I’m feeling a bit Japanese

You know, sometimes stupidity happens, and you don’t even want to blog about it.

Example 1: deciding that the easiest way to take apart my Niddy Noddy was to hold one wing between my knees, and pull on the other. Evidence of stupidity: Niddy Noddy-shaped welt on my chin. Ow! Example 2: deciding that I desperately need to start knitting a sweater right now, and going forward with this decision… without much any thought. Evidence of stupidity: several balls of frogged yarn.

So, let’s take a step back, and while we will not discuss further the odd bruise on my chin (ow!), we will take a moment and talk about sweaters.

I’ve been on an odd streak of sorts. Look over at the FO gallery on the sidebar, specifically at everything after the orange Filati sweater: Candy footlets, dog bed for Annie’s book, cream-colored socks for grandma, Sharfik for my dad, and Grumpecue. In the near future, the secret sewing project, another pair of socks for grandma, and mom’s Leaf Lace Shawl will join the FO ranks.

I have a problem – I haven’t knit a sweater in forever! I’ve been stuck in some kind of accessory rut, and it’s time to, well, change that.

As soon as this realization firmly set in, I cast on with some soy silk yarn from the stash. No, there wasn’t much thinking or planning. I may or may not have measured the circumference of my neck, and I may or may not have written it down in my notepad as 31″ (it’s actually 13″). Perhaps there was a gauge swatch, maybe not. The whole experience was sort of embarrassing and, like I said, stupidity is sometimes not worthwhile reporting – don’t want to give others any “brilliant ideas.” :)

But something about the experience was very satisfying, and I feel ready to actually sit down, think, sketch, measure, and knit with some sort of plan in mind.

And what I have in mind is this Kimono-inspired sweater:

(click here for a mannequin shot)

I don’t have to tell you – it’s from that store, and I think it’s gorgeous. Maybe it’s the release of Memoirs of a Geisha as a movie (the book is one of my all-time favorites), or maybe it’s my constant fascination with Asian cultures, but this jumped out at me as soon as I saw it. The sleeves are my favorite part, no question about it :).

But this sweater can use some “improvements,” so I won’t be buying it from the store. For starters angora content is not acceptable to this allergic girl! Also, I’m not crazy about cardigans in general, and specifically cardigans held together in the one place where buttons don’t like to meet for me :).

But imagine that same sweater, minus the angora, and as a pullover with what I think is called a Mandarin collar. I’m diggin’ it!

Now, to create (recreate?) the pattern.

The great thing about the Anthropologie website is that you can zoom in pretty close on the texture of this sweater. Check it out!

My juvenile lace skills jumped into action, and I came up with the following chart for the pattern. I would greatly appreciate any lace-knitting gurus (June?) checking it for accuracy:

ETA: chart shows right-side rows only. All wrong side rows are purl each stitch. I determined this by realizing that each diamond has twice as many Vs in the vertical direction than in the horizontal direction. Thanks, Emily for reminding me to include that info.

Next I have to pick a yarn and do some swatching. I have three candidates in my stash; all are 100% superwash merino wool, approximately the same gauge:

From left to right: Rowan 4 ply soft in Rain cloud, Louet Gems Opal in Crabapple Blossom, and Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000 in the creatively-named 430.

Which will it be? I would say, “you decide!” but that would be disingenuous. How about, you vote, I listen, but when all is said and done, I decide? :)

The poll has now been closed! Thanks for voting :). Here are the results:

Ahhh! Blog background color back to normal :)

52 thoughts on “I’m feeling a bit Japanese

Comments are closed.

  1. Purly Whites

    Oh, the pullover version will be awesome. Much better than the cardigan. I’m no lace expert, but it looks right. I voted for the crabapple blossom, but the blue will be lovely if you go for that as well. And just keep in mind your mother’s shawl will be a greyish color, so if you go with the grey, well, that’s a lot of grey.

  2. Cara

    WHY OH WHY DO I COME HERE! That sweater will be gorgeous and I love the v-neck instead of the cardigan. My boobs don’t like the one button thing either.

    Here’s how you fix the background color: put this in the code right after the code for the polln (with your specifics of course):

    It worked for me!

  3. Laura

    This is hilarious, because I was actually thinking to myself, I like the new background color! Yeah, anyway…

    I’m looking forward to seeing your sweater! I think the pullover will be much nicer than the cardi.

  4. Cara

    Ack – it read it as code. DUH!

    link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”http://www.yourblogURL.com/yourstylesheet.css” /

    with around it and your own information of course.

    That’s what I did and it worked for me. Sorry for the double comment.

  5. Angela

    I love your version of that sweater! The cardigan action, especially when only one button is used to fasten isn’t all that flattering on most people.

