French Knitting : Knitting from the french

NB: I also do translations of french patterns into english. I need a scan or good digital pic and usually charge between $12 and $40 depending on length and complexity of the pattern. Contact me for a quote !

Knitting from the French

Why would you ever want to knit in french? Even though knitting is nowhere near as popular and trendy in France as it is in North America these days, France still offers a variety of yarn companies and pattern makers that offer unique and mostly untranslated pattern books. The most famous is probably Phildar, but Bouton d’or and Anny Blatt enjoy a devoted following as well. Some of these companies offer a selection of free patterns online, offering a perfect opportunity to test your translation skills.


When it come to wine and food, the French are famously wordy, but when it comes to knitting they are tighter-lipped. In French, « tricoter » (to knit) is just a generic term for the action of knitting, and doesn??t describe a precise stitch. In English, there is a specific term for each of the 2 basic stitches (knit/purl), in French you??ll be told to « tricoter à l??endroit » (literally knit on the right side) or « tricoter à l??envers » (knit on wrong side). To make matters worse, this will be abbreviated into the quite similar looking « m. endr. or m. env. ». You??ll just have to be very careful.
Also, always keep in mind that the only system we have in France is metric. Therefore, all measurements will be in centimeters, and « aiguilles n°5 » will always mean 5 mm needles.


French pattern often use a representation that looks like a math formula to note increases and decreases. Knitter’s who??ve worked with Japanese patterns will scoff at these but here’s an explanation. As a general rule, you??ll find first the number of times to repeat the action and next the number of stitches concerned by this action.
For example,
« augm. de ch. côté (..) ts les 8 rgs : 5 x 1 m. et ts les 6 rgs : 9 x 2m. »
will translate :
Increase at each end – every 8th row : five times one stitch, – then every 6th row : nine times 2 stitches. ** (NEW: see end of article for further details !)


Access the French Knitting Dictionnary for a translation of all the french knitting terms !

USEFUL LINKS: French free patterns.

Bergère de France, tons of free patterns in the “Tricothèque” for all, men, women, kids ect…

Phildar. Head over to “Modèles presse”, create an account and access a couple of women’s free pattern (beware, they change them every so often, download now if you like them !!) and tons of baby knits.

La Pelote: A new french online knitting/crochet mag

Jardin des Laines : a few freebies

Au Petit Troupeau lists a dozen of free patterns, shawls, sweaters, scarves… : A collection of links of free patterns in french, including many Bergere de France, Adriafil .. and even translations of some patterns..! ;-) : one free pattern, for a pretty angora sweater

**EDITED TO ADD: Seeing as several people asked about this french “Mathematiques”, here’s another example:
Augm. de chaque coté tous les 2 rgs 3 fs 1 m puis ts les 4 rgs 3 fs 2 m would translate :

“Increase at each end – every second row :three times one stitch, – then every 4th row : three times 2 stitches”

Assuming we start on row 1, the anglophone way of writing it would be

row 1 : inc 1 st at each end
row 3 : inc 1 st at each end
row 5 : inc 1 st at each end (= 3 times the same 1 st increase, every second row)

row 8: inc 2 st at each end
row 12: inc 2 st at each end
row 16: inc 2 st at each end (= 3 times the same 2 st increase, every fourth row)

Hope that helps !! :-D

This article was originally published in (now offline, patterns moved there )

© Sylvie Damey, 2006. - patterns design - © Sylvie Damey

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