Using a Japanese Pattern

I am not going to try to recreate the Japanese characters and their translations, but here are some tips from Margaret Heathman’s out-of-print Knitting Languages (p. 81) about using Japanese knitting patterns. (For a more complete discussion, at the end of this post are links to two well-laid out sources on using Japanese knitting patterns.)

  • They are presented graphically.
  • They have 3 main sections: (1) introductory material (e.g., yarn requirements etc.); (2) schematics for each garment part; and (3) stitch charts (using symbols).
  • You will need to determine which numbers on the schematics refer to stitches/rows (followed by me or dan) and which refer to garment measurements (usually followed by “c” or “cm”).
  • Patterns are shown in only one size. You will need to adjust for your sizes.
  • Measurements are always given in centimeters.
  • Watch for arrows on the schematic which indicate the direction of the knitting.
  • Shaping is shown in the direction of the knitting and given as rows/stitches/times.

Remember that Japanese needle and hook sizes differ from UK, metric and US sizes. (See SweatyKnitter’s Needle/Hook Comparison Chart.)

Useful sources you may want to check out:

So … What tips or resources have you discovered that are helpful when using Japanese patterns?!


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Crocheting, Knitting, Pattern Construction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Using a Japanese Pattern

  1. I forgot, when I come to your blog, I have to bring my brain, lol! I am going to have to look some of these links up…Never have tried a Japanese pattern before, though I love the style of just about everything Japanese knitting I’ve ever seen. Now, I have seen and tried patterns made by americans that are inspired by Japanese origami. I love those too!


  2. Thanks for the suggestion … I will google! 🙂


  3. Yes, that is not fun for a lot of people … I wonder if that’s because it slows them down?!


  4. Well, if not, there are certainly hundreds of other patterns vying for your attention. 🙂


  5. Yes, I have heard from other non-Japanese speaking knitters and crocheters who have said similar things! I guess I just haven’t gotten to that point yet. 🙂


  6. textilesheds says:

    Japanese knitting patterns really suit my style of knitting and understanding patterns! The most useful resource I have come across to interpreting the schematics is a pdf that will pop up when you google ‘Linda Lanz and Japanese knitting’ – url is too long to put in here.


  7. HannahDavis says:

    Japanese crochet patterns are similar in that they are mostly charts, which frustrates many people. I like the visual representation but having to figure out the measurements and their requirements on my own is not my fave.


  8. monsteryarns says:

    I’ve looked at Japanese patterns and I’ve always admired the intricate garments but simplicity in the written instructions. I wonder if my brain is wired so that I will ever “get” it?


  9. I purchased Mitsuki Hoshi’s book Ami Ami Dogs, back in the days when I needed patterns. I learnt so much from that book. This book is in japanese, but between the photos and schematics, I found it pretty easy to follow. I remember googling a couple of words but after a while the brain gets into the swing of it. I do like the schematic way.


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