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DISCLAIMER: Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible Review. I received this book free from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own, and I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe my readers will enjoy or find useful. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase through these links you will be helping to fund my yarn addiction. It doesn’t cost you anything to use these links. Of course, always do your own research to see if a product is for you before purchasing.
Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Designs by Hitomi Shida
Tuttle Publishing contacted me and asked me if I would like to review a copy of The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, which released on Tuesday (10th October 2017) in the United States. Unfortunately, if you, like me are in the United Kingdom, it isn’t released until the 10th November 2017, but you can pre-order.
If you are desperate to get your hands on it before then, if you use the US version of Amazon they will ship to the UK. Bear in mind, however, that right now it costs £12.87 with £5.50 shipping to the UK on the US site, and £10.49 with free delivery on the UK site. For the sake of almost £8, it might be worth waiting until November!
Now, when the front of the book says “260 Exquisite Patterns by Hitomi Shida”… You can bet your bottom dollar that the word “exquisite”, is not just flung around loosely here. These patterns ARE exquisite. Some of them, I’d go so far as to say breathtaking.
There are some that I recognise from other books and patterns, but there are also some that are completely brand new to me.
There are several different types of stitches in this book and they are broken up as follows:
- Bead Embroidery (some lacy, some not)
- Crossing stitch patterns
I’ll be honest. Japanese knitting is not actually something I myself have come across before. Before receiving this book, I had no idea what to expect, or what made it different from Western knitting.
There are some differences in method, which could take some getting used to. As most of my readership is made up of newbie knitters, I’d like to put a fair warning out that this book is probably not for the faint-hearted (newbie or otherwise). That being said, don’t let the fact that you are a newbie knitter sway you from this book – it truly is beautiful, inspiring, and with patience and practice, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to tackle these projects.
To note about Japanese Knitting:
ALL of the patterns are charted. There are no written instructions, unlike many patterns you may be used to.
The symbols for the charts do not vary from pattern to pattern, as is the case with western knitting charts. In Western knitting charts, the symbols used to represent each stitch is down to the designer’s preference. The pattern symbols are standardised in Japanese Charts. Every Japanese designer uses the same symbols. This has both its advantages and its drawbacks.
- Once you have learnt what a symbol means, you know it. You won’t move onto a different pattern later down the line and have to relearn its meaning.
- There are such a vast number of different stitches, that the number of different symbols used is massive, and the complexity of the symbols on the eye can make it challenging to read. There are 11 pages to the symbols guide.
- Not every pattern uses every stitch, of course, so in Western knitting, if there are only 4 or 5 different stitch patterns, you know exactly what you are using for that pattern. I have found myself flicking back and forth through the symbols guide often whilst working on these patterns trying to find the correct symbol.
Things I love about the book
- The stitch patterns are STUNNING. Complete just one of these, and you will sit congratulating yourself on your own immense skill for hours.
- The featured projects. There is a scarf, a pair of socks, a hat, a pair of fingerless mitts and a decorative collar. And, as I’m sure you can guess – they too are flippin’ stunning. I have no use for a decorative knitted collar… But you can bet I want to knit it anyway!
- The edgings. These are completely gorgeous, and I can easily visualise beautiful ways in which these could be put to use. Even just as a gorgeous pair of boot toppers for the Winter!
Things I don’t love about the book
- The charts can get fairly tiny, especially on the more complex patterns. With the complexity of some of the symbols, you can imagine the charts can be quite busy to look at, and if you have bad eyesight like me it might not be the easiest thing to read.
- Again, the complexity of the patterns can make it quite challenging to track where you are in your work too, so bear that in mind. I have come up with my own way of dealing with the issue, which I share below.
I imagine some of the patterns would have been easier to read were they a full page, however, there are so many patterns in here that the book would have been insanely huge!
All in all, this book is beautiful. I love the muted colours used for the samples, the step away from the norm, and lots of stitch patterns that I have never encountered before making this book a joy to read.
Not only that, without blowing my own trumpet, it’s been a long time since I have found a knitting pattern truly challenging. Some of these stitch patterns sent the cogs into my brain into overdrive – and that is a good thing. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
I would say that if you’re not afraid of a challenge, you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, and like me, you find beautiful stitch patterns inspiring, then this book is definitely worth the money.
I know it is one I will return to again and again.
Tips for Reading Japanese Charts
- Read the guide in the front of the book. It explains the differences between Japanese Charts and Western Charts and shows you exactly how to read them. It’s an invaluable resource.Blow up the chart you want to work on. You can do this either by photocopying the page at a larger size or do it the way I did, by taking a photo on my iPad and cropping it.
- Blow up the chart you want to work on. You can do this either by photocopying the page at a larger size or do it the way I did, by taking a photo on my iPad and cropping it.
- Use washi tape to mark your place in the chart. I just stick it to my iPad screen, on the row above the one I’m currently working on. This helps reduce the interference from symbols on other rows.
- Keep the book close at hand with it open on the Symbols Guide, so you can easily flick back and forth to find the symbols you will be using. Having the chart you’re working on printed on paper or open on your iPad saves you flicking away from the pattern to find the stitch you need.
- Use Lifelines. To learn more about using lifelines in your work, click here to read my post about them.
Do you find stitch patterns like this super inspiring, but don’t believe you have the confidence to tackle them? I believe that anyone can gain the confidence needed to tackle more complex knitting patterns, which is why I put together my FREE knitting roadmap – 5 Steps to Knitting Mastery. To download your free copy, click the “Sign Up Now!” button below!
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