Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Is Heard Is Not What Is Said **

Although I have not yet finished the Celtic Stole, I have already started the Strawberry Pie Shawl. Two shawls on the needles at the same time – shocking, is it not? But I could not wait.

Oddly enough, this relatively simple pattern gave me all sorts of trouble. I could not make sense of the directions. Clearly the designer and I spoke different dialects of pattern-ese. I attempted to chart the little strawberries, and, after a good bit of symbol shifting, came up with this --

The strawberries are correct and the spacing is correct. Good. Now I could cast on. But I was still convinced that some of the directions were "wrong." Heh.

So I decided it would be fun and educational to translate the chart into my dialect of pattern-ese. Oh, did the light ever dawn!

See that pencilled square? Those ten stitches are the "strawberry." That's the bit that is repeated across. And in that context, every single word of the instructions is completely correct. What was wrong was . . . well, I guess, my brain. I simply wasn't reading the pattern the way it was intended to be read.

Here's the scary part -- if it's possible to so thoroughly misunderstand something as focused and specialized as knitting instructions, what does that say about the possibilities for misunderstanding in the wider world? How often do we think someone is "wrong," when we simply are not listening? (And don't even get me started about the "sound bites" on news shows. Aaaargh!)

**from "Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?" by Ajahn Brahm


Marjorie said...

I've had the same experience with knitting instructions and other written things. I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed because I think I should be better at picking whatever it is up the first time.

On one early scarf I knit from instructions in an old VK, the pattern (not charted in those days) broke across two pages, and I never got to page 2. Oddly enough, the pattern actually looked good.

Delighted Hands said...

So what if it takes quite a bit of dialogue to 'get it'. I love how you charted the design so you could SEE it-makes perfect sense to me! I think there are lot's of times when we don't get what others are saying; I mind it the most when they don't get what I am saying!

Nebraska Knitter said...

Very wise you are! We all view the world through our own lens. Writing things down or making a diagram is a good strategy. I wish a similar strategy would improve for the health care debate!

Nebraska Knitter

Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, so true! And even when you are paying attention, it's entirely possible that different starting expectations can lead to totally different interpretations of the same statement. Communication between people happens as much by luck and good will as it does by the clear use of language (says the linguist...) :)

bspinner said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. I took knitting lessons for two years. You would think after you learn to knit and purl the rest is a snap. Our instructor would give us patterns to try all written in a different way to demenonstrate just how many ways there are to write the same pattern. I have several times gone over knitting patterns with a friend so we could figure out the pattern together.

Nice pattern and color.

Sharon said...

Ooh, I do love that first pattern. Do you think those strawberries could be adapted to socks? I don't do shawls - socks, yes.