Making Podcast Woolful Podcast

Episode 49: Meri Tanaka- Japanese fiber culture, Twitter connections, building a magazine, and Amirisu

February 25, 2016


Sponsor: Loop is London’s leading local yarn shop, created by Susan Cropper in 2005, with the intention to bring the joy of colour, texture and design to the local fibre community. The shop itself is a warm, friendly place…full of inspiration and charisma, and you can see the care Susan has taken to create an inviting environment where folks can find the yarns they love and learn from the masters of their crafts…including Juju Vail, Jane Lithgow, Stephen West, Helene Magnusson, and Melanie Berg to name just a few.

This past Fall Loop celebrated their 10th anniversary, and to celebrate they released their newest book aptly named, ’10’…featuring twelve gorgeous patterns from designers Meghan Fernandes, Stephen West, Rachel Atkinson, Paulina Popiolek, Donna Higgins, Kristen Kapur, Ysolda Teague, Juju Vail, Tif Fussell, Claire Montgomerie and Pam Allen. I’m a big fan of Susan’s eye for composition, with each pattern being beautifully photographed and knit in a color dyed just for Loop. You can find the book at Loop, their shop online and at a handful of lovely local yarn shops and some great news, you can now find the e-book version of ’10’ on Ravelry.

Loop has an extensive online shop in addition to their cozy London shop in Islington. Make sure to visit Loop in person if you’re nearby or just passing through, and online at and on Instagram @looplondonloves.


Fiber folk: Print publications play an important part in this fiber community of ours, and a key player in this editorial and inspirational world is Amirisu…a Japanese knitting magazine founded by Meri and Tokuko, featuring patterns in both Japanese and English accompanied by beautifully written articles and photography. Meri left her career as a consultant to pursue this passion in fiber and never looked back. From Amirisu to Walnut, Amirisu’s local yarn shop, Meri is a creative inspiration and fiber powerhouse. You can find Meri at and on Instagram @amirisushop.

amirisu_1amirisu_2 amirisu_3 amirisu_4 amirisu_5


Sponsor: Moeke yarns was founded by Ioana van Deurzen in 2014, alongside her brother Radu, his wife and their parents. Ioana and her family have an incredible story, which you can hear about in Episode 8, and this story is what spurred the dream and now reality of creating a yarn company. The Moeke yarns are full of character, from the unique European breeds they’re made of, to the traditional Romanian spinning mills and the natural dyeing that Ioana’s parents do in their home in Romania. From her childhood, growing up in Romania during the revolution, her immersion in fiber through her grandmother and her purposeful journey to bring something back to the Romanian community, Moeke yarns is one of my favorite yarns and I hope it becomes one of yours as well.

You can find a selection of beautiful patterns created with Moeke Yarns and designed by Junko Okamoto, Francoise Danoy, Leslie Anne Robinson and more on Ravelry. Look for Moeke yarns online at and on Instagram @moekeyarns

moekeyarnsGiveaway: The winner of last week’s giveaway is Claudia Manley. You’ve won Romi Hill’s new book “New Lace Knitting” and 4 skeins of The Fibre Company’s Terra yarn from Kelbourne Woolens.  Congratulations!

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Amirisu and they’re giving away 3 copies of the Amirisu magazine. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this blog post.


Music by Jónsi.

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  • Reply April Flowers February 25, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Another great podcast! Thank you for the giveaway!.

  • Reply Paula Castro February 25, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Your giveaways are always fabulous!

  • Reply I. February 25, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Can’t wait to listen to the episode!! I am a big fan of Amirisu and their sense of style.

  • Reply Jess G February 25, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Love your podcast! It just keeps getting better and better! 😀

  • Reply Heather February 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    I loved listening to this podcast today!! Thank you for another fabulous giveaway!

  • Reply michelle February 25, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I love amirisu’s patterns. I’ve especially appreciated the connections between knitting and the architectural (not an architect myself, but appreciate design)

  • Reply emilie February 25, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    I love Amirisu, I haven’t got the new issue yet 😉

  • Reply Kathy February 25, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Such an inspiring interview! Wishing Meri and Tokuko all the best as they follow their passion!The Amirisu magazine looks beautiful–what a generous giveaway! Thanks!

