New England
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Have you ever struggled to understand lace books in a foreign language?

October 15, 2013 5:28 AM | Jill Hawkins

I’m sure that all of us, at one time or other, have looked through a lace pattern book and been unable to understand the text because it is in a foreign language.  Like me, you’ve probably tried Google Translate and laughed hysterically at some of the results.  Then you should read on….


Our good friend and lace teacher, Jean Leader, posted on Arachne that her husband, David (who is webmaster for OIDFA) has just released a facility on the OIDFA website for translating between common lace terms in different languages.  Although there are printed lace dictionaries available, the distinctive features of this facility are:

  1. It is freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection
  2. For each language the terms are certified by native speakers
  3. Each term is accompanied by a defining image
  4. Discrimination is made between rare and common words in that translations of rarer words are provided, but these words are not given as translations of terms from other languages.

The url is Although only four languages are currently available in addition to English and French (the official OIDFA languages), anyone can contribute additional languages, without having any knowledge of lace terms in another language, merely by identifying the images.  In this way it is hoped that, for example, a Czech/Japanese translation can be achieved without requiring any individual to know lace terms in both these languages.

The number of items is currently quite small (40) but the focus is on words that appear in instruction or pattern books, and which Google Translate will not handle properly.  The use envisaged is for people reading lace books in languages other than their own (and non-English speakers with a general knowledge of English translating terms into English correctly – lazy loops anyone?)


Jean and David encourage any non-English lace makers whose language is not represented (Italian? Spanish? Japanese?) to contribute either on-line or by contacting them by email.  The rule is native-speakers only.


For technical reasons the facility doesn’t currently at all on the iPhone, or well on the iPad.  However, these problems will be addressed in due course.


I took a quick peak, and it looks to be a very useful tool.  Kudos to Jean and David for coming up with the idea!


Apologies for the long post - but it's all good stuff!  Check it out and let me know what you think!




  • October 18, 2013 11:43 AM | Patty Foley
    Jill - thanks for the post! This is a very helpful tool to use with those books not written in english. Great with the translation - what is even better is an image of the word.

    Thanks Jill, and thanks to Jean and David - we appreciate the effort and contribution you bring to our lace community.
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