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(4) Japanese craft books: How to read a Japanese pattern – Knitting

April 10, 2010 - - 4:56 PM

As I have listed in my last post about crocheting from Japanese patterns, there are many useful resources on the web that can help you. The same is true for knitting Japanese style:

As for crochet, these things also apply for knitting:

If you know about any other useful websites, I would love to hear about it.

(3) Japanese craft books: How to read a Japanese pattern – Crochet

- 9:31 AM

When you are looking at a Japanese pattern for the first time, you are probably wondering what to do. Here is some information to get you started:

Start with something small or manageable like an amigurumi or a scarf. You will soon find, that finding your way through these visual instructions is much easier than you have imagined.

If you have decided to try a particular pattern and have trouble figuring it out, there are still more ways to get help:

  • There are language tools – add-ons – for your browser that translate text found on web sites for you.
    For example, there is the Google Bar for the Internet Explorer and Foxlingo for the Firefox, which I am currently using. The results are mostly helpful in some way, but sometimes the translations might sound like  plain non-sense ;-). You simply have to give it a try to see if it gives you any additional information for your particular project.
    If you want a little tutorial how to go about it, then We’re all Mad here has one for you.
  • If you cannot copy and paste text into the translation tool, because your pattern is from a physical book or an image that does not allow for text recognition, then there are many kind people you can ask.
    There is, of course, Ravelry (highly recommended), where you can become a member of the Japanese Knitting and Crochet Group. Just reading through their forum was extremely helpful for me.

Good luck with your Japanese crafting!

Mori girls, the modern forest nymphs

March 30, 2010 - - 8:01 PM

Japan has brought us a new trend for women called “Mori” (Japanese for forest).

Favorite places of the so called “Mori girls”:

  • Outdoors (mostly nature, but apparently you can be an urban nymph, too)
  • Cafés (the older and cozy ones)
  • Libraries (to emphasize the introspective character)
  • Markets (for healthy and fresh food)

Favorite activities include:

  • Exploring new neighborhoods with a bike
  • Reading (preferably in cozy places)
  • Photography (for documenting all the adventures)
  • Journaling (practice creativity and self-expression)
  • Shopping (for good quality and natural fiber clothing)

While reading about the life of “mori girls” I had several questions:

  • Is this really a sub culture or more or less just a fashion trend?
  • Can men also join the fun and be a Mori boy?
  • Where do I get all the wonderful Japanese clothes here in Central Europe?

There is more information and images over at:

Of course there are already the “Swamp girls” who state that they are much more edgy and challenge the forest girls.

(2) Japanese craft books: How to read a Japanese pattern – Sewing

March 17, 2010 - - 1:25 PM

I have just learned how to use a sewing machine a few months ago, so I am not making cloths yet. But the Japanese sewing books are a great inspiration and most have also small(er) projects and hand-sewn items you can learn a lot from.

The following blogs and pages will help you find your way:

For even more inspiration check out this wonderful blog called My Daruma or the Japanese sewing Flickr group.

Do you have more useful information or craft blogs you love to visit?

(1) Japanese craft books: Where to find Japanese books or patterns

March 12, 2010 - - 4:18 PM

1. Buying Japanese books

If you have a local book store that does sell Japanese craft books, then you can consider yourself lucky.

If you don’t, then you can shop online:

  • There is Amazon.co.jp, which has an “In English” link (in the top right corner). If you click it, it shows most of the content in English, so you can order books without understanding Japanese.
    As the other Amazon websites it is safe to use and the delivery is fast and reliable, but it is not exactly cheap, if you have to pay shipping costs.
  • Yesasia.com is available in English and under certain conditions the shipping is free internationally. Like Amazon it also recommends other products you might be interested in.
  • Usually you go to Etsy.com for exquisite handmade objects, but you can also look there for Japanese craft books. The advantage is that you can ask questions about the publication to the seller. You are also likely to support the same kind of addicts you (probably) are yourself ;-).

If those three stores do not satisfy your needs, you can find even more links on Crafting Japanese.

2. Downloading free Japanese patterns

There are at least two sites that offer free patterns:

  • Pierrot offers so many patterns on their page, that you probably do not know where to even start. Thankfully there is an overview by category.
  • Clover also features many patterns on their site.

Dancingbarefoot has an excellent overview of links to these and other sites. If there are any other sites you like to visit, then please tell me about them.

The next post will be about understanding the Japanese craft books, you have acquired.

UPDATE: Another great site with free patterns is Atelier.

Series: Japanese craft books and patterns

March 8, 2010 - - 3:15 PM

Lately I have been quite fascinated with Japanese craft books. To get an idea of what kind of books are out there for people who love knitting, crocheting, sewing or beading, check out Crafting Japanese.

Why would you want to take a look at these publications for junkies of handmade stuff? Well, they are different!

  • First of all, they are comparatively easy to understand most of the time.  They use lots of pretty pictures as well as diagrams and symbols to guide you, especially the international crochet and knitting language.
    Of course, it does not hurt, if you can read Japanese, but the point is that usually you do not have to in order to create the project.
  • The Japanese culture has created a unique visual aesthetic. The style you see in the publications reflects this view in its photography, the handmade objects themselves, the choice of patterns and colors as well as the use of materials. The style ranges from Zen simplicity and timeless elegance to stunning complexity or overloading cuteness.
  • You learn different ways of crafting and have the chance to experiment with new stitch patterns, techniques and materials. I love the challenge of trying to understand how a piece was designed so I can create it myself. Japanese publications have certainly influenced the way I knit and crochet.

In the following blog articles I will show you, where to get Japanese books, magazines and patterns, how to read the diagrams and symbols and how to understand and translate Japanese at least partially.

UPDATE: I have found a comparision of the American and Japanese style of presenting and knitting lace. Although the review is three years old now, there are many valid points in there I do agree with.