Why I Sell Translated Patterns
Photo credit: Ms Jiny Jang
How It Began
Back in 2019, when I was first launching Purl Foundry, I received an email from Mr Yungjoo Song in South Korea (pictured below) wanting to embed my silent YouTube tutorials on his newly launched knitting site, Knit-to-Wear. The silent videos are perfect for any language to learn with. He was launching this new resource along with Ms Yoon-Young Jeon to allow knitters to buy yarn and patterns separately, which was difficult in a market that at the time only sold kits.
Of course, I said yes and then asked if he wanted to sell translated versions of my patterns too. A flurry of emails started between us, which grew into video calls and over the next two years, the translation work unfolded. It's a surprising connection that neither of us had anticipated, but one that we're both constantly grateful for. Launching a business has many challenges and it's an incredible support to have a sounding board in the same industry.
Who is Knit-To-Wear?
Mr Song has an IT background, having worked for a large American tech corporation. It seems an unlikely step for an IT guy to tackle the knitting industry, but his connection with Ms Jeon and her design background was the catalyst. Ms Jeon studied fashion design at University and then worked in stationery and fashion accessory design for many years. She has been knitting for 10 years and is now returning to her first love of fashion design. Both Mr Song and Ms Jeon saw a need for change in the market and for knitters to have more options. Ms Jeon had the design and knitting experience while Mr Song had the IT know-how.
With the additional help of Ms Jiny Jang (pictured above), a knitwear designer and translator, Knit-to-Wear went on to translate most of my patterns and at the same time, translated Korean patterns into English to be sold here. They manage the Korean sales and I manage the English-speaking sales, with each of us sending the money back to the original designers.
Jiny is now launching her own knitting pattern brand while continuing her Knit-to-Wear work and we're all excited about sharing that journey with her. It only enhances the work we're all doing together, while releasing her own creative talents at the same time. We're behind you Jiny!
We immediately saw an opportunity to break down the language and cultural barriers for knitters and designers everywhere. If a designer only speaks Korean, then their market is potentially limited to just one country but with a little help, their designs have potential to go so much further.
The translation isn't as simple as a language replacement though. The information provided, formatting and terms used are often different and unless designers understand the target market, they could miss the mark. Even then, once the pattern is released, there's social media/marketing and customer enquiries to be managed. How will the customers find you? Can they negotiate around your site? How will you answer their technical questions and emails?
Knit-to-Wear understands their markets and customers well. And for the English-speaking market, we have me. Purl Foundry. Once a pattern is translated into English, I proofread each pattern looking for grammatical, technical and formatting corrections. The patterns need to be just as clear as those written by native speakers, without losing any intended meaning.
I'll then run a test knit, working with knitters from around the world to sift any final issues. We're checking the pattern instructions, garment fit and overall clarity. This is great for picking up anything we've missed and it's like a practice run before we release the pattern. By listening to the feedback from test knitters, we can pre-empt questions from customers and work to answer them within the pattern first.
From there, I'll list the English version of the pattern on my platforms and manage all of the customer questions and marketing on behalf of the designer.
Breaking down these barriers is a role I'm very passionate about. I'm driven by helping others to tell their stories and find success.
This beautiful collaboration is opening new opportunities for designers everywhere. Some Danish patterns are already translated into Korean and we want to expand this work to include any language and culture.
It's giving knitters more options and designers more exposure. It's about sharing the love and opening new doors.