I recently purchased the book Japanese Knitting: Patterns for Sweaters, Scarves and More that has been translated into English and published by Tuttle Publishing. They also recently published the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, also a translation.
I have a number of Japanese stitch dictionaries but have shied away from the pattern books in Japanese, feeling concerned that there is too much I’d have to puzzle out. This book is translated to English from the original Japanese but it keeps the format and style of the original patterns, which are much more brief than modern American patterns. It also includes a special five page introduction to Japanese knitting patterns for English readers that explains how the patterns are traditionally laid out. I think those five pages were worth the cost of the book because they have given me more confidence to look at the Japanese language pattern books again next time I am at a Japanese bookstore.
My favorite pattern in the whole book is F Poncho and Cardigan, a garment that can be worn both as a poncho style garment with sleeves or as a circle style cardigan. It’s one of several two way garments that caught my imagination both as a knitter and as a designer. I have yarn on the way and hope to start working on this one soon!
Despite being called Japanese Knitting, there are several crochet patterns included that have a very fresh look and interesting surface texture. I particularly like P Vest and Stole, another two way garment that can be worn both as a long vest or as a wrap.
Many of the garments use simple shapes to make elegant silhouettes and would not be difficult to knit. The English version helpfully includes cm to inch conversions on each pattern page for the measurements listed for that pattern. It also includes a chart that gives you more details about the yarns used in the patterns, which are difficult to find outside of Japan, so that you can make effective substitutions.
Overall, I’m happy to be able to add this book to my collection and I hope Tuttle puts out more of these gems!
Last weekend I taught a class on learning to knit socks. One of the things I love about socks is how they are so easy to customize and that even a plain sock can be interesting to knit. I gave my students a list of favorite sock knitting books, so I thought I would share them here as will with some additional annotations.
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Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
This is not strictly a sock book but rather a book of humor and recipes for knitting a variety of items including a great chapter on knitting basic top down socks. What I love about it is the conversational style that Stephanie uses to describe the process of making a sock and how she shows that you can’t really do it too wrong. I’ve tried to model my class a bit after her style– that socks are something that can make sense and everyone can do it!
Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley
This book is sort of the opposite in some ways to the previous book. It’s a very detailed and precise explanation of exactly how to make a perfect fitting sock with tables and charts for knitting both top down and bottom up socks with measurements and stitch counts ready for you to plug into a master pattern based on your gauge. It includes some variations on heels, toes, and leg styles and has extensive information about how to make a sock for all kinds of special fitting situations. Kate has a very scientific approach to sock making.
The Sock Knitter’s Workshop by Ewa Jostes and Stephanie van der Linden
This book is a compendium of a wide variety of heels and toes and construction methods. It contains a collection of charts with numbers for different sock sizes from children to adults in a standard sock gauge. You can mix and match your favorite heels and toes with the standardized numbers included. It also information to help you decide which methods to use based on the shape of your foot.
Sock Architecture by Lara Neel
Similar to The Sock Knitter’s Workshop, Lara’s book describes a wide variety of toe and heel variations, including some that are not part of the book above. Lara’s book does not give as much information about sizing and construction, but is a great resource for exploring new methods.