knits by sachi

BBC Get Creative

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I am so pleased to announce that my work is included to BBC’s Arts, Get Creative website.

http://bbc.in/1NJhRaN

I don’t quite remember how I found out about the programme. I guess it was through the Facebook. BBC4 was looking for creators who can participate their new programme by sending them photos.

Yes, that simple, so why not?

I sent them the photos of my favorite knitted carousel of course, but this time, I sent the photos of all rides I created for my knitted amusement park.

I also included this one, my knitted street performers.

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If you grew up in Japan in 1970’s, you may be able to tell where I got this inspiration from.
This is from one of the animation series aired on Sunday nights, “Ha ha wo tazunete 3000-li, (7000miles in search of mother)”. It is loosely based on a small part of the novel Heart (Cuore) by Edmondo De Amicis, an Italian writer.

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The plot focuses on Marco, a young boy who lives with his family in the harbor city of Genoa, Italy during a depression period in 1881. Marco’s father, Pietro Rossi, is a manager of a clinic who dedicates his time to treating poor patients. The family runs into financial difficulties and Marco’s beloved mother, Anna, goes to Argentina to work as a maid to earn money. Sadly, she becomes ill and the family loses contact with her. Worried Marco decides to head to Argentina on his own in search of her.

But he is only 9 years old!

Marco takes with him his older brother’s pet monkey, Amedeo and together they sneak aboard the ship bound for Brazil. In Brazil, he meets a puppeteer called Peppino and his family, whom he knew from Genoa.

This is the family I knitted. Marco is in the centre with two puppets.

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The family consists of the father (with the music box, I made him look much younger without his mustache), the older daughter who is gorgeous and amazing singer/dancer, the young daughter at Marco’s age who is a good puppeteer and the baby girl.

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Amedeo, Marco’s pet monkey, dances with the little puppet.

It is a lovely story. We need to have more of these for young children.

I have no idea of how the BBC programme is going to be, but it is supposed to go out on Thursday 9 June at 9 pm.

I hope the programme has included my lovely puppeteer family.

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Our midweek sushi

A bit of Bento style. One for my husband who comes home late.

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My family loves home made sushi. I use anything I find in my fridge for stuffing and toppings so that our sushi is very inexpensive. I’d like to make them more often, but I have to say sushi making is time consuming. Not for a very busy day.

But I can make Inari-zushi, pretty much any day of the week.

inari-zushi is homely sushi that is stuffed into a fried tofu skin or aburaage. I use pre-made (canned or vacuum packed) skins from Asian market. This way, all I have to do is season the rice and stuff it into skins.

I don’t think you have to feel guilty for using pre-made skins. Most of us do, even a keen home cook like my mum. Pre-made Inari skins are not only convenient, but actually taste better than home made ones.

I buy this product.
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All you have to do is cook rice, season it and stuff.

For 3 cups of (uncooked) sushi rice,

Sushi rice seasoning
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Gently heat it in a sauce pan to dissolve sugar and salt. Do not bring to boil.

Mix it into hot steamed rice. When it is cooled and easy to handle, moisture your hand, make a small rice ball with one hand and stuff it into the skin. Fold the opening and place them sealed side down.

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That is the basic. I have added toasted sesami seeds to the rice this time. You can add finely chopped and cooked vegetables to it as well.

I found these on internet. Some people have gone very creative.

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Inari zushi is sweet and savory. Tofu skin is cooked in soy sauce, rice wine and sugar.

It may be a bit boring if I serve only Inari, so, I made quick and easy egg sushi and tuna mayonnaise rolls.

For egg sushi, you make egg omulet in rectangle shape and slice it. Place the egg slice on top of the rice ball and wrap a Nori strip around it.

My omlet was a little small this time and the rice balls became bigger than the egg slice, but never mind.

Inari is the Shinto god for fertility, rice, agriculture and foxes. He is often depicted, as a bearded man riding a white fox. Inari zushi is also called “fox sushi” because fried tofu skin was allegedly his and his foxes’ favourite food.

It is my younger son’s absolute favorite, too. He loves his fox sushi since he was very little.

I love seeing smiles at the dinner time.

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(Sushi pressed into a mold to look like a cake and my son aged 3)

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Knitted gnome puppet

I love making gnomes and have made many with different media. When I was little, I had no interest in fairies and gnomes, but in my adulthood, I am making gnomes. Funny.

For this month’s Knit Now, I designed another gnome. It is a walking gnome puppet. You can insert your fingers in his trousers (sounds a bit strange), and you can walk him.

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Lovely style shot. I am quite pleased with how the photo came out.

I have had made the same gnome in fabric before and had some idea of the basic design, but I still had trials and errors. The first one was out of proportion and looked ugly. I guess the arms were too long and head was too big. I left the project for a while and came back to it a few months later. I think this time worked well.

I sometimes wonder how big the gnomes in stories are.

Are they just about to your knees high like garden gnome statues? Are they half of your size?

I always imagined gnomes are tiny as harvest mice.