  • Reply Stephanie L February 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I love Amirisu! (seems to be a trend here :)) Thanks for another great podcast and giveaway.

  • Reply Catrina February 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    This was a great podcast. I thought it was interesting to learn how difficult it is to get domestically produced, quality wool yarn in Japan. I think this is something we take for granted in the US where we are fortunate to have so many great local farms eager to share their fibers with the hand work community.

  • Reply Mary February 25, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I wanted something to listen to while doing some mending on the sewing machine and remembered the great interview with the author of Sequence Knitting. My bookmark brought me to today’s episode and once again, I have been delighted and inspired by your podcast. Now to chase down Amirisu patterns on Ravelry. Thank you so very much!

  • Reply Francoise Danoy February 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Great, great podcast. I live in Japan but in a tiny village in the mountains so I’m pretty far removed from the fiber scene in the larger cities, so it was really good to hear from the community itself what was going on. Also, super exciting to hear my name in the podcast!

  • Reply Neza February 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    It was lovely to listen to Meri and good to know what Amirisu means!

  • Reply Leanne February 25, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Wonderful podcast…have only just discovered Amirisu and I am totally in love…I adore the clean lines and the sense of style that comes with every design…keep up the good work…very inspiring

  • Reply Caitlin February 25, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    So excited for this episode!

  • Reply Rain February 25, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I’m a sucker for squirrels! Would love to win!! 🙂

  • Reply Susan February 25, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Always lovely to realize the international connections that exist within the knitting community. I love all things print, so would love the opportunity to peruse through a physical copy of Amirisu.

    I found the conversation about local yarn interesting. Japan has such a wonderful textile tradition, but the common fibres in use were cotton, ramie, silk, hemp. While the idea of Japanese wool yarn is interesting, I would like to learn more about Japanese yarns that preserve the ancient knowledge of working with these other fibres.

    Thanks for another though-provoking podcast, Ashley!

  • Reply Dee February 25, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    love your podcasts. very curious about Japanese knitting patterns.

  • Reply Steph Nappa February 25, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    I’ve never thought much about how the types of local yarn are different around the world but it totally makes sense! I think it’s quite interesting to learn these little tidbits. Also, a very inspiring story. Amirisu’s aesthetic looks quite unique, I’m excited to check out some of their patterns!

  • Reply Anna February 25, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Thanks for this podcast, I’m a big fan!

  • Reply Niamh February 25, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Another inspiring cast. Will definitely research into her. Thank you for sharing

  • Reply Leanne February 26, 2016 at 12:34 am

    Such an interesting podcast -Thank you. I am a New Zealander and in this country we have lots of sheep farms. Since New Zealand and Japan are a similar size (but a lot less people!) it would be wonderful if Meri’s dream of Japan produced wool came true.

  • Reply Charlotte Powell February 26, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Cannot wait to listen – I love the magazine! P.S. you have the wrong instagram account listed.

  • Reply Kristina February 26, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Loved this interview. Makes me want to hop on a plane to Japan!

  • Reply Thy Vu February 26, 2016 at 6:48 am

    How wonderful!! Loved this interview – I just started following Amirisu a few weeks ago and was excited to see the feature!!

  • Reply annie- Boho Chic Fiber Co February 26, 2016 at 7:21 am

    LOVED this interview! My list of countries to visit on a fiber inspiration tour is growing!! Thanks Ash!

  • Reply Cathy B February 26, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Ooohhh! I would love to win. Have read about Amirisu but don’t have a copy yet.

  • Reply amirisu in its 5th year | Sparkles*United February 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    […] Last fall, right after we entered a new stage of our journey, I was interviewed by Ashley Young of Woolful Podcast. I talked (very unskillfully) about how our endeavor started, and how we got to where we are now. The podcast went live yesterday, and is available for your weekend relaxing knitting. […]

  • Reply Meagan February 26, 2016 at 8:53 am

    The magazine looks wonderful, can’t wait to check out more from Amirisu.

