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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Can you DIG the intricate bodice shaping
that produces a wonderful sensation of

YES! There is CUPPAGE!

WARNING: an unseemly, really snitty RANT follows…

BUT, this delightful looking cardi is a sincerely dangerous piece of work!

I’ve been working on it for awhile now (last winter, teeeheeehee) and always STALL…

The Reason: the Pattern

It is from the delightful designers @Rebecca. Never have I found a company with more titillating and innovative designs. I delight in their offerings. I want to make and wear most of them.

I am tortured by their translations. I am mentally squeezed by the brevity of the length of the patterns.

How can you take a complicated, extremely shaped, lacy creation and distill the instructions down to about four paragraphs? I know, I know, the fabulous European knitters don’t NEED any hand holding, BUT WHAT THE ****!

IMHO, it seems, and I have every issue for several seasons, that these tomes are put through an industrial strength meat-grinder universal translator with the results never being read or used by an English speaking person! Now I’m not asking they be read and used by an idiomatic urban inner city speaker/reader like myself…

HERE’s the ChicKnits Boatneck Shell Pattern shizzolated…

I’m just wondering who the H is supposed to be able to understand these translations?

Now as a writer whose A** has been flamed hither and yon on some of these same issues, I have to say kindly: WHAT THE ****!

I spent most of the evenings of my PRECIOUS WEEKEND knitting the Front of my cardi OVER AND OVER. I was doing 4 things at the same time:
working a lace pattern
decreasing for an armhole
shaping a bodice
decreasing for a neckline

Now, I’ve routinely done these things on other garments with NO PROBLEM! But on this one, the directions were so convoluted it put me on the ropes over and over. I’d get one set of instructions right then blow the next.


Get the neckline squared away and miss the beginning of the armhole decreases. Score on the AHD and totally screw up the lace pattern.

OH > the lace pattern > given in a two by one inch square graph > left to your imagination > for a wide variety of use > on the body of the sweater > on the neck > on the sleeves. That’s like trusting me with a box of rocks…

Now, I know that patterns need to be brief to keep production costs down. I know some designers take huge personal pride in condensing their instructions as much as humanly possible (and why this is such a point of pride is beyond me).

But please, people, we knitters are paying through the nose for the book to begin with, it comes with NO pattern support, and we really, really WANT to make your stuff because it’s so brilliant! Why make it SO HARD for us to do?

BTW: it still hasn’t apologized…

24 responses to “Wednesday, September 29, 2004”

  1. shobhana says:

    i agree completely. i love rebecca’s designs, but i have pretty much given up on knitting them. the patterns are downright painful. i am sure there are plenty of competent knitters who are fluent in both german and english. i don’t understand why they don’t hire one to do a proper translation.

  2. I feel your pain!
    I tried to knit my first pair of socks with the free Opal pattern. Not.enough.information.
    My first sock would fit Frankenstein!

    Who ya gonna call?

    She has finished this lovely sweater and perhaps she made some notes that might help you!

    I hope you get some help soon!

  3. Bonne Marie says:

    Very TRUE!

    But: why should anyone NEED a LifeLine buddy to get through the translation to begin with! The problem for all of us isn’t in knowing the techniques, it’s in the language used to describe them…

  4. Amanda says:

    The next issue is supposed to be entirely in English, so hopefully they have translated it much better than in the past. I haven’t knit anything from the issue I bought yet…I am kind of scared to try now, but I speak some German, so maybe I can figure it out?

  5. Sherrie says:

    Do we have any German speakers/writers out there who could draft a protest letter?

    I, too, find their patterns way too difficult. I feel that I am paying a lot of $$ for pictures of pretty sweaters that I will not be able to make!

    I am moving for a boycott unless some changes are made. I know a huge number of people read your blog. Maybe we can we pull some weight with the Rebecca people.

  6. Katie says:

    The Rebecca patterns remind me of that scene in Lost in Translation when Bill Murray has his photo shoot. The director gives him about 3 paragraphs worth of instructions in Japanese, and the translator just says, “look relaxed” (or something like that). Murray’s character tries to ask if there wasn’t something more, but by then the shoot has started…

  7. Meg says:

    Oh, geeze. Now I’m scared. I’ve one magazine & haven’t tried yet any of the patterns. BadAss knitters unite! We’re just as smart as they are – do we need to be slaves to the “instructions”? I don’t think so. I’m watching ChicKnits with bated breath here . . .

  8. Marg says:

    I’m with you. Here’s to a clear (as well as concise!) set of instructions. This is indeed a striking pattern BUT having no bazooms with which to do it justice, and reading of your struggles with the pattern, I’ll just leave well enough alone!

  9. Mimsical says:

    First off… I can even imagine what kind of crazy knitting mind created such an intricate sweater! Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazingly lovely… but jeez!!

    I speak German, but probably not well enough to write the protest letter, although I do have a couple friends who were in Germany all last year on an exchange, so they could probably help.

    Call me a masochist, BM, but can you tell me what the name and ISBN of the book are? I’m intrigued to find out if I can make sense of the pattern.


  10. Jeannine says:

    Not sure if you have noticed, but once the lace pattern changes from the slanted diagonal line to the straight up-and-down area, their chart goes a bit wonky.

    The decrease they say to do right after the yarn over (on the right side, right before the yarn over on the left side) leans the wrong way and makes it look silly and twisted. Of course *that* isn’t on the errata page.

