Monday, 10 July 2017

Japanese knitting patterns

come with their own unique set of instructions. Japanese crochet patterns do too.
Most of them are beautifully designed. They are so well designed that I can read them.
No, I do not read Japanese. I can read less Japanese than I can read Chinese - and I could never read Chinese as such.
I had to learn some Chinese characters once. It was part of some research I was doing. I didn't learn them as Chinese...that is, to say them in Chinese. I read them in their English meanings instead. Now I can only remember a few for words like "man", "woman", "tree", "moon" and "middle". I am not sure how useful they would be if I went to China. I can the equivalent of "how are you?" to my Chinese neighbours and that is about it. 
Japanese is even more complex. It has katakana, hiragana and kanji - and they throw in some romaji (roman letters) for good measure. I don't even pretend to understand it.
But, I can "read" a knitting or crochet pattern because the sensible Japanese craftspeople use diagrams. These diagrams use standard ways of doing things. They use nice, neat western style numerals - the sort the West took from the Middle East all those centuries ago. They use standard symbols in charts. 
I don't use other people's knitting patterns. I am much too lazy a cat to bother with that. I prefer to do my own thing. But, I look at other patterns and I will use elements from them.  
Japanese knitting patterns are also remarkably useful teaching tools. The very fact that they are diagrammatic helps a knitter see how the entire garment or object is constructed. The diagram can show how one piece fits into another too, and perhaps how a pattern moves from one point to another. 
      "I can't follow a chart!" and "I'm no good at reading that sort of thing!" I have heard my fellow knitters and crocheters wail. 
Yesterday one of them turned up looking for some help. She had, in the belief she "couldn't follow a chart" written out a very complex pattern in "long hand" - the line by line instructions. It was several pages long.
She was in a mess and nearly in tears. She "loves" the pattern but she told me "I can't get it right". 
I sent her off to the library (fortunately open on a Sunday afternoon) and told her to use the photocopier to enlarge the chart - enlarge it by at least 200% and make a dozen copies. She growled off and came back about half an hour later still with her "it won't work" attitude. 
I made her a cup of tea and then we went through the first half of the thirty-two rows. I showed her, one action at a time, what she had to do to get it right. This is something I actually find physically very difficult to do. Perhaps that helped a bit this time. I was showing her that, if I could do it, she could do it too.
We got to a point where the pattern reverses itself. She could see that. She could see where she was going. It made sense. 
She was working with one sheet of paper - marking the lines off with a high lighter as she went.
And yes, she thought the Japanese designers might just have something with this charting business.

1 comment:

Melodye Traupel said...

When the symbol means one thing on one row and something else on another row, I get confused very easily. But I can understand why it is done that way. I am pretty hopeless at charted knitting but oddly enough, find crochet charts much easier to read and follow. I've had lots and lots of knitting classes but not a one in crochet. Maybe that has something to do with it?
USA Sister Cat