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Boys’ dream: F1 team!
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Long wait is finally over. My 16 years old got his GCSE results yesterday.

Two A’s, one B and nine A*s. It wasn’t a clean sweep, but he did very well.

Maths, geography, French, physical education, Design and technology, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Art. He got A*s.
I was brought up in Japan and have never taken GCSEs, but I believe this is a great achievement.

He will be taking Maths, higher maths, physics and art next year in six forms.

My younger son, aged 15 has taken the core science exam and he received a B. I was more worried about this one, but he did well, too. He isn’t keen on studying as much as his older brother, but I love him just the same. He has gone to Kart racing and wasn’t even there to pick up his result. He is with a racing team and has been karting last 10 years.
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Impressive photos? But we are not one of those super-riches and on a budget. We support him as much as we can.

My older son’s dream is to join a F1 team as a racing car designer. His hero is Adrian Newey of Red Bull racing.
He is also interested in developing alternative fuel for the next generation. He just loves cars.

And his little brother? A racing driver, of course.

They don’t want to work together and, I think that is a wise decision. I can picture them arguing over who is to be blamed for every incident. The driver brother wouldn’t trust the car his brother would build. He doesn’t want his wheels to fall off in the middle of the race, he says.

I made these little F1 team for my sons. It surely made them smile.

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I think there isn’t anything more fantastic than having a dream in your life. I am very happy for my sons.

And I made this guy, too.
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Healthy nori seaweed

You may think I am crazy, but I have knitted sushi in the past. I knit everything so why not?
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I saw a couple of young boys shopping for sushi ingredients at a supermarket yesterday.

One of them had a pack of nori seaweed sheets and a box of Japanese sushi rice. He was wearing a T-shirt with “Tokyo” writing across the chest. He must be fond of Japan.

With the rising popularity of Japanese food, it is getting more and more easier to obtain ingredients for Japanese cookery. This is great for us.

I found this product the other day in a supermarket, I was quite excited.
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It is “seaweed thins” produced by Itsu. It is dried and flavoured nori seaweed.
We are very familiar with these in Japan. They are my sons’ favorite and we used to get them from Asian supermarket whenever we traveled to London. They are sold in a plastic jars or in individual packages.download (6)download (5)

Now it is available from local supermarkets. How fantastic!

What is interesting for me is that it is sold in snack and sweets isle. Unlike seaweed for sushi, these are flavoured with soy sauce and mirin, Japanese sweet wine. I guess you could have them as a snack.

The conventional way to have these flavoured nori sheets is either to wrap rice balls with them or to have them with warm steamed rice.

You may need to be able to use chopsticks quite well to do this. And you do need short grain sticky rice. You dip a nori sheet in a little bit of soy sauce and place it on top of rice. Fold rice with chopsticks.
Like this.
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You can also crush them and sprinkle over rice or salad.

Very often, these nori sheets are served for breakfast at hotels and inns. If you eat them without rice, you may attract many curious eyes.

In Japan, people used to say seaweed make your hair dark and glossy, and it was very much favoured by ladies of all ages. It is a good source of dietary fiber, iron and iodine. It is also believed to improve bone health and lower cholesterol level. Amazing.

I should make sushi more often myself.

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Well, not the knitted ones, I mean.

Beach boys and a girl

The day is getting shorter and it is getting much cooler. Will we be needing woolly jumpers soon? But It has been a lovely summer.

I made these beach children last week.
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Although I am a fully qualified swimming teacher, I didn’t teach my children any swimming strokes until they were about 6 years old. We didn’t do any water baby classes or mother and toddler lessons either. We just enjoyed playing in the water.

When we lived in Tokyo, going to a beach wasn’t too easy. Tokyo is very close to the ocean, however, you do need to travel some time for a dip in the water. I remember battling against traffic jams and spending a small fortune on toll fees of the motorways, we drove more than two hours for my little boys to have their first beach experience.

My younger son was fully equipped for this occasion. He had a swimming cap, arm bands and even goggles. But to my dismay, he didn’t want to go into the water. He was just over three years old and looked very cute in swimming gears, but at the same time, looked quite ridiculous with all that stuff on him. This image is still in my head and makes me smile whenever I think about it

I made this baby inspired by this image of my son.
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And here are his big sister and brother.
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I don’t have a daughter, but I thought it would be nice to have a girl for this set.

And do my boys swim now? They joined a local swimming team for a few years and are still proficient swimmers.

The promotion is launched

My publisher is kindly helping me promoting my first book. Here is what the sales team came up.

