Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Japanese Diagram Crochet Explained!

Ok, since writing my first post about Japanese Crochet Diagrams, I have had tons of requests on how to read them, try to explain them, etc. The first thing you should know is that I don't read Japanese. I have given some really awesome links on where you can find help with translation HERE.  There is also a chart with hook sizes comparing US, UK, Japanese, & steel hooks within the pages of this same link, so that you can easily use the correct size hooks for your projects.

But what seems to be a continuing issue, is the question of what all those diagram symbols mean, and what stitches do they symbolize? I have several fantastic books that go into great detail regarding stitch symbols, however, I will only cover the very most basic of them for now.

First, I reccomend the "Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches" as it explains in detail in ENGLISH the diagrams & their symbols, and you should know ~ they do match up with the Japanese symbols. This is an older book, published in 1988, and so it may be a bit diffiucult to get ahold of. I reccomend both &

Second I reccomend this excellent Japanese book called "Basics of Crochet for Beginners".  It very clearly covers almost every single stitch you will run into with these Japanese Diagram Crochet books. 

Just a small sampling so that you can see that even though you may not be able to read Japanese,  there are so many pictures that it explains itself.  This book also covers basic alteration, pattern manipulation & construction.  If you are a visual learner, these two books alone will enable you to easily use the Japanese Diagram crochet books. 

Here is another great tip when looking for more Japanese diagram books on crochet ~ the Japanese also call crochet "knitting".  I don't know why, but they do.  So, if you look up books either on Amazon or eBay, be aware that it really doesn't matter if it says "how to knitting"... it's probably still going to be crochet.  Click on one of the pictures above to enlarge it, and see an excellent example of such ~ you can see in the top right-hand corner that it clearly says "how to knitting", and yet the instructions are just as clearly crochet. 

Also, several of the better sellers on eBay will include many pictures of the contents of the Japanese craft books, so you can tell whether or not it is a "knitting-but really crochet" book or a "knitting AND crochet" book, or even a real knitting book.  Because yes, these awesome diagram books are also for knitters!  There are symbols & stitch examples with a ton of pictures for knitting as well.  And, the Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches is also available from both &

I hope that this helps all of you with your Japanese Diagram Crochet Quest!  I've said it before, but I think it bears saying again ~ when you have the diagram before you ( I use a printed copy so the book stays nice), and a color pencil in hand, you can sail through these projects!!  Case in point is the three (3!!, three!, THREE!) layette items that I started AND FINISHED last week, shown in my previous post.  These were done, for the most part, while watching my kids do their schoolwork ( I homeschool, for those of you that didn't know that).  The patterns are extremely easy to follow, and I can easily mark where I am at, put it down, pick it up, & regain my place in just seconds.   Kid has a question, needs a bit of "motivation" ;-D, or even just lunch break, & it's that easy! 
Good luck on your Japanese Diagram Crochet Quest, let me know if this has helped you, and above all, HAVE FUN!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Japanese Diagram Crochet......Again

This last week I finished these two little layette items.  But once again, as you can see from the lovely glossy photos of the book, and the more altruistic pics of the finished product ~ I have once again meandered from the actual pattern into some other territory.  Why do I change up the pattern?  I don't know ~ maybe it's some inherent desire to be as orginal as possible despite the fact that I am following someone else's bit of creativity.  Perhaps it's a nod to the idea that each creation is an original, simply because it is new, though created from string & sticks.  But I think maybe the real reason might be that I just get bored.  By the end of the pattern, I am starting to think that I might never finish it if I don't change up SOMETHING. 
It's strange, really ~ because at the beginning I am so drawn to the adorable little item in the pretty book ~ my eyes glaze over as I try to imagine what yarn, what size hook, what colors ....In fact, sometimes I am so enchanted with the tempting photo that I even use the same color scheme, hook size & yarn as the pattern suggests! 
But then, invariably, half-way through, I become disallusioned, disoriented, and disinterested.  So much Dissing.

