16 November 2013


I've known how to crochet for 17 years. My Nana, whom I love very dearly, taught me how to make basic stitches. I never really did anything with it until nearly ten years after she taught me those stitches, though, and even then, I was very stubborn. I did not want to learn how to read a pattern. It was not until I moved out on my own that I learned how to do so, as I no longer had her wisdom at my disposal. I quickly latched on to the jargon and abbreviations commonly used by pattern authors.

A few years after figuring this out, I saw something very adorable that I wanted to make. The problem? There wasn't a pattern. Only a diagram. This was about 3-4 years ago, and I, in all my stubborn glory, was too lazy to learn how to read the diagram. It seemed too confusing.

I mean, look at this nonsense.
For the past month, however, I have had a ridiculous obsession with crocheting snowflakes. I do believe that literally everyone on my gift list will be receiving one this year, just because I really, really do not want to make anything else. Luckily, there are a plethora of snowflake patterns on t3h interwebs. However, I ran across the same problem I did a few years prior.

The cutest of snowflakes were (of course) written in Japanese originally, but had diagrams included in the free patterns. (Have I ever mentioned that "free" is my favorite four-letter word?) It didn't help that the website where I found these diagrams via Pinterest is written in Russian. I don't speak either of those languages! WHY couldn't it be in some other language that I could figure out? Remarkably, most German is so similar to English that I can figure it out. Italian and French are likewise close enough to Spanish that, using the bit I know of the idiom, I can figure them out, as well. But, no. It has to be in Russian.

Looking back, I'm really appalled at my failure to think of using Google Translate. Sigh.
So, I set about remembering how to read the diagrams. Just as when I finally learned to read patterns, I found that not only was reading diagrams surprisingly easy, but there are SO MANY benefits from doing so, and therefore so many reasons I love reading them now. Here's a list of why:

  • You can see where you are in the pattern much easier than in a written pattern.
    • Only 2 of these are from a written pattern.
      Can you guess which ones?
    • Instead of reading through lines of text to remember where you are (since you can't keep your finger on the page while crocheting), you just have to remember where in the picture you are. For many, like me, this is much easier.
  • You have a clearer vision of the big idea.
    • I like to change patterns slightly to suit my style and the taste of the recipient. By seeing where I'd like to change the pattern in a diagram and how the author accomplished what they did, I can make better decisions about the best way to go about my changes.
  • Diagrams break language barriers into tiny little bits of dust.
    • Seriously. I. Cannot. Read. Russian.
  • They often make prettier patterns. 
    • This obviously is not always true, hence my use of the word "often." However, I seem to like the products from the diagrams better.
By the way, I do plan on making a nifty little chart in the near future for reading diagrams.

Written pattern or diagram: which do you prefer, and why?

Happy Stitching! xo

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