Mini knitted ocean

My photographer and designer collected props from the beach on a chilly rainy day.


We didn’t know what to call this book, but it seems the title has been set:Mini knitted ocean.

We had a photo shoot session recently again at the Search Press studio.
For this book, I hand dyed many pieces of fabrics of different materials. I also tried Shibori tie dye. Because it is all about sealife, there was a risk of the photos becoming a little boring. We did not want the same blue back ground all the way through. We tried to throw in different colours as much as possible.

I also made some props for my designer.


A treasure box, a boat with a keel and a cage.

We wanted a treasure box for the scuba diver scene. I made the box with cardboard, painted with acrylic paint and glued a gold ribbon.

The boat with a keel is to shoot from the bottom of the sea, looking up the surface.

The cage was to go with the shark scene, but unfortunately, we didn’t use this one.

See, I did my homework.

I created these knitted creatures thinking of my father.

After my mother was diagnosed with her illness, my parents had to give up hiking and mountain climbing that they enjoyed very much. My father bought a large fish tank and started collecting little tropical fishes.Growing up near the ocean, I guess he always loved sealife.

But after the large earthquake in 2011, he decided to give it up, too. So, I am dedicating the book to him.

The photo session was challenging, and sometimes, we spent over an hour on one project. The composition is not right, the balance of the colours is not right, the proportion is not right, the figures at the wrong angle….


Lots of hanging with wires and threads, too.


It will be a colourful book. I was excited to use all the bright coloured yarn in my stash. And the photographer is very good at bringing them up of course.


And you will have a little bonus.

A knitted Yellow Submarine.

Not just the submarine in yellow, but “The Yellow Submarine”. My editor spent months to get the permission to use it in the book.
Sadly, we did not receive a permission to use four guys to go in it, but I am sure readers can make their own.

I am not showing the submarine here yet. When the cover is ready, you will see.

University challenge


My older son wants to learn how to cook Japanese before he goes off to university next year.

He did some cooking in Kenya and Tanzania this summer during the World Challenge trip and has realized that cooking is one of the skills he needs to develop.

And he is right. It is a very important, essential skill, and if he wants to eat Japanese home cooking, he has to cook on his own.

So, he is learning the basics. How to cut, dice, Julienne vegetables, how to peel and deseed tomatoes, how to mince onions.


He doesn’t need to go on the Master Chef. If he could cook himself the food he likes, that would make his university life more enjoyable. It saves him lots of money, too.

I am teaching him simple Japanese dishes, something you can make in a short time and does not require exotic ingredients. Most dishes are cooked over one hob, two the most.

We made this one last night. It is one of his favorite, “Niku soboro don” (cooked meat over rice).

Soboro is simple yet convenient meat recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g minced meat
2 tbsp minced or grated ginger
1 onion, minced
1 2/3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
pinch salt

3-4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt and sugar

any green vegetables to garnish

In a cooking pan, cook onions and ginger. Add meat and cook until the colour changes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer (covered) about 15 minutes.


Make scrambled egg.

Place the meat over a bowl of rice and serve.

It is nice with pickled ginger or Nori seaweed.


My son likes beef, but you can use chicken, pork or lamb mince. Tuna, salmon or Tofu mince are good for this recipe, too.

You can make a large quantity and keep it in the fridge up to one week. It also freezes well. You can add it to stir fries and noodles if you would like.

More cooking lessons to come.

Knitted amusement rides

Here are some new additions to my knitted amusement park.

Knitted tea cups and a tea pot.


For this amusement park, I made up some characters. I have these little babies with hats, a giraffe, a bear, a penguin and an elephant. Occasionally, my little bunny, a cat and a goose come to play.

I always start with the item which looks the most challenging. If I work the most of the set and cannot make the crucial part, it is very disappointing. I want to make sure the idea works before I spend too much time on the project..

For this set, it was the tea cup.


It is a knitted circle. I started from the base centre, increased stitches to the rim, made a folding line and decreased stitches towards the inner centre base. It is lightly stuffed and the table is added afterwards.

I didn’t have the finished image when I started the project. I decided the teacups need a teapot in the centre, so I added it.



I tried to squeeze my elephant, but he was a little too big.

I used to think tea cup ride was a gentle fun ride until I had a go with my friend who turned the table brutally. Only then I realized it was not a romantic ride like a carousel.

I have been to two Disney parks, one in Tokyo and one in Florida. I took my boys to Sesame Place, Sanrio Kitty Land and Lego Land. But how come they have no memories of these places??

But my boys left me fantastic memories. I cannot complain.


All parts were quite easy and quick to knit, but the base platform took me a little longer. I decided to re-use it for another project which is this one.




There are more to come!

Soya milk and green tea sorbet

Carrot cake is probably the only way to feed my sons carrot!
Last week on British Bake-Off, we saw contestants baking with alternative ingredients.

Baking a cake without sugar, baking bread without gluten, making ice cream without dairy.

It is a bit of a challenge. Quite often your bakes do not turn well without conventional sugar, butter, eggs recipes.

I tried this recipe this summer. It is Soya milk and green tea sorbet.
I like using soya milk in my cooking. My family loves miso soup with soya milk. I do not like drinking it as much, but someone like my father who worries cholestrol level and has lactose intorelance, soya milk is just great.

300cc Soya milk
10g Green tea powder
80g Sugar
100cc Water

The original recipe says dissolve the Green tea powder in soya milk, add sugar, sieve the mixture through paper towel lined sieve and freeze in the freezer.



