``Dress up memories'' Knitting memories Sweater production diary (4)

STORY | 2023/01/31

January 31st . A weather forecaster explained on TV in the morning that "the cold will gradually ease after today's peak." The cold days are still continuing, but spring is approaching. It was on the night of January 31st that a sweater sample arrived at Yuki's atelier.

"I have four sweaters I'm working on right now, one of which is a V- neck cardigan." With a freshly knitted sample in hand, Yuki explains. “I want this cardigan to be a tribute to my oldest sweater. I've had it since I started making it, and it's something I've treasured in my heart.I wanted to go back to my origins and put this in as a tribute to making a sweater from scratch."

The sweater that Yuki cherishes is the turtleneck. However, if the shape is reproduced as it is, it will be an imitation, so he is thinking of making a V- neck cardigan. The detail of the pattern is astonishing. The knitted sample is said to be part of the back of a cardigan.

 "This cardigan seems to take a long time to knit. It takes six hours to knit one row of this diamond pattern." That's what Kanae told me while picking up a knitting sample. Kanae is in charge of production management of knitwear and acts as a link between the designer Yuki and the knitters. Even Chiyoko Hasegawa, one of the skilled knitters, took three days just to knit this part of the back.

“You wove such a detailed pattern well well,” says Yuki.

“Mr. Hasegawa laughed, saying, 'It's rare to be asked to knit this,'” says Kanae. “But they told me, ‘If you really like knitting, I think it would be fun to knit.’ I really think it’s a work of art. There is!”

The sweater that Yuki was wearing that day is also a new prototype. A sample of this pair was knitted a little early, and he has been wearing it for about a week to try it out.

"Isn't this sweater cold?" Kanae asked. Chiyoko and I were concerned about the watermark on part of the sweater.

"It was very warm. A cold wave had just arrived when it arrived, but it was surprisingly warm. I was very impressed with how well it turned out. From now on, I will consult with Kanae-san, and I will continue to make adjustments, but-- Nice.

The first knitted sweater was designed by returning to the question, "What is an Aran sweater?" While deciphering many foreign books and looking back at old Aran sweaters, what caught my eye was a sweater that was knitted in the 1930s and is now stored in a museum.

 “The interesting thing about this sweater is that the pattern on the front is different from the pattern on the back,” says Yuki. “Besides that, the way the shoulders are attached is different from the so-called Aran sweater of today, but you can see the ingenuity of the people who knit it. I wanted to cherish the fun of the sweater I made, so I borrowed this pattern and came up with the sweater design.”

If there is a pattern that catches your eye, share it with Kanae, and first knit a "swatch". A swatch is a sample knitted item. If there is a pattern that catches my eye, I actually knit a swatch. After coming up with many ideas and knitting a huge number of swatches, I think about where to place which pattern while checking the actual texture. In addition to the pattern that someone once knitted, I also arranged a flower pattern like lily of the valley. It was inspired by the white flowers I saw in Ireland last year, and it was a sweater with a pattern knitted by someone and layered with Yuki's memories.

 “What I noticed when I made this sweater was that the Aran pattern was well made. A certain pattern design often comes alternately, and it's better to arrange it like that, and it's beautiful because it complements each other. It made me realize that I was there.”

 “Also, they are arranged so that they are easy to knit,” says Kanae. “In knitting, it’s common to place items with similar gauges next to each other to make it easier to knit. So, when you do that, the combination will naturally be decided.”

If you are a knitter, you may unconsciously think within the rules of ease of knitting and familiar arrangements. However, because Yuki herself doesn't knit knits, she continues, "I think I can create designs that are a bit unusual and unique to Yuki."

 "Yes, I want to pack something like ' uncomfortable ' into this sweater." Yuki-san said while confirming the pattern of the prototype sweater. “When I look at the old sweaters in the museum, I see a lot of ' discomfort ' . 'Discomfort ' is a keyword that has been in my mind since the early days. It's different from making it flashy or out of the ordinary, and I can't put it into words well, but what a sense of déjà vu. I feel like I'm always thinking about whether I can create joy that doesn't exist."

Among the sweaters knitted as a new work, there was also a knit inspired by the Gandhi sweater. The Gandhi sweater is a sweater that has been woven on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, and was worn by fishermen. This was transmitted to the Aran Islands and developed into Arannit.

“Since the Gandhi sweater was worn by fishermen, it is not very three-dimensional, and many of them have a plain half of the body (body). The hem and cuffs, which tend to wear out and wear out easily, have a plain pattern so that they can be easily re-knitted, and it's a logical design.This was transmitted to the Aran Islands, and the Aran sweater was born. The early ones were made following Gandhi's knitting method, so I'm thinking about various patterns to incorporate the spirit of the Gandhi sweater this time."

What kind of pattern would look good on a sweater that uses the Gandhi sweater as a motif? Yuki and Kanae exchange opinions while comparing knitted samples and swatches. In the image of a fisherman, there is also a pattern woven with fish, shellfish, and anchor motifs. Besides that, countless swatches are lined up on the table, including snowflakes, penguins, sheep, and Yuki's initials " Y ".

One of the patterns that Yuki is trying to knit on this year's sweater is leaves. Since I started making knit accessories in 2020 , trial and error has been a leaf pattern.

 “The leaf pattern is also a pattern that is often woven into Aran sweaters.” That's what Yuki told me. “These leaves are like pixels, so the more they are shrunk, the simpler they become, and the less unique they are. When I made mittens before, I tried to add this leaf pattern, but it turned out to be something very strange, so I gave up.”

If you just knit a pattern like a leaf mark, it would not be so difficult to express it like a pixel art. However, what Yuki was looking for was the texture of leaves growing thickly on the branches.

 "Is this what Yuki-san said was correct?" Kanae-san asked while showing a sample.

 "I agree, I agree"

 “If you try to weave a leaf like this, the leaf will inevitably end up facing downwards. In knitting, symbols are laid out in a grid, so you can make them diagonal or change the direction halfway through. I tried to make it look as if the leaves were growing sideways as much as possible, but if I turned it too far outward, the knitted fabric would be distorted, so I feel like this is the best way to look outward.”

While listening to Kanae-san's explanation, Yuki said, "The branches are more prominent now, so it would be nice to make them thinner and give the impression that the leaves are softer."

As I listened to their conversation, I wondered why people would decorate plants. If you walk in the city, you will find roadside trees and flowerbeds. Some people decorate their rooms with foliage plants, others with flowers. Or some people wear botanical patterns.

A sweater is something you wear in winter. Yuki said that the winters in the Aran Islands are harsh, and that the people living on the islands do not go out much and spend most of their time at home. There are harsh winters and springs when plants sprout. Waiting impatiently for that day, the people of the Aran Islands must have spent the winter wearing knitted leaves. The vividness of the plants that I saw in the distant summer is about to be woven into the knit that Yuki makes.

WordsRinshi Hashimoto

Photo Kazuhei Kimura