Friday, July 08, 2005

Knitting in Japan

Knitting in Japan has a diverse history. Lately I’ve been reading about it online and I have learnt that at one time, knitting was an art form done by samurai. Back then they knitted what was useful to them.

Now I look at knitting exhibitions and see the beautiful art created in this medium. For example, this picture, found at
KnitJapan. It is called Joumon after the 'Joumon' era, an era that “lasted almost 10,000 years from 10,000BC to 300BC” (knitjapan). I was struck not only by the beauty of these simulations of ancient earthen wear vessels, but also by the fact that I have visited the location where this picture was taken. It is somewhere in Kansai region.

Another thing that I love about Japanese knitting is the functionality and the simplicity of the pattern. A site I love to visit, although the English version has not been updated for some time, is two kinds of charts .

I admit that when I am designing something that uses a stitch pattern more complicated that st st, I write it out in this style. For me it is much clearer. Right now I am working on a vest that uses a stitch pattern my grandmother calls Blackberry st. Basically, the pattern is a four row repeat. Row 1 - *K2 P2, repeat from *. Row two and four – knit the knits and purl the purls. Row three - Knit the purls and purl the knits. It is much harder to explain than it is to do. Here, let me show you a better way:

l = knit st
- = purl st

Knitters are already very visual, why pressure them into understanding words? I do admit I enjoy the idea that I can translate all these abbreviations found in a pattern into yarn like spy with a secret code. But sometimes, it’s all just too much. I find myself screaming at the yarn or pattern, as the case may be, “why can’t you just be simple!” I’m all about KISS (Keeping It Simple Stupid).

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