Book Review: “Handknitting for winter” and “The works of Aran Knitting”, Part Two

My second book of the two purchased recently is “The works of Aran Knitting”, (the first review you can see at the bottom of this page, under previous post.

This is an utterly adorable Japanese tour of the Aran Isles, their knitted social history, museum and archival visits, stitch dictionary and introduction to the local knitting shops and their proprietors. All in all, a whistle stop tour of all things woolly on the Isles of Aran, and far more than just a pattern book.

There are 17 patterns for knitted accessories , with projects ranging from a cute pompom egg cosy, to beautiful travelling cape, with cables being the predominant technique. Indeed, for anyone looking to master the art of cabling, this gives lovely inspiration, and includes ten samplers for cables and texture patterns, with a chapter on their history and development with historical examples of traditional sweaters from museum archives.

All the patterns and swatch designs are charted, with clear construction diagrams to indicate how they are put together, making this easy to navigate for a non-Japanese reader like myself.

It is also lovely to see that the samples used for photography in the book have been knitted in a traditional Aran wool, and I can well imagine the gorgeous, crunchy, and rustic feel of the wool that gives this wee collection it’s heritage look.

Overall, this book is a really sweet treasure, using the knitting design history of this collection of islands to put Ireland on the map for knitting travelers, and justly so.

Book Review: “Handknitting for winter” and “The works of Aran Knitting”, Part One.

So these two beauties arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago to cheer me up during my working week. I am not ashamed to admit that I took them to work so that I could glance away from my computer to the top tier of my in-tray, just to lovingly lose myself on their front page photographs. Then, at lunchtime, I greedily stole away to read them up for an hour before heading back to the office and wondering if I could position them open on my desk in some way that other people wouldn’t notice.

I bought them through yesasia.com (the global site, rather than the version of the site that only ships to the US and Canada), after having heard Ella Gordon in Shetland talk about this site as the place where she gets her Japanese knitting books from. And if you take a look, you won’t be disappointed.

Handknitting for winter, by Yuka Kobayashi, published in Japanese in the Let’s Knit Series.

Despite the main language of publication being Japanese, there is often enough English spattered about the place to make them use-able, and actually make quite a lot of sense, if you are like me and speak/read absolutely no Japanese. This is particularly true if you are also the owner of the recently re-published “Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible” by Hitomi Shida, which goes to great length to describe and explain the slight differences in the symbols used in Japanese charts, and thus translate them to the English charting symbols.

There is quite a good range on YesAsia, a search entitled “knitting” coming up with 7 pages of relevant titles. And the books are well priced- these two only cost me a total of £35 including postage.

“Handknitting for Winter” by Yuka Kobayashi is a beautiful collection of 24 accessories patterns using colour work and cabling. All the designs are charted, so if you have little-to-no Knitting Japanese (as I like to call it, having just acquired a Knitmaster knitting machine, and Japanese Stitch Bible it has struck me I could well make my millions publishing a Japanese dictionary for knitters), you will most likely be absolutely fine and able to work it all out.

You could actually work out the colourwork and cable sections just from the detailed series of pictures and photographed step-by-step techniques that are usefully included in the book.

The aesthetic of the photography and overall feel of the book is lovely, with really clear charts and construction instructions which you could very easily interpret without much knitting experience. You can also indulge your love of all things “Handknitting for Winter” by following the author on instagram and pinterest (tsumugi_knits), to get an extended cut of this knitting lifestyle… https://www.instagram.com/tsumugi_knits/

Check out Part Two of this blog post to see the review of “The Works of Aran Knitting”.