words, words, words (9)

yarnI have been a knitter for roughly 10 years. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the January Thaw Retreat, put on by Sun Valley Fibers (thanks again, Jeanette and George!). As I sat at a table with nine talented fiber artists, knitting and chatting and knitting some more, I let the language of the craft wash over me.

Knitting has its own vocabulary. When you first join the community, you think your fellow knitters are speaking gibberish. Slip as if to knit and slip as if to purl. K2 tog tbl or p2tog tbl, which means knit (or purl) two together through the back loops. Long-tail cast on. Provisional cast on. German twisted cast on. RS and WS (right side and wrong side of your work), which always confuses me because they both start with an “R” sound. Here are three favorites that are used with some regularity.

Tink. Sometimes things go awry in knitting. And by sometimes, I mean quite frequently and usually at some point with every project. If you haven’t figured it out yet, “tink” is “knit” spelled backward. When you tink, you are unknitting something you just knit. Think of tinking as hitting an undo icon on your computer to go back in time to when your work didn’t have a mistake.

Frogging. Other mistakes are too severe to be tinked away and you have to resort to frogging. What sound does a frog make?  Yes, it says ribbit, ribbit. Ergo, “frogging” is when you rip it, rip it, rip it out (which sounds close enough to ribbit, ribbit). That is, take your work off the needles and pull on the yarn to unravel the stitches. You can frog several rows or frog an entire project and start over. Needless to say, frogging is rarely good news.

Whip. The word isn’t whip, it just sounds like it. “Whip” is the phonetic pronunciation of “W.I.P.” which is a work in progress. When I first started knitting, I did one project at a time. I selected a pattern, bought the appropriate yarn, cast it on, knit until it was done, did any finishing work required, and then started over on a new project. You know that you are truly a knitter when you have multiple projects going at once. Perhaps you were lured in by a pattern (or several) you just had to make or a fiber (or several) too beautiful to pass up. Without exception, every knitter I know increases their whips over time.

I’d better sign off. I have a gorgeous blue hat waiting for me to work on. Or should I pick up my mint green shawl? Or my multi-colored striped hat? Or my soft, rust sweater? Or dishcloths? Or…


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