knits by sachi

My book #3

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The draft for the second book should be arriving any time soon and, I will be busy checking each pattern.
But I have another book I will be working on soon. This one is “Little knitted toys” (or called something like that).

Originally, this book was meant to be one of the “20 to make” series. You may have seen them, Search Press has many small, A-5 size books on a variety of craft. I have quite many of them myself. This book was commissioned to someone else last year, but it didn’t work with the author due to her personal circumstances.

Then, I was offered to step in. “Can you make 20 small toys?” Of course, I can make a 100 of small toys!

I made some samples for the chief editor for the editorial meeting. Luckily, the book was upgraded and will become a normal sized book.

This one will be a collection of toys with different types and sizes. I want to have something for everyone. For this book, I have been keeping most of my patterns unpublished.

I am thinking about three parts for the book.

The first section: quick and easy toy.
A single item like this
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or simple patterns like this
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The second section: still easy, but a little more involved.

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And then, the larger projects. You have a large centre piece and little figures to go with it.
Like this
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and this
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I don’t know if this one needs to many spreads.

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The editorial meeting is coming up in two weeks and, we are going to pick projects. Nothing has been firmly decided yet.
Do you have any requests or suggestions?

10 Comments »

Green tea bread

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I just read an interesting article on green tea.
According to some studies, green tea, especially powdered form called matcha powders have amino acids which help

*improve learning performance,
*Promote concentration and
*Support the immune system. (from Zoom Japan, monthly magazine published in UK)

This amino acids, called L-theamine helps to create a state of mental alertness but keeping you relaxed at the same time by stimulating the production of alpha brain waves, the article says.

This is perfect for my 16-year-old who are in the middle of GCSE exams!

My son is no green tea drinker unfortunately, so I made some bread containing green powder.
You may think it is a bit odd, but we use green tea powder for baking and cooking. It colours your biscuits and sponges naturally green, so it may be a good idea for Halloween bakes, too. At super markets in Japan, you can get all sorts of sweets with green tea flavour. My children’s favorite is this.
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Green tea kitkat!

To make green tea bread, all you need to do is just to add green tea powder to your favorite bread recipe. I add 1 tbsp or about 10g of it. You may need to consume whole a lot more to get its benefit, but you never know, you may get the placebo effect.

This time, I prepared two different fillings; one is sweet potato paste, the other is red bean or Adzuki bean paste.

Sweet potato paste
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Adzuki bean paste
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We like buns with filling. The colour contrast is pretty.
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Umm, yummy.
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I love baking bread at home. I have little helpers to keep me company.

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Green tea powder is available at oriental food market and online. If you mix it with vanilla ice cream, you can make green tea ice cream. They are fragrant and delicious.

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Group shots

Here is another photo from the last day photo shoot.

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Isn’t it magical? I just love it!
I do not know if it was my camera, but the photo came out a little orangey which is nicely giving a dreamy effect.

Yes, I took the photo with my own camera, meaning the ones for the book must be even better.

On the last day, we took some group shots. This time, we didn’t put all the animals together as the safari book. We just had so many players! We took several different shots instead.

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I am so glad that I made gnomes for this book.

Everything ran smoothly and we were ahead of the schedule which gave us some time to play with a few more fun shots.

Here, my designer is trying something different.
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See? He is making my rabbit jump!

And here is a blooper shot. Oh no! But don’t worry, my rabbit had a lucky escape.

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Boys in the studio love playing with my little animals.

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A big thank you to…

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A big thank you to my publisher, Search Press editorial team; my editor, Becky, designer, Juan, and photographer, Paul.

The last three days have been utterly amazing. We had photo shoots for my second book, “Mini knitted woodland”. This one is the Volume 2 of my Mini knitted animal series.

On the first day, we worked on the tutorials and flat shots as for the first book, Mini knitted safari. Most of the four legged animals are knitted flat in one piece and do not require knitting limbs separately. I am showing the assembling steps in the beginning of the book again. You can make most of the animals following these steps.

Flat shots are the photos with plain white background to show how the items are made. We had a bit of struggle with animals knitted with white yarn. Some of the animals are also very small, but my excellent photographer managed taking nice, clear shots for all of them.
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Then, the real fun starts. Juan joined us and start taking styled shots with props and backgrounds.

