knits by sachi

Promotion video

I recently bought myself a present: a domain name.

Yes, I am going to build a website.

I was making a plan for my pages and realized I had this video my husband had made for me last year.

Then, I had no Facebook page. I thought social networking was out of my league.

Now, I am doing a website, on my own. My learning curve is rather steep and I should be proud of myself.

Here is the video. It has been a while, but I haven’t told you I had this. It is a bit of an experiment and is not perfect, but I hope you will enjoy it. I would like to create more like this, and possibly, some tutorial videos to help my book readers.

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Knitting rhyme

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My boys spent their early years in the Steiner school in South east England.

In Steiner education, children spend a lot time in art, music and handwork.

Handwork? Yes, they did hand dyeing, spinning and weaving, felting, sewing, cross stitching and of course, they learned to knit and crochet.

First lesson: make your tool.
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They made their own knitting needles with wood sticks and beads. Wood beads! What a nice idea.

Then you learn this rhyme.

In goes the huntsman (insert a knitting needle on your right hand)
Round the tree goes the dog (yarn around the needle)
Out pops the rabbit (take the yarn through the loop)
And off we go (pull the yarn out)

Isn’t it sweet? There are other versions of knitting rhymes, but this one my children taught me is my favorite.

My younger son made this when he was about 10.

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He struggled a little when he was knitting. The stitches became tighter and tighter for some reason. I gave him a slightly larger needle and he alternated with the needle he was originally using. It worked well.

I think he made a rather sweet looking cat.

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Astringent persimmon?

Have you ever tasted “Astringent persimmon”?
We just came across one the other day. I didn’t buy it on purpose of course, it happened to be the one.

You may be wondering what astringent means. Well, it is a bit difficult explain. Someone said “the entire inside of my mouth felt as if it was on the beach in a windstorm blasted by sand.”

Close. It is gritty and quite horrible. Your mouth goes into a bit of a shock as if it is anesthetized.

We call these persimmons “Shibu gaki” in Japan and we are very familiar with them. We dry them outside in winter.
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You end up with sweet dry fruits. These are my favorite.

My sister in Tokyo recently made some at home.

The first day: you need to get the right kind. Funny thing is you need use astringent type. They are a bit pointy at the end, but could be difficult to tell. We can get them at supermarket in Japan just like cooking apples.

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And Hang them outside.
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And wait.
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And about 2 weeks, you get these.
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You need cold, dry and sunny weather. Not in England, I guess…
I think you can dry them in a low heated oven and I would love to try making some at home.
But I haven’t come across the gritty persimmons again unfortunately.

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Mini Knitted Woodland

This will be the title for my second book; Mini knitted woodland.

I just received a good news from my editor. She is bringing this book’s publication schedule a little forward. I think I will have two books published by the end of this year!

My woodland is going to look something like this.
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Many little animals!

Since woodland animals are smaller than safari ones, some of my creations are tiny. But patterns are simple and you could make them bigger if you wish.

You can also try some new techniques. I am going to include
*Basic crochet: slip ring and double crochet (single crochet USA) to make a round piece.
*knitting with circular or 4 needles.

I have used these methods to make ponds and trees, but there will be an alternative of using two needles. All animals are knitted flat and sewn together at the end.

I guess some knitters do not crochet. I didn’t until three years ago. And I disliked knitting in rounds with four needles. These are the techniques that I used to avoid as much as I could for many years. But once you get the hang of it, it isn’t at all difficult. If I can do them, you can, too.

There are many ways to enjoy your animals.
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You can make it into a dangler charm or make a Noughts-and-crosses (Tic-tac-toe) game with them.
You can make a pin cushion. Change yarn and, you can have fluffy or funky animals.

And this book has a gnome or two with his mushroom house.

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Someone asked if my books were for adults or children. Well, what do you think?

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The Handweavers Studio

Using materials with good quality is essential for my craft, but they may not come easy sometimes.

I struggled to find fine yarn for my doll making. I wanted single-ply undyed yarn and hand dye it myself with plants when needed. My dolls’ hair is made this way.
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Most yarns for knitting are plied to give their strength. And single-ply yarn will curl to one direction unless it is treated after spun. I asked fellow doll makers but they were all using normally plied yarn for knitting.

It was more than 10 years ago. Online shops were not fully developed and, I was a computer illiterate anyway.

But by pure luck, I found this shop in London. It is called “The Handweavers Studio”.

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It is an amazing shop! I show you inside.
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All these fibre!
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I was in heaven! You can easily forget yourself in these piles of wool.
Weaving wool for my craft, why didn’t I think of that? You can use all these fibre and yarns for many other craft of course. They have many interesting yarns, fibre, dyes, books and tools.

There is a workroom at the back of the shop and they regularly run workshops and classes.
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If you have a chance to visit London, it is a fantastic place to visit. Oh, you must visit the shop! You can also shop online or contact them by phone or e-mails. Here is the shop website:
http://www.handweavers.co.uk/

I recently bought Boucle yarn for my gnome. He will be in my second book, “Mini knitted woodland”.
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Enjoying photography

My editor at Search Press gave me this book.

The crafter’s guide to taking great photos/Heidi Adnum/Search Press

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This is a great book and I read it from cover to cover. It explains all the jargons and gives you very good advice on taking photos. If you sell your craft online or unwanted items on E-bays, this book is a must-read.

I tried one of the tips from the book: light tent.

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My husband bought me this, but the book shows you how to make one with cardboard box and tissue paper.

According to the book, “light enters the box from above and at sides and bounces around inside the box and falls on to your product form many angles”.

It doesn’t look much of anything, but it makes a big difference. The photographer of my book uses white polyethylene boards. Just by placing white boards around the object, you can make your photos much brighter.

