knits by sachi

Playing with food

We have many cooking toys in Japan.

Cookie maker, doughnut maker, maccaroon maker, sushi roll maker, you name it, there isn’t anything you cannot make with cooking toys. And they work just fine.

Cooking toys started appearing in mid 70’s. I remember the cookie maker my cousin got for her birthday. Not only cookie cutters and a rolling pin, it actually came with a tiny electric oven. I thought it was amazing that you can make edible cookies with your toy.

When my boys were still small, my sister sent me a cooking toy. It is “Taiyaki” maker which you can use in a microwave oven.

Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped sweet pancake. The most common filling is sweetened red bean paste that is made from adzuki beans. Other common fillings may be custard, chocolate, cheese, or sweet potato. It is one of our favorite street food.

Taiyaki is made using regular pancake or waffle batter. The batter is poured into a fish-shaped mold for each side. The filling is then put on one side and the mold is closed. It is then cooked on both sides until golden brown.

Taiyaki shop.
images (17)

With this toy Taiyaki maker, the batter is steamed rather than baked since it goes into a microwave.
The mold looks like this.
Pour the batter, place the lids and cook in a microwave for 2-3 mins.
Add filling.IMG_1069
And put both sides together to close the fish.
I made some with plain pancake batter, cocoa batter and green tea batter. For fillings, I used chocolate paste, sweet red bean paste and sweet potato paste.
I usually toast them to make them crispy on outside.
My boys are too old to enjoy the making process now, but they still love eating process.
Now I am a grown-up and allowed to cook or bake however I like, but I still like these cooking toys. They remind me how cooking can be fun.



Yesterday, I received an advanced copy of my book from the publisher.

Yes! finally! I have dreamed of this day.
The book came out exactly how I wanted. Including the size and the format,this is how I pictured my book in my head from the very beginning. I cannot tell you how excited I am.

I am dedicating this book to my mum.
When I signed the book contract and found out the publishing date was quite far away then, I secretly wondered if my mum will ever get to see it. My mum has the condition called Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) which are bone marrow disorders.

But she is on a new medicine and doing well. And my book is here! Her birthday is early next month. It will be a perfect gift for her.

The book is still printing and, it will be a few more weeks until the rest arrives. My publisher, Search Press is running a competition through the Facebook. The winning prize is a signed copy of course, but it may arrive with my mini knitted animal. We are still in the process of planning, so let’s see. Please like their page and watch the space.
I would like to run a competition on my website,too, but first, I have to find out how I do it. I am not an expert in website and computing butI will try.

Thank you for your wait. It will not be too long until you get to have my Mini knitted safari.


Knitted fairy tale

I have been creating fairy tale characters again.

I made many story scenes last year. Not being too sure how I do the faces, I employed the Steiner approach and didn’t add any embroidery. But this year, I am making them a bit cuter.

snow white

They still have very limited expressions. I am also making the patterns simpler where I can. You see, these gnomes do not have arms or legs.


I absolutely love making characters from stories. I think it is one of my favorite project.

Here is another story scene, The gigantic turnip.

When I start working on a new story, I usually make the main character first. If I cannot make him/her attractive enough, then, I know my story scene would not work too well. This is to avoid the future disappointment.

For this turnip story, I started with the grandfather to see the scale. I was a little worried that the animals may need to be very small but, I think they came out all right.

I also had to give a good thought on the interpretation. I didn’t want to make them too human like, standing on two feet and pulling with front legs. I ended up with this design.

My son said the turnip should be bigger and I agree. I will make a bigger one next time.

Children like the stories with repetition. I think they feel comfort in hearing the same phrases many times. Originated in Russia, this story is loved all over the world.

I have created many more characters recently but still have a to-make list. It is so fun!
I wonder what is your favorite story is.


English summer

Our wild strawberry is going really wild in the back garden this year.

They are doing very well. In fact, a bit too well. They are spreading everywhere and invading the spaces they are not suppose to grow. But you can smell the sweet strawberry when you get close to the plant. They look so cute and lovely. I just love them!

