As the saying goes, you can’t be too rich, too thin, or have too many knitting patterns. But for the moment, I’ll be working on the rich and thin part.
In order to correct what is a dearth of twist stitch patterns (like those “cables” favored in German knitting) I added a book to my stitch dictionary library that Susan had recommended some time ago: Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Giesela Klopper. It is a slim volume that is a translation from the German, and it is a big improvement over U.S. stitch dictionaries in that nearly every pattern is charted. I was planning to swatch some of those cables for another self-designed sweater in lighter yarn, as a spring-summer project, when my plans changed.
I have lusted after the Japanese stitch dictionaries that I’ve seen in other blogs and looked at on line. Last week I took the plunge:
These came from the Needle Arts Book Shop in Toronto, and they arrived last Friday. Since then, I’ve been pouring over the unbelievable array of stitches, most of which I have never seen before, with indescribable delight.
Although these are written in Japanese, most are not difficult to understand. First, Martha of the Needle Arts Book Shop has compiled some hints on deciphering the patterns, and the books themselves are quite self-explanatory. All the patterns are charted, which is not the case with most patterns in U.S. stitch dictionaries, and my treasured Mon Tricot dictionaries. Second, there are diagrams illustrating the chart symbols. To get an idea of what these are like, check this link.
One reason I wanted these now is that there are two classes at Stitches East on working with Japanese stitch dictionaries and patterns. Although the most of the patterns and directions are clear from the charts, there are some nuances that would be easier to master if someone who had experience with them and can read Japanese described them. And registration is in mid-May, so I had to make up my mind if I wanted to try to get into those classes—and I have decided that I do. Now I hope there are openings.
Even though my main reason for buying the dictionaries was to design my own work, I came across some Japanese sweaters on Ravelry designed by Toshiyuki Shimada that were just amazing. And so, in the same package, I bought two pattern books of variations on traditional techniques—Ganseys, Arans, and Fair Isle—with his designs.
The sweater that captivated me the most is this Fair Isle, and this picture doesn't do justice to the subtleties of color in it:
Again, there is a link to some of the pages in the books that show these sweaters to more of an advantage. The chart is easy to understand, but the “instructions” consist of one paragraph in Japanese that I think merely tells you something about the materials and amount of yarn you will need.
After the NaKniSweMoDo KAL, I plan to immerse myself in color knitting, and this project is high on my list.
So over the next few weeks, there will be a lot of swatching going on as I select stitches for my remaining mostly one-color 2009 sweaters. I treated myself to some free hours on Mother’s Day to sift through my stash, and I’ve pulled out light yarns to use for my next few sweaters. Prudence would dictate that I should follow tried-and-true published designs to reach 12 sweaters, but with all these stitch motifs dancing in my head, I am succumbing to self-designs and major overhauls of designs that have a few interesting characteristics but that will require modification.
For now, it is on to finishing the heavier wool sweaters before it gets so warm that I lose my enthusiasm for those projects.