A few years ago, I watched the Japanese drama called “Going my home”.

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The main character, Ryota’s estranged father falls ill and he returns his home town with his family. He finds that his father had been looking for the legendary “small creature” in his hometown (for real!) Though he doesn’t believe that it actually exists, he begins to meet with many people to uncover his father’s mystery, and slowly his feelings begin to change.

He finds a tiny felt hat hanging on a tree and starts wondering just maybe…it does exist?

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Within the drama, a creature called ‘kuna’ (made up name for these gnomes) will be unveiled. Through the existence of this gnome, we hope that people will be able to appreciate “the power to believe in things we can’t see”; love, dream, joy of sharing… that sort of thing.

Children purely believe in Kuna and enjoy looking for them, but adults becomes embroiled in a big mess. A big prize money is offered upon capturing the gnome alive. Some villagers fake Kunas’ footprints and post the photo on internet for publicity. Sad we are.

Here, Rhota is practicing capturing the gnome. Cute.

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Another interesting story is that these creatures are said to have super natural power to bring back spirits. Some become desperate to see their lost loved ones again.

“Kuna” is about the size I imagined a gnome to be. The drama is heart warming and funny. I really enjoyed watching it. If you search it online, you will be able to find videos with subtitles.

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I love gnomes.

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Kombu strips cooking idea

Tim is eating Kombu seaweed in space!

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When I was looking for images of Tim Peake for the knitted astronauts project, I came across a very interesting TV programme.

It is our renowned chef, Heston Brumenthal’s show called Heston’s Dinner in Space on UK channel 4.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/hestons-dinner-in-space

He is on a mission to create space food for Tim. The program follows the scientific adventures of Heston and his team, as they work closely with the UK Space Agency, ESA and NASA and attempt to revolutionise the previously limited world of space food. The task was to shake up the menu and create dishes that would remind Tim of home, helping him combat the emotional impact of his journey. (from Channel 4 info)

I really enjoyed watching this show. It is informative, fun and entertaining. Heston even goes on to the Zero gravity airplane to experience how it is like to eat in the space.

But what I found the most interesting was that he used some of our favorite Japanese food ingredients, Kombu. Kombu is a seaweed that we have been using for centuries in our diet. Kombu seaweed comes from kelp that grows around the north of Japan. It is high in minerals, including iodine, potassium, calcium and iron.

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It comes in sheets or strips. Kombu sheets are tough and they are to use for stocks. We like soft, thin and salted strips called “Shio (salt) Kombu”, and it is ready to eat. You can sprinkle on top of warm steamed rice or use for filling for rice balls. You can toss with salad or use for cooking.

I like using Kombu to flavour pasta. Strange? but it is very tasty. Unlike heavy sauce, it is low in fat and sugar and it takes so little effort to make this dish.

Main ingredients are

spaghetti, 80g per person
pointed cabbage and any vegetable of your choice
salted kombu strips, 1-2 Tbsp per person
crashed garlic
Olive oil or vegetable oil

I like using spaghetti for this recipe, but you can use any pasta. Just cook pasta following the instructions on the packet. Stir fry the vegetables with garlic and kombu and add the cooked pasta at the end.

Cook vegetables first,

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then, add pasta

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Mix well and done.

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Light and healthy and gentle to your both waistline and wallet.

If you like soy sauce flavour, you can add a few drops, but take care, you don’t want to make it too salty.

You can add some protein to this. I found flaked fish, tinned tuna or smoked mackerel goes well. I think chicken would go well, too.

We like pasta dish with Japanese touch and eat it with chopsticks.
Salted Kombu strips are available from Asian grocers, health food stores and online.

I hope Tim is enjoying Heston’s food with Kombu strips in space.

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Knitted astronauts

I found the better photo of my YSD mascot.

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My elephant, named Tiny looks very cozy with the monkey Chris. These pattern should be available soon through Let’s Knit magazine website for free.

The shop had our posters and books displayed in shop windows. I brought my knitted samples which attracted young and old. It was very nice to see people’s reactions when they see my creations.

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And of course, I had brought my business card that I made for this occasion. This one looks much nicer than the one I had when I used to work in the City!

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It was a small event, but I had a lot of fun with my fellow author and editor, May Corfield. And the shop was offering everything 20% off sale! I got a few balls of Rowan of course.

Another exciting event from last week. Knit Today May issue with my article has come out.

This one has my knitted animal astronauts and guess who, Tim Peake. Tim Peake is a European Space Agency astronaut and International Space Station crew member who is traveling space at this moment.

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This article goes across three spreads and you get the pattern to knit four animals, pig, dog, mouse and rabbit, and Tim. You also get the pattern to make the rocket.

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Editorial team has taken great photos and did a fantastic art work. I am very pleased with how it came out.

My younger son did the illustration for making up section. It is his first published work! He is looking to take graphic art courses after six forms. I hope this article has given him further motivation for his study.

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I heard that the editor has sent the images to Tim on ISS. I hope he liked it.

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