England has the perfect climate for strawberries. We have so many varieties. In Asia, you cannot grow perennial kind and, you need to sew seeds or plant seedlings each year. We don’t have wild strawberry either. I guess the summer is too hot and humid for it over there.

These are from our garden.

We have a cherry tree in front of our house, too


A few years ago, we had too much rain and not enough sun light at the beginning of the summer and, we had no cherries at all. Since then, the tree is trying to recover. Last few years, we had very little fruit, but this year, the tree is doing better at last.

This cherry tree was surely one of the attractive factor of the house when we bought it. We have many cherry trees in Japan, but they are to enjoy the blossums in spring and not the fruit. I just love the idea of having our own fruit tree in the garden.


We had very long dark, wet and horrible winter, but summer does come around and good things are happening.

Leave a comment »

Graduation day

Today is the last day for my older son to attend the secondary school.

I thought finishing the compulsory education is a big deal and should be celebrated, but his school has only a short assembly and not a ceremony as such. Students are gathered in a hall, take class photos and that is pretty much it. Parents are welcomed for a half hour late morning. It is very different from Japan or America.

In Japan, the graduation day is considered to be very important. The district governor and the head of local education board are invited to the school. Parents attend it all dressed up smartly. Many speeches are given and national and school anthems are sang. Students receive certificates from the head teacher at the end.

But my son? He is going in non-uniform today.

There is a cute tradition in Japan on the last day school.
The second button from the top of a male’s uniform is often given away to a female he is in love with, and is considered a way of confession. Uniform buttons are usually decorated with the school emblem. The second button is the one closest to the heart and is said to contain the emotions. Sweet.

Sadly, I didn’t receive one from anyone, but my brother who was quite popular in school had many takers.

And the prom? We don’t have that tradition in Japan. In fact, I think it is very American thing. The big difference is that in Britain, you don’t need a date to attend it and everyone go on a coach to the venue. I know it isn’t very glamourous, but is fair.

Big congratulations to my son. I am very proud of you.


Knitted birdland

I have knitted many birds recently. I don’t know how I call the set, but for now, my pattern file says “knitted bird land”.

I designed some birds for the safari book and the woodland book, but since there was a scale matter, I needed to make them small and simple. This time, just as the sea life knits, I completely ignore the scale and knitted as I like.

It isn’t difficult just to knit a bird. If you knit an oblong body and add wings, anything can look like a bird. But birds have limited features. They are beautiful and amazing creatures, but I cannot say they do things as interesting as monkeys. It becomes rather boring if I knit a bird just as it is.

So, I decided to give them more characters. The chubby parrot is my first one.
May be there is something to do with the positioning of the eyes and the beak, I found it very difficult to make cute faces. I think this one worked all right.

Then, I thought about creating a scene with some birds conversing with each other. I quite like this trio.

I like giving a spotlight to these animals which are not very well loved by humans. It is unfair that we perceive animals so unequally by the looks and the behaviors. They are just doing what they do.


I like creating mummy and babies sets.

You can tell that I have a good mum.

I have made a family with a daddy. Fathers don’t come in play as much as mothers in my creations. My father was a little distant in my childhood, but I developed a better relationship as I get older.


Happy Father’s Day!! I love you very much, Dad!


My son’s D & T

This is the CD case my son designed.

Both my sons are taking GCSE this week.

Because the exam boards are introducing a new system soon, my sons are in the transition period. I think it is a little strange that my year 10 and year 11 are taking the same paper in the same room, but it is working that way.

Kids in the secondary schools have extensive learning programs these days. Their school curriculum is utterly amazing. They get to study IT, business studies and design technology which we didn’t have in my school days. Is the school equipped to teach all these! YES! My sons’ school have interactive white boards in each room. Each pupil has a PC in each class room. They have a 3-D copier and a couple of laser cutters in tech room, two dozens of Apple Mac with keyboards in music room. The gym comes with a weight room, treadmills and other exercise machines. You name it, they have got everything.

