knits by sachi

The summer exhibition in Tokyo

While I was in Japan, there was a craft exhibition in Ginza, Tokyo.

This is the competition I entered a few weeks ago and my work was short-listed. I didn’t win anything, but I was very pleased to have my work displayed with other talented artists. This is the first time I exhibit my actual knitting to the public.

I wish I was staying a little closer to Tokyo. From my parents’ home, Tokyo is an hour away by airplane. It would have been nice to see other creators work and visitors reactions in person.

Many of my friends visited the exhibition and took photos for me. My sister-in-law and even my brother went! My brother currently works in Tokyo. After spending time with us, he went back to Tokyo and saw the exhibition. I only mentioned briefly thinking it wasn’t really his kind of thing, so I was very touched when he texted me the photos.

For this event, I think the judges were looking for intricate designs with sophistication. Here are the photos I received.

This cat looks so real! I think it is needle-felted.

And the winner of the show was this one;

I heard that mine was displayed close to the winner. I am sure I got a fair amount of attention!

My friend kindly sent me the show program. Unfortunately, a wrong photo was printed. I made multiple entries and the organizer seems to be muddled up. They printed this one, the autumn wreath.

Never mind. This one is one of my favorites anyway. It has little mushrooms, acorns, and berries with owls sitting on top.

My little sleepy owls. I am quite fond of them. Here is the photo I took before they went on the wreath.

The wreath has an autumn fairy with a mushroom cap.

This was such a delightful project. I have the ambition to make a little bigger one with more woodland animals. I need a careful planning when the item becomes bigger, but I am looking forward to working on it.

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My knitted Alice(s)

I received this copy from the editor last week. It is Knit Now magazine with my Alice knitting kit.

It was a lot of fun designing this project. From this kit, you get five different coloured yarn to make these three characters. Isn’t it clever?

Yarn is 100% acrylic but is nice, soft and easy to knit. This one is my favorite kit yarn. It doesn’t have unattractive gleam that synthetics often has and looks more organic. It gives you good yardage which makes my job a little easier. I kept the pattern simple. I hope many will enjoy it.

Talking of Alice, I made another Alice set recently, The Wonderland finger puppets.

I absolutely love working on a project with many characters like this. It takes time, but it is rewarding when you finish. It is fairly easy once you make the basic prototype. I start with the main character to make sure the project works.

So, I made Alice and the very important companion, rabbit.

I thought about making them all the same size, but I decided to make animals smaller to enjoy variations. They turned out cute that way.

And Diddle Dee and Diddle Dum. They are supposed to be chubby and short, but I didn’t want to make them too ugly.

The difficult bit was Queen of Hearts. I wasn’t too sure how to express the ‘heart’ bit. I tried with her hair and I think it worked OK.

I wanted to make 10 puppets for each finger, so I added the King of Hearts and the cat. I also made playing cards. I am quite pleased with how they turned out.

And here is the full cast.

This set will be great for children’s story time, but with or without small people, they are still very much enjoyable.

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Penguin workshop

I have been writing for Let’s Get Crafting magazine for sometime now.

The first time when I was commissioned to make multi-coloured pandas, I was not so sure if I was doing the right thing going along with the editor. It was not at all the kind of toy making I used to do, and I was feeling a little anxious using such vivid coloured synthetic yarn. However, I enjoy the monthly challenges now. I am glad that I went out of my comfort zone.

The latest issue is this one; it has my ostriches.

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I was asked to make sitting ostriches. I tried to express ostrich’s character with meaty legs, thin neck and long eyelashes. I could not rely on the colours since the set does not contain black. I also had to be careful not to make the neck too thin so that it can support the weight of the head. I hope they look like ostriches.

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They have heart shaped feet which may go well for the Valentine’s Day.

Back in December, this patchwork teddy came out.

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This design is one of my favorites and it seems quite popular among the readers, too.

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I originally added a ribbon as in the photo above, and I was pleased with how it looked with it, but I guess it had to go because the kit did not contain the ribbon. You can make flowers into brooches as well.

I brought these issues to my local spinners’ group when I ran a workshop last Wednesday. My fellow spinners are such lovely people and they have been very supportive. I know them over fifteen years now.

I offered three projects to try: Rabbit 1 with arms and legs, Rabbit 2 with simple round shape and penguin from Safari book.

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My spinners all wanted to try the penguin! There seems to be something about that penguin.

It was a perfect project to do in two hours and everyone went home with their own little creation. We had so much fun together!

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Love these quirky penguins!

I came home with a pot of Flamingo flower, homemade apple jelly and marmalade. How thoughtful my spinners are!

I have to do this more often.

