knits by sachi

Our midweek sushi

A bit of Bento style. One for my husband who comes home late.

IMG_9226

My family loves home made sushi. I use anything I find in my fridge for stuffing and toppings so that our sushi is very inexpensive. I’d like to make them more often, but I have to say sushi making is time consuming. Not for a very busy day.

But I can make Inari-zushi, pretty much any day of the week.

inari-zushi is homely sushi that is stuffed into a fried tofu skin or aburaage. I use pre-made (canned or vacuum packed) skins from Asian market. This way, all I have to do is season the rice and stuff it into skins.

I don’t think you have to feel guilty for using pre-made skins. Most of us do, even a keen home cook like my mum. Pre-made Inari skins are not only convenient, but actually taste better than home made ones.

I buy this product.
IMG_9227

All you have to do is cook rice, season it and stuff.

For 3 cups of (uncooked) sushi rice,

Sushi rice seasoning
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Gently heat it in a sauce pan to dissolve sugar and salt. Do not bring to boil.

Mix it into hot steamed rice. When it is cooled and easy to handle, moisture your hand, make a small rice ball with one hand and stuff it into the skin. Fold the opening and place them sealed side down.

IMG_9222

IMG_9223

IMG_9224

That is the basic. I have added toasted sesami seeds to the rice this time. You can add finely chopped and cooked vegetables to it as well.

I found these on internet. Some people have gone very creative.

download (9)

images (5)

Inari zushi is sweet and savory. Tofu skin is cooked in soy sauce, rice wine and sugar.

It may be a bit boring if I serve only Inari, so, I made quick and easy egg sushi and tuna mayonnaise rolls.

For egg sushi, you make egg omulet in rectangle shape and slice it. Place the egg slice on top of the rice ball and wrap a Nori strip around it.

My omlet was a little small this time and the rice balls became bigger than the egg slice, but never mind.

Inari is the Shinto god for fertility, rice, agriculture and foxes. He is often depicted, as a bearded man riding a white fox. Inari zushi is also called “fox sushi” because fried tofu skin was allegedly his and his foxes’ favourite food.

It is my younger son’s absolute favorite, too. He loves his fox sushi since he was very little.

I love seeing smiles at the dinner time.

SCAN0001

(Sushi pressed into a mold to look like a cake and my son aged 3)

Leave a comment »

Knitted gnome puppet

I love making gnomes and have made many with different media. When I was little, I had no interest in fairies and gnomes, but in my adulthood, I am making gnomes. Funny.

For this month’s Knit Now, I designed another gnome. It is a walking gnome puppet. You can insert your fingers in his trousers (sounds a bit strange), and you can walk him.

gnome

Lovely style shot. I am quite pleased with how the photo came out.

I have had made the same gnome in fabric before and had some idea of the basic design, but I still had trials and errors. The first one was out of proportion and looked ugly. I guess the arms were too long and head was too big. I left the project for a while and came back to it a few months later. I think this time worked well.

I sometimes wonder how big the gnomes in stories are.

Are they just about to your knees high like garden gnome statues? Are they half of your size?

I always imagined gnomes are tiny as harvest mice.

A few years ago, I watched the Japanese drama called “Going my home”.

201209_goingmyhome.png

201209_goingmyhome.png

The main character, Ryota’s estranged father falls ill and he returns his home town with his family. He finds that his father had been looking for the legendary “small creature” in his hometown (for real!) Though he doesn’t believe that it actually exists, he begins to meet with many people to uncover his father’s mystery, and slowly his feelings begin to change.

He finds a tiny felt hat hanging on a tree and starts wondering just maybe…it does exist?

Screenshot 2015-01-20 11.41.37

Within the drama, a creature called ‘kuna’ (made up name for these gnomes) will be unveiled. Through the existence of this gnome, we hope that people will be able to appreciate “the power to believe in things we can’t see”; love, dream, joy of sharing… that sort of thing.

Children purely believe in Kuna and enjoy looking for them, but adults becomes embroiled in a big mess. A big prize money is offered upon capturing the gnome alive. Some villagers fake Kunas’ footprints and post the photo on internet for publicity. Sad we are.

