knits by sachi

My little gifts

To celebrate the launch of my mini book, “Tiny toys to knit” from Search Press 20 to make series, the sales team will be soon running a promotion through their Facebook and Twitter. They usually offer a chance to win a copy. This time, I suggested to add my small knitted item along with the book for the winner.

Isn’t it a nice idea?

I have lots of little knits after all, some are made as samples for patterns, some are made just for fun. It will be nice if they can find a nice home.

I decided to choose something small for easy shipping. I put them into an individual cellophane bag and tied yarn to make them look pretty. My son made transparent stickers with my web address on them.

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While I was looking for items for give-away gifts, I found these koalas.

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They are very simple and initially, I wasn’t too sure if I liked the design. I tried adding a string and a bell.

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I think they look cuter this way.

Such a little thing makes a big difference.

Would you like to have a go at making them yourself? Here is the pattern. (or something like that. It is very simple.)

Mini Koala
Size: Mummy, 5 cm, baby 4 cm
Materials
• Small amounts of grey, white, dark brown, red brown DK (8-ply)
• Stuffing

Equipment
• A pair of 2.75mm (US 2) DPN knitting needles
• A chenille needle with fairy sharp point

Abbreviations
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

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.

Mummy
Body
Cast on 7 sts with grey
Row1 (WS): p
Row2: (kf/b) in each st (14)
Row3: p
Row4: (k1, kf/b) to end (21)
Row5: p7 (grey), p7 (white), p7 (grey)
Rows6-10: keeping the colour correct, st/st
Row11: (p1, p2tog) to end (14)
Break white and work with grey only
Row12: shape neck; (k2tog) to end (7)
Row13: p
Row14: (kf/b) in each st (14)
Row15-22: st/st
Row23: (p2, p2tog) to end (11)
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Ears: make two
Cast on 10 sts with grey, break yarn. Join white and k1 row. Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Arms: make two
Cast on 2 sts with grey and work 3 rows in i-cord. Fasten off.

Nose
With 2 strands taken from red brown DK, cast on 4 sts.
Row1 (WS): p1, p2tog, p1 (3)
Row2: sl 1, k2tog, pass the first st over the second and fasten off.

To make up
With fasten-off yarn end, sew head and body, stuff, avoiding the neck area. Work a gathering thread along the cast-on edge and draw tightly to close the body. Work a gathering thread along the neck and pull tightly to shape. Attach nose, ears and arms. With dark brown, French knot the eyes.

Baby koala
Body
Cast on 6 sts with grey
Row1 (WS): p
Row2: (kf/b) in each st (12)
Row3: p
Row4: (k1, kf/b) to end (18)
Row5: p6 (grey), p6 (white), p6 (grey)
Rows6-9: st/st, keeping the colour correct
Row10: (k1, k2tog) to end (12)
Break white and work with grey only

Row11: shape neck; (p2tog) to end (6)
Row12: (kf/b) in each st (12)
Rows13-19: st/st
Row20: (k2, k2tog) to end (9)
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Ears: make two
Cast on 8 sts with grey, break yarn, Join white and k 1 row. Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Nose
Cast on 3 sts with 2 strands from DK
Row1: p2tog, p1 (2)
Pass the first st over the second and fasten off.

Arms: make two
Cast on 2 sts with grey and work 2 rows in i-cord. Fasten off.

To make up
As given for mummy

I heard that koalas sleep 22 hours a day? Amazing. They sleep longer than my teenage boys.
Wow!

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Japanese Curry?

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As I mentioned in another post, my older son is learning to cook as a part of his preparation to University.

He tried this one recently; Japanese curry.

Do Japanese eat curry? Of course we do. Actually, it is one of the most popular dishes in Japan.

Curry was introduced to Japan during the Meiji era (1868–1912) by the British (!), at a time when India was under the colonial rule of British Raj. As curry was introduced to Japan via English cuisine, it was originally considered to be Western cuisine.

I didn’t know curry was Indian dish when I was little.

It is since modified to suit Japanese people’s taste. We call it “Curry Rice (Curry sauce over rice)” Japanese curry is thicker than Indian curry and is similar to stew. It is usually served over cooked short grain sushi rice. You may find it a bit odd, but we also enjoy curry sauce over Udon noodles or egg noodles, too.

In Japanese homes, curry sauce is most commonly made from instant curry roux, which is available in block. It contains curry powder, flour, oils and various flavourings. And you know what? You can buy these pre-made roux in local supermarkets here in the UK. You may have seen them in Asian food section.

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It is very easy to make our curry. It is one of the first dish we learn to cook in food tech class in primary school. We often cook it at campsite, too. Cooking large quantity of curry in a large pot together may be a good way of team building.

If you get this box of curry roux, all you need is just to follow the instruction on the box. As ingredients, you will need meat (beef, chicken or pork is common), onions, carrots, potatoes and/or any vegetable of your choice. You cook all ingredients in a pot with a bit of oil, add water and simmer for 20 minutes or so. The amount of water you need is on the box. Add the block of curry roux and simmer another 20 minutes or until the liquid thickens.

