Bringing Japan to Your Knitting Needles
In a world full of knitting books, sometimes one book in particular captivates you, drawing you into its pages with something more than just instructions and photos, something that makes you read it cover to cover, like a story book. It's a rare knitting book that has this power over me, and Marianne Isager's new book Japanese Inspired Knits, is one of these captivating few. The book is extremely evocative, both in its beautiful photography and in the gentle storytelling accompanying each design. The designs are arranged according to seasonal themes; there is one for each month of the year. I've chosen three to share with you, three designs that touched me in a way that goes beyond knitting.
The Carp Pullover
I have never lived in Japan, but I did live in Hawaii, where there are many Japanese with a vibrant sense of their mother culture. Every spring, carp-shaped windsocks would swim in the breezes everywhere. I never knew why until I read Marianne's description of the May 5th celebration of Boys' Day, where the carp symbolize strength and independence. Seeing the delicate mitered squares that make up the Carp Pullover, I find myself remembering reaching in and stroking the giant koi kept in garden ponds, feeling their cool silken scales.
The Maple Leaves Cardigan
I never saw the glory of maple trees in autumn until I moved here to Eastern Canada. My husband and I took a drive through the Escarpment Country, where the road is a tunnel of blazing leaves turned to fire by the sun beyond. I saw the photo of the Maple Leaves Cardigan and I thought, "Yes! That's it, exactly." Autumn fire turned to stitchery…
The Sun Sweater
It was the story that was the magic for me on this one: "Tanabata, the star festival, is celebrated on the seventh day of July. According to legend, the sky god separated his daugher Weaving Star from her beloved Cowherder Star. They were placed on opposite sides of the Milky Way where their intense love couldn't interfere with their daily tasks. Since then the two stars are allowed to meet only on the seventh of July. If rain prevents them from meeting on this date, they have to wait another full year." And so the Japanese pray for sun, for luck, for love…
To see more of Marianne's gorgeous designs inspired by cherry blossoms, sake and soba, stone gardens, and more, look for Japanese Inspired Knits at your local yarn shop, or purchase it online here.
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? Finally! A decision has been made in the what-to-knit-for-Baby-Delaney. (Laura and Matt, avert thine parental eyes, please.) I've got the yarn on order for the sweetest baby blanket made of lace stars: Star Light, Star Bright. Look for the pattern as part of our new free Baby Knits ebook this Friday!