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Winging It
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Winging It

After writing a post a few weeks ago about my plans for winter sweaters, I went and completely changed my mind about one of them.  I decided to go with a completely different pattern for this year’s anniversary sweater – a true challenge.

First some background: You may recall that my last two trips to New York City have included stops at Kinokuniya Book Store, the well-stocked Japanese language book store in Manhattan. I don’t know a lick of Japanese, but I do know that their crafting books are phenomenal, and I figured that one day I would have the knitting confidence to take on. the challenge of “winging it” through one of the patterns. Japanese knitting pattern writing is different than American or European styles, but even without a word of English, it is possible to decipher the charts and the schematics and construct the garment.  This is what I am trying to do…

Simple enough... right?

The Japanese gansey pattern from the Let’s Knit Series – Men’s Knits. I talked myself in to the challenge when I saw that it is essentially a box construction: drop shoulders, no shaping in the body.  The stitch pattern is fully charted… simple enough, right?  Luckily, I have a good friend who knows some Japanese and is also a knitter.  She sent over some tips for knitting, and I was able to get a rough idea about gauge and sizing based on swatches.


Kris choose this deep red wool in the stash and I cast on for the sleeve. I decided to start with the sleeve to measure the gauge and make my calculations from there. I am past the elbow now and have started the gansey chart for the sleeve.  I am trying the length and width on Kris’s arm and so far it seems to be working well.  Maybe “cutting my teeth” on this pattern will allow me the confidence to try some of the other beautiful patterns in the books?

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15 Responses

  1. Allison

    You can do it! The finished sweater looks great, and I love the bold red instead of a traditional, natural gansey color.

  2. NerdGirl

    Big thumbs up for having the guts to plunge right in. I’m guessing with that sort of fortitude and positive attitude, you are going to end up with a lovely sweater.

  3. Josiane

    Great challenge! You certainly have what it takes to get through it and end up with a gorgeous sweater for Kris!

  4. Kelly

    Fingers crossed it all works out for you! Its a beautiful sweater!

  5. Sarah

    Nice choice – I hope it goes swimmingly and builds your confidence – that red is a lovely shade to be knitting with – especially in the cold – I feel warmer just looking at it :)

  6. Jacey

    I’m impressed, Lolly! That’s an exciting challenge. The color Kris picked is phenomenal (or, I guess you picked it first, huh?). ;)

  7. Stephanie

    Lolly, that is looking absolutely stunning.
    I hope you decide to share the tips with us, I’ve looked at a lot of the japanese craft magazines, but I’ve only given amigurumi a try!

  8. Sarah

    Good for you! I have a few Finnish patterns I’ve been wanting to try, so I’m interested to see how it goes.

  9. idiosyncraticeye

    Wow, you’re so brave! Hope it works out alright, great colour. :)

  10. Evelyn

    What a wonderful challenge you’ve set for yourself … I love the color choice and your start is looking great already.

  11. erin

    Go for it! It’s a gorgoeus design. I can’t read a word of Japanese either, but I love knitting from Japanese charts. The other thing I love is that measurements are given for every single length and width so I measure as I go along. I’m sure your gansey will turn out great!

  12. susan

    That’s a nice looking sweater. Good luck with the pattern!

  13. margaux

    love it! I have been meaning to check out the japanese bookstore here in SF. I had a customer buy one and we deciphered together a pattern she wanted to make. Lo and behold it wasn’t so hard! Can’t wait to see this finished!

  14. Chandler

    We have a Kino’s in Seattle, too, and I’m a total sucker for their pattern books. I have a couple of embroidery and patternmaking books from there, but I’m so far waaaay too chicken to dive into a Japanese knitting pattern. You are one brave gal, and I know the finished product is going to be gorgeous! Can’t wait to see it.

  15. Lola LB

    This is quite a challenge! I’ve long admired these Japanese patterns, but don’thave one of these books. I hope to someday go to NYC and the store will definitely be on my list!

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