Japanese Sweater Shapes

Every single non-Japanese person I have met who has traveled to Japan, knitters and non-knitters alike, has told me that Japan is a must-see. That there are things that you will see in Japan that you simply cannot see anywhere else. It seems that this statement also applies to knitting. The shapes, styles and stitch patterns of Japanese knit garments have a style unique in their own right. I have not yet traveled to Japan (but it’s on my list!). 

It was while looking for sweater patterns on Ravelry that Japan once again crept into my mind.  I found myself being drawn to patterns with some element of interesting shaping, be it a puffy sleeve or boxy waist. Many of the designers were Japanese. I then tweaked my Ravelry search  to only include knitwear designers in Japan (oh Ravelry, your search options are endless!), and the result below is a selection of some of the favorite patterns I came across. Whether it is drape, pleats, boxiness, puffed out sleeves, or cropped tops with textured cables, each of these patterns feature some element that I find inspiring and atypical from the usual patterns I come across.

All of the patterns below can be purchased on Ravelry and are available in both English and Japanese.

SS&A by Natsuko Iida

I’m curious to know what the “SS&A” abbreviation stands for (update: Natsuko told me SS&A stands for Spring, Summer & Autumn!” 🙂 ), but in any case, am in love with Natsuko’s beatiful pullover pattern below. It’s knit up in a sport weight, and features a lovely asymmetrical hem. I recently purchased a few skeins of Shibui Twig, which is a blend of recycled silk, linen and wool, and I think this pattern would pair perfectly with it.

© Natsuko Iida

Alice by Hiroku Fukatsu

This pattern is such a lovely combination of femininity and simplicity. From the front, it looks like a nice lightweight top, but from the back, it has a beautiful pleated detail that makes me dream of the long dresses that empresses would wear in the 1700s.

From the pattern page, it’s described as:  “a scooped-neck, short-sleeve pullover with lovely gathers on the back. The neck band is worked first, and the yoke parts develop around. It is worked in one piece to the hem with no seam, using contiguous set-in sleeve method.

© roko 

Early Summer by Yuko shimizu

My favorite aspect of this sweater is the amount of cables paired with the puffy sleeves. It is this combination that also gave the pattern it’s name. Yuko says: “I like cabled sweater very much! So I love winter because I can knit or wear so many cabled sweaters. But it seems that they disappear in spring and summer, and I cannot see them in town. Where they go? So, this time I knit the pullover I can wear in early summer. I used summer yarn and cable patterns are all my favorite.”

It can be knit with a light cotton yarn for summer wear, and the pattern also features an option for longer sleeves and a woolen yarn for winter wear.

© Yuko Shimizu

Hakuji by Eri

Eri’s Hakuji sweater pattern is a boxy cropped top pattern knit up in a light fingering weight yarn. The cables are reversible, meaning it can also be worn wrong side out.

© Eri

Meg by Junko Okamoto

The Meg sweater is a hugely oversized pullover, with three-quarter sleeeves that seem to flair out. Although it’s not a shape I would typically wear, the combined elements of the sweater, just seem to “work”. Looking at it, I feel like it would make the perfect garden sweater. Working outside on a crisp cool day in the fall, you could quickly layer it on over a light jean jacket and get to work on planting those turnips (wait, are turnips a fall vegetable?). 😉 

Oldies by rie vive

The Oldies sweater looks so elegant and chic with the ribbing and cable detail at the front. I would love to wear this paired with a pair of well fitted high waisted pants. It’s knit up in DK worsted wool.

© rie vie

Mugetsu by Reiko Kuwamura

Here is another pattern, which like the Alice pattern featured above, makes me dream about empress dresses worn in the 1700’s! I love the drapiness in the front and the belled out sleeves, as well as the beautiful stitch detailing along the neckline.

Gullfoss by Rie

Gulfoss is named after a giant waterfall in Iceland, which is where this pattern designer got her inspiration. I love the look of horizontal cables: they always look just a bit unexpected, and here they are shown off beautifully. This sweater is knit in a DK weight yarn.

Which patterns were your favorite? Are you a fan of Japanese knitting? If you enjoyed this post, please share on Pinterest and leave a comment below.