Here, Rhota is practicing capturing the gnome. Cute.

Screenshot 2015-01-20 11.44.49

Another interesting story is that these creatures are said to have super natural power to bring back spirits. Some become desperate to see their lost loved ones again.

“Kuna” is about the size I imagined a gnome to be. The drama is heart warming and funny. I really enjoyed watching it. If you search it online, you will be able to find videos with subtitles.

SCAN0057

I love gnomes.

1 Comment »

Kombu strips cooking idea

Tim is eating Kombu seaweed in space!

IMG_9891.jpg2
When I was looking for images of Tim Peake for the knitted astronauts project, I came across a very interesting TV programme.

It is our renowned chef, Heston Brumenthal’s show called Heston’s Dinner in Space on UK channel 4.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/hestons-dinner-in-space

He is on a mission to create space food for Tim. The program follows the scientific adventures of Heston and his team, as they work closely with the UK Space Agency, ESA and NASA and attempt to revolutionise the previously limited world of space food. The task was to shake up the menu and create dishes that would remind Tim of home, helping him combat the emotional impact of his journey. (from Channel 4 info)

I really enjoyed watching this show. It is informative, fun and entertaining. Heston even goes on to the Zero gravity airplane to experience how it is like to eat in the space.

But what I found the most interesting was that he used some of our favorite Japanese food ingredients, Kombu. Kombu is a seaweed that we have been using for centuries in our diet. Kombu seaweed comes from kelp that grows around the north of Japan. It is high in minerals, including iodine, potassium, calcium and iron.

3

It comes in sheets or strips. Kombu sheets are tough and they are to use for stocks. We like soft, thin and salted strips called “Shio (salt) Kombu”, and it is ready to eat. You can sprinkle on top of warm steamed rice or use for filling for rice balls. You can toss with salad or use for cooking.

I like using Kombu to flavour pasta. Strange? but it is very tasty. Unlike heavy sauce, it is low in fat and sugar and it takes so little effort to make this dish.

Main ingredients are

spaghetti, 80g per person
pointed cabbage and any vegetable of your choice
salted kombu strips, 1-2 Tbsp per person
crashed garlic
Olive oil or vegetable oil

I like using spaghetti for this recipe, but you can use any pasta. Just cook pasta following the instructions on the packet. Stir fry the vegetables with garlic and kombu and add the cooked pasta at the end.

Cook vegetables first,

IMG_9113

then, add pasta

IMG_9114

Mix well and done.

IMG_9116

Light and healthy and gentle to your both waistline and wallet.

If you like soy sauce flavour, you can add a few drops, but take care, you don’t want to make it too salty.

You can add some protein to this. I found flaked fish, tinned tuna or smoked mackerel goes well. I think chicken would go well, too.

We like pasta dish with Japanese touch and eat it with chopsticks.
Salted Kombu strips are available from Asian grocers, health food stores and online.

I hope Tim is enjoying Heston’s food with Kombu strips in space.

Leave a comment »

Knitted astronauts

I found the better photo of my YSD mascot.

Cg9j7uxWwAA8r2g

My elephant, named Tiny looks very cozy with the monkey Chris. These pattern should be available soon through Let’s Knit magazine website for free.

The shop had our posters and books displayed in shop windows. I brought my knitted samples which attracted young and old. It was very nice to see people’s reactions when they see my creations.

FotorCreated

And of course, I had brought my business card that I made for this occasion. This one looks much nicer than the one I had when I used to work in the City!

IMG_0158

It was a small event, but I had a lot of fun with my fellow author and editor, May Corfield. And the shop was offering everything 20% off sale! I got a few balls of Rowan of course.

Another exciting event from last week. Knit Today May issue with my article has come out.

This one has my knitted animal astronauts and guess who, Tim Peake. Tim Peake is a European Space Agency astronaut and International Space Station crew member who is traveling space at this moment.

Cg1DvSYW0AAyMCf

This article goes across three spreads and you get the pattern to knit four animals, pig, dog, mouse and rabbit, and Tim. You also get the pattern to make the rocket.

IMG_9091

IMG_9092

Editorial team has taken great photos and did a fantastic art work. I am very pleased with how it came out.

