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Lost in Translation

Last time, we talked about reading through your pattern, and I totally glossed over the fact that your pattern may still make no sense.  You shouldn’t feel bad about that.  There is definitely a different language in any craft.  Starting off with the equipment, and moving to what it is you are doing.  It can be daunting.

I don’t often think about it with knitting and crochet anymore. 20190322_174912.jpgThat has it’s own dangers, though.  These coasters I made for my grandma took me a couple of tries to get them right because I thought I understood the instructions.  I was wrong-ish.  They would have worked, however, they wouldn’t lay as flat as I wanted.  I read and read, I looked at the written direction as well as the chart.  Turns out 11 and 10 are not the same.  The first cluster was the beginning chains and 10 stitches, so the next clusters were all 11 stitches.  I read it and read it and still processed the instructions to read 10 stitches in each cluster.

Any language is an abstract representation of something real.  Conventionally, languages are taught by giving you a new abstract to represent an old abstract (i.e. manzana = apple).  So, your brain has to translate manzana to apple to the actual apple.  Or worse, the written manzana to the spoken manzana to apple to the actual apple.  Well, that’s me because I learned most of my Spanish orally.  My brother, on the other hand, learned his from reading/writing.  So, my comprehension for speaking/hearing is better than his.  However, his comprehension of written Spanish is way better than mine.  That’s because for each of us, our “preferred” method requires one less step in translation.

Funnily enough, I learned how to knit it Spanish.  For a long time, patterns for me were *very* difficult.  I didn’t learn by reading a pattern.  My friend, Maria, taught me how to cast on, cast off, knit, purl, do ribbing (vertically and horizontally),  and do eyelets.  All in Spanish, all orally.  She even had me doing basic design before I ever saw a pattern.  My first pattern was in English, and made no sense to me.  So I had to translate the knit terms through several layers before getting to actually knitting.  It was a tough time for a while.  But now (usually), I don’t have to think about it.

Unless, of course, Thing 2 has brought me a kit with the pattern in French, Italian, and German.  While she spoke high school German, those classes did not include any knitting terms.  Google translating the knitting terms came up with garbled mush.  I read and read those patterns, upside down, inside out, on a plane, on a train.  Nothing.  Until I happened to notice the French translation had Brioche.  Hey! I know that’s a technique I can YouTube!

Living in the future is awesome, Dear Reader, we now have a benefit I did not have all those years ago when I was first learning.  When in doubt, wecan YouTube a technique to see/translate our pattern to something we can understand.  Back in the day, it was tons of trial and error if you didn’t have someone nearby to help you.  Maria couldn’t help me with English patterns, as she didn’t “speak” English knitting.

I’m currently in Mexico visiting family.  20190321_174303.jpgPlease enjoy the pictures of the Baby Parade the town puts on for the first day of spring.  Each time I visit, I have to spend the first bit translating Spanish to English to the actual meaning of what’s being said.  Then, I go through a time where I can understand what’s being said, but I can’t translate it to English for poor Poopie.  Usually about the time I regain some fluency, it’s time to go.

Hopefully, when we retire, and Poopie lets me snowbird, I’ll have a chance to get my Spanish where it should be.  Luckily for you, you don’t have to travel to far off lands to get some fluency in reading patterns.  You can do that wherever and whenever.  Far be it from me to discourage you from travel, though.  There are very few things in life more valuable than travel.  I encourage you to travel as often as you can.

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