Thursday, September 01, 2011
French knitting definitions
I was delighted - nay, enraptured! - to receive some Phildar knitting magazines in the mail the other day. I just adore how beautifully designed the patterns are. The children's patterns, in particular, never fail to warm the cockles of my heart. They are so fashion forward, yet age appropriate, and just as snazzy as any branded knit you can find at a fancy department store (cough cough Seed, Country Road, Catimini, Stella McCartney Kids cough cough).
I have decided to make it my mission to get all of you lovely knitters on to the Phildar patterns, because they are that good that I don't want anybody to miss out on their awesomeness. However, there is just one little hitch: they are written in French. But fear not: I am here to provide crucial translation, and get you tricoter (knitting) in no time.
Now before you begin to protest that you can't do it, I shall confess that yes, I have studied French in the past. I did three years of it at high school, and then did some adult french lessons a few years ago. But I can honestly say, with my hand firmly on my heart, that not once did I learn the french for casting on, or decreasing stitches during my clasess. I had to figure all that out for myself. Plus, my French is FAR from fluent. Trust me on that. I have a French friend, and whenever she speaks to me in French beyond 'hello' I usually just sit there bewildered, staring at her mouth and have to ask her to say it again, s'il te plaît? So trust me - if I can muddle through a French knitting pattern, so can you!
Materials and equipment
Qualités (nombre de pelotes) - Materials (number of balls of yarn)
Pelotes - Ball of yarn
Tailles - Size
Aiguilles - Needles
Dos - Back
Devant - Front
Manches - Sleeves
Epaule - Shoulder
Pull - Sweater, jumper
Robe - Dress
Gilet - Cardigan
Jupe - Skirt
Mailles - Stitches
Rangs - Rows
Côtes - Rib (if they say côtes 1/1 it means 1 knit 1 purl rib. If they say côtes 2/2, then it means 2 knit 2 purl ribbing)
Jersey - Stocking stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side)
Echantillon - Tension/gauge
Endroit - Right
Tricoter à l’endroit - knit on the right side of work
Envers - Wrong
Tricoter à l’envers - knit on the wrong side of work
Assemblage - Assemble the pieces i.e. sewing the pieces together
Après - after
Faire - make
Monter - cast on (monter 45 mailles = cast on 45 stitches)
Rabattre - cast off
Haut - high, or length of knitting. For example if they want you to knit for 10cm after the ribbing, the instruction will be: à 10cm de haut après les côtes 2/2...
The best part about the Phildar patterns is the mathematical way they have of doing decreases or increases. In English you often get quite a wordy and confusing paragraphy about how to do the armhole decreases. In French, they give you a formula like this:
rabattant de chaque côtes tous les 2 rangs: 1 x 3 mailles, 1 x 2 mailles, 4 x 1 milles, toules les 4 rangs, 5 x 1 rangs.
Decrease at each end every two rows: decrease 3 stitches 1 time, 2 stitches 1 time, 1 stitch 4 times, then every 4 rows decrease 1 stitch 5 times.
Trust me - once you get the hang of it it's very easy!
If you really get stuck there are loads of French to English translation sites out there (I quite like this one). Plus quite a few people have done some French knitting dictionaries: Chez Plum has a fantastic one (and much more thorough than mine), and there is also a good one over on Craftser.org.
I hope this post helps anybody who was looking into the Phildar patterns but was feeling a wee bit overwhelmed by the instructions. Phildar does publish a handful of magazines each year in English, but until that wonderful day comes when every mag comes en anglais we'll just have to fudge our way through.
Happy knitting! Heureux tricoter! And here's some more pics to get you drooling (and hopefully inspired!)