Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lost in Translation

I have restarted work on a bolero for my mom. :: Rewind to a few months ago:: My mom wanted a nice looking, light bolero. So, I found a batch of patterns for her to look over and she instantly fell in love with this fluffy, lacy thing. If you're on Ravelry the pattern is Déneb by Marielle Chautard published in Les Bergers Cathares. I would link it but the link to the pattern no longer works. Now, this wouldn't ordinarily be a monumental task except for the pattern involved. It started out life in French. As it happens I suffer from the usual problem of being American; I speak only English. I did take Chinese in high school and Latin in high school and college, but patterns in either of those are thin on the ground. French presented a much larger problem. As I saw it, I had only two choices.

Option number one was to find someone who spoke the language in the pattern and have them help. Then I realized that none of my friends speak French. Option number two was to give the pattern a go at translation by myself. Hesitantly I set out to do just that. It took me a while to figure out the best way to go about it but I now have a workable system that will get almost any pattern translated. If you find yourself in this same situation, here's what you do.

Step 1: Make sure you have a copy of the pattern you want to translate saved. DO NOT TRUST THE INTERNET TO STILL HAVE THE LINK WHEN YOU WANT IT! I did this thinking I could just go back to the pattern pdf online whenever I wanted. And I could, until the day that a handful of patterns inexplicably disappeared on me. The bolero I've been working on is one that vanished too. But I was very lucky. I already have a translation for two of the patterns I really wanted and a print out of the original for one. I also got extremely lucky and was able to contact someone on Ravelry who had done the other pattern who generously shared the lace pattern I hadn't bothered to translate since it was fully charted. Just save the pattern, it will save you a lot of frustration.

Step 2: Search for “insert language here knitting terms” and dig through the results until you find a site set up in a way that makes sense to you. Here are some that I've used.
Japanese: I haven't used this one yet, but it has some of the best instruction I've seen so far for Japanese patterns.
Step 3: Open the language tools in Google and use their translate option that allows you to paste text in. I should note here that Google translator is a wonderful tool but is not without limitation. For instance, if you type in the French abbreviation for “purl” which is m. env. Google will tell you it says “Mr. approximately.” This is why you need the terms dictionary.

Step 4: Paste small sections of the pattern into Google translate and use your 'dictionary' of terms to work out the bits that confuse the translator.

Step 5: Copy the translated portion from Google translate into an email or a text document so you can save what you've done and continue to edit it. Make sure you reference the pattern file so you can find it again and connect it to your translation.

I would recommend a very simple pattern for your first try, it can be a tedious process until you get used to it. After you translate a few patterns from one language it gets a lot easier.

::Fast forward to today:: The lace bolero still isn't done, even though I started it what seems like forever ago. My family went on a trip back in June and, honestly, I was afraid to work on the bolero in the car. It isn't a hard pattern exactly, but it has a bunch of repeats and it's my very first real lace pattern. When we got back I was afraid to go back to it because I hadn't worked on it. There is no good reason to keep putting it off though, so I picked it up today. And found that some of my pegs in my stitch counter had fallen out. I knew which pattern row I was on, but my markings for the decrease pattern rows are now nonexistent. The yarn I'm using is really fragile so I can't just rip back nor is my lifeline in a useful place.  Having to make it up as I go is not comforting. I don't think lace is my thing...

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