Saturday, March 3, 2012

Knitting Abbreviations and Other Stuff

I have been reorganizing my on-line collection of knitting abbreviations and terms.  This has caused me to remember a time when I took a technical writing class.  I took the class only because it met a graduation requirement and it was a substitute for the more conventional English Writing class that most under graduates have to take.  I was ideologically at odds with all my high school English teachers, and even to this day I have not met an English teacher whom I considered entirely worthy of oxygen. 

I could tell some stories about my war with English teachers including an essay I wrote for an ultra-pacifist, gun-hating English teacher about the beauty of 12-gauge shotgun shells.  If you are an English teacher take comfort in the knowledge that I am actively trying to avoid you and, oh by the way, sucks to be you. 

At this point any English teacher will be fighting the urge to scrawl a great, red "F" on this blog and report me to the principal for . . . what?  As you can see, it was imperative that I sign up for the technical writing class to avoid the dreaded English teacher.  The technical writing class was taught by a Communication graduate student instead of someone from the English department, a slight improvement.

In the first class, the instructor presented the class with several examples of badly written instructions.  Lo and behold, she gave her worst marks to a crocheted doily pattern from a 1950's booklet.  She went on in detail about how incomprehensible it was.  And then to make her point, the little darling put it on my desk and ask me if I didn't agree.  I just started reading it off to her, not as the literal abbreviations on the page, but rather, in its long-hand, translated version.  Shut her up!  She didn't know my Mother owned a copy of the same booklet and I had already made the one she singled out for criticism.

This all occurred decades ago before computers were common place.  Since then I realize that crochet pattern was not an ordinary set of instructions.  It was more like a computer program.  In fact, syntactically, it was closer to a low-level programming language such as machine code or assembler language.  Knitting patterns for lace doilies are similar in construction to the crocheted doily patterns.  The patterns are the code and the knitter or crocheter is the computer central processing unit.

The technical writing class was not exactly enjoyable, but I probably enjoyed it more than the rest of the class.  I have a perverse affinity for tedious, mind-numbing, excessively linear processes.  And that explains why I would spend days trying to find a better database structure and web page interface to store my collection of knitting terms and abbreviations.  It will always be a work in progress with pauses. 

Meanwhile I am already penciling together some ideas for a better way to store and display my knitting symbols collection.  I'm trying to figure out something for knitting symbols that would be like Mendeleev's Periodic Table of Elements.  I don't think I can make anything that elegant.  Mendeleev had a distinct advantage because unlike knitting stitches, the elements were created by God, therefore Mendeleev's work has the strength of Natural Law to give it order. 


  1. 2 Questions:

    How do I get to the patterns that do not have a picture associated with them?

    Do you publish a list of just the patterns that have been added or updated?

  2. 1. There is a way to get to the one's that don't have pictures yet. I won't say how here; send me an email and I will consider it. However, there is a caveat: Those patterns without pictures are rough. I conceal them for a good reason -- protecting you from poorly written stuff. For example, there are some from a late 1800's publication that uses 'narrow' for both ssk and k2-tog. I enter narrow as k2-tog and I edit in ssk if I find that is more appropriate to the aethetics of the pattern.

    Come to think of it I should probably just hide the number on the interface so you never have an indication that there are patterns without pictures.

    2. That's a good idea. I could make a link that would lead to a listing of patterns that have been updated or added in the last 30 days. I'll try to get that out this week.


  3. I've been knitting a doily from your collection - mostly out of curiosity to see what it looks like. Is there a story behind your designs? Are they from old books or your designs or mixtures of both?

  4. What a surprise to find such a fascinating piece of writing I stumbled upon while I looked for instructions on a specific knitting stitch. Thank you for sharing this with the world.