Summer knits

Here is the latest Knit Now magazine.

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It has lots of great ideas for summer.

We are lucky to have the cool and dry weather in summer here in the UK. In Japan, it gets so hot and humid. I wouldn’t fancy knitting at all unless I have my air conditioners running full blast.

My mother used to crochet lace when it was hot. I remember her making a large table cloth and even a cover for my up-right piano.

This issue has lacy knitting patterns. I am not too good at knitting soft and delicate garments, but these are tempting.

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I tried a little summery knit, too; a flower girl with a sun hat.

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I used cotton yarn for the head and limbs.

I rarely use cotton yarn for my knitting. I find most cotton DK (8-ply) yarn are thicker than wool and a little hard to make toys with, but I had this rosy pale pink cotton yarn that I have had quite some time and decided to have a go. It may be a good material for summer.

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This Knit Now issue comes with a toy knits booklet and I found my patterns in it. It was such a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t know about it until yesterday.

The articles are extracts from my two books, Mini knitted safari and Mini knitted woodland.

Here is the lions.

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and badgers.

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Talking about badgers, I found this tiny badger the other day.

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My friend needle felted it. It isn’t possible to make it any more smaller!
She gave it to me for a Christmas many years ago. Handmade gifts stay with you forever.

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How to cook sun-dried radish

I made this gnome, thinking of my dad back home. He enjoys growing vegetables and flowers in his little garden.

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Every few months, my mum sends me dried ingredients for Japanese cooking. Recently we received this.

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This is Kiriboshi daikon or dried, shredded daikon (mooli) radish.
This one is 100% homemade. My dad grew daikon radish and my mum shredded it and dried it in the sun.

At some time in the past. all our ancestors must have relied on drying as a means of preserving food, especially vegetables. We still use this method for some of the vegetables in Asia.

Dried shiitake mushroom is well known, but I think Kiribosh is much less familiar to the Western culture.
White daikon radish is shredded into strips then dried, traditionally in the sun. The drying process brings out the sweetness and concentrates the flavour. It is rich in calcium, vitamins B1, B12 and iron. It has lots of fiber and very low in calories.

It’s rather smelly in its dried form which can be rather off-putting, but the smell goes away once it’s soaked in water. It can be reconstituted by soaking in cold water for about an hour then rinsed. Drain away the soaking water before using. It’s quite neutral in flavor, and takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it in. Traditionally, it is cooked in soy sauce, mirin rice wine, sake and a bit of sugar.

Kiriboshi Daikon: serves 2

25g; Dried kiriboshi daikon radish
50g: carrot, cut into long thin strips
1 piece: aburaage (fried tofu), cut into long thin strips or 50g dried tofu mince
3-4 mange tout, cut into long thin strips
1 tsp: cooking oil

200ml: Dashi stock or water
1 tbsp: soy sauce
1 tbsp: mirin rice wine
1 tsp: sugar

1. Soak the dried daikon for 30 mins to 1 hour. It will increase 4-5 times in volume. Drain water, rinse and squeeze water from daikon.

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2. Heat the oil and stir fry carrot and daikon about 2-3 mins.

3. Add fried tofu strips or mince. Add all cooking sauce ingredients and cook for 15 mins over low heat or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3.

It is tasty, healthy and my family absolutely loves it.

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You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. It taste even better the second day.

This dried radish my mum sent me was very nice. Maybe because it was shredded slightly thicker than the shop bought ones, but of course it isn’t the only reason. It is packed with love.

The radish went so quickly and I don’t have much left. We will enjoy the rest in miso soup.

Intrigued? You can purchase kiriboshi daikon at Asian supermarkets, natural food shops or online.

The garden gnome in the first photo will be in one of the up-coming Knit Now magazine. The article contains the pattern of the gnome and all the bits to go with him. He will be a nice to present for someone like my dad.
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My knitted florist

Lovely by my window.

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1. Chef
2. Nurse
3. Doctor
4. Kindergarten teacher / child minder
5. Florist

These are the top 5 of the dream jobs for young girls in Japan.

I am pleased to see florist in the list. That was one of my favorite when I was little.