I took this one in my mini studio.

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And this. I love my SLR camera. I like the blurry background sometimes.

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You can have so much fun in your life, yes?

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Green tea cupcakes

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My mother has sent me candied beans called Amanatto.

Candied beans? you may be wondering. Yes, Amanattō is a Japanese traditional confectionery that is made of azuki or other beans, covered with refined sugar after simmering with sugar syrup and drying.

And they are yummy!

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Since they are quite sweet, we don’t eat them too much at a time. Just a few beans with green tea is nice.

You could also use them for cooking and baking. You can find amanatto at Japanese food shops.
Here is our family’s favorite recipe.

Steamed green tea cupcake

Ingredients
120g flour
50g sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
130 ml skimmed milk
1 tbsp green tea powder
50-60g amanatto

Mix all ingredients and place the dough in muffin cups.
Steam in bamboo steamer or electric steamer, high heat for first 3 min, reduce to medium and steam further 12 min.

Done!

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You can make these with raisins or chocolate chips, but please do try amanatto if you ever come across them.
You can make gluten-free or vegan cupcakes with this basic recipe. There is no oil added to the dough, so it is very low in fat.

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How to make origami dolls

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There are many paper craft; card making, scrap booking, paper marche and so on. But it is fun to make these, too. These are traditional Japanese bookmark dolls or “shiori-ningyo”.

You can make with a white card, tissue paper and Japanese patterned paper. You can use plain origami paper and draw patterns if you would like.

The card is used for the body and head. Tissue paper is for the collar. You cut paper to the template shapes, layer the paper gluing each time.

Template is in centimeter (cm). I made it up for a guideline. You are free to alter the size. Trace a coin and cut the head to make it nice and round.

Basic figure

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And you layer the paper.

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1. Fold the collar in half horizontally, wrap around the neck, folded side up. Place the right side first and place the left side over the right. This is very important.*
2. Place another layer the same way.
3. Fold the top end of the kimono three times toward you to create the collar of the kimono. Glue the inside cloth. Place the body on top of the kimono, wrong side facing.
4. Cover the right shoulder first. The left goes over the right in the centre.
5. Fold the belt horizontally and wrap it around the body and secure.
6. Make another belt and fold in the middle as shown in the picture. Glue it to the back of the body (optional)
7. Glue the head and hair. Gather the top of the front hair and tie with hair band.
8. Fold the kimono end to show the inside cloth.

*Kimono is worn this way. The right front should be placed to the centre first and the left goes over the right. Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter, it is still the same. You wear kimono the other way around only once in your life time; when you are going into the coffin.

This is the basic doll. You can add a bit of ribbon and flowers if you would like. You can make your original greeting cards with them, too.

And if you are more ambitious, you can move on to 3-D dolls like these.

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Back to spinners’ club

One of my resolution for this year: attend the spinners’ meeting more often.

I already missed the first one last week, but I managed to go yesterday.

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We meet on the first and the second Wednesday of the month. The first one is a workshop meeting. We have a guest tutor from inside or outside of our club and work on a project.

Projects are not limited to spinning yarn. We do dry and wet felting, weaving, basket making, crochet, embroidery, tassel making etc. We even made friendship bracelets.

My boys used to come along with me when they were little. They came to have tea and biscuits served at three o’clock, but also enjoyed workshops and tried many project with us. They liked sitting next to a spinner and watching the wheel goes round and round.

It is very very therapeutic to spin yarn.

I brought my recent draft of the book yesterday.

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Carol(right) has been so good to me since I arrived this town. I love her dearly as my second mother.

She would listen to me my problems and give me kind words. She is never judgemental or critical. She doesn’t take anyone’s sides. She just listens and comforts me.

I want to be like her someday.

She was very excited to see the draft and showed it to all the members.

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It was my very happy day. Thank you, Carol.

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My yarn

Knitting is great. Whoever discovered this craft is a genius. You can make anything with yarn and two sticks.

You can imagine I have large stash of yarn. Since I make small items and like using many colours, I buy tapestry wool. Yes, I am a big fan of tapestry wool. They are fairly tightly spun and give my toys clean finish. You can get any colour you like and they are 100% wool!

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I found an old set of cushion cover embroidery kit yesterday at a charity shop. Some colours were missing, but I could not just walk away. I have hundreds of skeins at home but I keep getting more. I guess I am addicted to these yarns.

Tapestry wool is like water colour paints. There are so many colours to choose from and it is so exciting to knit with it.

Talking about water colour paints, I made these.

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If you want to have a go, here is the pattern.
Paint tubes

Materials
*small amounts of cream, red, blue and white.
*stuffing (cotton wool would do)

Equipment
*A pair of 2.75mm (US 2) knitting needles

Front piece
Cast on 8 sts with cream
Row1-10: st/st
Row11-14: st/st with red
Row15-16: st/st with cream
Row17: skpo, k to last 2 sts, k2tog (6)
Row18: p
Row19: skpo, k to last 2 sts, k2tog (4)
Row20: p
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly.

Back piece
Cast on 8 sts with cream
Row1-8: st/st
Row 9-12: st/st with red
Row13-14: st/st with cream
Row15; skpo, k to last 2 sts, k2tog (6)
Row16: p
Row17: skpo, k to last 2 sts, k2tog (4)
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly.

Cap
Cast on 2 sts, st/st 6 rows. Cast off.

To make up
Sew the front and back pieces together from the fasten-off end, matching the colour bands. Fold the excess of the front piece forwards and sew to the back piece. Sew the cap piece’s cast on and cast off end together and attach it to the tube.

Cute, no?

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