knits by sachi

Japanese summer treat

I have just received the next issue of Let’s Get Crafting, Knitting and Crochet magazine.

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My cat is on the cover! How exciting!

The cover mount kit has a collection of warm colours this time. The cat’s body is knitted with the orange and yellow gradation yarn. If you knit stocking stitches following the pattern, you will get this colour effect naturally.

I found this yarn surprisingly soft. It is 100% acrylic but it feels almost as nice as wool. Maybe because it is not plied. It also gives you much more yardage than other yarn in the kit. I am quite pleased with how the project came out.

The cat is accompanied by two friends mice.

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The colours make me think of the recent hot weather we experienced in the UK. On Tuesday, the temperature reached to 32 degrees in the South. I am sure lots of ice creams and lollies are consumed on that day.

As a child, my favorite was “Kakigouri”, a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener.

It looks like this.
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Popular flavors include strawberry, lemon, green tea, grape and melon. Some shops provide colorful varieties by using two or more different syrups. You can also make it very easily if you have the machine. Syrups are available from supermarkets if you live in Japan.

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The machine is usually hand operated and nothing is at all complicated. You freeze water in the cup provided and shave the ice. The machine spins a block of ice over an ice shaving blade.

What I loved the most about Kakigouri is we could have a lot of fun together as a family. We would gather around the kitchen table and my dad would shave the ice as rest of us anxiously watch our favorite treat made. In 70’s,families spent much more time together.

It is similar to a snow cone but has a much smoother fluffier ice consistency, much like fresh fallen snow. I don’t think you can make this with food processor which is a bit of a shame.

A few years ago in London, I let my boys have their very first kakigouri experience. They had it with green tea syrup and sweetened adzuki beans. They absolutely loved it. You can get it virtually everywhere in Japan. I wish we could do the same here.

Or maybe I should import the machine.

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English summer and strawberries

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My wild strawberries are going really wild in the back garden this year again. I am busy on weekends just to keep them under control.

However, it is such a lovely plant. It is very English, too. We don’t get to see them much in Japan.

My mum used to enjoy collecting china, and Wedgewood’s Wild strawberry was one of her favorite designs. I have given her five sets of cups and saucers on her birthdays. She still treasures them.

She would love my real wild strawberries.

I guess the English climate is perfect for strawberries. We can buy 400g packet for less than £2.00 at supermarkets, but in Japan, it usually cost more than £4.00. They are usually grown in greenhouses with lots of TLC.

Strawberries were treat for us when we are growing up. The price hasn’t change much over the years but the average Japanese household income was considerably lower then. Having strawberries in the fridge excited me. It still makes me happy.

Wimbledon’s “Strawberries and Cream” is well known. We enjoy strawberries in many different ways, but I think “Strawberry shortcake” is our national favorite.

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They are so pretty.

It must be the most popular and classic cake in Japan. Whether it’s for birthdays or Christmas or any type of celebration, we enjoy Strawberry Shortcake all year around. My grandfather used to buy a whole cake for Christmas and personally deliver to our door. It was super special.
The cake is usually made of 2-3 layered sponge cake with fresh strawberry slices, whipped cream filling, and whipped cream frosting. The sponge cake is very moist, airy, light, and it’s not overly sweet.

I make the sponge without adding any oil to the mixture.

Ingredients for 20cm cake
3 eggs, separated
100g flour, shifted
100g sugar
1tsp vanilla

This is all. Beat egg white until the soft peak. Add sugar little by little and make meringue. In another bowl, whip egg yolk until it is double in volume and the colour turns creamy lemon. Add flour and vanilla to the egg yolk mixture. Add meringue and mix until combined. Bake in the preheated 180C oven for 25 mins.

For filling and frosting, I usually add 1 tbsp of sugar to 100ml whipping cream. Chill your bowl and cream so that cream will stay cold longer.

In Britain, we don’t see sponge and whipped cream combination much for cakes, but is is worth a try.

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This boy is 18 now. In this photo, he is trying to make a piece sign with his fingers but hasn’t quite managed it.

I should make a cake to celebrate when he goes off to university.

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Orange Page

I have been subscribing a Japanese lifestyle magazine “Orange Page” since I came to England. It has been over 10 years now, and I still look forward to receiving each copy.

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It comes out biweekly. It has lots of home cooking recipes as well as tips and information on a variety of things such as health, craft and needlework. I honestly do not know how the publisher manages releasing issues so often with so many pages. And it only costs 350 yen per issue which is under £3 pounds! (in today’s awfully weak sterling rate)

If you read Japanese, you can subscribe magazine from this site. https://www.japancentre.com/en/products/271-orange-page-biweekly-magazine

Just a few days ago, I received another issue, and this one had a curry recipe collection.
As I mentioned in the past, we love our curry. It may be a little different from the original Indian curry, but we often cook it at home.