My younger son did the illustration for making up section. It is his first published work! He is looking to take graphic art courses after six forms. I hope this article has given him further motivation for his study.

IMG_9089

I heard that the editor has sent the images to Tim on ISS. I hope he liked it.

IMG_9890.jpg2

2 Comments »

Let’s Knit May issue

May issue of Let’s Knit magazine is now out in shops.

IMG_0159

This one comes with my Farm animal knitting kit. You can make sheep, dog, cow, pig and mouse with the yarn in the packet. Exciting!

Farmyard Friends

But it was very tricky and difficult to make this kit.

First, we had to choose colours and amounts of each ball considering where to use main and contrast colours. I made samples using my own yarn. Originally the editors wanted the animals bright and vivid for the magazine to stand out among many other competitors, but after seeing my animal samples, they decided to go for natural colours. I think it is nicer that way.

After agreeing with the colours, the kit went to production. I re-knitted the animals with the kit yarn to alter the pattern, but I found the yarn much thicker than commercial DK yarn and had many trials and errors.

But I know it was worth it.

The patterns are super simple and easy. They share similar patterns, too. For body, you knit a square and sew four corners to create legs. I like simple patterns and detest gussets with passion. Knitted pieces are stretchy, allowing you to shape after sewing up. I don’t see much point in over complicating knitting patterns for toys.

This issue has more exciting news; the mascot for the Yarn Shop Day.

I have received an honour to design the mascot for the big day this year! I was asked to make an elephant, so here it is.

IMG_9765

I chose soft yellow so that it can be a boy or a girl. Readers can choose any colour they like for the elephant.

The elephant is named “Tiny”. It seems he has a mate called Chris, the monkey. Tiny sits about 12cm and for me, it is not so tiny, but with the monkey Chris, he does look Tiny.
You can pick up their patterns at the YSD participating shops on Saturday.

Tiny and Chris

IMG_0162

Yes, the Yarn Shop Day is next Saturday, and I will be at C & H Fabric shop in Tunbridge Wells with a fellow author and editor, May Corfield. She has written crochet books; 20 to make crochet granny squares and 20 to make crochet hearts. We will be doing a book signing and a workshop.

I am going to do an easy toy knits workshop.

For example, these animals. They are all made with knitted square pieces, no increase nor decrease.

IMG_0166

This way, children or non knitters can have a go. Some can be made with garter stitches so that you don’t have to purl.

I hope many will come see us.

A Happy Yarn Shop Day!

5 Comments »

Challenging commission

Lovely photo.
LGC81-STYLED-046

Many knitting magazines come with cover mount knitting kit these days.

I mentioned in the Facebook some time ago that I received a rather interesting commission.

It is to knit two pandas using six different coloured yarn, each weighing about 20g.

Six different colours! And it doesn’t have black yarn.

The kit came with wooden needles and two pairs of black beads to use for the eyes.

This is very different from what I normally do.

I have done kits for Knit Now magazines in the past, but these were quite small and not too difficult. I got to do the design first, and the editor order the kit. I had the freedom to choose the needle size, yarn weight and amount of yarn.

But this time, I had to make up the design using the kit I was given. The yarn is thicker than commercially available Double Knit yarn, giving you less yardage, and the needles much fatter than my usual 2.75mm.

And the colours! How am I supposed to make two pandas with six different colours? And they are so vivid and bright!

This is completely out of my comfort zone!

I drew a few designs and coloured them in with colour pencils. They will be very quirky, and I don’t do quirky too well. But never mind. I was determined to produce something with a bit of my own style.

Work in progress.

IMG_9855

And I managed producing pandas at the end.

LGC81-STYLED-042

LGC80-CUTOUTS-015

I could go very wild with colour combinations and knit ears in different colours from eyes and limbs, but I was afraid that the result may get too confusing. The colours were crazy enough already.

I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea. I am more comfortable knitting small toys with natural fibers in soft colours.

But I remember once that one of my followers said although she loved all my work, her arthritis hands do not allow her to make small knits. She enjoys knitting, but cannot make small toys. These pandas may work well for someone like her.