  6. Emily

    I’m sure your finished version will look great.

    The lace chart looks good, as long as you remember to work the wrong side rows plain (purl). In a lace pattern, you can tell if all rows are patterned or if just the right side rows are patterned by whether there are one or two strands separating eyelets on the diagonal. One strand means that it is patterned on all rows, two twisted strands means that it is patterned only on right-side rows. It looks to me like there are two twisted strands separating eyelets.

  7. blossom

    oh that book is my absolute favorite, too. can’t wait for the movie. and i am so looking forward to your intepretation of this kimono sweater.

  8. Jennifer

    The color you have in the pullover version isn’t technically a mandarin collar. A mandarin collar goes up the neck for about an inch or and inch and a half, and kind of splits in the middle. You can see the more traditional one at http://www.chinatowner.com/storefront/listCategories.aspx?idCategory=22&OVRAW=mandarin%20collar&OVKEY=mandarin%20collar&OVMTC=standard. Another mandarin inspired would be http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/jump.jsp?itemID=29331&itemType=PRODUCT&searchid=inceptor. I like the neckline you’ve chosen, but I think if you could figure out how to do a true mandarin collar, that would be pretty cool looking too.

    Oh, and if you’re going for an Asian theme, you can’t go wrong with red. Red is the traditional color for luck, wealth, and good fortune. Just don’t wear it to a funeral. Bad mojo.

  9. Jenn

    Ooh, I saw that sweater in my catalog and loved it! But I ain’t got no skillz, so I’ll let you make the pattern! :) Please? Pretty please? And post it for all of us?

  10. Laura

    I was going to say that it wasn’t a mandarin collar but I see that someone else has already said that.

    Having worn mandarin collars (albeit on nonknit garments), I vote against putting a true mandarin collar on. They are uncomfortable. But then they scream “ASIAN!” which is another reason that this Asian girl avoids them. :-)

  11. Amanda

    Wow – I love the sweater and your take on it. I do hope you’ll work your magic and create a clever pattern that you’ll have published somewhere so I can make one too! I can’t wait to watch/read your progress!

  12. Korin

    I love love love that sweater. :) I would buy that pattern in an instant… hint hint hint :) be a brilliant genius and make it in my size too, will ya? :)

  13. Lee Ann

    I love your pullover version, but I’d kill for a v-neck version…

    The sleeves are my favourite part, too. Beautiful, and looking forward to seeing what you create :-)

  14. Lee Ann

    Let me rephrase that, since a couple of people think that your version actually is a v-neck…

    I mean a true, deep v-neck with possiblities for…well…


    I totally blame this tendency on your red yarn.

  15. Jenny

    Do I see a mistake in the middle of the zoom-in pic? There seems to be an eyelet missing.

    I can’t wait to see your version–I’m sure it will be lovely.

  16. Christie

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with, as always. I agree with an Asian theme, you can’t go wrong with red. don’t you hate/love that store? I’m in love with the Origami dress from there.

  17. CatBookMom

    I love the proposed sweater! With the hint of Asian influence, IMO the red will be the best choice. I will look forward to eventually adding yet another fabulous Grumperina pattern to my files.

    BTW, you may already have seen this pattern, but it may offer some additional stitch pattern or other design ideas for the new project. I’ve got this pattern, and it’s on my WIMs list, but of course it will need substantial adjustment to fit a person who weighs over 98 lbs and is rather broad in some dimensions!!


  18. lyn

    I voted for the red yarn, in Chinese culture it means good fortune, good luck and prosperity! If you go for a mandarin collar and add a satin sash across the waist, it will look totally Asian :)

  19. Lolly

    I have marked that same cardigan in the Anthropologie catalog… the minute I set eyes on it, I loved it. I thought “someday I will recreate this”. So funny that you felt the same way… well, except making it a pullover (which I think is a great idea too!) Can’t wait to see what you have in store… I will watch with great interest! ;)

  20. diana

    I love the sweater. Great choice for reproduction.

    The lace pattern for the sweater is the same as I used for the pewter lace shawl I just finished. I’ll bring the pattern next time I see you.

  21. Sarah

    When it’s done, perhaps you should pose in front of a “Memoirs of a Geisha” movie poster for your FO shot — maybe get a little parasol in there as well. ;-)

  22. Judy

    I don’t know why, because I’d ordinarily vote for the pink/red candidate, but I voted for the Rowan 4-ply. It just seems like it would go with a lot of things.

  23. J Strizzy

    Wow, everyone has an opinion, huh? I voted for the Rowan 4-Ply Soft, mainly because as I read your post I thought how nice that stitch pattern would look in some 4-Ply Soft I have sitting around at home… I’ve done a similar basic lace like that in that yarn and it was fantastic.