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All British Yarn

In February every year, Knit Now magazine publishes the all British issue.

It is to offer readers a chance to get to know yarn produced in the UK. Many designs are also related to something British.

Last year, I did this one: St. George and the Dragon.

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This is from the issue last February. I am very fond of this photograph. It came out very nicely.

This year, I decided to submit our Queen’s favorite corgis, which I have posted some photos previously. The pattern includes two cushions and the rug. The cushions can be used to keep your pins and sewing needles.

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I suggested some yarn to the editor, but the ones I believed British all turned out to be non-British. That told me how little I knew about British yarn! The editor’s choice was this yarn; Jamieson’s.

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I did not know this wool at all. You don’t see them in high street shops or online yarn retailers very often. However, I was so excited when I opened the link the editor sent me.

So many colours! They also sell as little as 25g. It is perfect for mini toy knitter like myself.

The yarn is 100% wool produced in Shetland.

It is not silky, baby soft wool like Merino, it is more robust. I found that it gives firmness and clean finish to knitted toys. It is lovely.

When I went to Tokyo recently, I visited the yarn shop owned and managed by Nihon Vobue-sha, one of the leading craft book publisher.

The shop is called Keito, literally meaning yarn.

And in the shop, I found these.

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And these.

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I cannot tell you how excited I was to see these displayed! So far away in Japan, the Shetland wool is loved very much.

The shop was full of beautiful coloured yarns and knitted samples. Knitters or non-knitters, you would want to pick up yarn and try to think what you can create with it.

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I am currently working on another project using Jamieson’s. I would love to run a workshop at Keito shop one day. Surrounded with all these lovely colours, that would be fantastic.

Keito shop: http://www.keito-shop.com/english/

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Knits for Christmas

How early is too early to start hand making for Christmas?

I used to feel reluctant to work on Christmassy projects before November. I worried I may spoil the fun if I started too early.

However, I didn’t have much choice this year. I am not at all complaining, it is all good thing.

I needed to write texts and draw templates for Christmas felt projects book. Photograph sessions are coming up soon.

On top of that, to my pleasant surprise, I received a lot of commissions from several knitting magazines for Christmas issues.

The whole month of June, I was making Christmas ornaments, Santas, reindeer, dolls and toys!

The very first one to come out was this one; Let’s Get Crafting magazine; Christmas pixies.

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I was asked to make three elves, fairies or pixies although I have no idea what the differences are. The kit did not contain skin colour, but I think it worked fine.

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The kit has tinsel yarn. I used it a bit for the outfits and the hats. It also has ‘made with love’ labels which help you personalize your gift.

In this issue, I found my Nico cat, knitted by one of their readers!

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It is fantastic to see my original pattern knitted by someone else. It is the best compliment. She have had improvised and added her personality which is all so very nice.

The second one is this; Knit Now magazine.

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Christmas Teddy and Bunny.

I used James C. Brett Legacy DK for this project. This yarn is 100% Superwash Wool and very nice to the touch. I found it gives nice neat finish. It is inexpensive and surely, it is one of my favorite yarn.

There should be more patterns coming out next month. I am looking forward to seeing them in print with hopefully, beautiful photos.

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Knitted Wine Gnomes for autumn

There was a project I wanted to do for some time.

Gnomes making wine. It is a timely project for autumn.

First, I thought of making little fairies or children in the forest, but alcohol and children don’t go too well. I also wanted to add a bit of humour by creating a drunken one, so, I settle with gnomes.

Gnomes are adults and they can be mischievous, yes?

I searched some images which may give me good inspirations and this was one of them. I found it on Pinterest.

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I like the naughty look on their faces!

I always search for images when I plan a project. It is great that we can find loads of photos and illustrations online. My finished work usually turn up very different from the original source, but inspirations often come from other artists’ creations.

It seems that the prints are available from one of the sellers on Etsy.

Now, my wine gnomes.

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They are rather young looking and do not have very mischievous look, but I think they are cute. You can see the resemblance to the Pinterest picture in their positioning.

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My most concern was the keg size. I needed to make it big. I had a rough idea on stitch counts, but was very nervous at the making up stage. I think it turned out fine.

My drunk gnome is sleeping by the grapes.

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And here is the full cast.

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I have a friend who owns a winery in France. After graduating uni, she went on studying wine. She passed the notoriously difficult sommelier exam, met a man in life who happened to own a winery and moved to France. Very sadly, he passed away all of a sudden a few years ago, leaving her and their young children. However, she took over the winery and now, she runs it on her own! She is utterly amazing.

Her teenage son is currently in a winemaking school (only in France?)
I would love to visit them some day.

