Winter Knitting Patterns: Celebrating the Art of Japanese knitting
I was so thrilled when I saw the fall/winter issue knit.wear. It features winter knitting patterns inspired by Japanese knitting traditions, which I love.
I happened upon some Japanese knitting books in a fabulous store, Uwajimaya, in Seattle. I was entranced with the beautiful, classic, flowing designs, and with charting that surpassed the language barrier. I could have knit any one of those projects just by following the universal charts.
Editor Meghan Babin spotlights one of the most unique yarn companies around, Habu Textiles, which is manufactured in Japan. Meghan had the chance to interview Habu founder Takako Ueki for this issue; it’s a
really interesting article.
Meghan is here to tell you more about this very special issue of knit.wear.
Celebrating the Style of Japanese Knitwear
Several years ago, on a cold winter afternoon, my friend Rebecca and I decided to drive to Edgewater, New Jersey, to the Mitsuwa Marketplace. After we partook of bowls of delicious steaming ramen, we walked over to the Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya. Rebecca steered me to the craft section of the store, where we spent more than an hour looking through the knitting and crochet books.
I was enchanted by the striking but simple styling, the appeal of the garments, and the unexpected accessibility of the patterns. Since that day, any time I see a Japanese bookstore, I make a beeline for it. I inevitably leave the store with an overloaded bag, which is remarkably easy to do. I had the pleasure of going to a Japanese bookstore in Portland, Oregon, with Kristin Ford of Woolfolk Yarn after a rather comical incident with a geoduck, but that story is for my memoirs. Nevertheless, the outcome was the same—an armful of books.
After that first day in Kinokuniya, I’ve pondered my response to the Japanese aesthetic. In this fast-paced, homogenized, modern age, I’ve found that it strikes a deep chord that resonates on both a personal and a societal level. We desire and constantly seek simplicity, minimalism, peace, beauty, and the unique. In my off-and-on research over the
years, I’ve noticed that books, yarns, and designs from Japan offer these desired elements. This issue’s eye is turned to the East to celebrate and explore the beauty of Japan and the unique contributions it has made to the knitting industry.
In this issue of knit.wear, we’ve gathered designs inspired by the Iki aesthetic, interpreted as a chic, sophisticated, minimalist sense of style. The designs focus on the details, finishing work, and precise construction necessary to produce an impeccable garment that remains a pleasure to knit.
We’ve collected Japanese books, both new and old favorites. (As you will find, fluency in Japanese is not necessary.) Habu Textiles and Ito have introduced us to new yarns for 2016 that feature unexpected fibers and unique construction. And Takako Ueki, founder and owner of Habu Textiles, sits down with me for an interview on the evolution of Habu.
Dana Freed Fiddes invites us on her journey to Japan with The Tulip Company, which generously provided us with its new products for 2016.
I hope you find a beautiful escape and inspiration in these pages. It was a pleasure to curate this special issue.
—Meghan Babin, Editor, knit.wear
Several years ago, I had the chance to take a class from Habu founder Takako Ueki, and I just realized that I have a scarf kit in my stash that I bought from her, and I need to get it out! It uses a merino fingering-weight and a silk/stainless steel yarn, and after it’s knitted, it gets felted. This scarf will have to wait until I’m done with the one I have on the needles now, which is knit from a Habu cashmere lace. Gorgeous and so lovely to knit with. I’ve been a Habu fan for years—one of my first luxury projects was a shawl knit from a Habu yarn that was part paper. It’s still hanging in there, about twelve years later.
Of course I also have to add a project from this issue to my queue, and it’s got to be the Origami Vest. I love the simplicity of it, the way it hangs in the front, and the fact that it’s a vest. I love vests for wintertime wearing. They’re the perfect layer and they fit so well under the coats that I have to wear all winter in Spokane. Good, layering winter knitting patterns are crucial for this climate, and the Origami Vest is perfect. In fact, it looks like it’ll span the seasons. Even better.