>Every time I look at a stitch diagram of one of my designs I feel as though I am seeing the pattern, really seeing it, for the first time. There is such a sense of clarity and satisfaction I get from these little bunches of symbols that’s hard to describe. These, done by Karen Manthey for the All Shawl, are a joy to behold.
My mother knew about these things all along. She learned to crochet as a girl growing up in Japan, where the symbol language was developed. The vintage pattern books she showed me when I was starting to crochet were written in Japanese. She did not read English. But we both could understand and follow every diagram, stitch by stitch, letting our hands create the patterns our eyes saw, needing no translation.
But more than making it possible for crocheters to transcend language barriers and share stitches, symbol diagrams are an enormous boon to those of us who learn visually. If my early stitch dictionaries had offered only written instructions I might never have been so attracted to and obsessed by lace patterns. Fortunately for me I stumbled upon the original Harmony Guides volumes 6 and 7, which are chock full of symbols and now an indispensible part of my crochet life. There is now a new set of Harmony Guides from Interweave Press, updated and user friendly, ready for the next generation. They’re on my Christmas list but I don’t hold out much hope that Santa will be bringing them. After all, I never did get that pony.
Oh, if you have already downloaded the free All Shawl pattern, but want the latest edition that includes Karen’s lovely stitch diagrams, please click that link again to get the All Shawl edit 2.pdf. It’s worth the effort.