Japanese Book Review: Motifs of Crocheting

Posted on by MK Carroll

Motifs of Crocheting
ISBN 4-8347-2331-3
Barcode 1: 9784834723311
Barcode 2: 1929476009432
Printed in Japan

I went to Hakubundo on a lunch break and came back with this book.  One of my co-workers asked if I could read Japanese, and when I said I couldn’t, she asked me why I’d purchased a Japanese book and then spent the next few minutes probably wishing she hadn’t said anything as I extolled the layout, the use of symbolcraft, and the Japanese symbolcraft standards.  My illiteracy does limit my use of the book in a couple of respects (I had to get someone else to translate the title for me, for starters), but the hurdles are easily overcome.

The sections are organized by motif shape (circle, square, hexagon, triangle, and floral), with an illustrated tutorial at the beginning of each section which presumably gives tips and explanations (the illustrations are easy to follow; the text accompanying it is, due to my Latinate-centric education, impossible for me to follow).  Each motif is shown in four variations using different yarn textures and colors, from fuzzy mohair to shiny ribbon to smooth cottons and wools, although the yarns used vary from motif to motif (not every motif will be shown in different yarns; some are shown only in different colors).  Every pattern is given in symbolcraft, with the sort of added detail that delights me: each row or round of the pattern is in a different color and clearly numbered.  Swoon!  The sections begin with photos showing projects made using motifs, including handbags, scarves, and shawls, with instructions for the projects given at the end of the book (between the photos and the illustrations, even the Japanese illiterate can manage them).  The projects are generally simple and rather conservative, although yarn and color choices could make a big difference - for example, there's a fringed mesh shawl on page 23 which could be appropriate for my former art school girl of doom self, or for my practical mother who would want something warm that goes with most of her wardrobe (more on this here).  There are no people in the photos, just the items, sometimes shown on a wooden mannequin.  I like this - it's easier for me to not delude myself into thinking that a hat strongly resembling a crumpled brown paper sack will look just as cute on me as it does on the kawaiiiiiiii model (please note that no such hat is in this particular book).

Additionally, the book includes a section with step-by-step illustrations explaining each symbol used, removing any confusion that would arise with text-based patterns (such as the US single crochet vs. the UK single crochet), and illustrated instructions for joining motifs.

The book is about the size of a standard magazine, so it fits neatly into my messenger bag.  I'll probably take this to a print shop to have the spine replaced with a spiral binding.  $17.35 at Hakubundo.

For more on Japanese craft books and links with information on the symbols used, etc., please check out my earlier post on Japanese Craft Books.