Our favourite knitting books
MANY WESTERN knitters admire the look and style of Japanese stitch patterns, but find the written instructions and complex charts virtually impossible to decipher. To make these beautiful patterns more accessible to us, Wendy Bernard has put together a stitch dictionary containing more than 160 patterns inspired by the intricate fabrics used in Japanese knitting.
Throughout the book are fully illustrated charts and familiar symbols, along with large swatch photos. Instructions are provided for knitting each pattern from the top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round.
The stitch patterns are separated into general themes, and have all been given names by Wendy - Japanese stitch dictionaries tend to give motifs a number, rather than a name. The first section presents a wide variety of knit-and-purl patterns, many of which are impressively attractive, given their simplicity.
A gorgeous collection of ribs comes next, ranging from the functional to the highly decorative, such as the beautiful ‘Ribs and Frogs’, the twisted-stitch ‘Bramble Rib’, and the ‘Bobble in a Basket’ pattern.
The chapter containing ‘Fancy and Twisted’ stitches offers complex-looking patterns that Wendy promises are fun to knit. These include wonderful motifs such as ‘Katsura Twists’ and ‘Wrapped Waves’, and the almost three-dimensional ‘Spiders’ and ‘Crowns’. There is a plethora of intricate cables, too, from the dainty and delicate, to bold motifs that would form head-turning central panels on a sweater.
Japanese lace is particularly loved by knitters around the world for its intricacy and originality, and this dictionary doesn’t disappoint in the breadth of its exquisite patterns. Personal favourites for us include ‘Waving Wheat’, ‘Peacock Feathers’, and the pretty ‘Nestled Leaves’.
Wendy Bernard also provides a number of knitting projects, which can be adapted to use different stitch patterns from the book. These include a hat, long mittens, a cushion, and a sideways-knit cable jumper sized to fit busts of 28in-54in. Wendy also gives in-depth guidance on designing our own blanket, shrug and cowl from scratch.
At the end of the book is a convenient Stitch Multiple Index, with an at-a-glance guide to all the patterns. This shows how many stitches each pattern is worked over, making it much easier to substitute stitch patterns or combine them in larger projects, such as Aran sweaters.
Japanese Stitches Unraveled is published by Abrams, priced £22.99. To order a copy, visit www.abramsandchronicle.co.uk