Friday, June 17, 2011

Just in from Japan…

IMG_9021My books from Japan arrived yesterday!  This is Hand Knit Socks by Toshiyuki Shimada, and obtaining it was my homework for the Explore Shimada’s Socks class at Sock Summit.  I ordered it from the yesasia site listed in the class description, and in order to get free (international) shipping, I bought two copies.  I made a Ravelry connection with another knitter who also wants the book, and I’ll deliver it to her in Portland.

I’ve looked through the book and it’s pretty neat.  I expected it to read back-to-front, but it doesn’t – and I see a few English words sprinkled throughout, which is interesting.  It is very visual.  I think an experienced knitter can decode a lot of the content.  For instance, can you make out the anatomy of a top-down sock?IMG_9022 All the lines and arrows direct you to other pages in the book with more detailed instructions about how to make a heel or a toe or what have you.

The diagrams of knitted stitches are great – unlike the ones I’m used to, they show the direction that the yarn takes as it moves through the fabric.  Between the diagram and the step-by-step photos, I think a non-Japanese speaker could learn to Kitchener:


The real gem, for me, is having directions for stitches that aren’t in my repertoire.  The middle of the book contains pages like this, which show how to execute specific stitches (you can see their chart notation on the left).  I looked at the basic ones first - for knit, purl, left-leaning decrease, and right-leaning decrease – to get a sense of how these diagrams work.  It is still a bit confusing to me, but I have the sense that I could get it.IMG_9025The pattern pages follow the stitch dictionary part, and I must admit, these look daunting at first glance: IMG_9026 They show the whole sock as if it were knit flat – which it’s not – but it helps you visualize how the whole thing goes together.  I think it serves as a chart at the same time.

I really hope I’m not committing a terrible violation of copyright by sharing these bits with you.  I mean for them to entice you to pick up a Japanese knitting book the next time you see one in a shop!

The book also contains color plates with photos of finished socks.  My favorite is this intricate knee sock.  Isn’t it dreamy?  Go ahead, blow it up to get a good look.IMG_9027I have no idea what’s on that little green slip of paper, but it works sort of like a bookmark and that’s how I’ll continue to use it.   The only thing I recognize on it is an ISBN.  There is a bar code like a UPC code, but my ScanLife barcode reader couldn’t find any information about it. However, the integrated GoodReads scanner went to a record for the book – nifty!

Getting this book served to get my blood pumping again about Sock summit.  Only 41 days to go!


  1. The sock patterns themselves look a lot like lace knitting. I have found charts to be great. I might have to buy this book. Next time I see you I hope I can leaf through it!

  2. Very cool. I really do like those knee socks -- although they wouldn't reach anywhere THESE knees!