Friday, 9 November 2018

Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: A Review

Today on The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done, we're going to have a look the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Patterns by Hitomi Shida. Let me start off by saying that the book's title is no exaggeration of its contents. This book is an amazing resource for knitters. It contains 260 different stitch patterns that are positively pornographic for knitting enthusiast to browse through. Dozens of photos follow dozens of photos of beautiful, intricate, creative, elegant stitch patterns, the sight of which had me gasping with amazement, sighing with delight, and breathing heavily to an extent that I was glad I was viewing the book in private. I don't have a way to show you the interior of the book, but I suggest you take a good look at the stitch pattern depicted in the cover photo and imagine stitch design on that level multiplied by 260. And all of these stitch patterns came from a single brain, which blows mine. Hitomi Shida is an extraordinarily talented designer, and she might just have the kind of genius for stitchwork that Kaffe Fassett does for colourwork.

I should probably warn you that, if you're used to standard Western-style knitting pattern instruction conventions, you may find the instructions in this book a slight change of pace. Japanese knitwear designers use the more pictorial style of chart that's only relatively recently begun to come into use in North American knitting publications, in which the knitting chart is intended to be a visual representation of how the completed stitches will look, rather than the more linear charts common in English-language patterns, where each square of chart represents a corresponding stitch in the pattern. There is also not typically a key, as every published Japanese knitting pattern uses the same standardized symbols and knitters are expected to know what the symbols represent. Since the English-speaking knitters this book was translated for don't necessarily know the symbols, explanations have been provided in this book, so it shouldn't be too hard for a knitter who is new to these knitting pattern conventions to learn them and to learn to use a slightly different style of knitting chart, and it will certainly be worth it.

There are only five actual project patterns in the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, so let's have a look at them specifically. They're all simple as to shape, as Hitomi Shida's focus as a designer seems to be almost entirely on stitchwork. A look at her Ravelry portfolio reveals hundreds of project design patterns in wearable, flattering shapes with gorgeous, elegant stitchwork.

Mini-Scarf with Frill. Oooh, very pretty. The little frill adds such a perfect little touch of feminine style without going over the top.

Socks for Warm Feet. A pair of very serviceable and handsome socks.

Hat with Crossed Stitches and Lace.. When I look at the intricate cabling in this one, I get the sense that this is how highly evolved brain matter would look.

Cute Fingerless Mitts. Attractive and wearable.

Elegant Decorative Collar. Oooh, pretty. This will add a special touch to a simple dress or sweater.


  1. I want to make that last one and send it to the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who I hope is recovering well. I have the book, and I just need to make up things to do with it! It’s stunning.

    1. From the programme I watched about her - I gather that she would be thrilled to receive a gift like the above collar. The documentary showed a collection of very beautiful textile collars in her wardrobe.

    2. I'm suddenly overcome with the urge to make Ruth Bader Ginsburg a beautiful lace collar.

  2. Do it! Do it! Make collars for RBG. I would if I weren’t juggling too many other things right now.