They may be good for people with visual impairment, too. My brother has colour weakness and cannot differentiate some of the subtle colours. And small children may like these exciting colours.

To be honest, I was more worried than pleased when I received this commission. But to my surprise, I found myself enjoying the challenge very much.

I hope many people will get involved making these quirky pandas.

Another kit arrived. This time, i am to make cat and mouse.

IMG_0150

3 Comments »

Interview article and my new projects

In this month’s Simply Knitting magazine, you will find this.

IMG_0114

My interview article!

It is done by answering the questions the editor send me, so there was no interview session as such. I supply most of the photos, too, but it is still very flattering to appear in this page. I have been a fan of the magazine and knitted many toys designed by Alan Dart.

Like this one. Guys from Shawn the sheep.(I knitted from his pattern with a bit of improvisation.)

il_340x270.489218131_jy8b

I didn’t even dreamed of seeing myself in this magazine a few years ago.

Like I said in the interview, I am no born knitter. I learned the skill from a mum in a parent and toddler group. She was ever so patient and showed me from the very basic; how to cast-on.

She was a fantastic knitter with her stitches so clean and even. Mine looked horrible. They were like bad teeth needing orthodontic braces. It is often said that knitting is good for mental health, but it certainly wasn’t for me then. It frustrated me and only caused more stress I didn’t need.

But I am glad I kept practicing.

Now I think I should have took each step more slowly and enjoyed my skill develop. There is no such thing called “bad knitting” is there?

I did have a go at making scarves, hats and even jumpers, but from very early on, I was always more interested in teddies and bunnies. I learned different techniques through toy making. By knitting a small jumper for a teddy bear, I learned a variety of stitches, cable and bobbles and the circular knitting. I also learned working with colours and fair isle knitting the same way. It is great to try something new without committing to a large project.

I so love knitting toys.

Recently, I have been making a little more practical and useful things, for example, coin cases.

Like these.
IMG_0139

These have inner cotton linings and quite sturdy. Some have zippers, some have clasps. I practiced a bit of fair isle, too.
IMG_0140

I like girly stuff.

I can sew to a certain degree, so that working with zippers wasn’t new to me. But I have never made a purse with clasps.

I took YouTube lessons and got the basic idea how to attach the clasps. It is great, the YouTube tutorials.

I made up the knitting pattern. I had pretty sock yarn that I was dying to use and it was perfect for this project.

IMG_0141

I think I am getting hooked with these purse making now. I also made a mobile sock.

This is fun!

Leave a comment »

Knitted Ferris Wheel

Can you guess what I am up to?
IMG_8502

I like doing small projects which only take a day or two, but sometimes, I get this urge to get involved in a little bigger project.

I still take a small step at a time. I quite often set it aside to make time for magazine commissions and other jobs.

I have written about my knitted amusement park projects and that is one of them.

I added another item to the park, and this time, it is the Ferris wheel.

I have to think hard and plan well before I started knitting. I didn’t want it to go too wrong and re-knit it again and again.

First, the design.
I researched on handmade Ferris wheels. It seems some people have made them with cardboard, plywood, plastic bottles or carton boxes. I didn’t find any knitted one. Maybe I am the only one who even think of knitting a Ferris wheel.

That is good, I want to be the first to knit it.

The actual wheels normally have the seating gondolas between the front and back panels, but I decided to place them in the front so that you can see the figures better. I didn’t want my little animals to be hidden.

So the gondolas hang in front of the wheel.
IMG_8513

I cut two pieces of cardboard in circle, stick them together with masking tape and wrapped it with tissue paper. If I covered this part with knitting, I thought it would be too heavy.

The supporting box is covered with knitting. I placed ceramic beads inside the box so that the wheels would not fall over.

Then, my babies and their friends. This is always the fun part!
FotorCreated.jpg1FotorCreated.jpg2FotorCreated.jpg3

The wheel has six gondolas and two figures go in each one.

IMG_8501.jpgbest

I had no idea why it is called Ferris wheel. Apparently, it is named after George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. who designed and constructed one as a landmark for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

We live only one hour away from London, but never been on the London Eye, the giant wheel on South Bank of the river Themes.

I should have a go someday.