  11. Bonne Marie says:

    In all fairness, I haven’t seen the New #28, except the pictures online. Anybody out there have it? Is it actually *in English* or is it an obvious translation?

    The sweater I’m knitting is from #25. Now that I’ve re-knit it 4 times and kept copious notes, I’m ready to tackle the last, right front…

    ThenONTO THE SLEEVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Sharon says:

    Yep, they take pithiness to an extreme, don’t they? I actually taught myself to knit by knitting the same Rebecca patterns over and over again. Nearly drove myself insane!

    I write out their patterns line by line, spelling out exactly what needs to be done every row, and still usually manage to misinterpret something!

    Their cute patterns always makes me try again, though.

  13. I never follow patterns, but I love Rebecca designs, and do READ through them, just to see how they’re written out. I don’t know how anyone who speaks English knits an entire Rebecca garment. The translations are incomprehensible, even simple stitch directions, if written out , are grotesquely convoluted. I’ve tried and given up understanding not what they’re doing, but how they tell you to do it.

  14. Libby says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has a problem with Rebecca designs!!!

  15. It seems like it would only make sense (business-wise) to write the patterns clearly and correctly.

    1. It is unethical to sell a product that is faulty. Incorrect directions are faulty.
    2. Don’t they want to make money?
    3. Am I just thinking like an American?
    4. Do they know their patterns are impossible?
    5. Do they care?
    6. Are they being difficult on purpose?
    7. Do you think Bush and Kerry will debate this on Thursday?


  16. Maureen says:

    Have you tried a graph to illustrate what you need to do row by row? Another way I’ve found helpful is to write out each line in the pattern on an excel spreadsheet. Repeats can be cut & pasted and you can easily number the rows and keep row counts. I find it ideal for the decrease at the armhole and neckline situations involving cables or lace!

  17. Marta says:

    Hi Bonne Marie! I laughed a lot reading your funny blog entry and all the comments.
    I live in Germany and speak German fluently, I knit the same Rebecca pattern you are knitting now and….
    1) The Rebecca patterns – and in general German patterns are really brief. I always wonder how they manage it.
    2) I am NOT as a good knitter as you are, but I didn’t have many problems with this pattern. Of course, you have to pay a lot of attention, because many things (arnhole shaping, neck shaping, lace pattern…) happen at the same time. So I am quite sure it depends on the translation.
    I prefer following patterns in Italian, so I always make my own translation before I start knitting. This way I am compelled to fight my lazyness and actually read the whole pattern before I pick up the needles.

    If there is something in the pattern you don’t understand (of course not tecnically meant, your skill level is so much higher than mine!) , let me know. Because of the copyright I cannot furnish a complete translation, but maybe I can be helpful tomake some sentences more clear.

  18. Gina says:

    Hey, Bonne,

    You know that knitting won’t apologize until you show it who’s boss. How about charting each and every stitch in that @#*($! pattern on a big grid and then follow your own deciphered directions row by row. That’s how I’m dealing with a design-as-you go sweater that has driven me crazy.

  19. beate says:

    It must be the translations, that are so bad. I’m German and have worked some Rebecca patterns with no difficulties.

    If anybody has any problems, maybe I can help with a better translation of difficult parts? I’m working a lot from American patterns and know the way they are written rather good – it’s very different from the German style so a pure translation won’t be of much help. It has to be re-written.


  20. Michelle says:

    I am so with you! I have only knit a few of the Rebecca patterns thus far and it was terrible. I find myself staring so hard at the little half page alotted to instructions, hoping that more words will appear that will help make it clear! I can’t wait to see how this sweater turns out (I have the faith). It’s one of my favorites, but I haven’t yet identified my perfect yarn/color….

  21. Becky says:

    Fact: I used the pictures, chart and schematics as the main source for knitting the cardi up! I found the written text somewhat lacking, and I’m used to following European patterns.

    [And here’s the “please kick me” footnote: I had someone in the U.S. send me the English translation. I could have gotten the original magazine in nearby Germany for five euros – a fraction of the cost of the one that came with the English insert. Well, that’ll learn me.]

  22. Silvia says:

    Yeah, I knit that sweater and couldn’t understand some directions in either language. The new Rebecca is all in English, but the directions are still pithy. I just made the same mistakes on the fronts and back pieces and called it and enhancement. The chart is indeed wonky on that pattern. There is an errata page on their website, though it may be in German, I can’t recall.

    I wasn’t super crazy about the new Rebecca that just came out. There weren’t a bunch of things I’d make, but there is one thing I immediately started swatching for. I guess that’s worth $17…Honestly, the all new English format is no big deal, it just doesn’t have the translation insert–I mean who reads the silly copy anyway. Coulda kept it in German really.

  23. Amanda says:

    I’m so relieved – I thought it was just me who couldn’t understand Rebecca patterns. I’ve been put off knitting a couple of great Rebecca patterns because I couldn’t get my head around the instructions. I’d decided the problem must be cultural – I don’t think like a German – but the problems seem to be more widespread.

  24. Bonne Marie says:

    WOOT! That’s what I ended up doing too – studying the pictures of the garment, *reading* the German numeric data, and writing down, after I counted exactly, the row numbers where all of the Hinky Dink, multiple contortions were taking place. So now I have a Road Map for the second front piece.

    Actually, if it wasn’t for the multiple pictures of this sweater, I would’ve frogged it on Sunday afternoon. But I finally *SAW* what they were going for and went for it myself…

    Now I can make the other piece without FEAR!

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