I have been doing a lot of Japanese crochet dolls lately. In doing so, I have to learn to interpret the patterns stated in the book. Being a non Japanese, I am like the others which do not really understand most of the instruction that was written in kanji and katakana format. Fortunately I am a Chinese and able to read some to the Chinese character that occasionally come along with the instruction. The Japanese use Chinese character in its own unique way. At times there may be some similarities in the usage and at time you just need to make a few guess in order to make it right.

For example the Chinese character for left (左)or right(右)are the same words for both Japanese and Chinese. The character for take away or decrease (减) and increase or add (增) are the same. Whereas for number of stitches, the Japanese uses 目, the Chinese use 针. Although the word use for number of times, 回, and number of rows,  段, used by the Japanese could be easily interpreted, the Chinese would prefer to use some other words instead.

We often see the 3 numbers in Japanese pattern like this stated beside the pattern rows:
1 –  6  – 1 减
2  – 3  – 6 增
段 目 回

I started with not knowing how to interpret these 3 numbers as I only look at the pattern to do my crochet. But it helps to understand more what it means so that you will be able to know how many stitches to complete on each row. Let me explain what the 3 numbers mean to the pattern to be crocheted.

  1. The first character states in which row the action of either decrease or increase to perform. For example 1 means on every row, 2 mean on the 2nd row.
  2. The second character shows how many stitches will be either subtracted, 减, or added 增, for the stated row.
  3. The third character shows how many times it has to be performed. Usually the wordings will be written beside the pattern row count showing this to be done from row xx to row yy. So this third character should tally with that number of rows to be done.

For example of 1 –  6  – 1 减 shown on the 4th row. This means to decrease the number of stitches by 6 on row 4.

Another example of 2  – 3  – 6 增to be performed from 2nd row till row 13th. This means to increase 3 stitches on the alternate rows for 6 times. On row 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, increase 3 stitches each. On row 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, continue the same number of stitches.

I hope the above gave a good understanding of the meaning of the 3 numbers. Just stating the numbers is not good enough as you still need to rely on the pattern interpretation to understand what stitch to do(single crochet or double crochet, etc) and at which position to increase or decrease stitches.
I will write more about the pattern interpretation the next time.