Girls love flowers. It must be wonderful to be surrounded with flowers every day at work. And whey you deliver flowers, everyone is happy to see you and you are greeted with smile. How wonderful!

So, I knitted a mini flower shop.

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I love receiving flowers of course, but I also love sending them to someone.

I send flowers to my mum through a international flower delivery service sometimes. It really excites me just to think about my mum receiving flowers at her door.

In this knitted florist set, I have an adult shop owner and a child.

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The adult is about 9cm, and the child is 7cm.

And I have a flower wagon. I think it looks sweet on its own.

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The wagon has a light weight cardboard inside to keep its shape. The top awning is just sitting on the four poles and not attached to the wagon.
For the flowers, I just cast on a few stitches on a knitting needle and draw through the stitches to fasten off. For the stems, I used the paper flower making material called ” flower peps”. They are fine paper stems with a bobble on each end. I also used “floral tape”. It is a very handy material. You stretch the tape to make it sticky and wrap a stem with it.

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I made pots and baskets, too.

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I would very much like to send flowers to my mum on her birthday, but it is in July and a bit too warm in Japan. A nicely arranged bouquet is kept in a fridge until it is to be delivered and once it is out of the fridge, the flowers start to age so quickly. Flowers do not last very long.

But I may send her the entire florist this year, my mini flower shop for her birthday.

New project

I have done a variety of craft from paper craft to dress making. I own a drum carder and spinning wheel. I dye wool and wet and dry felt. List is endless, and I have enough material to offer workshops anytime on these craft I do.

But I have had promised myself that I would not get into sugar craft, beading or doll houses.

Not because I am not interested, it is quite the opposite. I know I will be hooked on them and start collecting equipment and materials in no time.

But I saw this pre-loved doll house in a charity shop a couple of weeks ago.

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It is a large house, about 1m (w)x 1m (h) x 50cm (d). and I fell in love with it.

It has the Tudor like appearance on the outside, a simple and nice design. Some of the metal window frames are falling off and they definitely need repairing.

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Interior had a bit more problems. Walls have been pasted with wall papers originally, but have been painted over and have many air bubbles. But the fantastic thing is the house is furnished.

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Since I couldn’t carry it home right away, I reserved it and promised the shop keeper that I would come back the next day. I had 24 hours to think about it.

I made a quick research on internet as anyone would do in a situation like this. What type of doll house is this? Is it sold anywhere else? Am I getting value for money? and how can I redecorate the house?

And I found that the house was 100% handmade, and you cannot find the same one in anywhere else. It is not the IKEA-assembling-handmade from-a-kit, either.

And I thought that I have to get it. I like the fact that the house was built by someone for his/her loved one. It has been loved and enjoyed by children, and it is my mission to repair the house! I took a plunge.

My son helped me carry it from my car boot the next day. If he thought I was insane, he hid it rather well.

So, here is my new project, a new adventure. A big job of re-doing the house has commenced.

I am stripping the walls. It is inhabitable now, but I will get there.

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Happy Children’s Day

I made this room ornament for Children’s Day some years ago. It is a Japanese warrior helmet made with Washi paper. Very thin sponge is wrapped with paper to give a 3-D effect.

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“Golden Week”? Every time I hear this Japanese-made English, I feel a bit of embarrassment. It is a Japanese term applied to the period containing the following public holidays:

April 29
Showa Day
Originally it was the birthday of the previous Showa Emperor and was a national holiday. We kept it after his death, giving it a different name. We simply did not want to let a holiday disappear from our calendar.

May 3
Constitution Memorial Day
May 4

Greenery Day
I guess we like giving a holiday a name, we just don’t go by “bank holiday”.

May 5
Children’s Day

Many Japanese nationals take paid time off during this holiday, and some companies are closed down completely and give their employees time off. Golden Week is the longest vacation period of the year for many Japanese jobs.

It is warm and sunny around this time of year, and you get one week off. It is certainly a “golden” week.

