Friday, 3 September 2010

I have a book written in Japanese

and charts and diagrams. It is a knitting book. The Japanese do not write knitting patterns in the familiar format of "cast on a thousand stitches and knit forty centimetres" or "CO 1000 sts and knit 40cms". The Japanese do charts and diagrams.
Their charts and diagrams are standardised. It is all very orderly, orderly enough for someone who does not read Japanese (me) to follow if they want to make the effort.
I do not use knitting patterns for garments. I design my own. There is nothing clever about this. It is laziness. It is easier to do my own design. I can make it in such a way that it needs very little sewing together afterwards. My dark green pullover has two small seams at the underarm - put together with a crochet hook. I have an aversion to sewing needles and too much of the purl stitch.
I also have other books of stitch patterns. There are some in chart form. Others are written. The symbols on the charts differ from book to book. The instructions are sometimes abbreviated and the abbreviations will also vary. It is a bit like dialects. I have patterns in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Icelandic, Faroese, Latvian, Finnish, Russian and other languages. It is possible to guess at much of what is required if you understand the overall language of knitting.
The Japanese book however is different. Japanese symbols are standardised. The book is designed to be used by both Japanese and non-Japanese. It matters not in the least that the little text there is appears in Japanese. The numbers appear in familiar form. The charts are read from right to left and from bottom to top like other knitting charts. This all makes sense because the Japanese use numbers in the same form and knitting is worked in the same way as the charts are laid out.
Knitting is three dimensional. The charts are two dimensional. It does not matter. It still means something to the knitter with a little knowledge. It really does not matter.
I had the book out yesterday checking on something for someone. One of the visitors we had picked it up. "Oh, that's nice," she said and pulled out a notebook and pen. She quickly drew the little chart into her notebook.
When she finished I said something about how sensible the Japanese were to do their patterns in this way. Japanese? She had not even noticed the book was Japanese.
It seems knitting really is a universal language.

2 comments:

Sheep Rustler said...

I have some good sewing books in Japanese too, and the same applies. The measurements, patterns and diagrams are all perfectly clear and there is no need to read the minimal instructions.

catdownunder said...

I think the Japanese are incredibly well organised in this respect. Time for the rest of us to get our acts together!