Knitters: 1 *** Google: 0

Last week I was reminded of technology’s limitations. That’s rare. Usually it’s me with the limitation, as I realize that the computer or software is obviously and unequivocally capable of much more than what I’m able to ask of it. I feel this way pretty much every time I attempt something on Adobe design suite. But having a computer mess up is a relief. I interpret it as proof that we’re not hurtling towards that creepy sci-fi world where robots do everything for us and then suddenly develop consciousness and take over the planet. Or not hurtling as quickly anyway.

So last week I was performing my favorite pattern search on ravelry – cardigans – and I came across this beauty. Simple but clever construction. More torso coverage than most shrugs. Repeating radial lines and a reversible collar. YESSSS

copyright: Pitsikuduja

But then I saw the pattern only came in Finnish. I tried running it through Google Translator, thinking that it wouldn’t be perfect, but there’d be enough coherence that I could make it out. Here is an excerpt:

Always lift the right hand edge first layer of knit stitch.Note. when you knit 3 rows: ta, start with the condensed layers as follows: * Knit the next layer of the right side of chassis 34 (37) 38 (41) 42 (45) s of patients continue to pattern by. Turn the work, please yo needle and knit 34 (37) 38 (41) 42 (45) s of patients continue to pattern by.

Holy smokes, what a mess. Sometimes partial sense is even worse than an entirely different language. It’s a false promise of getting closer to making sense of the thing. On a whim, I wrote to one of the knitters who had posted her completed project on the pattern page. Her project notes were written in English, so I asked if she would be able to translate the pattern…or if she knew of an English translation anywhere. One hour and 59 minutes later I received this reply:


I don’t know what got into me, but I started translating next minute after reading your message. Check this out 😀 Enjoy!

Cheers, Lilia

copyright: Lilia (aka the most generous, kind, and amazing ravelry user I've met)

I could not stop smiling all day. This random gesture of generosity from a stranger was just awesome. A few years and I’m sure Google Translator will branch out for specific sectors and their specialized jargon. But until then…KNITTERS: 1 *** GOOGLE: 0 !!!!!!



  1. Pingback: Trading Snow for Sand « Foxflat's Blog
  2. Eric Stoller · September 20, 2010

    So awesome. I love it when stuff like that happens. The web allows people to create community with one another from across great distances 🙂

    • foxflat · September 20, 2010

      So true Eric!

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