I’ve saved my charm bracelet from my childhood, planning to give it to my granddaughters when they’re a little older. When I recently spotted the bracelet in my jewelry box, I had to smile when I saw the clover leaf charm, representing my 4-H membership. Little did I realize that a clover leaf would play an important role in my life, ahem, 50 years later.

This past week my husband and I traveled to Japan. We were the guests of Clover in Osaka, Japan. Clover is a 100 year old manufacturing company of needlecrafts, sewing notions, and quilting products. We traveled with the Clover Needlecraft (California office) President , Jan Carr and his wife Alicia. It was a remarkable trip. I’d like to share some of our experiences.

Treated like royalty, we traveled to many historic areas of Japan. The cherry blossoms bloomed approximately two weeks later than usual, peaking in color during our visit. A little side note, there are over 200 varieties of cherry blossoms. Oh, I can’t wait to begin a new landscape quilt!

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I generally meet with Clover’s R & D department twice a year in the United States. Their team travels to the United States for both the spring and fall Quilt Markets. This time, the meeting was in their country, allowing me to meet with an expanded R & D staff.

Clover R & D Staff is Osaka Japan

Customary gifts were exchanged. Golf  balls from the Beaver Dam Country Club were given to the men. (My guess is that no one else in Japan has golf balls from our little town.)  I gave landscape notecards and mini framed landscape scenes to the women on the staff. In the workbook, Landscape Quilting Workshop, Natalie Sewell and I detail how to make 6″ x 8″ landscape scenes. They are the ideal size to place in a 5″ x 7″ frame.

Landscape quilts—mini sized

landscape quilts—mini sized

During our meeting, a review of products in production and new product proposals were discussed. A translator was always with us, bridging the language barrier. Most of my counterparts in Japan understand English. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about my understanding of the Japanese language.

The facility that we toured manufactured knitting needles, crochet hooks, and injection molded (plastic) products. Even though I am not a knitting expert, I do knit and could only be in awe of the 60 steps that are needed to manufacture Takumi Bamboo Knitting Needles. No varnishes are used in the finishing process, only natural products.

The largest size of Circular Yo Yo Makers was being made at one of the injection-molding stations. This is also the piece of equipment that produces “my” Stack ’n Store Bobbin Tower.

Large yo yo makers

The quality control departments are sticklers. If one product from a batch does not live up to the set standards, the entire batch is rejected. I knew that Clover was very thorough and never cut the proverbial corners, but after seeing how exacting all of the processes were, I knew that Clover could easily be called our good luck charm.

Our week in Japan included the best of Japanese cuisine and wonderful sight-seeing tours. I will always remember the gracious hospitality extended to us by our hosts at Clover and the courteous demeanor of the Japanese people.

 I’ve been very blessed in my life. I work with wonderful people in this country and abroad, and I am very grateful for this wonderful experience.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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