I found that the powder gets lumpy and does not mix too well. I think it is a good idea to dissolve it in 2-3 tbsp of warm water before you add to the soya milk.

The recipe also says to keep the mixture in a plastic container and stir with a fork a few times during the course of freezing.
I have a better idea. I always keep homemade ice cream mixture in a zip bag. I take it out of the freezer once in a while and give it a good squeeze.


This is so much easier!

And here is what I made.


It is light and refreshing.
Many contestants went for coconut milk as soon as they heard “non-dairy” but soya milk is another non-dairy alternative.

I would like to think cooking and baking with alternatives gives more choices in ingredients rather than limiting them. You never know, you may discover a great recipe.


I am loving the BBC’s “Great British Bake Off”.

It is such a fantastic program. I enjoy watching it every year and I know I am not the only one.

I guess we like seeing baking disasters as much as great achievements. I am not being mean. We all like to know things go wrong for not only you but for everyone.

So, what is your baking disaster?

Mine is Macaroons. A few years ago, I had a go at Macaroons first time in my life. Macaroons are so pretty and I had always wanted to try.

I had my mixture perfect. I had two colours, pink and cocoa brown. My younger son, still in primary school then, helped me draw circles on baking sheets. I followed carefully every step in the recipe and voila, my Macaroons looked textbook perfect when they came out of the oven.

But you know what? They were stuck to the paper.
Apparently, I had used wrong kind of paper to line the baking tray. I was shattered. My son cried.

I haven’t tried Macaroons ever since. It became my trauma and they make me nervous.

But recently, I decided to knit them. Knitting Macaroons is so much easier than baking them!

And here is the recipe.

Size: 4cm diameter
• Small amounts of DK colour of your choice
• Small amount of white DK
• stuffing

St/st: stocking stitch
St: stitch
K: knit
P: purl
Kf/b: k one through the front then through the back (same stitch)
K2tog: knit two together
P2tog: purl two together
Skpo: slip1, knit1, pass slipped stitch over

Top and bottom piece: make one each
With the colour of your choice DK, cast on 10 sts loosely.
Row1: (kf/b) to end (20)
Row2: p
Row3: (k1, kf/b) to end (30)
Rows4-10: st/st
Row11: (k1, k2tog) to end (20)
Row12: p
Row13: (k2tog) to end (10)
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

With fasten-off yarn end, sew the seam. Stuff lightly. Work a gathering thread along the cast-on edge and pull tightly.

Centre cream
Worked with two strands of DK together, alternatively, use Aran or chunky yarn
With two strands of white DK together, cast on 8 sts.
Row1: (kf/b) to end (16)
Row2: p
Row3: (k1, kf/b) to end (24)
Cast off.

To make up
Attach all three pieces together with the cream piece in the centre. Secure with a few stitches.

So, what do you think? They can be pin cushions, too.


Hand crafted souvenirs

Returned home from the adventure of a lifetime.

My son came home from Africa safe and sound on Monday.

He was much cleaner and well fed than I had expected. The trip was absolutely amazing, he said. He looked truly content.

While I was rolling sushi for dinner, my son perched on a stool and told me a lot about the trip. Surely, he had a lot to tell.

He told me that he has been well during the trip. Most of the members suffered from diarrhea, but he has been lucky. He also enjoyed the food and happily ate whatever he was offered. He said their chapatis were very very good and absolutely loved them.

“Did you eat anything unusual?” I asked and he said “a boiled banana!” Umm, interesting.

He bought each of us something for souvenir.

For me, he got these wooden bowls. I am keeping bits and bobs of craft materials in these.

Elephants and lions are carved on the side of the bowl.
and this;
The Kilimanjaro coffee. It smells amazing and I am certainly keeping the cotton bag after use.

For my husband, he got this. It is hand carved stone rhino.

And these are for his brother.
A lion necklace and
wooden lion with his name.

For himself, a lion’s tooth necklace and the Masai blanket. He bought both directly from the Masai tribe. He had a quick lesson on how to wear the blanket.
These will make him strong.

He very much enjoyed every minute of the experience. Helping locals to build their school was fun and rewarding. Kenyan children kept calling my son “Jackie Chan”. They had never seen an Asian person before, but how flattering to be called that!

I hope he has shown some Karate moves. My son holds a black belt after all.

A shy and quiet teenage boy returned a confident young man. I am very pleased that we sent him to Africa.

And here is what we had for dinner. Quick sushi with the filling I can make with ingredients from local supermarket. I thought he had missed Japanese food.


African Trip



My son’s trip to Africa is almost over. He is returning tomorrow.

Time went very quickly? No. For me, it was the longest four weeks ever.

During this trip, we heard from the group only once. They have been travelling very remote area of Kenya with very limited internet service. They sent us a short message saying they were enjoying trekking with Masai tribe tour guides.

With these photos.



How amazing to actually meet them.

The group is doing serious trekking. One full week trekking was scheduled. You would end up with lots of blisters!



They are also involved in volunteer projects. One of them is to help the locals building a school.





I have no doubt my son has gained precious experiences in last 4 weeks.

Now, I really cannot wait to see him. I have cleaned his room, stripped everything from his bed and washed all his linens. I was surprised to find myself enjoying these chores.

Cooking, cleaning, washing for the family isn’t always fun, and I do want to get a break from being a housewife sometimes. I secretly complain that my work isn’t appreciated or even noticed. But by getting ready his room, I realized how lucky I am to be able to care my family.

I cannot wait to hear all about the trip. Well, after his nice long shower.