The magazine was featuring T-shirts with curry logos. Funny.

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I saw many interesting cooking ideas in the magazine, and some are very new to me. For example, there are detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make chapatis. After my son came back from World challenge in Africa, he said he really loved chapatis over there. Maybe we should have a go at making some at home.

My mum used to make this dish with curry spices and she would call it “dry curry”. I think “dry curry” is the curry without much liquid, which resembles to Keema curry. But my mum would stir fry cooked rice with spices,the same method as egg fried rice.

I cook it at home and it is one of my boys’ favorite.

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It is so easy and quick. It is a good way to consume leftover rice, too.

Recipe for one
a bowl of cooked rice (as much as you want to eat)
1/4 onion, minced
small amounts of chopped pimento, carrot, green beans or any vegetable of your choice
minced beef (or any meat)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp pureed tomato
1 tsp Worcester sauce
salt and pepper

I cooked it for boys’ lunch so that the portions is bigger.

Stir fry vegetables and meat with seasonings. Add cooked rice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

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That is about it. I can’t think of any further instructions.

I think my boy can manage that when he starts living on his own for Uni.

If you are interested in Japanese home cooking recipes, you can find a lot here: https://cookpad.com/uk

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More publishing updates

This month’s Knit Now magazine has my little boy on a goose.

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Obvious where I got the inspiration from?;”Wonderful adventure of Nils” by the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf. Isn’t it great if we could fly like that?

This can be a toy, but you can also enjoy it as a room ornament. If you knit the goose with good quality wool, the wings will have volume and be sturdy enough to be hanged as a mobile.

Also for this month, you can see my knitted baby rattles in “Let’s Get Crafting”. I was requested to make two or three rattles from the cover-mount kit.

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They are much bigger than my usual knits, but it is always fun to do something a little different.

And finally, this book has just just gone to the printer. From Search Press 20 to make series, “20 to make mini knitted charms”. The book is already listed here: https://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782213758/mini-knitted-charms

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I have posted some photos of my tiny dangler knits a while ago like these.

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I shared the pattern for this little bird which should be still available from previous post.

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The link is this here.

The editors liked the idea and decided to make a book with them. I created some new designs for the book, too.
The projects are tiny, but knitting is very straight forward and take only 10-15 minutes.

This time, the projects were sent to a freelance photographer. I am always nervous about sending projects away and getting the photo shoot done without my presence, but the photographer did a fantastic job. Not only all the photography techniques have been perfect, her styling is outstanding. I could tell she spent a lot of time and care for each shot.

The book is bright, cute and very girly. This is exactly how I wanted.

The book should be available in autumn. Christmas is arriving early for me this year.

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Publishing updates

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I think my next book, “Mini Knitted Ocean” has gone to the printer by now.

There was a bit of change in publishing schedule, but the shipment should arrive to the warehouse sometime in September. I cannot wait.

This book is dedicated to my dad who taught me the love of ocean.

I wasn’t too close to my dad when I was growing up. He was a man of few words, and I used to feel distance between us. He was strict and also very temperamental. To me, he seemed to snap all of a sudden with no apparent reason.

He worked for the local paper factory as an engineer in shifts, and often worked on Sundays, too. But in summer, he would take me and my brother to swim after work almost everyday. We were very lucky to be living so close to the beach. It was only a few minutes away from our company flat by bicycle.

I visited the flat a few years ago with my boys. How nostalgic I felt! It is not in use any longer, but I was very please to be able to see it still standing there.

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The beach and the paper factory my dad worked for 40 years.

Now in his late 70’s, my dad is kind, generous and gentle. He loves his grandchildren to bits.

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In spring and autumn, we came for angling and foraging shell fish, and in winter, we enjoyed walks and flying kites. It is not a fantastically pretty beach with dark grey volcanic sand, but I have so much happy memories and I absolutely love this place.

Each fish I knitted for the book, I thought about my dad and the beach.

My brother still comes here every so often with his young son. Last summer, they caught 182 sardines! Surely, they had a feast on that day!

Recently, my publisher kindly posted this image on the World Ocean Day. I guess I am allowed to share the image here.

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Isn’t it a pretty photo? You see the Yellow Submarine in the back.

The book is fun and full of quirky characters. I experimented many new ideas.

It also has deep sentimental value for me and I think it is very nice.

I hope the book will reach to many people. I hope my dad will like it, too.

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Joy of felting

Since needle felting has been introduced, wet felting has lost its popularity a little.

Wet felting is the process of reducing its size through the use of hot water and agitation. We all know that you should not wash 100% wool jumper in a washing machine. Wet felting is to do that on purpose.

