16 May 2011

How Do I Get a Class with Toshiyuki Shimada?

Scarves from top to bottom: P, C, L, & O.
I know I haven't blogged enough lately, or knitted enough.  And way too much of my Ravelry projects page is filled with secret projects, sans pictures. I am still experimenting both with labyrinth knitting and with double-knit traveling cables.  I showed off the double-knit cabled sock cuffs at STITCHES South, and Gayle Roehm was kind enough to send me on a hunt for Ideas for Double-sided Knitted Scarves by Toshiyuki Shimada.  I was able to find it on Amazon, and it cost about $33 with shipping.  Fortunately, my sister had given me a $25 Amazon gift card for my birthday. The book shipped directly from Japan, and I was pleasantly surprised that my 25 April order arrived on 11 May, significantly before the 20 May to 13 June expected delivery date.

Can I just say up front that I now hold Toshiyuki Shimada in the same category as Cat Bordi, Lucy Neatby, Lynne Barr, Norah Gaughan, Debbie New, Kerry Ferguson, Kate Gilbert, Merike Saarniit, and Elizabeth Zimmermann? And I continue to miss Bruce/Scenter, and not just because he was learning to read Japanese. Truth be told, you don't have to read Japanese in order to follow the patterns.  The Japanese use the same Arabic numerals we use in the West. And the patterns are all explained with charts and graphs. In fact, the Japanese charting system is standardized, so all Japanese publishers use the same notations. And any weird stuff is explained in the back with many, many pictures. It seems the Japanese are very visual learners and thinkers.

Scarves from top to bottom: K, E, F, & H.
The book consists of 25 scarves in a wide variety of techniques. The first five patterns (A-E) appear to all be ribbles or other variations of the techniques Lily Chin covers in Power Cables. (And if you don't already own a copy, why aren't you treating yourself well?) Scarf E is a particularly dynamic example. Several scarves are familiar techniques -- double-knitting (F & G), Fair Isle (O & P), and even a Gansey-style (V). But there are also some true surprises.  Scarves I & J appear to be garter stitch with different beaded patterns worked on both sides! Scarves K & L are both entrelac, but the shaping of K is truly imaginative.  I must admit, I don't know if I'd consider the entrelac to be reversible, nor the colorful Kaffe Fassett-like intarsia on scarf Q. The nubby textures in scarves M & N are both produced with unusual techniques.  The latter part of the book is mostly interesting pattern stitches that happen to be double-sided, such as a thick and bold rib for scarf R, a lace for S, and two other inventive stitch patterns for U and X. Scarf W is a basic ripple pattern, but it is started at the center of the scarf with diamond-shaped motifs and worked outwards in both directions. If you like ruching, scarf T consists of plain areas of stockinette gathered by simple lace bands. And at the end, scarf Y is a two-color brioche.

If you were having a scarf club, this would be a great book to give you ideas for learning a new technique every few months.

The one scarf which may, in fact, be double-knit cables is scarf H. When I look at the technique tutorials, I see reference to stitches a and a', b and b'.  And the pictures look like pairs of light and dark stitches on the needles, as in double knitting. The braided edge, by the way, is two separate i-cords attached afterwards and twisted as you work. I must admit to being tempted to try this one, as it is so clearly a show off tour de force. It is encouraging to see that there is another equally crazy knitter on the other side of the world -- and she has found a publisher willing to print her patterns.

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