knitting in japan

Dispatch from Japan!

I’ve been here since Tuesday, and this is mostly a vacation, but I couldn’t resist doing some yarn-related exploring while here. A few months back I read a feature in Amirisu magazine, a wonderful bilingual Japanese/English online magazine based in Japan, about new local yarn stores in Tokyo. At the top of the list was Keito, and I made it over there yesterday to check out the store.

the adorable front doors of Keito

誕生日おめでとう, Keito!

They’re getting ready to celebrate their first anniversary this month, and they had an adorable window display complete with a pom pom cake. I was too shy to take any photos inside, but I spent a good deal of time browsing their selection of yarns and books (and they had a great selection of both). It’s a really lovely space, with a table over at one end for their knit cafe events. Keito imports a lot of their yarns, and it was fun to see Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift on the shelves along with one of my favorites, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter! They also had several imported yarn lines I’d never seen before. Somehow, I managed to not buy any yarn, but I did leave with a new stitch dictionary, pictured below:

パターンブック 300 / Knitting Patterns Book 300 is one of the stitch dictionaries published by Nihon Vogue, and as far as I can tell from my Google searches it looks like it’s out of print. There are plenty of stitch patterns in here that I’ve seen before, but quite a few that are nothing at all like what’s found in the stitch dictionaries I’ve purchased in the States. Honestly, I think this book’s got me itching to just make blankets to try out different stitch patterns. It’s not hard to see how the sampler afghan came to be! I’m looking forward to getting it home and trying out some of the patterns.

東京 > 京都

For now, I’m in Kyoto, and I don’t get back to Seattle until the 13th so it may be a few weeks before you see a real update from me. I did get a little knitting done on the train from Tokyo to Kyoto, and you can be sure there will be some travel photos upon my return!

tonari no totoro!

I watched My Neighbor Totoro for the first time in a very long time last night. I grew up with this movie, and it was my introduction to Japanese animation and to Miyazaki’s work in particular. It’s still brilliant, and I think it’s only getting better with time. I decided my chalkboard at home needed a little tribute, which I present to you here:


The characters read “Tonari no Totoro,” or “My Neighbor Totoro.” If you’ve never seen this movie, I highly recommend finding a copy. There is so much to love about it.

Photo pulled from my instagram feed. If you’re on instagram, you can follow me here.


Back in March I blogged about a sweater I was knitting by a Japanese designer named Michiyo. It went on the back burner for a little bit while I worked on the pattern and knit the samples for Amiina as well as my upcoming pattern (which should be ready in a week or two), but as you can see, it’s finally finished! I bound off Sunday evening and wet blocked it, which took up a lot of floor real estate (you can see a photo of it blocking on the ravelry project page). I picked up some buttons yesterday and sewed them on this morning.

I’m really happy with how the pattern, written for cotton yarn, worked up in this wool. The lace opened up nicely with blocking and the neutral palette is really lovely. The water-resistant natural New Zealand wool should be a great asset in the coming weeks, as here in Seattle many locals know the month of June by its nickname ‘June-uary’ (due to the chilly drizzle that generally sets in for a few weeks).

I did have a minor scare with this sweater:

The Te Awa Wools yarn came in a big hank of exactly 300 grams, and being pretty old, the chance of finding any more was pretty much zero, so I knew I might have to fudge a little bit at the end. Still, I was more than a little bit short when I sent that tweet out a week ago. Turns out I had some more yarn stashed in my travel bag – this had been my travel project the weekend before – which I subsequently unearthed a few days later. Huge, immense sigh of relief. I was careful after that, and knit the biggest piece of the sweater (the back, in these photos) shorter by about 20 rows, and then divided the remaining wool in half to knit each of the sleeves. In the end, I think it worked out well, and the tiny bit of yarn leftover will be set aside in case this sweater is ever unfortunate enough to need repairs down the road.

I really love this sweater and I’ll definitely be knitting more of Michiyo’s designs in the future – perhaps even from an English pattern, as she’s now done a few pieces for Brooklyn Tweed’s guest designer series, Wool People. I really love this one: Stranger Cardigan. Like many of Michiyo’s designs, it can be worn multiple ways.

More soon, in knitting news and otherwise!

inspiration: michiyo

I’m still putting together my posts on Sydney and New Zealand, but in the meantime I’ve been working on several knitting designs (it’s submission season for everyone’s fall/winter collections). I really enjoy the process of putting together a design submission for a publication, but it does mean lots of sketching and swatching and not a lot of project-oriented knitting. It’s left me itching to put a project on my needles and work from somebody else’s pattern for once!

On my trip to Japan for Summer Sonic music festival last summer, I spent an inordinate amount of time in bookstores looking at Japanese knitting books (they’re hard to resist). I fell in love with Michiyo’s knit and crochet designs and picked out one of her books to bring back home, vowing to learn the basics of reading a Japanese charted pattern so I could knit the projects from it I was interested in. This is the book in question, and in English the title is Enjoyable Patterns Knit Daywear (or so Ravelry tells me – rav link). As we’re heading into spring, I opted to knit the lacy wrap top/cardigan (S. Cardigan) pictured on the right side of the cover below, probably the first piece in the book I fell in love with.

cover image from

The boxy construction and repetitive lace pattern mean it’s wonderful TV/movie knitting. I’m knitting it up with wool from my stash, some old Te Awa Natural Wools 8-ply gifted to me by my aunt. It’s undyed natural New Zealand wool, and given my recent trip, it’s nice to be knitting with! After learning a few basics and taking some notes, I find the chart pretty simple to work from. I’m excited about this, because it means I’ll be able to knit from more Michiyo patterns in the future. Because I bought this book on my Summer Sonic trip, I’ve dubbed my lace top ‘Summer Sonic’ (サマーソニック) and you can follow my progress on Ravelry here.