Japanese Inspired Knits
by Marianne Isager
This is a beautifully photographed book, filled with twelve sweater designs–one for each month. Each chapter begins with photos and a paragraph or two about what makes that month special in Japan, or some traditional event that takes place … something that can be tied into the pattern that follows.
As a rule, the patterns are primarily geometric, with regular color patterns, parallel lines, boxy shapes. They use double knitting, shadow knitting, entrelac, intarsia, and stranded color work, with excellent instructions on each technique.
The only real problem I have with this book? I didn’t love any of the patterns. I’m not saying I hated them, either, but nice as they are, there wasn’t any pattern that made me stop and say, “Oooh, I want to make that."
This isn’t to say that the patterns aren’t well-constructed, clever, and attractive. They are these things, but … personally, they’re not my cup of oolong.
As I say, there are a few sweaters in here I like more than others. The Summer in Tokyo fair isle is interesting, and I like the details in the Flower Buds jacket, as well as the geometric checkerboard of Winter in Tokyo. But most of the others just leave me cold. I can’t exactly say why. Too edgy? Not traditional enough? Too “foreign?" I’m too easily distracted by the model’s assymmetric hair? I don’t really know. But don’t let that stop you from looking for yourself–there’s absolutely no question that Marianne Isager is a talented, inspired designer.
The book itself is beautiful. The sweaters are all photographed against plain, non-distracting backgrounds, so you can focus on them, rather than their settings. The only problem is that it doesn’t give the model much to do to help make them interesting, so in the photos where she’s got her arms wrapped around her waist, it’s hard to tell whether she’s doing so because she was trying for variety, or because the sweater didn’t hang well. (Since each pattern comes with a schematic, my guess is it was the variety.) There are also close-up pictures, too, showing stitch patterns and shaping details–always a good thing in a knitting book.
There is an index, a complete glossary, and a Table of Contents which spells out the theme for each chapter. Very important.
Reviewed by Deb Boyken
Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website,
Knitting Scholar, can be found at http://knittingscholar.com .