Thursday, 10 March 2016

Mulitlingual Knitting - Or Not

@MmedeBeauvoir has granted me permission to use her photo. 
Follow her on Twitter for knitting and football.

Sometimes being multilingual is a strange thing. Being fluent in more than one language doesn't mean that you are eqally as fluent in certain areas as you are in others. 

For instance, I speak  German and English equally well, having grown up with both. Yet, I can only really knit using English patterns because that's how I learned the craft. 

German pattern instructions are very confusing to me. They have their own terms that make no sense to me half the time and just arent clear enough. I have a few German pattern books and can't imagine I will ever knit anything in them, simply because it is far too much work to figure out what it all means. (That is why I love charts - at least I can figure out what the stitches are from looking at them; experienced knitters can do it easily.)

Of course, some phrases and stitches are easy to guess, but on the whole this very specific jargon is alien to me. I remember it being the same when I started using English recipes - you need to know exactly what something means to get it right. You can't just guess and hope for the best. Cookery, like knitting, has it's own language. 

Have you tackled patterns in more than one language? How did you get on?


  1. I started with English patterns, pieced out French patterns in high school, and can stumble my way through a Dutch pattern sometimes just because the grandmother who taught me how to knit was Dutch. She would lapse into Dutch when she was explaining things to me, and it was more diplomatic to just watch what her hands were doing (she never really accepted that I hadn't been taught the language... same as my Croatian grandmother re: Croatian :-P ).

    What does mess me up is trying to follow American patterns, since they don't use metric.

    1. That is a lot of languages! It's interesting to see how people work with patterns. And I agree that metric is the sensible way to go. ;)

  2. I am (nearly) trilingual - I am equally fluent in German (mothertongue and English (thanks to quite a few school exchanges with the UK and fifteen years in South Africa), and speak passable French (I live and work in France). And I can deal with Afrikaans (and Dutch) if need be...

    I can (and have) knit from English, German and French pattern, and have made my way through a Swedish pattern. Once I figured out that varvet did not mean colour but row, it was manageable ;-)

    To deal with metric and inch I have a measuring tape that has cm on the one side, and inch on the other.

  3. I think I feel similar.. Having learned knitting in mostly English terminology, I find it more straining to knit patterns written in Dutch, even though that is my first language!