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Do the Twist with Japanese Knit Stitches

I own a whole heaping pile of stitch dictionaries. The Barbara Walker bibles, Norah Gaughan’s sturdy sourcebooks, and Andrea Rangel’s crafty colorwork tome, among many others.

But the ones that really float my knitting boat are my Japanese stitch dictionaries. There is something about the clever combinations of cables, lace, and twisted stitches that make these books endlessly appealing. They can also be a little tricky for two reasons.

Japanese stitch dictionary white swatch
Look how those twisted stitches demand notice. Alas, weird tension issues wreak on yarnovers, kind of spoiling the effect. Sigh.

Japanese Stitch Dictionaries

Japanese-style stitches are remarkably acrobatic to execute. Stitches get twisted, wrapped, dipped, and slipped in ways that might trip up an unsuspecting knitter. All this movement and tension in the yarn creates stitch patterns with extreme texture, part of the enduring appeal of Japanese-style knitting.

mystery chart Japanese stitch dictionary
I have no idea what this is telling me to do, but I bet it will be magnificent once I figure it out.

To work these lovelies, you need to know how to read a Japanese stitch chart, which can be a definite learning curve. My go-to guide, Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, has 11 pages of chart symbols at the beginning of the book. And—to keep things interesting—a stitch chart might tweak what the swirly 2-circles-with-a-squiggly-line-through-them symbol on page 9 might actually mean in that particular swatch.

tan lace knitting swatch
Simple cables get a new twist.

Intrigued, but don’t feel like learning to memorize 300 new symbols? Take a Zoom class with Barbara Benson as part of our Interweave@Home program. “Stitch Manipulation in Japanese Style Stitch Patterns” takes place in April. You’ll learn all the basic yarn manipulations so common in Japanese-style knitting. You’ll also cover the basics of Japanese knitting symbols and how to “read’ them into your own knitting.

Sign up for Barbara’s class and unlock a new knitting language. See you there!


Explore twisted stitch techniques from Interweave!

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