We start with the basic colours and the theme and gradually add more elements into the photo.
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We take shots and re arrange the players, considering the composition.
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Sometimes we come up with good looking shots very quickly, but sometimes, we spend a long time to make things work. It seems we use all parts of brains to be creative. At the end of the day, we are all exhausted, but it is so rewarding.

Here is one of the styled shots in progress. Do you recognize the floor fabric? I hand dyed it a week ago.

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We took fantastic group shots yesterday, too. I will show you more the next time!

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6 Comments »

Sharing good news

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I have just submitted all the work for Knit Now autumn issues.

I have written about the call for submissions in the previous post. This was for three issues from September to November.

Their topics and themes were

The Collections:
* Down to the Woods: designs with foxes, owls and hares.
* Go Big or Go Home: The oversized sweater and accessories and garments that are quick to knit with chunky yarn.
* Celtic Inspirations: Cables and colourwork inspired by the Celtic tradition.

I don’t do big knits although I think it must be so therapeutic to knit with thick, chunky, fat yarn using large needles. As for Celtic inspirations, this is far out of my depth. I have a great respect for designers who can make gorgeous looking knitwear.

I went for woodland idea of course. It is a coincidence that I am now working on “Mini knitted woodland” book.

I made up patterns especially for the magazine. I sent five, thinking the editors can choose what they like.
And to my surprise, they wanted them all! Ooh, that is a lot of work!

When I receive commissions, my very friendly contact from DMC always sends me generous amounts of wool.

And here they are

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Aren’t they just gorgeous? I think these are my favorite colours of all, so warm and comforting.

I check the patterns as I knit the items again. Knit Now magazine requires their designers to use good quality yarn with high natural fiber content. It must contain at least 60% natural fiber available in the UK, I believe. Tapestry yarn is 100% wool and perfect for my projects.

I got above owls for the November issue. My Witch girl and her cat goes to the September issue.

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And my woodland animals go to the October issue.
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Now they are gone to the editorial team for the photos.
I hope readers will enjoy the patterns.

9 Comments »

Knitted Sumo game

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I made this Sumo game for fun.
This is a knitted version of “kamisumo”(paper sumo) game.

Kamisumo is one of the Japanese pastime games. Paper wrestlers are placed facing each other in a ring made with wood plate or thick paper. Players move the wrestlers by tapping the outside of the ring and try to topple the opponent. You are the winner if you manage to force the opponent down to the ground or out of the ring.

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A template look like above.

You can also download one from the website, Kids Web Japan.

My children used to enjoy paper games like this when they were little. You can make a wrestler with your original design. Or how about Karate players instead?

This is much more fun than computer games!

Maybe I should design more knitted games and encourage many to play with knitted toys.

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3 Comments »

For my “Mini Woodland”

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We are having photo shoots for my second book “Mini knitted woodland” next week.

Exciting!! I can hardly wait.
We had an editorial meeting a few days ago and discussed the themes and props. We are using a lot of natural materials on top of anything we can find in the studio.

I also dyed some felt fabrics for the back ground. For the safari book, we used one of my hand dyed felt. I need to have more different colours.

I use chemical acid dye for this. It is called “acid” because, acids, vinegar for example, are added to dyeing baths to fix the colour. It is not at all complicated process. You can easily dye your yarn and fabric this way.

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My favorite dye is the brand called “Omega” all in one dye. These dyes come complete with fixative for easy 30 minute dyeing. You do not need to add anything at all.

You can get 15 different colours. I simply dissolve the powder and granule in a glass jar and pour over the fabric and simmer over the low heat.

 

Here, I am doing green. I mixed colours in a jar and pour it over the fabric. I am making just enough dye bath to cover the fabric and leaving it without agitating it for patchy effect.

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After a while of simmering, the colours nicely blends.
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I let it cool after 30-60 minutes of simmering. I usually leave it in the pan overnight.
Rinse, spin and dry.
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I needed to dye sky blue again. This isn’t too easy since blue is the primary colour and, you are relying on the dye for the colour. You cannot mix with another dye and, unlike water colour, there is no white to soften the blue. I experimented with Navy blue and turquoise.

My designer also suggested to make one for the sunset effect. I have been dyeing many pieces. There may not be many authors who spends hours making props, but I enjoy this, too.