  • Reply Kate M February 26, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Oh heavens, Amirisu! I’m always breathless looking through their photos…

  • Reply Monica February 26, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I love all the podcasts, but I especially enjoyed this one. I would LOVE to own 3 copies of Amirisu!

  • Reply Ginni February 26, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Lovely as usual! Would love to have this one.

  • Reply Jeanine February 26, 2016 at 11:46 am

    What a great interview! I love the Amirisu patterns, and I loved hearing the story behind it all. I’ll be visiting Yokohama this summer and perhaps I’ll be able to take a detour to Walnut!

  • Reply barbara February 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    amirisu is so inspirational. i love the simplicity and aesthetic of the designs.

  • Reply Erin February 26, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve been hearing about this magazine for a while, so how cool to learn more about it!

  • Reply Karen February 26, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    I have several favourite podcasts, but yours is always the soothing one. Glad I found it.

  • Reply Carolyn February 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you for introducing me to Amirisu! I’m so excited to explore their patterns on Ravelry and get knitting! I discovered your podcast a month ago and have been enjoying catching up with the back log and feel inspired a-new to knit and finish projects for myself and loved ones. Additionally as an interaction designer working in the Bay Area, it’s so inspiring to hear about your personal journey. Thank you so much!

  • Reply Filipa February 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    This was so great to listen to!

  • Reply Bowen Gibson February 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I really look forward to your podcasts. Thank you!

  • Reply Claudia February 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Another wonderful podcast! I listen on my way to work and I think good thoughts all day!

  • Reply Rian February 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    I just discovered your podcast and have been binge listening from our wee cabin in the bush outside of Dawson City, Yukon. Thanks so much for introducing me to all these wonderful folks! (And loading me up with ammunition in my battle against my partner’s insistence we need to wait three years before we have sheep!)

  • Reply Ellen February 26, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Another great episode! It helped a long drive fly by.

  • Reply Cameron February 26, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    I was surprised to hear about the differences that exist between Japanese patterns and US or other patterns. I’m even more curious to take a class on Japanese knitting techniques and patterns now. I also loved hearing about how Meri interacted with the internet and social media to develop her knitting. Most people discuss having developed their skills pre-ravelry. Here is a glimpse of discovery and development in conjunction with blogs, twitter, ravelry and instagram. I’m really impressed with hearing about the work Amirisu has done.

  • Reply Ines February 26, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    I’m a big fan of Amirisu and would absolutely love to go to a retreat!

  • Reply Karen February 26, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    This podcast must take an incredible amount of time to edit and record —the professionalism shows!

  • Reply Juliet February 26, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    Fascinating as always! I loved hearing more about knitting’s place in Japanese culture. Very inspiring. Thank you!

  • Reply Jill February 26, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    I loved learning about how Amirisu got started and learning a bit about the Japanese knitting industry. As a Japanes woman myself, I was especially inspired by Meri’s story. Best of luck to both America and Tokuko and thank you Ashley for another wonderful podcast!

  • Reply Yael February 27, 2016 at 4:26 am

    I love to listen to your podcast while crocheting. Interesting and inspiring as always!

  • Reply Caroline February 27, 2016 at 5:09 am

    Thank you so much for this lovely podcasts! Getting to know about Amirisu’s story + how the knitting community is in Japan, it was a real treat. Thank you!

  • Reply becca February 27, 2016 at 7:07 am

    great podcast as always!

  • Reply Cyndi February 27, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Loved this podcast! Thank you!

  • Reply Lea Dietzel February 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Great podcast. It was such a treat to hear about the journey Amirisu and the Japanese knitting community

  • Reply Becky Christensen February 27, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I saw their beautiful display of a finished scarf and magazine at the Electronics store in Futakotamagawa, Setagaya-ku. I didn’t realize the magazine was in English too, so now I need to go back and find it. I live and work in Tokyo as a teacher. Many of my fellow teachers are knitters and meet on Tuesdays. One of our biggest frustrations is the lack of quality yarn here in Tokyo. I was so happy to listen to the broadcast and learn more about this industry in Japan. Interesting about the lack of sheep, which makes since due to limited space. I would love to go to Kyoto and visit their shop and talk about knitting.

