Book: Japanese Inspired Knits

I’m not sure how many knitting books libraries generally have, but I do kind of feel like the Wellington City Library has quite a few. Over the last few months it has become my guilty pleasure to roam the knitting section, whenever I’m around. A while ago I picked up Japanese Inspired Knits by Marianne Isager as it seemed like something different to look at.

I’d heard about Danish designers Marianne and her daughter Helga Isager before, as well as their line of knitting yarns. As a matter of fact, I’d been roaming the web quite for quite a while for an affordable option of buying some of Helga’s gorgeous patterns, not many of which seem to be available as .pdf downloads, but that’s another story.

When I saw the Japanese Inspired Knits book, I was drawn to it not necessarily because it contains many garments I myself would like to see in my wardrobe, but because each and every single item seems to have an unusual construction or at least incorporate techniques and stitch patterns that one does not see all that often (in my humble opinion). It is really exciting, for example, to see double knitting used as a decorative element on part of a garment as in the Stone garden jacket, and to explore the entrelac technique used in Winter in Tokyo. Of course, when assessing wearability, we have to bear in mind that the book itself was published back in 2009.


The Carp, The Sun and Summer in Tokyo by Marianne Isager. Photo credit: Interweave Press

It’s interesting that in the introduction to the book Marianne mentions that when she was first invited to participate in an art exhibit in Tokyo, her garments, which she considered to bear quite a bit of Japanese influence, were to her surprise perceived as “very Scandinavian”. In the book Japanese Inspired Knits, she ties each of her twelve designs to a month of the year and gives a brief background on the cultural relevance of that particular month which served as an inspiration to her patterns.

As for garments I would wear from the book, I’d say there are three in particular which caught my eye. In sync with my current summer knitting interest, I find The Carp quite attractive. Although, being constructed from over 150 squares, this would be a knit that could keep me entertained until the end of my days. I’d also consider a more closed neckline and  a waistband of sorts to close off the bottom of the top. I really quite like the two-colour garter stitch-like texture, which Marianne calls stockinette with garter ribs.

The Large Suns version of The Sun sweater of course appeals very much to my obsession with baggy/oversized sweaters. I think I’d prefer to see it without the intarsia pattern, but of course, it might become just too boring. Maybe use Marianne’s two-colour garter ridges here for the body?

Finally, with my latest endeavour of the cropped raglan sweater means I’m kind of into this kind of thing right now. So, I cannot quite ignore Summer in Tokyo. Although I’m not entirely convinced by the colour combination and the pattern on this one, I might put it on my list of possible colourwork sweaters. After all, I could just make use of the instructions and create my own chart pattern.

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