UPDATE:  It’s January 2022 now, and I note that this old post from 2006 is getting a lot of attention.  Please be warned that the Internet landscape has changed in the years since I wrote this.  Many Russian sites are rife with malware.  Some has been introduced via on-site ads that autoplay, some has been planted by hackers, so even innocent informational/hobbyist sites can be compromised without the viewer’s knowledge. If you do go wandering through Russian hobby sites, please be sure you have robust, up-to-date virus protection, and avoid downloading material of any type.

——-  Original post below —–

I am having a fascinating time this weekend noodling out Russian language pages on knitting and crochet, and trying to translate some terms. I started doing this because I had (dimly) remembered some Russian language stitch dictionary pages that offered up a slightly different collection of texture patterns from those that commonly seen in English language books. I remembered some that employed ornamental floats, so I wanted to find them again. Now bear in mind, I don’t speak or read a word of that language. My assumptions here are going to range from reasonable to laughable. But I’m having fun none the less.

I started my search with the one English character transliteration of a Russian word that I did know from prior searches. I have no idea how the original is pronounced, but in what looks to be a one for one letter swap, Latin alphabet for Cyrillic, uzor (plural uzori) appears to mean stitch or pattern.

I used that term to do a Google image search. When I found an image that was interesting, I clicked through to the parent page and followed some of the in-page links there. Along the way I kept a notepad file open, gluing in copied terms in both the original Russian, and the Latinized spellings frequently used in Web page URLs.

Here are some of them, along with my wild-ass guesses on what they might mean.

– uzori or uzory – patterns (possibly also stitch designs)
– stitches
– knitting, probably also crochet work
– Crochet
– socks
– hats or caps
– table linens, including doilies and runners, but also napkins and cloths
– chart or diagram
– motifs?

Along the way, I found a couple of interesting patterns. Here’s one for a lace doily. Its pattern page presents some useful visuals, including starting a doily center using the crocheted circle method, blocking hints, and (of course) the chart for the piece itself.

Now I had a second problem. I can knit from a chart in any language, provided I have the symbol key. What do the chart symbols mean? It’s hard to cut and paste the chart terms into on line Russian-English dictionaries (this was the best one for my purposes) because for the most part, the terms are there as images, not text. Sadly though Russian knitting symbol interpretation seems to be just as jumbled as Western charting, with different sources using either different symbols to mean the same thing, or using the same symbols but employing them differently. Looking over the lace chart for the doily above, I suspect that straight vertical lines are knits, the little arrows facing left are knit through the back of the loop (ktbl). U must be a YO (perhaps U with the 2 in it is a double yarn over), and downward facing Vs are decreases (numbers in the arms of the V indicate the number of stitches to be decreased). Obviously lots of experimentation is in order here to confirm (or disprove) these guesses.

Although I was hunting for knitting, most of what I found were charts for crochet. The crochet notation looks a bit more standard. Some of it seems to be similar to the notation found in Japanese crochet patterns. For the most part they look to be easily interpreted even if one doesn’t read Russian. Here are a few of the ones I liked best.

  • A crocheted spiral doily
  • An interesting crocheted stole or table runner
  • A stole featuring a very mesh-like crocheted structure (click on the link to get the charts)
  • A cushion pattern that could be adapted into a very nice lace scarf
  • Yet another doily, this one that makes subtle use of some pineapple style features, but does so without being “yet another piece of pineapple crochet”
  • Another small round piece. I like the contrast between the densely worked areas and the open net-line areas.
  • A spectacular collection of small round, square, and other shape motifs. (I am not quite sure how Russian copyright law works but be aware that other pages on this site offer what look to be scans of full books)

And finally I found Russian language stitch patterns that do look like they exhibit some kind of wrapping.

  • This one looks like the wrapping happens on the diagonal Perhaps this was done by reaching down a row or two and picking up a long loop, then knitting them off together with the current stitch.
  • Photographed sideways, this one has a combo of horizontal wraps that gather the stitches enough to make a smocked effect.
  • And this one clearly has stitches picked up several rows below. The chart is a bit confusing because it appears to be written for the flat, showing alternating rows of knitting and purling to produce the reverse stockinette texture. Most charts I’ve seen stick to “as seen from the front side” logic.

But I never found the dimly remembered patterns that set me off on this quest in the first place.

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4 responses

  1. The following might be redundant, since I guess you already know about them but just in case…

    Russian-English knitting glossary:

    She also has a page about horizontally elongated stitches:

    The author of these two pages can be now found at her blog:

    Next time I’m in Spain, I’ll try to find some info about the stiches used in the Spanish cap, but Spanish knitting resources are scarce.

  2. Hello, how are you? I’m having difficulty to understand Knitting Charts in Russian. Do you have any suggestions for translating the Russian symbols? Thank you very much.

    1. It’s difficult because there is no standardized set. Different books tend to use different symbols. Plus the majority of charts using Russian symbols on line have been pirated, with no links to the original books’ master key page that associated each symbol with a technique.

      Due to the overwhelming presence of malware on Russian websites these days, I do not visit sites hosted there anymore, and am not disposed to assisting the IP thieves by making aftermarket lists of the symbols used.

      Which is a long way to say “Apologies.” That I feel your pain, and having a translation pegging the various symbol systems to standard terms would be helpful to a lot of people, but I’m afraid I won’t be the one to do it.

  3. Hello how are you?
    Thanks for the reply.
    You’re absolutely right. It’s a shame that the symbols are not standardized.
    It would be good, because it has very beautiful stitches in Russian knitting.
    But thank you anyway. Have a great day!

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