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Isn’t it lovely?
This is done by Lin, one of the sales representatives. It looks lovely.

We are offering signed copies and some of my knitted mini animals as the prizes. I think it is a fantastic idea.
I have made more than enough animals for the book. I would like to keep most of them because I have an ambition to do exhibitions some day, but I can always make some more, can’t I?

To join the fun, here is the link.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Search-Press-Art-and-Craft-Books

There is another promotion running on Ravelry. You can download a tester pattern from my original design page.
See, it is listed now.
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I also heard that Create and Craft TV show is interested in featuring my book. My animals came home a few days ago, but they are traveling to be on the show. They are busy touring.
I am so pleased. It is such a fun, creating a craft book!

I hope my creations will bring many people happiness.

Knitted panda

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I just watched the BBC program, Operation Wild. In this series, you can see vet teams save the lives of wild animals using the most advanced techniques. Last week, we saw panda bears.

They are showing Giant Panda Base in South West China where vets are using high-tech animal medicine to try and save the species. Baby pandas! They are absolutely gorgeous!! I could not help myself ooh and aah over them. They are so so cute!

Panda has large head proportion to its body, and that is one of the reason they look so cute. When I design toys, I always make heads bigger than they should be. Head:body= 1:1 makes the cutest, someone said. I see baby panda come close to this ratio. No wonder they look so sweet.

China has been giving away pandas as diplomatic gifts to other countries for many years. I remember Japan receiving two pandas in early 1970’s when they restored the relationships. There came a big panda boom in Japan, and everyone had at least one panda stuffed cuddly at home.

I had a huge one, much bigger than myself then.

I always loved panda and have knitted some in different styles. In my book, Mini knitted safari, my panda is sitting right in the middle of the safari mat. He is my favorite star animal in that book.

Embroidering the face was a little difficult. I tried making more pandas and I have three or four all together for this book, but I could not achieve the same face again.

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In my recent knits, I made this tiny one.
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I had a bit of trial and error, and the first one didn’t quite work. But I think I am happy with this one.

My little Chinese girl has a big sister. She is supposed to be wearing a China dress, but her hair is long and cannot see my effort too much here. Never mind.

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If pandas are facing risk of extinction because of our behavior, we definitely have to change the way we live. We cannot let them go, can we?

Knitted Woodland book

My second book, “Mini knitted woodland” is going through the final editing.

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Now, all the artwork is in place. My designer has done a fantastic job again! He never disappoints me.

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Just like the “Mini knitted safari”, each page has animal foot prints, but this time, you see leaves and feathers, too. It really looks fantastic and, I am very very pleased.

I have shown the draft to my family and friends. They all say the book is pretty. It is truly a delightful book and, I am getting many compliments on photos and artwork.
I get an urge to say “Hey, I knitted all these!”

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The senior editor who has done the final check on the text sent me an e-mail. She said ” it’s gorgeous! I have smiled, chuckled or cooed on every page”.
What a fantastic review!

I cannot wait for this book to come out.
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Ooh, I just noticed very funny faces from this angle.

The World Challenge

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As I have mentioned it here before, my 16 year-old son is going to Africa to take a part in the World Challenge next summer.

He recently received an e-mail from the organizer about the schedule. It is still at a very early stage and nothing is definite of course. He will be spending four weeks in Kenya and Tanzania. This year’s group had to change the destinations due to the political turmoil in Kenya, but we are hoping things will settle down soon.

According to the plan, my son will be spending one week with the Masai tribe and, he is so so excited about it. Ever since he was very small, he dreamed about visiting the safari, watching wild animals in action and meeting the native people.IMG_6268

He knows it isn’t a holiday. He will be staying with locals where living facilities are very limited and, he is supposed to be helping the people with their work and school. I don’t think there is a shower or even a toilet.
And the cost? Close to £4,000 which he has promised to raise by himself. It is a bit mad.

On top of the worries of terrorists and bombs, there are many diseases we need to worry about.
We have a vaccinations list; Tetanus, polio, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Rabies, Yellow Fever, Meningitis A and C. He also needs to take some protection against Malaria.
He just had one dose of Hepatitis A and B last week.

I told him he could write all these on his CV once he is done.

With the influence from people around me, I was a bit weary of getting my children vaccinations when they were small, but there you have it. My son doesn’t have a luxury to wonder whether or not vaccinations are good for you. You can’t even get a visa without them.

We have a saying in Japan: If you love your children, send them out into the world. I have to be very brave.

I know he is going to have fantastic experiences there.
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Do you like my Masai baby? He is my favorite.