Oh how cute the picture is ~ look, they even have examples in TWO colors.... funny thing is ~ that hoody was the main attractant of this particular pattern in the beginning.   But then... well, I got almost half-way through the hood ( yes, yes, yes, it WAS the last part of the project......) & I folded down that hood, and Lo & Behold ~ check it out ~ it made a pretty cute collar.  SOOOO.... in the interest of just ending it right there, I did.  Unfortunately, the second cutest thing about that little hoody sweater was the pom pom buttons, which no longer looked right with just a collar.  And so, once again, I hold up my finished piece and sigh ~ yah, not quite what I had in mind.  On the other hand, it's not like the arm is sewn onto the collar, so there's that.

And here is a little layette set, again, in the colors shown in the lovely tempting glossy... unfortunately, not just like it, though.  I did booties instead of a hat ( which is silly, cuz I KNOW how to do hats... I just didn't have the fortitude to muggle through another hat, i guess), I did buttons instead of ties....

And quite honestly, at the end, I wasn't all that happy with the turn-out.  Again.  Big surprise.  I know ~ heart-stopping really.  On the other hand, it's one more item done. 

What I really need around here is an actual baby to try stuff on.  ( Ang, that hint was special for you ~;-D )
Isn't it the babies that just grab your heart & make you want to make those adorable things?  And since I can't read Japanese, I never know who the photographer is, but they choose the CUTEST little people! 

I think I'm done working in yellow & white for quite a long time ~ besides which, I ran out of most of the cheapo acrylic baby weight yarn.  I still have some pink & blue, though.  So, in an effort to use it up, I am now working on a little pink pineapple kimono.  Probably with a white bodice.  And I want to do a little dress in pink with a rusty orange cape & a red hat & gloves.  My kids are a bit shocked at the color combo's, but I like to remind them that I was a 70's child & have a right to certain ~hippy-ish~ moments.

On a more fun note ~ my two daughters & I are going to Women's Conference this weekend!  We are going to be spending 3 or 4 days in Provo.  I am looking forward to lots of crochet time.  They usually have projects that they hand out & then you return them finished, & they get sent off to the Humanitarian Center.  
They get thousands of finished projects this way, & it's so much fun to participate in!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Japanese Diagram Crochet Mania

Can you say OCD?  But I LOOOVVEEE them!!

Ok, so I've been on a bit of a crochet mania jag. But I have to hand it all to those fantastic Japanese diagram crochet craft books. If you've ever thought that there MUST be an easier way to follow a pattern than all those horrible little rows of abbreviated hch dc yo ch sch's ~ in fact if you've ever PRAYED that there is some alternative ~ well sister, I know the answer to that prayer! It is crochet ( and knitting too!!) diagrams. And you don't even have to read Japanese!
This is a little 0 to 3 months sweater / jacket, done in Caron rhapsody, with a 6mm hook. The entire thing is done in single crochet, so it is super easy to adjust for sizing, and the single crochet makes for a nice firm-ish fabric. Plus, I finished it in 5 hours!!!
This is a little kimono from another one of those Japanese diagrams, done up in fingering /DK weight yarn ( actually, yarn for my knitting machine ~ works perfectly for baby stuff!), with a size 3 ( or 1.8mm) steel hook.
And this little ( hah!) vest is actually supposed to be for a baby, but since I did it in worsted weight cotton with a 3.75mm hook, it will actually fit up to 8 yrs comfortably. Remember the lessons on gauge? Yah, me neither, hence the larger size! I know, I know, I am a lazy crocheter ~ a non-swatch maker. (Yah, I wing it ~ don't be takin' away my wingin'-it priveleges!) Some 7 yr old will like this! Just maybe none that I know of... right now...
HOWEVER< if you need help figuring out the Japanese Crochet or Knitting books, here is the most AWESOME LINK ever!!!  It will help you with:

How to interpret a Japanese book
Needle sizes
Name of body parts
Name of items
How to knit