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Acid dye is for animal fibres as wool and silk. If you want to dye cotton, you will need a different type. For Omega dye, please see their website; http://www.omegadyes.co.uk/

Caution must be taken when you are handling the dye powder since it is toxic if it is inhaled. Once dissolved, it is safe.
Chemical dye is so easy and fun. It is certainly worth a try.

You may recognize the background as well as the knitted animal in the next book!

5 Comments »

Asian texitles

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I love Asian traditional textiles. We have the kimono in Japan of course and, I believe it is one of the most beautiful ethnic costume in the world.

Indian Saris are another of my favorite. They are stunning. They look very comfy, too. I would love to try one on some day.

Last week at the spinners group, we had a guest speaker, Jennifer Hughes BA, who gave us a talk on Asian Textiles.
This is what I love about my spinners’ group. You get to learn many new things.

Jennifer lived in Thailand for 7 years in 90’s due to her husband’s job relocation. Being a keen weaver herself, she was fascinated by Asian fabrics and studied the art. She also traveled many countries and collected fabrics all over the Asia.

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Aren’t they amazing.

These textiles are made with the dyeing technique called “Ikat”.
Although I have seen and admired the Asian fabrics, I had never even wondered how they were made. I heard this word the first time.

Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process.
In ikat, the resist is formed by binding bundles of threads with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern.
Like this
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The threads are then dyed.

This thread is dyed only once. The bindings may then be altered and the thread bundles dyed again with another color to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns.
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When the dyeing is finished the bindings are removed and the threads are woven into cloth.

She showed us many samples came from many different parts of Asia.

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Ikat is most characteristic of Indonesia, but also been woven in India and central Asia and even in Japan. These fabrics are from Japan.
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The patterns look familiar to me, but I had no idea how it was made. I got to know more about my own culture.

She had also brought some goodies for sale which were hard to resist; little buttons, beads, threads and fabric pieces… They were all so lovely.
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And I got those.
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I think I want to knit some elephants this size with colourful bells and decorations, and hang them as a room ornament.

I had a very informative and inspirational afternoon!

2 Comments »

Magical mystery knitting tour

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With the development of internet, we get many choices of language learning tools online these days. But the story was very different 30 years ago.

I started learning English when I entered in secondary school. English was compulsory and still is in Japan. I was given a textbook, but no CD came with it. We didn’t have CDs then. My teacher was a Japanese who probably had never actually spoken to a native English speaker. I was growing up in a quiet country side.

I needed to make extra effort to learn how the language was spoken, and the best tool I could find was music records.
Movies on TV was all dubbed in Japanese and, I had to travel a long distance if I wanted to watch a foreign film in a cinema.

Radios, records and cassette tapes. good old days.

I loved the Beatles. They had already split up when I found out about them, but I collected all their music. Lyrics were relatively easy to understand apart from a few odd ones and, they helped me developing my pronunciations and increasing vocabularies.

I spent most of my teenage years with Duran Duran and Culture Club after that, but The Beatles was my first encounter to the modern western culture.

I always wanted to create something related to the band and here it is;
The four guys and
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I like designing knits adults can enjoy making. This is the bus which takes you to all fantastic yarn shops, exhibitions and workshops around the world.

Isn’t that fantastic?

12 Comments »

Children’s day

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Today is the Children’s day (kodomo no hi) in Japan. It is a national holiday which takes place annually on May 5.
Originally, it was known as Boys’ Day (also known as Feast of Banners) while Girls’ Day (Hina dolls’ day) was celebrated on March 3. In late 40’s, the government decreed this day to be a national holiday to celebrate the happiness of all children. It was renamed Kodomo no Hi.

On this day, families with young boys fly colourful streamers and enormous kites in the shape of carp fish from a large pole in the garden. Some rivers are famous for large display. You get to see many carp streamers flowing above the river.

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The carp is a strong, robust fish, renowned for its energy and determination as it swims upstream against the current. We pray that boys also overcome obstacles and be successful.

In side the houses families display traditional warrior dolls.
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Every family with a boy has a set of warrior dolls just as a girl has a set of Hina-dolls. Here, my boys were celebrating the day with my brother’s set some years ago. Ha,ha.

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Of course, I knitted a boy doll for this occasion. The boy is riding a koi carp, wearing the Japanese kabuto helmet.

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Yes, I have to knit everything.

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