Thursday, 7 January 2010

Nippon Knits

 image copyright Interweave Press Inc.

I went to see Departures last night, which was the film that took the 2009 Oscar for best foreign language picture. It was beautiful, moving and funny, and I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance. I spent my early childhood in Japan, and it reawakened a lot of memories for me. All of that, though, is just a lead-in to what I really want to discuss about the film: the knitwear. Noteworthy knits featured in practically every other scene; I frequently found myself leaning over to my cinema-going companion (who is also a knitter) to whisper excited observations such as: 'Look at those matching cabled jumpers!' or 'Bobbles!'. 

I was first made aware of the nifty knits going down Nippon-side by this episode of the excellent Stash and Burn podcast. It seems that a lot of Japanese designers have put a fresh modern twist on Western traditions such as Aran or Fair Isle. As their patterns are usually entirely charted, it is apparently possible to make them with hardly any knowledge of the language. I haven't quite got as far as that, but I have been lusting after Japanese Inspired Knits by Marianne Isager (one of which is pictured above). Apart from being a lovely collection of patterns, and a useful English-language gateway to a Japanese aesthetic, this also strikes me as an interesting cultural hybrid - a case of a Western designer drawing inspiration from Japanese designs which were in turn drawing on Western traditional techniques. 

I haven't yet bought the book, as my yasteroid doesn't contain anything appropriate, and my one vague knitting resolution for 2010 is to continue to use up that bounty that lives under my bed, but I will continue to dream... 

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