Lovely layers: knit kimonos

Asian Asymmetry by Vicki Square. This top is so versatile, perfect for layering.
Dofuku by Vicki Square. I love the cropped style of this sweater.

As elusive as is seems, spring is coming, and my wardrobe needs a pick-me-up.

One of my knitting idols, Vicki Square, has the perfect solution to my wardrobe woes: the knitted kimono! In Knit Kimono Too, Vicki presents garment after wonderful garment that are perfect for layering and each one is so fashion-forward, too.

The thing I like about kimono, is that the style is so flattering on so many people. In Knit Kimono Too, Vicki has included several different variations on a theme; here are a few of my favorites.

Asian Asymmetry (top left): Short sleeves, a stand-up collar, and an asymmetrical closure are all Asian design hallmarks. With a slight flare from bust to hip for a flattering fit, the twisted rib at the lower edge, neckband, and center sleeve is all the stitch texture that's needed.

The faux asymmetrical opening is, in fact, a V-neck-the neckband is sewn onto the front of the garment by hand.

I love this top! It's so elegant. I would love this in red in my wardrobe, or maybe my favorite silvery-gray.

Dofuku (left) is a short battle-jacket style that Vicki made even shorter in this design, making it perfect for layering over her coordinating top, Keshi Murasaki. Keshi murasaki is a grayed mauve, one of the wide range of purples dyed from gromwell root.

According to a Japanese traditional calendar, grayed mauve paired with burgundy is an early autumn/September color scheme. Pair it with deep blue for a winter/December combination. I think this color is nice for any time of year, but I might make is in a little brighter lavender for springtime.

The smooth stockinette stitch in this design is interrupted only by a narrow reverse stockinette-stitch roll at the front neck and sleeve cuff, where the subtle color change is just enough to enhance the main color.

Kumo (below left): Kanbun kosode was a kimono style of dramatic asymmetrical imagery that trailed in bold fashion from right shoulder to lower left hem. Genroku was a brief time in Japanese history (1688-1704) that represented the zenith of this visual drama.

Vicki followed that aesthetic in this kimono with stylized cloud forms—a nature reference that spans the seasons—but she's taken artistic license by sweeping her diagonal in the other direction. The blue ribbon yarn (Berocco Bonsai) Vicki used for this kimono is reminiscent of indigo, but of a lightened, faded shade.

Kumo by Vicki Square. This loose, drapey kimono-style jacket is perfect for springtime!

Kumo, back view

Indigo is a common dyestuff for the peasantry, but the glossy sheen of the ribbon yarn produces a garment suitable for royalty—a poetic paradox.

The cloud imagery, worked in crochet-chain embroidery, is worked mostly on the back (right). While this surface design is decidedly Japanese, you may opt for a plain kimono. This yarn produces a knitted fabric of such glorious drape that it is a work of art even without embellishment.

Since I'm only 5'2", I'd shorten Kumo so it hits at my hip instead of below the butt and I'd make sure the sleeves length stops at my wrist bone.

Aren't the kimono beautiful? And they're so versatile, too. The simplicity of the solid colors Vicki used is complemented wonderfully with her innovative design, and the stitch embellishment on Kumo is so eye-catching.

Read more of Vicki's inspirations in Knit Kimono Too. I can't recommend this book highly enough. There's a style here for everyone, so get your copy of Knit Kimono Too today!


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