  • Reply Carrie February 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I love the fun and fresh designs of Amirisu!

  • Reply Erin R February 27, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    What a lovely episode! I am so interested to hear about the crafting communities across the whole world, and appreciate the time you. Oth took to record this.

  • Reply Carrie February 27, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Ooh! I’ve been wanting to take a look at this magazine. What a great topic for the podcast!

  • Reply Katharina February 28, 2016 at 2:16 am

    I loved this episode! Made yesterday’s train ride so much more enjoyable!

  • Reply Dale February 28, 2016 at 5:46 am

    loved this episode , as usual. I love Amirisu as well – I’m 3/4 of the way through their Dipped cardigan, hoping to finish it soon! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply Beth February 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for the great listening and giveaway treasures!

  • Reply Judy February 28, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Would love to check out this magazine. I’ve been looking for a consistently good magazine to subscribe to. Thanks for another interesting and inspiring podcast.

  • Reply Zsuzsa February 28, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    This was the first Woolful podcast I listened to – now I can’t wait to go through the archived episodes. So much more pleasant – and useful – than watching the Oscars! 🙂

  • Reply Ramona February 29, 2016 at 7:01 am

    I was so impressed with the quality of this magazine when I saw it pop up on social media. I would love to see it in its entirety.

  • Reply annette February 29, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Loved this episode! And I’d love to win the mag.

  • Reply Peg February 29, 2016 at 10:13 am

    OK- you got me interested in Amirisu! Thank you!

  • Reply Aisha February 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Love this podcast! I learned so much about the knitting community in Japan.

  • Reply Terri February 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for interviewing Meri! I have been curious about amirisu. Would love to win the copies.

  • Reply Karli Withee February 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Love this podcast 🙂

  • Reply hd February 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    so excited for this one! thanks, as always!

  • Reply Sherry February 29, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I’d love to see this magazine. Hope I win but enjoyed the interview in any event!

  • Reply Deepa February 29, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    What a great journey for Meri, Tokuko and Amirisu. I loved hearing about it.

  • Reply Robin March 1, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Loved hearing this story and Love the magazine too!

  • Reply Annie March 1, 2016 at 7:33 am

    This was such an interesting perspective of the yarn/publishing in Japan. I really enjoyed this episode.

  • Reply sophie (kamalalotus on Rav) (sophie_kamalaine on IG) March 1, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Perfect timing! I was a bit behind with the podcasts and decided to take the time to listen today (while making jam with our kiwis and dyeing skeins with onion skins!), and great surprise, it is about Amirisu, I have just received my first copy of the magazine, so, perfect timing!
    As for sheep farming in Japan, I wooly recommend reading Murakami’s “The Wild Sheep Chase”, with an interesting and very weird focus on the history of sheep farming in Japan!

  • Reply Modern Fibre March 1, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    It was wonderful to hear Meri’s story and to learn how she developed the exquisite Amirisu magazine. Thanks for this continuously superb podcast format.

  • Reply Kaitlyn March 1, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Visiting Japan soon – so I was excited to see this episode! Hoping to visit Walnut on my trip!

  • Reply Paula March 1, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I’m an American knitter living in Japan, so it was great to hear this episode and learn more about what’s happening here. So far, my experience has been that there are many dedicated knitters here and I’m always noticing beautiful handmade items on the train!

  • Reply Johanna March 1, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Fantastic story! I wish them blessings in their endeavours and am excited to see where they go from here!

  • Reply Corlene March 2, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Interesting story and a great episode! I’ve always admired the Amirisu mag and would love to win a copy.

  • Reply Morgan March 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Haven’t seen an issue yet, but after listening to the podcast I’m dying to get a hold of a copy.

  • Reply Ulla Fredriksson March 2, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    It’s my first visit and the first time I’m listening on your pod.I was so impressed of this part about Amirusu .The casrdigan with pattern on he sleeves in blue.Simple and beautiful.Inspiring to hear about all efforts and so on to get what it is now with the Amirusu.I know knitting now is more popular also in Japan

  • Reply LuisaM March 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Great episode as always!

  • Reply Shannon Y. March 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Love this magazine and your podcast. Always look forward to your episodes!

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