Crotchety Me!

Knitting. Not my area of natural comfort. The only time I did knit was when I was forced to, back in school. And were those booties and bonnets and ponchos disastrous! My needlework teacher ‘frogged’ them regularly (to fully understand the term, continue reading!).

Then why do a piece on knitting-related terms?

Because a dear friend just gifted me a beautiful crocheted shawl. I have been looking at it all week and appreciating the beauty of the piece, the patience that has gone in, and the centuries of tradition behind it. So here is to my friend Mahashwetha and knitters and crotcheters across the world who bring beauty and warmth (pun intended) to our lives.


Since the gift is crocheted, not knitted, we will begin with ‘crotchety’ terms.

Crochet: ‘Crotchet’ is from a very old French word for ‘small hook,’ and the verb means ‘sewing with a hooked needle’. ‘Crotchet’ has been in use in this sense since the 15th century.

Crotchety: By late 16th century, ‘crotchet’ was also being used to mean ‘an odd whim or peculiar notion.’ The logic of this seems to be that strange ideas or unusual behavior are mental ‘twists’! A person with odd ideas and habits came to be described as ‘full of crotchets’ or simply ‘crotchety,’ a term which first appeared around 1847. “Crotchety” is now also used in place of “grouchy”.

Knitting commemorates people!

Cardigan: Knitted jackets or sweaters open down the front have been around for several centuries, but the term cardigan came into use in 1862. The cardigan was named after the seventh earl of Cardigan (a county in Wales) who sported such jackets during the Crimean War.

Raglan: The word raglan also came into use during the Crimean War. It is named after Cardigan’s commanding officer, the first Baron Raglan. During the war, Raglan wore a loose-fitting overcoat with sleeves that extended all the way to the neckline instead of stopping at the shoulder. Originally raglan referred to the overcoat; it now can also refer to the style of sleeve.
And animals too!
Frog: What happens when a knitting project doesn’t go well? Well, a knitter frogs it. Frog is knitting slang for “ripping out” knitting: taking the piece off the needles, and unraveling it quickly. It’s not unique to knitting: crocheters frog their work, and needleworkers also frog stitches that aren’t right.

As well as places…

English knitting: Also called right-handed knitting, this is the method of knitting in which the working yarn in is held in the right hand.

Continental knitting: This is a method of knitting in which the working yarn is held in the left hand.

Knitting terms confuse…

Ravel: The verb ravel can mean “to knit together.” It can also mean “to unspool, unknit, or unravel.” Ravel is a contronym (or Janus word), a word with meanings that contradict each other.
End note

If you thought only music had its own notation, turns out knitting does too! Just to start you off….

BO: bind off (cast off)

CC: contrasting color

cn: cable needle

CO: cast on

dec:: decrease

dpn(s): double-pointed needle(s)

inc: increase

kfb: knit into the front and back of the stitch (an increase)

knitwise: as if to knit

And so on…
• Terms and abbreviations used in Knitting Patterns. Kristi Porter.

2 thoughts on “Crotchety Me!

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