Book Review: Keiko Okamoto’s Japanese Knitting Stitches, A Stitch Dictionary

They say “You should never judge a book by its cover” – Never a truer word has been said when it comes to my latest craft book review – Keiko Okamoto’s Japanese Knitting Stitches.

This book is a Japanese knitting stitch dictionary, with 150 patterns and 7 sample projects. Most which are incredibly more appealing than the unfortunate selection of samples on the cover would lead you to believe.

Luckily, I’m here to share some of the fun and interesting designs this book offers.

You can virtually flip through with me by watching the video above.

japanese knitting stitches book surrounded by knitting samples and balls of yarn

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Keiko Okamoto is a leading Japanese knit designer, well known around the world for her colourful and textural stitch patterns.

The stitches in this book are presented in a chart style with no written (or very brief) explanation. If you aren’t accustomed to reading knitting charts it can take a little to get used to, but has many advantages.

An introduction at the front of the book explains how the charting, stitch symbols and reading the charts work. And then its around 100 pages of pattern swatches and charts.

Knitting stitch dictionary open to a page with matching knitted swatch

The stitches are organized into sections including:

  • Overall Patterns
  • Smocking
  • Openwork Stitches

Japanese knitting stitches colour changing patterns

  • Colour Changing Patterns
  • Stranded Patterns

Japanese knitting stitches

  • Patterns with Bobbles
  • Patterns with Crossing Stitches (Cables)

Japanese knitting stitches - cables

  • 3D Patterns
  • Lace Motifs
  • Edgings

Japanese knitting stitches - edgings

From Pattern to Finished Garment
Towards the back of the book you’ll find 7 projects that use some of the pattern designs featured. The designer presents them as a starting point to inspire the knitter to apply some of her stitch designs in future projects.

Japanese knitting stitches

Two of the garment patterns included are really stunning – Nordic Coat and Cherry Cardigan.

Japanese knitting stitches - nordic coat

Japanese knitting stitches - cherry cardigan

But the actual instructions (as per most Japanese knitting patterns) are very scant, and would only be suitable for the most experienced knitters.

Japanese knitting stitches - instruction example

These are the full instructions for how to knit a whole cardigan.

The last few pages of the book are dedicated to a Symbol Directory with some illustrated pictures of how to make some of the more obscure stitches.

Japanese knitting stitches - stitch guide

Japanese Knitting Stitches – Who is this book for?

I always like to try making something from every craft book I review, so I chose a few stitch patterns to swatch that were within my knitting ability.

Japanese knitting stitches

I’m not the most skilled knitter so even some of the easier patterns were a bit of a challenge for me. But I gave it a go!

Japanese knitting stitches - 3 knitted swatches

Sample styles clockwise from top: Openwork, Colour Changing, Colourwork.

I tried my hand at a colour work pattern, an openwork pattern and a colour changing pattern. All had slightly different styles of charting, and were easy enough to follow. The welted sample did take me a little while to work out, and I followed a method on Youtube for creating the welts, as opposed to how it was described in the book.

So who is this book for?

I’d recommend this book for keen knitters who want to challenge themselves with new and interesting stitches.

It’s a great reference for people that like to design their own projects, or modify basic projects with extra patterns, cables or colour work.

You really need to have very proficient knitting skills to make the most of this resource because it doesn’t hold your hand at all.

Those that enjoy charted patterns will love the efficient presentation – although I found the some of the chart’s print size to be a little small for me and my bad eyes.

If you don’t like charts this book is not for you. A quote from the book itself

The chart-phobic knitter should probably give this book a pass.

This book is NOT for beginners or novice knitters.

Japanese Knitting Stitches – Final Thoughts

I think Keiko Okamoto’s Japanese Knitting Stitches is an excellent stitch reference that presents some really interesting and unique stitch designs. There’s something in here for every project, especially if you want to add an original twist to your knitting.

As a very casual knitter I’m probably unlikely to use many of them in my projects, apart from some of the very pretty floral stranded work and a few very interesting edgings.

If you are a keen knitter this book has a lot to offer.

Some small gripes, as I mentioned earlier:

  • The cover is awful and does this book a disservice, even my mum remarked on it when I showed her the book (totally unprompted by me).
  • A few of the yarn choices in the sample swatches don’t show the stitches very clearly.
  • Some of the charts are printed a bit small.
  • Explanations and instructions are a little scant, which may require further research online for clarification.

This knitting book isn’t for everyone, but if you are looking for a knitting stitch dictionary with stitches that you won’t see anywhere else, give this book a second look!


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Keiko Okamoto’s Japanese Knitting Stitches : A Stitch Dictionary of 150 Amazing Patterns with 7 Sample Projects
Format Paperback | 144 pages
by Keiko Okamoto and Gayle Roehm
Publisher – Tuttle Publishing
Language – English
ISBN 9784805314845

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Knitting book surrounded by knitted samples and yarn balls

This post contains affiliate links. The featured book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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