Thursday, May 3, 2007

Japanese Yarn Store Report #1

Well, it was a fruitful day. And I do mean fruitful. The newest Japanese Craft craze appears to be making fruit (and other comestibles) out of fiber. At one point, as I wandered down an aisle inside the Yuzawaya craft store, I felt (no pun intended) that I had been transported inside a refrigerator from the Planet Zark, surrounded as I was by stacks of felted fruit and crocheted vegetable kits. At least ten feet of shelf space was devoted to Felted Food, including an awesome strawberry meringue cake and a rather fetching felted cheeseburger. I was getting hungry.

I gazed with considerable admiration upon a crocheted bowl filled with crocheted green peas, topped with a crocheted butter pat. But I was not inspired to whip out my wallet for either this kit or the the rest of the panoply of Fake Food.

The really bad news is that this summer in Japan, Crochet is the New Knitting. My perusal of Yuzawaya's knitting book section unearthed 20 crochet books, all lurking inside covers titled Let's Knit or Summer Knits. Clearly, there is some confusion on the part of the publishers about what constitutes knitting. Especially depressing though, was the total absence of cool stitch dictionaries to leaf through.

The closest thing to knitting I could locate were a few dusty Women's Day knitting mags from 1992. Guess the Yuzawaya worker bees were cleaning out their hive.

A visit to a nearby bookstore produced 37 crochet titles, two uninspired books of baby knits, and 6 books bursting with felted and/or crocheted food. Now I was definitely getting peckish from staring at all these inedible edibles. After I yanked yet another Felted/Crocheted Zakka volume out of the tightly packed shelf, causing about 150 slippery books to explode onto the floor, I figured it was about time to find some non-felted food.

I have nothing against crochet--I know how and used to do it. But none of the designs I saw made me want to grab for a hook. They were Truly Awful. There was one memorable black shawl that looked like a gruesome spider web draped over the poor model. The rest of the designs emphasized granny square sweaters or pineapple doilies.

The yarns at Yuzawaya were even less interesting than the books, which is to say, there was no sock or lace yarn, lots of knitting worsted, and some plain cottons in tastefully boring colors. Boy, did they have a big stock of crochet cotton, though.

I'll post some knitting pictures later tomorrow, but for now, please gaze upon a Chiba police station. None of our Public Safety officers have a sense of humor like this!


Lori said...

Looks like its a good thing you brought some of your own yarn... as you said, who knows why the Japanese do anything? Perhaps this food-fad will quickly fade.
Let me know if you need some more sock yarn - I seem to have an abundance :)

Lacefreak said...

Dear fleegle,

Who would have thought there would be no really good lace knitting out in Japan? Maybe they have already "been there, done that" and have decided to move on to crochet. It's a darned good thing you brought your own knitting with you. I can't get into crochet myself so I can feel your pain on finding that's their big thing right now. As for felted fruit, I bet it costs less than the real thing out there! If you need a care package of yarn goodness, let us know where to mail it!

fleegle said...

Thanks for all the yarn offers. Roy is standing by with an Emergency Sock Yarn shipment in case I run out.

Japan has no lace tradition, and frankly, shawls are just not practical in a country where most people travel by public transportation and have to carry umbrellas, books, and large bags of felted fruit kits. Also, most rooms are way too small to block anything larger than a handkerchief.

Well, I am teaching a beginning lace class in two weeks. Maybe I will start a fad.

bunchkin said...

What exactly are people supposed to DO with all of these "fiber foods" when they are done with them? I think everyone at first glance says "Oh, cool! A felted cheeseburger!" But... what do you do with one? Are there Japanese homes filled with shelves of knitted doughnuts and crocheted peas? Do you attach them to clothing and make some sort of wearable art? I'll admit, I've been tempted by a crocheted cupcake or two, and may even make one one day, but the whole "must knit a full menu out of wool" thing really puzzles me.
I'm loving the owl building!

fleegle said...

As for the felted food, yes, their houses are usually crammed full of zakka (dustable junk) and yes, they attach this stuff to their cell phones. Some teenagers have so much stuff on their cell phones that it's a wonder they can actually carry them.

lori said...

Hi, Fleegle!
The zakka business kind of goes against everything I've thought about Japanese homes. I imagined them very spare, very clean. Interesting. Extra "stuff for the sake of stuff" is annoying to me. As is anyone else's "junk" in the way of my "things." How is Harry doing? Glad to have you back for cuddles? What did he think of your Spider King? And, I know you are not a particular fan of the felting, but if you run across any interesting felted bag books, would you please make mention of them? I'm running out of interesting dialysis knitting. Thanks!

fleegle said...

Dear Lori--

Guess both of us were fooled by all those cool pictures of traditional Japanese rooms. The only ones of those I have seen are in museums or tea ceremony houses.

In reality, Japanese worship Cute and most of the homes we have visited are overflowing with Disney Zakka, Snoopy Zakka, Pokemon Zakka, and Hello Kitty Zakka.

Harry appeared in the shower room the other day and told me he was immensely pleased with my progress on the Black Widow Spider King and could he please have 2500 yards of laceweight cashmere for a new project, and would I mind repairing his web because he was too busy with the summer designs to bother?

He scarfed the yarn for the Unst shawl and I haven't seen him since.

I shall keep an eye out for interesting felted bags, but from what I saw, the oh-so-sophisticated Japanese designers have been replaced by whoever is designing the stuff for the Funky-Chunky-One Skein books in the US.

Anonymous said...

I ordered a couple of "knitting" books from and was disappointed to find only crochet patterns inside. :(

yarnlot said...

Greatly enjoyed this post and its comments. Let's hope that japanese knitting returns...although their crochet patterns are often remarkable too!