Sand stars

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I am enjoying Knit Now issue 37. This issue’s theme is summer and beach. It is full of stylish summer knits.

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See my bunnies!
You may not fancy knitting in summer especially when it is this hot. But this issue has many beautiful designs using lace weight alpaca, mohair and cotton yarn.

But the best of all, my bunnies got one full page for the photo. They look like they are taken to the beach. How nice!
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I grew up by the beach. In summer when I was young, my father used to take me to the beach almost every day after work. I didn’t have the sun allergy then. He taught me the basic swimming skill and strokes. My father was a very proficient swimmer and, I remember that I used to love it when he swam breast stroke with me on his back.

Most beaches near my home town have black sand which is made of black volcanic sand rather than white coral sand. I have only seen white sand beach on television. I was quite surprised to see pebbles on beach when I visited Brighton for the first time.

However, Japan has also many white sand beaches, which are made of white coral sand.

In okinawa, the southern island of Japan, this special sand is found in some areas.
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Aren’t they pretty? They look like miniature works of art, but they are not man-made. They are the shells of microscopic organisms called foraminifera, which build intricate shells from the calcium carbonate. We call it “sand stars”. When you see sand stars, you may be looking at some of the oldest fossils known to man. Their shells have settled on the seafloor for 500 million years (!), and are used by scientists to study the earth’s changing climate.

I got a small bottle of sand stars from someone when I was in primary school. I was so amazed and absolutely loved it.

Our planet is full of mysteries and treasures. We should be more kind to it.

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Like my penguins? They are enjoying the warm weather.

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Knit Now Issue 37

My next pattern is in Issue 37 and should be out today.

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My beach bunnies.
It has been quite hot and, many of you may not have had a woolly thought for a while. But I hope my bunnies will get you back on knitting again.

The issue has reached to subscribers and also out on Ravelry. It seems my bunnies are getting popular.
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You will see this photo in the magazine. Bunnies are sitting on pretty model’s hands.

I have an acute allergy to the sun which getting worse every year. I am a little envious of the bunnies.

The pattern is very simple and and so is the assembling steps, but I made a short tutorial as always. I hope it will help you.

http://www.knitsbysachi.com/beach-bunnies/

I am no computer guru and, I cannot place the photos and texts very nicely. But I did my best with my limited knowledge of HTML.

I hope you will enjoy my bunnies.

Danish cookies

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I think I have a weakness for cookie tins. I don’t intend to collect them, but whenever I see a cute one, i am tempted to buy it. Not for the cookies inside really, but to keep the tin.

I saw these tins at 99p shop yesterday. They are sold for 99p each. How come they are so cheap? How much are these cookies inside? It is a bit scary.

I have been knitting people with traditional costumes of the world recently and I just needed to get these tins. They come in three different designs. Besides, my boys are biscuits lovers, of course.

Whenever I see a tin of Danish cookies, I think of my dad.
Many years ago, my father attended a high school which specialize in fisheries. As a school training program, he had to go on a boat for a month and get a job experience with fishermen. His mum (my grandma) gave him a large tin of Danish cookies before he got on the boat. My dad hid it under his bed and ate one biscuit a night secretly.

It was more than 50 years ago. I don’t know how my grandma managed to get it, but it must have been quite dear.Japan was recovering from the huge damage caused by the Second World War and, the entire country was going through the extreme poverty. Ingredients like butter, eggs and milk must have been out of reach for most people.

My dad still loves butter cookies. Although he had very little when he was young, I think he has lived richer life than us in a way. We don’t get to experience what he did any more. We have plenty of food in shops and, we cannot much appreciate biscuits sold for 99p. Everything is cheap and, everything is disposable.

However, my son is going to Africa for a month next summer to work with the local people, helping schools and children. No phone, no internet. I would hear from the British Embassy only if he got in a serious trouble. He will gain precious experiences there. And I will get to find out how it feels like to send your teenage son away for a month without any contact from him.

Maybe I should send him away with a tin of biscuits.

The tins had three designs: London, Paris and what seemed like Amsterdam. I have never seen a French man in a stripy shirt with a baguette, but here he is.
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And I made a man with a beer mug with the German traditional outfit.

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And you may have seen him, the Pizza man for Italy.

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Summery salmon

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In one of the recent episode of the “Celebrity master chef”, the contestants were making fish and chips. One of the celebrities chose salmon to cook, but it wasn’t very well received by the judges. Slightly oily salmon is not suitable for deep frying, they said. Salmon is often poached or grilled, but in our country, it is not out of custom to fry salmon.

My sons like salmon fried with bread crumbs, but in summer, I make this dish called “Nanban-zuke” more often.
Nanban-zuke (literally “southern barbarian pickle”, why? I don’t know) is a Japanese fish dish resembling escabeche. To prepare it, the fish (often salmon, Japanese jack mackerel or Wakasagi smelt) is first fried, then marinated. Since the fish is marinated in vinegar with other ingredients, the fish doesn’t taste oily.