Her winery is called Simon Bize et fils (Simon Bize and Sons) and if you are interested, the website is here:

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Knitting in summer

You don’t fancy knitting in summer? You can try nautical knits.
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This is a key holder to hang on a wall. I made something a bit useful for a change.

I made this set for Knit Now magazine a few issues back; Summer knits.
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You may not get woolly thoughts much in summer, but making these nautical toys may be nice.

I love nautical theme. Maybe it is because I grew up near a beach. I also like the colour combination of red, white and blue. In summer, I make quite a lot of beachy, summery things.

After the magazine article came out, I knitted more items for this summer knits set.

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This time, I added softer colours as pink and mint green. Using felted tweed yarn for some items worked well. I have also tried anchor and steering wheel of a ship. I thought they may be a little challenging to make but I think I did rather well. The set became much more lively.

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I have seen images of pretty crocheted shells and wanted to make some with knitting. The knitting part is not too complicated. I just knitted long skinny triangle pieces. However, I found it a little tricky to find their perfect length and making up into an attractive shape.

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I also made a bag to keep the items together.
I tried to knit a mesh bag, but I found it rather difficult. Then, I remembered my boys crocheted football bags in Waldorf elementary school (yes, they learned crochet and made fantastic stuff!) and I decided to try crochet.

I could not find a pattern so I made it up. My crochet skill is so basic and I won’t be able to make exactly the same one again since I am not too sure if I recorded the stitches and rounds correctly.

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I am quite pleased with the result. It was worth a try.

I was never been a great fan of cotton yarn, well, until now. I mainly knit toys and for toys, I prefer wool. You can knit firmly and the finish is neat. It isn’t easy to knit tight with cotton.

For this mesh bag, I used cotton yarn and I loved it. I liked the texture and how it felt on my hands. The bag is summery, light and very soft. I really enjoyed the project.

Maybe I should make a bigger one for my shopping. I think there are some patterns for mesh shopping bags online.

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Sea turtle babies; my favorite animal.

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Dory Promotion

This is from my publisher, Search Press Art and Craft Books yesterday.

SPECIAL PROMOTION!!

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To celebrate the release of Finding Dory, which hits cinemas today, we have a special promotion of ‘Mini Knitted Ocean’ by Knits by Sachi.

Pre-order the book and get £1 OFF rrp and FREE delivery in the UK. You will also receive the dory fish pattern from the book early, simply use promo code ‘KNITDORY’ at checkout*.

‘Mini Knitted Ocean’ will be available September 2016, pre-order your copy here: http://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782212324/mini-knitted-ocean

The book was also featured on a cover of ‘The Bookseller’ last week, and there was a brief write-up inside, too!

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It has been a while since we saw “Finding Nemo”. It was released in 2006, three years after we came to live in England. My boys were 7 amd 8.

They spent their early years in Waldorf school and were growing up without television or computer games. This movie was one of few we watched. Actually, it was the first ever movie that my boys watched in a cinema.

They are much too old for Nemo and Dory now, but I am quite intrigued how this new film is made.

Happy knitting Dory!

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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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Knitted Ferris Wheel

Can you guess what I am up to?
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I like doing small projects which only take a day or two, but sometimes, I get this urge to get involved in a little bigger project.

I still take a small step at a time. I quite often set it aside to make time for magazine commissions and other jobs.

I have written about my knitted amusement park projects and that is one of them.

I added another item to the park, and this time, it is the Ferris wheel.

I have to think hard and plan well before I started knitting. I didn’t want it to go too wrong and re-knit it again and again.

First, the design.
I researched on handmade Ferris wheels. It seems some people have made them with cardboard, plywood, plastic bottles or carton boxes. I didn’t find any knitted one. Maybe I am the only one who even think of knitting a Ferris wheel.

That is good, I want to be the first to knit it.

The actual wheels normally have the seating gondolas between the front and back panels, but I decided to place them in the front so that you can see the figures better. I didn’t want my little animals to be hidden.

So the gondolas hang in front of the wheel.
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I cut two pieces of cardboard in circle, stick them together with masking tape and wrapped it with tissue paper. If I covered this part with knitting, I thought it would be too heavy.

The supporting box is covered with knitting. I placed ceramic beads inside the box so that the wheels would not fall over.

Then, my babies and their friends. This is always the fun part!
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The wheel has six gondolas and two figures go in each one.

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I had no idea why it is called Ferris wheel. Apparently, it is named after George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. who designed and constructed one as a landmark for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

We live only one hour away from London, but never been on the London Eye, the giant wheel on South Bank of the river Themes.

I should have a go someday.

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