They are not in a posh private school. No, they are in the local state school just around the corner of our house. We are so so fortunate to be able to educate our children in a wealthy country.

My older son had chosen Design and technology, also called graphics, for one of his options. He did a rather interesting project as a control assessment; a CD case (made with medium weight card paper).

I didn’t think there was much room for designing a CD case to be honest, but he came up with an interesting design.

When you open the case, the CD which is inserted in the middle pocket slides out by itself.


Like this.

He made up a name for his imaginary music group. He made the list of their imaginary songs, and I think he enjoyed this bit the most. His band is called “Alimuni”. I think they play alternative rock like Nine inch nails.

I would have enjoyed this project myself although I don’t think I could come up with such a cool looking and smart design.




Let’s knit magazine interview

I received a copy of Let’ knit magazine in a post.
Inside, on the very last page, you will see my interview article.

Yes, an interview! I was very flattered when they offered me. This is not the magazine I usually submit my patterns to and, I am not too sure how they had found me. It is even better.

All correspondence was done by e-mails and, all I had to do was to answer their questionnaire. There were many questions, at least 20 of them. Some of my answers may have been rather long, but the editor had done a fantastic job with editing. She has included some photos of my work. And the book cover! I am delighted to see the information on my upcoming safari book.


One small problem was the magazine had to go without my proofreading and, my name has been spelled wrong more than once. But I am very pleased to get my interview printed all the same. I am feeling like a proper designer!

For many years, I was just a mum who knits at home. Knowing other mums returning to work or school for training, I cannot say my self-esteem was very high. But now, I think I am more comfortable being myself. I absolutely love what I do and am feeling very lucky.

My feelings today:



Etegami, the picture letter

I received this postcard from my mother.

She painted the picture. This is a craft called “Etegami”, literally means “picture letter”

I myself have a set of Japanese water colours designed for etegami which is similar to this.

You hold your brush vertical to the paper and draw the outline with black ink first.


Then, colour in. That is all. You don’t draw with a pencil before you paint. Since you are holding the end of the brush, you don’t have too much control of it either. With etegami, there is no mistake. It is totally fine to be clumsy. It is a bit like my knitting.


You can draw anything, add any writings and send it to someone.

My mother has been always rather embarrassed of her handwriting, so I was pleasantly surprised when she sent me the postcard. She enjoys painting part and still does not want to show her work to other people much. But she says etegami is a picture letter and, it finally becomes a letter when she sends it to someone.

Her Japanese writing on the postcard says “Your favorite flower is blooming”. She remembers my favorite flower for all these years. It is called “Renge-sou” in Japanese. She certainly knows me more than I know her. I am afraid I do not know what her favorite flower is.

Renge-sou (Japanese milk vetch in English), has long been a typical feature of rural Japan. In recent years, however, this method of enriching the soil has given way to others, and the the carpets which they form in spring are becoming a less common sight. I loved these pink flowers as a little girl.

We don’t write letters much these days. Texts, fax, e-mails. But it is so nice to communicate with each other without typing. Etegami is so special and heart warming. I hope she will keep on sending me more.

“From such small bulbs. Spring is fantastic”


Knitted tropical ocean

Here are more creatures for knitted sea life series.


Previously, we visited the deep ocean and saw unique looking creatures. This time, my divers are dressed for scuba diving.

There are many colourful tropical fish.
My dad used to have a very large tank and kept all sorts of tropical fish. But since the earthquake in 2011, he decided to give it up for safety. The tank holds so much water and, it can be very dangerous.

So, I knitted his favorites.

I have more creatures here.

Talking about the earthquake, I have heard that catfish has an ability to predict them. I wonder if it is true.

Or did we have a myth of a very very big catfish somewhere to cause the earthquake? I don’t remember which.

I am a good swimmer, but I have never had a chance to scuba dive. I would love to have a go some day.