Right now, I'm knitting what is probably the most exciting project I've tackled so far: the Japanese pattern Hitofude, by designer Hiroko Fukatsu. I've often written how the Internet has been a crucial tool in helping me re-learn how to knit, thanks to all the wonderful tutorials that generous people make and share for free. But just as importantly, the Internet makes available patterns from all over the world that I wouldn't otherwise have access to.
My first discovery since I started knitting internationally was that sweaters can be constructed in different ways. When my grandmother first taught me knitting, I learned that it was done with straight needles, and that a sweater is made from four rectangles sewn together: the back, the front, and the two sleeves (or five pieces, with a second front, if it's a cardigan). The stitch pattern and technique for making the shoulders were, more or less, the only variables. Rectangle-knitting is how my mom and grandmother have always knitted - and how sweater-knitting in general is done in Italy.
Then, over a year ago, I discovered on the Internet that abroad, circular needles are very popular, and that many international patterns call for them. Circular needles make it possible to construct sweaters that skip the last sewing-rectangles-together step. With circular needles, in fact, you knit seamless tube-shaped pieces, and so a sweater instead of four rectangles is made of three tubes: one larger tube for the body, and two tubes for the sleeves. Tube-knitting was quite an innovation for me!
The Hitofude pattern goes even further, dispensing with rectangles and tubes and completely subverting the conventional (Western?) ways of constructing a sweater. It shows that there can be completely different ways of thinking spatially about a sweater that don't involve making separate arm and body pieces at all. Hitofude, which means "single brush stroke" in Japanese, is constructed by knitting the yarn continuously, in one unbroken piece, and by transforming the knit fabric by folding it in surprising ways. You knit and fold and bind off sections with three needles, most of the time not really knowing where you're going. But at the end, in the most amazing way, you have a sweater. Hitofude is like making an origami with yarn.