As a child, I loved the Children’s Day the most. We display Japanese warrior dolls and we get to have treats. My favorite was Kashiwa mochi, a rice cake steamed with sweet beans and wrapped in an oak leaf. Another traditional food is chimaki, which is rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Here is a photo of my boys celebrating the day when they were little. On the top corner, you see the warrior’s helmet. The tradition is passed on.
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Last year, I knitted a Koi carp for the occasion. Carp is the simbol of courrage and strength and is one of the very well favoured item for Children’s Day.

I made a little change this year.

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I like this boy gnome series. You have seen him with a knitted frog in a previous post. This time, he is riding a Koi carp.

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He is a little brave one. Happy Children’s Day!

Knit Now Issue47

This came out in shops today; Knit Now issue 47.

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I was looking forward to see this issue. It has my Nautilus toys, some of my favorite designs. You will see my sailor bunny with his friend penguin. And a seagull on top of a lifesaving ring.

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Nice bring-to-holiday projects, yes?

I designed them for the magazine. Usually, when they send us call for submissions, they give us certain themes and this time, it was the Nautilus style. It is quite fun to take the challenge of creating something to meet their requests.

The first item I made was the bunny. I really like the sailor outfits and I wanted to include it somehow. The bunny on his own looked a bit lonely so that I decided to make him a friend. I have knitted many penguins in different styles, but I like this tiny one with quirky look. It may work as a dangler charm as well.

The knitting part is easy as always. To shape the foot of the bunny, after it is sewn and stuffed, insert a threaded needle from the base centre of a foot and take the needle out from the top of the foot (over the decreasing row) and repeat. Pull the thread. If you would like to keep the feet closer together, you can stitch them together after shaping each foot. I like to keep knitting simple and shape with stitches afterwards rather than try to be too clever and complicate patterns.

And next, I made a seagull.

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I grew up in south west of Japan, very close to a beach. We have seagulls in Asia but the kind we have the most over there is a little different from what we see in the UK. It is called “black-tailed gull”, Umi Neko in Japanese. Literally the name means ‘sea cat’. Why? Because it meows. I am not joking, it has cat-like call.

When I was little, I thought Umi Neko was a cat.

Assembling methods for both projects are quite simple, but I made tutorials here for your reference.

http://www.knitsbysachi.com/nautilus-toys-sailor-bunny-and-penguin/
http://www.knitsbysachi.com/nautilus-toys-seagull/

For the knitters who cannot get the magazine, I have included the seagull project into the book due out next year. I will also try to publish the bunny pattern when the magazine contract expires.

I hope you will enjoy them.

Knitted flower children

My Miss Dandelion and her little brother.

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My boys enjoyed Waldorf education when they were very young.

They spent their early years without television or computer games. They also did not read or write until they were over six years old.

They properly did their bits of being children and I am glad that they did.

I came across the idea of creating a nature table through the Waldorf kindergarten.

A Nature Table is basically a table that contains objects and/or scenes related to the current season, or upcoming festival. I really love this idea. I had a friend who had a beautiful nature table at her house every season. She was collecting little dolls and animals and quite often, I saw my work displayed on that table.

Ever since I got addicted to knitting little human figures, I always wanted to create flower children. Flower children appear on a nature table in spring to early summer. I made some with felt fabric in the past.
Like these strawberry children.

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and these.

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I got inspirations from these books.
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They were first published in Germany and my books are all in German. But you can get English version now. They are called “Making flower children” and “Making more flower children”. http://www.knitsbysachi.com/my-favorite-books/

The figures have pipe cleaners wrapped with wool inside. These figures needs something as a body frame which works as a skeleton. The face is first covered with a gauze tube and then, wrapped with stretchy stockinette. Finally, the felt fabric is sewn to the body. You can use Merino wool or yarn for hair.

I do like making these, but I prefer knitted dolls. Making dolls with knitted pieces does not require pipe cleaners and you can stuff it with stuffing wool or polyester toy filling. You do need to know how to knit and purl of course, but it doesn’t require doll making skills too much.

I started with early spring flower children. Here are Miss Crocus.
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Miss Pansy and Miss Forget-me-not.
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To make flowers, I have used light weight garden wire and for some, materials for paper flowers.

These little fairies are making my room lively and colourful. I am enjoying the warm, sunny weather with these them.

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