And here it is.

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When I was little, I used to love it when I could smell curry cooking from outside of the house. Yes, “Curry Rice” is one of our comfort food.

It is only after I left my home town and started to live in Tokyo that I discovered the Indian curries. Indian curries are delicious and fun to eat; lots of varieties of dished and sauces served with naan bread. But my boys absolutely love Japanese curry.

Have a go if you find the box at your local supermarket.

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What I made during holidays

I had quiet and peaceful holidays which was very nice.

I don’t miss my family back home in Japan much at Christmas. Christmas is still a little foreign for us. But I do think about them a lot at New Year’s Day. New Year (shogatsu or oshogatsu) is the most important holiday in Japan. Most businesses shut down from January 1 to January 3, and families gather to spend the days together.

We don’t do much celebration here in our household, but we have this ritual; we go see the first sunrise together.

We would be going to shrine for “Hatsumode” if we were in Japan. Hatsumōde is the first Shinto shrine visit of the New Year. Many visit on the first, second, or third day of the year. We make new wishes for the new year.

Instead, we make new wishes to the Sun.

Fortunately, we live on the top of the hill, and there is a spot we can see the sunrise. We had have so much rain lately, but the morning was bright and promising, so with our teenage sons and off we went.

It wasn’t a clear sunrise, but we could still peak it through the clouds. I love spending time with my boys like this.
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And I had nothing planned rest of the day, so, yes, you guessed it right, I knitted.

Just before Christmas, I made a wreath with felt fabric. I was rather pleased with the result, and this time, I decided to make it in knitting.

This is the one in felt.
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I always had the idea of making garland or wreath with knitting, but I worried that the wreath would get a little heavy. Having done the wreath with felt helped tremendously. I knew the size and design I wanted before I knitted a stitch.

I used the same template for the base of the wreath. The ring I made as the base is made of two cardboard circles taped together. The diameter for the outer edge is 20 cm and the width of the ring is 2.5cm. I did maths I learned in elementary school and I figured out the circumference. From there, I calculated the stitch numbers using my gauge.

I had to cast on 120 sts. I am used to knit tiny things, so this is rather a big project which made me a little nervous. But you see, it worked.

Adding flowers is the fun bit.
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Some of the decorations were quite easy to design, but some were not. I had lots of trials and errors, but it was very exciting to see the work coming together.

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And here is the finished work.
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The wreath has my little angel and the rabbit.

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And I am quite pleased with how the bells turned out.

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I can enjoy this next Christmas.

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New Year’s Eve noodles

What we had last night: soba noodles.
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We have a tradition to eat soba (buckwheat) noodles on a New Year’s Eve. It is called “Toshikoshi soba”. The word “toshikoshi” means to climb or jump from the old year to the new.

Soba is narrow and long in shape,so it symbolizes a wish for long life.

It is also believed that eating Soba will cut misfortune of the previous year and bring good luck in the next year. Soba noodles have no gluten, they can be cut more easily than other noodles.

The other day, I found these in a charity shop’s window. I could not believe my luck.

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I do not expect many to know what they are. Shop keepers had no clue, either. These are serving plates for “Zaru soba” or chilled soba noodles with a dipping sauce. How timely is that?

Usually, Toshikoshi soaba is served hot in a bowl, but there is no rules, and soba can be served hot or cold. My younger son absolutely loves chilled noodles and had it for lunch almost everyday when we visited Japan a few years ago.

Having cold pasta or noodles are not so popular here in the UK. You may think it is rather odd, but it is very tasty.

Recipe: serves three

About 240 g / 2 oz. dried soba noodles
Shredded Nori
Green onions, finely chopped

Dipping sauce
*You need to make it in advance and chill it in a fridge.
You can also buy a ready made sauce at Asian supermarkets.
300ml Dashi stock (can be made from dashi granules available from Asian supermarkets)
100ml Soy sauce
100ml Mirin sweet wine
1/2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

1. Prepare dipping sauce:place all ingredients of the dipping sauce in a sauce pan and gently heat up the mixture. Let it cool and chill it in a fridge.

2. In boiling water in a big pot, add dried Soba noodles and stir. After coming back to a boil, cook for 3-4 minutes (follow the instructions on the package). Drain and wash noodles under running water.

3. Place Soba on plates and top with shredded Roasted Seaweed. Serve with dipping sauce, green onions, and wasabi.

Very simple.

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For my husband and older son, I served it warm with shrimp tempura. Tempura came from a local supermarket. I cheated a bit.

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Since it is just a plate of noodles, you do want side dishes. I cooked soy beans with root vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and seaweed for one of them.

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I don’t cook Japanese New Year’s feast much because ingredients are not easy to get, but we always have noodles on New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year!

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2016, the year of monkey.

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