Needle felting is the art of taking loose fibers – typically colored wool and using barbed needles – ‘punch’ them into the same fiber or another piece of fabric.

Wet felting may take a bit of skill and understanding of how fiber behaves during the process. You would also need a working space, hot water and soap. Your hands and table get wet and soapy, and this may put you off.

But I enjoy wet felting. I find it very therapeutic, rubbing wool with warm soapy water. I forget immediate worries and I feel I can stay calm rest of the day.

Just as knitting, I like making little creatures like these.

Three fat cats;

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and pocket bears in felted version.

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I made some finger puppets and a dolphin, too.

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Recently, I found the joy of creating these; felted purses.

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This is a fairly easy project. I wrap a polyethylene ball with merino fleece, pour hot soapy water over it and rub it. That is all what it takes. If you do not like getting your hands wet, you can put the wool covered ball in an old stocking, tie the ends and felt it in a washing machine.

I did have some trials and errors. My very first purse was too small relation to the clasps I had and the second one came out too thin. But surprisingly, I wasn’t too disappointed. I think I just enjoyed the process of rubbing wool.

To make the purse sturdy, you need three thin layers of merino. If you pour hot water as you lay fleece, it is much easier to handle.

Felting process takes 30- 45 minutes depending on the size of the ball. I like felting without music or television, but if you have a company who can chat with you, that would be fun, too.

I dry the felt over night and then, attach the clasps.

Did I know how to do that? No, it was a new experience for me. I just learned it from watching YouTube. I needle felted dots and hearts afterwards.

I originally wanted to make many small coin purses, but I ordered large clasps online by mistake. I was shocked to see them when they arrived. 10 of them!

But never mind, I can make a large purse.

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Lots of coins can go in this.

Wool is utterly amazing.

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Knitted Loyal Royal Corgi

Our Queen gets to celebrate her birthday twice a year. She is a very lucky lady.

Her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday is on a Saturday in June. Today is that Saturday.

Her 90th! How fantastic!

We love our Queen. She is elegant, stylish and very charming. She is the ultimate ambassador for us ladies for aging gracefully. Isn’t it great if we could look like that at 90?

I knitted her a couple of years ago, and this is still one of my favorites.

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Recently, I made these corgis.

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The pattern is fairly simple, so, if you would like to have a go, here is the pattern.

Corgi

Size: 9 cm (corgi)

Materials used
• 4g King Cole mustard
• Small amount of King Cole natural white, white chunky fleecy yarn, 4-ply dark brown
• Stuffing

Equipment
• A pair of 2.75-3.00mm (US) DPN knitting needles. *DPNs to make i-cords. Pattern is knitted flat and sewn up at the end.
• A chenille needle with large eye and fairly sharp point

Abbreviations
Stst: stocking stitch
St: stitch
K: knit
P: purl
Kfb: k one through the front then through the back (same stitch)
K2tog: knit two together
P2tog: purl two together

Special technique: i-cord
Using double-pointed needles cast on the required number of stitches. Do not turn. Slide stitches to the opposite end of the needle, then knit stitches again taking the yarn firmly across the back of work. Repeat to desired length. Cast off.

Corgi

Body and head
With mustard, cast on 10 sts.
Rows 1-3: Stst, starting with a p row
Row4: k4, kfb twice, k4. 12 sts
Row5: p
Row6: kfb, k to last st, kfb. 14 sts
Row7: p
Rows8-13: rep rows 6-7 three times. 20 sts
Row14: k2,( kfb, k2) to end. 26 sts
Rows15-23: Stst
Row24: Cast off 4 sts, k7, kfb twice, k to end. 24 sts
Row25: Cast off 4 sts, p to end. 20 sts
Row26: cast off 4 sts, k4, kfb twice, k to end. 18 sts
Row27: Cast off 4 sts, p to end. 14 sts
Row28: kfb, k to last st, kfb. 16 sts
Row29: p
Row30: k7, join white and k2tog in white, k7 in mustard. 15 sts
Row31: p6 (mustard), p3 (white), p6 (mustard)
Row32: k6 (mustard0, k3 (white), k6 (mustard)
Row33: p2, p2tog twice (mustard), p3 (white), p2tog twice, p2 (mustard). 11 sts
Break mustard
Rows34-37: Stst
Row38: k2tog, *k1, k2tog; rep from * to end. 7 sts
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Legs: make four
With white, cast on 6 sts and work in i-cord for 4 rows. Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Ears: make two
With mustard, cast on 5 sts.
Row1: p
Row2: k2tog, k1, k2tog. 3 sts
Row3: p2tog, p1. Pass the first st over the second and fasten off.