Marinade goes well with BBQ. You can prepare it way in advance and is very handy when you have guests.
I add a bit of dried chili, but you can do without it of course.

Ingredients to serve 4

4 pieces salmon fillet (500g)
salt and pepper to taste
3bsp all purpose flour 
oil for frying
vegetables of your choice (bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, celery, etc)

marinade
200cc water
150cc rice wine vinegar
3-4tbsp sugar
3tbsp soy sauce
pinch salt
1-2dried chili, sliced

1. In a shallow container, mix all the ingredients for marinade.
2. Cut the salmon fillet to about 4cm squares and season.Coat with flour.
3. Heat the oil to 180℃ (370F)
4. Fry salmon and vegetables(no need to coat them with flour) of your choice. Drain excess oil and marinate them while still warm.

It is ready to eat after 30 mins, but you can keep it in the fridge for the next day.

I wrote this recipe for the newsletter for Clearspring, organic Japanese food supplier, a few years ago. I found my photo in someone else’s blog the other day. It had a different recipe which did not match the photo, but I recognized my serving plate. It is kind of flattering.

We are experiencing the heat wave last few days and it is so hot.

Heading down to the beach?

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Knitted Space Shuttle

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This is another project I always wanted to try: the Space Shuttle.

The Space Shuttle, what a nice name. Whoever named it is very clever.

When I start a new project, I always Google research the images. I know it is a bit lazy but, we don’t go to a library anymore these days. You get to see many photos and they are up to date.

I realized I knew nothing about the Shuttle. Last time when I knitted an airplane, I managed to sew the wings wrong way around. You may think it isn’t possible, but I did. Silly. It end up looking like a flying bird. The images in your head are very unreliable.

I wanted to do this project because, I wanted to create quirky looking astronauts. I was more interested in astronauts than the Shuttle itself, I must say.
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And the American flag. I had to have the American flag, but this turned out to be rather difficult. Actually, the flag was the hardest of all. I had three trials to make it look all right.
I used 4-ply yarn so that the flag would have enough colours. I also wanted to avoid making it too big or heavy. But it had many yarn ends to treat at the end which were a bit annoying.

I wonder if I would go on a space holiday if I was given an opportunity. Maybe not. I prefer to have 100 balls of yarn instead and knit astronauts at home.

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A sign of good luck

Here are some green tea bags in cute triangle boxes my mother sent me. Each contains different blend of green tea and the name is written on the box. I don’t know much about green teas, but these seem to be of very good quality.
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Have you seen a tea stalk floating vertically in your teacup when you have Japanese green tea? When you see it, you will have a good day. Because it is believed to be a lucky sign.
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A tea stalk floating vertically is called chabashira (lit: tea pillar). Seeing a chabashira, we feel happy.

It rarely happens. I had a chabashira once or twice in my entire life so far.

The origin of the expression is unknown. You feel lucky because it is so rear? May be. But the thing is, to have a chabashira, the tea has to be relatively inexpensive, second-rate in quality. Very good green teas are more well refined and do not contain tea stalks. You need to use loose tea leaves with coarse strainer. I have a feeling people started call chabashira a good luck to enjoy cheap and affordable teas in old times.

It is certainly entertaining.

Whatever the reasons, when you find a chabashira, be happy!
You are not supposed to tell anyone or show it to anyone. You need to keep it quiet and just swallow it, otherwise, the luck will escape.

In the first home economics class in year 5, we learned how to boil water, believe or not, and serve green tea properly.
We were allowed to bring some Japanese sweet cakes, buns or rice crackers to serve with it. I remember being so excited about the lesson that day. It is still taught in Japanese elementary school, the tea serving.
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I don’t drink green tea much these days, but I am going to enjoy some with cute rice crackers today.
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Simple, healthy and fun.

Knitted bird house

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When you add a new listing on Etsy or Ravelry, you are asked to categorize your item. Quite often I wonder how I do this, because I don’t know which category I should choose. What are my knitted items?

I guess I enjoy the making process so much and forget to plan what to do with them afterwards. My granddad used to tease me, saying I waste my time making the most useless things. He may be right, but I think this wasted time may be more important than the time you spend doing your chores. You never know, Granddad. Creating something makes me happy and that is all what matters to me anyway.

My granddad passed away long time ago, but I can almost hear him. He would say the same thing if he saw this bird house, not in a bad way but with a big smile on his face. He was a kind, sweet and generous man.

It doesn’t have much use besides a room decorations and it sits in my room. I have tiny colourful birds as residents.

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I used a cereal box inside. I wasn’t too sure if I could make the hole neatly, but I managed with crochet edge.
I designed it as I proceed and, I realized that I should have crocheted the edge before I made it all up and attach the knitted piece on the box! It was rather fiddly and difficult, but I know I could do it better next time.

The weather has been dull and chilly, but my colourful birds are cheering me up.

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See, it is very useful.