Pretty much without even a second thought, I recently bought a few Japanese craft books in Japantown. These are my first, and while I don’t speak or read Japanese, everyone always says the diagrams are so good that you can figure everything out from the pictures.
Well, they are mostly right. So far my experience is just with crochet which hasn’t been too bad. Instead of having row by row directions, all of the patterns are represented in charts. In each book there is a section where they define what the symbols mean, and have some of the best instructional diagrams I have ever seen. I dare say the ambitious could teach themselves to crochet from these diagrams.
I made it through my first pattern by flipping back and forth between the chart and the instructions with almost no problem. Now I am not sure that I even want to ever read a non-charted crochet pattern again!
Every once in a while I do wonder things like “What is the title of this book?” and “That little arrow is labelling something that is clearly important. I wish I could read what it says…” I am trying to compile a list of helpful online sources for translation, but many are for knitting… i’m working on it…. in the mean time, if you have a japanese pattern that you are trying to read, I have found some friendly, helpful Ravelers in the Japanese knitting and Crochet group and Tawashi Town.
If you don’t know what a Tawashi is (I didn’t until last week), stay tuned because they are cute cute cute!