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.


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

Jodiebodie said...

I LOVE Japanese patterns. They are exquisite in their detail, logic and simplicity.
Detail and simplicity in the one pattern - that might sound contradictory but the Japanese have mastered the art of combining them to make organised, logical charts.

I do believe that the Japanese call both crochet and knitting "knitting". They define them as "knitting with 1 stick/implement" and "knitting with 2 sticks/implements".