  24. June

    Lace chart looks fine by eyeball, but you’ll know it when you swatch it. The closeup *is* missing an eyelet. Isn’t this the same (or very similar to) the pattern that Bestitched used for her Pewter Lace shawl?

    The yarnovers in thicker yarns are huge – big enough to get fingers stuck in the holes when you put the sleeves on, etc. It’s fine for wraps and stuff, but I personally would not knit lace for clothing using anything bigger than a US 3 needle. I’ll bet the yarn used in the original sweater is much thinner than any of the 3 you are considering.

  25. Miriam

    Hi, I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented on your site before, but I have a thought about the lace pattern. Of course, as June said, you’ll know if it’s right when you swatch it, but the way you’ve got the decreases, it would make a much more defined line at the tops of the diamonds. when the line of the diamond slants right, if you use a right leaning decrease like a k2tog, then you get a very distinct line of stitches, but if you use a left leaning decrease (like ssk) on a right leaning line, then it looks smooth and the line of decreases doesn’t stick out. To make it smooth without obvious lines in the decreases, the decreases should angle in TOWARD the yo. I don’t know if this is making any sense, but like… the second line of your chart would be yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo, k1. Your ideas for modification are BEAUTIFUL! and if you make it up I’d love to knit it!

  26. nona

    Fun post — I enjoyed following your thought process. I love your ideas and think you’ve got a real winner with this sweater. Enjoy the knitting!

  27. Kristy

    That is one gorgeous sweater! I like all your yarn choices, but really like the red. Have you seen Debbie Bliss’ new 100% silk yarn? It would make a gorgeous Japanese style sweater.

    Oh, and congrats on the Grumpecue! I love it!

  28. hpn-ariane

    My vote goes to the Gems, it’s a gorgeous color, I think it’d be perfect for this project. I can’t wait to see you get started! I’m digging the kimono look.

  29. Martha

    I think you should be able to find that diamond pattern in a pattern book, if you want–I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere, I’ll check when I get home, see if I can dig it up. Maybe I’m hallucinating. And as for the structure, it looks kind of 50′s fab the way you have it mocked up with the mandarin collar, and I do love 50s fab.

  30. anmiryam

    To my eye it looks as if the decreases should be leaning in a different direction. Basically, if the line of eyelets are moving left the decrease immediately following should be right slanting, like a k2tog. For the line of yos moving right I would precede the yo with a ssk. Looking forward to seeing how it swatches up and what you decide to do.

  31. Patricia

    The style of the red Anthropologie sweater reminds me a little bit of cosmicpluto’s Cavern cardi. I would love to see how your lace sweater turns out, because I’m sure it’ll be good.

  32. Colleen

    I think that any of those yarns would be fine, it’s just a matter of which yarn will knit at a good gauge AND allow the lace diamonds to have the right shape. Swatch woman!

  33. Jen M

    About the Cool Wool: I have used it for 2 projects now, and it is beautiful and soft and washes well – but the quality of the yarn was VERY VARIABLE. Several of the balls had big frayed areas, like 2 or 3 of the plies were broken, so I’d cut that part out, then a couple of yards later the same thing. Frustrating. Just a warning :)

  34. Carolyn

    First, love the blanket…love it. I am working with the handwork cora now…not too bad…but ok. I know what you are saying…I need to get back on the sweater thing. I may even finish the sleeves for one that I wasn’t planning on doing until the new year…screw the christmas knitting. Can’t wait to see your design…maybe a little more shape and I will be loving that sweater!

  35. Mary

    Is it mere co-inky-dink that Amy talked about things Japanese yesterday in her blog on knitty.com? I think NOT! ;-) It’ll be a pretty sweater — looking forward to the play-by-play. Mason-Dixon Knitting is looking for test knitters for their “perfect sweater”, in case that’s up your alley….

  36. gail

    Gorgeous sweater and gorgeous plan to make it. I wouldn’t limit myself to the specific diamond lace pattern that the Archeologie sweater has. For example, Barbara Walker’s first book of Treasury of Knitting Patterns has a very nice open work diamond that doesn’t create the diagonal row effect that the store’s sweater has. See page 212. Also, if you like diamonds but want to move a little more “delicate” you could try the English mesh lace, on page 193 of the same book. Of course, swatching always helps to make the decision. i truly admire your determination!

  37. Jess

    Red is definitely traditional, but there’s something about the Rowan’s pewter color that screams kimono to me. I have vague memories of a gorgeous fabric in that color with pale blue embroidery.

  38. Heather

    Love the idea for the sweater! The lace pattern looks similar to the “lozenge” pattern part of the Shimmer shrug from some time back in a Knitty Archive…I haven’t checked if it’s the same as what you came up with, but you might want to check it out! Good luck!

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