To make up
Sew body seam and stuff. Attach limbs. Wrap fleecy chunky yarn around the neck 4-5 times and hide ends inside the body. With dark brown, French knot the eyes and embroider nose and mouth.

Sorry, I haven’t included patterns for the props. I am still working on the cushion charts on Word. It is all technical and takes time.

I am sure lots of exciting events are lined up this weekend.

Happy Birthday, Queen! We all love you.

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Junk food to super food

I had a couple of instant noodle packets in the larder. They were bought for my son’s camping weekend but had never made it to the event.

We often buy Japanese “Demae iccho” brand from Asian market. They are much flavoursome and my boys love them.

It comes in many flavours! We top with lots of vegetables when we cook them.

But we are aware that the noodles are fried and some chemicals are added. It is a treat, and we have them in moderation. You can have a bit of fun once in a while, can’t we?

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Unfortunately, these packets in our larder were from a local supermarket.

They are so inexpensive, costing only 40 pence per packet, but never attracted anyone in my family. I didn’t want to throw them away, so, I decided to experiment a little.

I made cold noodle salad with sesame dressing.

I love making dips, sauces and dressing with sesame seeds. I toast raw seeds, grind them and add a few ingredients depending on how I feel on the day. I like knitting without patterns, and I also enjoy cooking without recipes.

The basic ingredients I use are

3-4 Tbsp freshly toasted Sesame Seeds
2 Tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp Japanese Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tsp sesame oil
1-2 Tsp sugar
2-3 Tbsp Dashi stock or any stock

But you never need to measure them accurately.

You can add Tahini or peanut butter to add thickness. Omit the sugar if you are using sweetend peanut butter.

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You can also add minced green onion, garlic paste, red chilli sauce or oyster sauce. Mayonnaise makes the mixture creamy and mild. Whatever you do, you cannot go too wrong.

Sesame seeds are packed with protein, fiber, minerals, iron and calcium. They are one of the trendy “superfoods” aren’t they?

For the noodle salad, cooked the instant noodles, drain the hot water and wash it in cold water until it gets cold. Drain well.

Place salad leaves in a bowl. Place noodle and top with ham, crab sticks, cucumber, egg and more vegetables of your choice.

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This recipe worked! I was very pleased.

I think the sauce goes well with steamed chicken breast, too.

Instant noodles are considered to be junk food, but you can tweak a little and make it into a healthier tasty meal.

And they are so cheap!

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FB promotion

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My book publisher, Search Press has now over 10,000 followers on Facebook.

To celebrate, they are offering give away extravaganza, and my book is one of their prizes.

This time, not only the signed copies, you will get my hand knitted toys.

To enter, please like and share the post.

https://www.facebook.com/Search-Press-Art-and-Craft-Books-101643268908/

They are offering lots of other books by different authors next week as well. You may find craft books which interest you.

Good luck!

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BBC Get Creative

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I am so pleased to announce that my work is included to BBC’s Arts, Get Creative website.

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I don’t quite remember how I found out about the programme. I guess it was through the Facebook. BBC4 was looking for creators who can participate their new programme by sending them photos.

Yes, that simple, so why not?

I sent them the photos of my favorite knitted carousel of course, but this time, I sent the photos of all rides I created for my knitted amusement park.

I also included this one, my knitted street performers.

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If you grew up in Japan in 1970’s, you may be able to tell where I got this inspiration from.
This is from one of the animation series aired on Sunday nights, “Ha ha wo tazunete 3000-li, (7000miles in search of mother)”. It is loosely based on a small part of the novel Heart (Cuore) by Edmondo De Amicis, an Italian writer.

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The plot focuses on Marco, a young boy who lives with his family in the harbor city of Genoa, Italy during a depression period in 1881. Marco’s father, Pietro Rossi, is a manager of a clinic who dedicates his time to treating poor patients. The family runs into financial difficulties and Marco’s beloved mother, Anna, goes to Argentina to work as a maid to earn money. Sadly, she becomes ill and the family loses contact with her. Worried Marco decides to head to Argentina on his own in search of her.

But he is only 9 years old!

Marco takes with him his older brother’s pet monkey, Amedeo and together they sneak aboard the ship bound for Brazil. In Brazil, he meets a puppeteer called Peppino and his family, whom he knew from Genoa.

This is the family I knitted. Marco is in the centre with two puppets.

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The family consists of the father (with the music box, I made him look much younger without his mustache), the older daughter who is gorgeous and amazing singer/dancer, the young daughter at Marco’s age who is a good puppeteer and the baby girl.

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Amedeo, Marco’s pet monkey, dances with the little puppet.

It is a lovely story. We need to have more of these for young children.

I have no idea of how the BBC programme is going to be, but it is supposed to go out on Thursday 9 June at 9 pm.

I hope the programme has included my lovely puppeteer family.

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