7 Comments »

Eight treasure stir fry?

img_5767.jpg2

Easter is one of the events that I wish my kids were still little. I used to love egg hunt with my children, and we visited many parks and National Trust gardens to enjoy it.
Now my kids are way too grown up, and I guess I have to wait for grandchildren to arrive some day.

We don’t eat much chocolate at home, but I love those tiny chocolate eggs. They are very cute.

They reminded me of quail eggs. In fact, I bought quail eggs instead this year. No sugar.

I know it is not too common to cook quail eggs in England. The bird is often eaten, but not the eggs. I have seen mini scotch eggs, but that is pretty much all I know.

In Japan, it is opposite. It is very difficult to buy the bird, but we often enjoy the eggs.They are boiled, peeled and cooked in soy sauce or fried with bread crumbs. They are also favoured for Bento box (lunch box).
I found incredibly cute Bento box art with quail eggs on internet.

quail eggs

I love this one. It is perfect for Easter! It is too cute to eat!
images (7)

My favorite dish with quail egg is “Happosai”, literally meaning eight treasure stir fry.
It is stir fry with lots of lots of different kinds of vegetables. Basically, you can add any vegetables, meat or shell fish and add the sauce at the end. I am sure each family has their own recipe. My mum used to include quail eggs in it, and now I cannot think of Happosai without them.

Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:

Hakusai/Chinese cabbage 3-4 leaves
50g Broccoli
1/4 bell pepper
mangetout
1/4 carrot
3 shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tin bamboo shoot
quail eggs (hard boiled) 12 eggs
100g pork (can be chicken, ham or any meat)
5-6 large prawns
4 crab sticks
1 tsp grated ginger
Sesame oil

sauce
300cc chicken, pork or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp rice wine
white pepper to taste
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 1 tbsp water

How to make:
1. Chop up all the veggies and meat.
2. Mix the sauce ingredients except corn starch. Set aside
3. Cook the pork in a frying pan. Add the ginger.
4. Add the veggies.
5. When the veggies are half cooked, add sauce, eggs and prawns. Cook for a few minutes
IMG_9679

IMG_9683
6. Add corn starch and cook until the sauce thickens. Done!

IMG_9684

This is how my mum used to cook. Some people like to add oyster sauce or soy sauce, but I like this simple salt and pepper flavouring.

The beauty of this dish is that you can add anything in your fridge. This time, I added a bit of corn kernels and tofu. You can cook pretty much any vegetables together. If you are vegetarian, you can use chicken style Quarn pieces or chick peas.
The dish can be enjoyed over steamed rice or egg noodles.

You can feel very healthy just by looking at it? Happy Easter.

Leave a comment »

Quilting challenge

I have done a variety of craft, but I have never done quilting. In fact, I have never even thought of trying the craft.

Quilting seems to require a lot of precision and commitment. People make large throws, bedspreads and table runners. I always found it daunting. This is certainly a skill you develop with lots of practice, and I have great respect to quilters.

But I wanted to make something using this patchwork method; a small play mat for my Hare and tortoise set.

I made a knitted version a couple of years ago for Knit Now magazine.

This one. It is one of my favorite.

IMG_0465

DSCF2855

I found very stretchy white fabric in my stash and decided to sew some bunnies with it. For tortoise, I am using felt.

I tried my first sample. I thought it worked well.

IMG_8859

Then, made the whole lot for the game.

IMG_8856

Now, I needed a mat. This is where quilting come into play.

Did I have any idea how I should do this? Not at all. I watched YouTube and got a basic idea. It is a very small mat, it cannot be too difficult or is it?

Yes, it is small, but you do need a lot of patience and precision. I did simple maths wrong at some places and I had to pick stitches and sew again. What I found extremely helpful was the fabric roller cutter that I invested just for this project. I don’t know how I manage without it. It was a star buy.

After some trials and errors, I came up with this.
IMG_8858

I know, I know, it is far from perfect, but I shouldn’t be too harsh on myself. This is my very first patchwork and I even used sewing machine for it.

And my animals look happy on it.

IMG_8855

It is good to go out of your comfort zone and try something new.

4 Comments »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 413 other followers