Here's my progress on the Japanese oak leaf cardigan. Knitting this pattern is not unlike playing charades. I have everything I need to understand it, except words.
I am feeling pretty smug to have finished the first sleeve. I was halfway up the saddle when I realized this is my first saddle-shoulder sweater. Good thing I started with an easy one. Not.
The fascinating thing about this pattern is that I can knit it at all. The credit for that belongs to its author, rather than my skill. Believe it or not, every single stitch in the garment is plotted on the chart. There is only one size (no clue what size that is, by the way-hope it fits somebody I know), and each piece has a schematic drawing with metric measurements.
I found online the characters are for "stitches" and "rows", which allowed me to decipher the gauge (once I learned that Japanese needle sizes are also different from US and metric ones). Then I made some swatches, during which I learned that if you don't recognize a symbol in the chart, the chart key is not going to help you one stinking bit. The tip of each oak leaf involves turning 8 stitches into 3, and crossing some of them over others of them. That part I had to totally fake. Trial and error (mostly the latter) eventually yielded a leaf that looked like the one in the photo. I think.
Other than the wierd-y leaf tips, all the other stuff in the chart worked just like it would in english, only with far more precision. Which direction should the increase or decrease lean? It's drawn directionally on the chart. How many stitches to bind of at either side of the saddle? Each bound stitch is on the chart. Crazy, man. It totally works. No language needed. I feel like a musician, just playing the notes without knowing what the song is supposed to sound like.
Good music, here in Japan.