I’ve been obsessed with Japanese knitting for a few years now. And clearly, I’m not alone. Classes on understanding Japanese knitting patterns are among my most popular workshops. I can’t stop admiring (and buying) Japanese knitting books. I want to use stitches from Japanese stitch libraries in my own designs. I love the consistency and cleanness of Japanese knitting charts, the sparse whiteness of the pages, and the clarity of symbols that are coded representations of the stitches to be knit. The aesthetics of the books and the knitted garments blend elaborate ornament, fine detail, and clean elegance in a way that has a different feeling than design from the West.
Although the patterns are written entirely in Japanese, they are not impossible for English-speaking knitters to read. Very light on text and very heavy on charts and schematics, with a cheat sheet of translations, any adventurous knitter can
enter the world of Japanese knitting. Understanding Japanese patterns is based on learning how to follow charts and schematics. Knitting these designs for ourselves often requires learning how to resize a garment. The stitch patterns themselves are complex, because Japanese designers combine many simple elements into very elaborate pattern stitches, but if you understand basic US chart symbols, you’re well on your way to learning to follow Japanese knitting charts.