japanese embroidery) instructor, and started framing the finished works, as well. In the late 1980s, she started designing and framing origami cranes or tsuru, earning her the nickname of The Tsuru Lady.

If you are interested in learning more about origami cranes, please read "Senichiwa no Tsuru: One Thousand One Cranes" below.

Amimono: Knitting & Crocheting

Over the years, Let's Knit Yarn Shop has become known as the little yarn shop with a big selection. Mrs. Oyama carries a wide variety of specialty yarns, including Noro and Olympus yarns from Japan. She also carries accessories, including bamboo knitting needles and crochet hooks. If you are looking for a specific yarn, please give us a call; if your yarn is available, we are happy to place a special order for you.

Senichiwa no tsuru: One Thousand One Cranes

The practice of folding one thousand origami cranes began in Japan as a way to wish for good health for an ailing loved one. This practice has evolved into the Japanese American tradition of folding one thousand one origami cranes to wish for good luck and prosperity on special occasions, such as weddings, silver and golden anniversaries and kanreki (60th) birthdays.

At Let's Knit Yarn Shop, Mrs. Oyama has made beautiful custom crane creations for her customers for more than twenty years. Ranging from kanji characters to traditional Japanese* and Hawaiian motifs, she has enjoyed the process of working with her customers to create something both beautiful and meaningful for each of them.

If you are planning to include tsuru in an upcoming celebration, Mrs. Oyama will be happy to meet with you for an initial consultation. Design choices may be limited based on the size of origami paper you use to fold your cranes, so we encourage you to meet with her before you begin making the cranes.**

Please call to schedule an appointment as soon as you know the date of your event. Spring and summer months can get very busy, and you should plan to have your cranes folded well in advance of your event date.

* Please note: as of July 2011, Mrs. Oyama is no longer making kamon (family crest) designs.
** Metallic origami paper is available at Let's Knit Yarn Shop. Shipping is available; please call to order.