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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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Bring it!

Friend L, who first inspired my blog writing, has re-vamped herself and her blogging.  She can now be found at On Pens & Needles.  I have updated my sidebar to reflect this.  You may wonder at my posting on a Tuesday.  I do not normally do so, as this is the day Poopie and I set aside as date night.  However… I’m making an exception tonight. And let me tell you why…

Last week, L asked if I would like to start walking with her in the mornings.  I agreed (I must hate myself).  She makes me get up at the butt crack of dawn…5:30, and I proceed to hike over hill and dale to the tune of almost 3 miles.  This is after spending all weekend working in the yard.  And…to be honest, I’ve done very little excercise-wise in several months.  I only bring this up to point out that L has kicked my ass.

Does she feel bad about this? Who knows.  What I do know, though, is that I found out last night…along with the rest of the world…that my DEAR FRIEND has thrown down a gauntlet.  I have to wonder about the timing.  I am weak from lack of sleep.  All my muscles are screaming at me.  And this is when my supposed friend decides to throw a mental challenge my way?

I tell you, with friends like these…

So, in future walks, L and I will be hashing out the details.  In the meantime, please enjoy the pattern, and Franklin Habit’s words: Lady’s Travelling Cap.  The featured image was stolen from Knitty.com.

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

The lovely (as well as irritating) thing about the written word is that you don’t get tone of voice.  So…is that “ah” a scream of frustration? rage? or a sigh of contentment? Yes–all of the above. Vacations are wonderful things–once I get there.  However, the getting there can be a bit…much.  I committed to writing once a week, but I didn’t commit to which day.  I’ve been super good about getting something out on Mondays, but as you can tell, I missed this Monday.  Because I was getting ready for our annual jaunt to Mexico.  Which leads me to today’s post.

The topic will likely elicit a similar scream from you, Dear Reader.  We are going to be talking about (dun dun duuuun) blocking.  Blocking is the act of wetting a piece of fabric (knit, crocheted, woven, etc…), pinning it into shape and letting it dry.  There are many different schools of thought on blocking.  My position on blocking is an ever evolving one.

Monday night, instead of writing to you, I was blocking a present for one of my many (many) aunts.  I love that my shawls look like birds.  You may or may not be able to tell that I just do this on my living room carpet.  I use thin rods and a whole bunch of T-pins.  A. Whole. Bunch.  Seriously, there is no such thing as too many T-pins.  If you ask yourself “should I put a pin here?” the answer is yes.  20180315_190916-e1521830751162.jpg

The left side of the shawl is showing the beginnings of blocking.  See how far I stretched out the top? You can also see the lack of definition on the scallops of the lace.  20180315_191659.jpgThen, I pull the lace out.  I make sure to pull the yarn as far as it will go.  I catch each of the points in the rod to make strong, consistent points for the finish.

Some people block pieces of projects to help make them consistent in size.  A myriad of flaws can be hidden in the blocking.  The problem with this, though, is that if there is a lot of difference to make up, it will come out in the wash.  After washing, they’ll return to their original sizes.  And then, you will have a mess.  So, blocking only goes so far in this manner.

Shawls are, so far, my only approved use of blocking.  As you can see, the side that isn’t blocked is kind of a mess. 20180315_191650.jpgYou can’t see any of the definition that makes the piece beautiful.  You may not even be able to see the full potential.  It takes stretching the piece beyond what you think is possible to bring out its full glory, like the featured image.  20171015_092732.jpgThere is, however, always the possibility of going too far.  But, I maintain it was going to break anyway, and it’s best to know now than when I’ve come to depend on it.  Besides, if it’s never blocked, it never has a chance of being what it’s supposed to be.

Many things have to go through a similar process. We temper steel to make it stronger.  Similarly, the delicate lace is only truly able to shine once it has shown how very, very strong it had to be.  Even the “failed” shawl will shine.  Maybe in a different form (definitely in a different form–I REALLY hated that pattern), but it WILL shine.

Blocking can teach us so many things:  True beauty often comes after testing.  We can often handle more than we think.  We need to be aware that while we can try to fit with something not meant for us, eventually, we will come back to ourselves.  Finally, we have to remember just because we weren’t meant for something doesn’t mean we aren’t meant for something else.  So, don’t be afraid to stretch!