Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fiber Etymology, or What's in a Word?

We all know what "Tromp as Writ" means, right?  (Or do we?  It's from Old English, meaning treadle as threaded, frequently applied to overshot patterns.)  But I frequently wonder where other terms we use on a regular basis come from.  Tina wrote about her bobbin winder that she wound pirns on the other day, and I got to wondering where such a lovely word originated.  Here's what Wikipedia says:

pirn is a rod onto which weft thread is wound for use in weaving. Unlike a bobbin, it is fixed in place, and the thread is delivered off the end of the pirn rather than from the center. A typical pirn is made of wood or plastic and is slightly tapered for most of its length, flaring out more sharply at the base, which fits over a pin in the shuttle. Pirns are wound from the base forward in order to ensure snag-free delivery of the thread, unlike bobbins, which are wound evenly from end to end.
Pirns became important with the development of the flying shuttle, though they are also used with other end delivery shuttles. Power looms which use pirns generally have automatic changing mechanisms which removes the spent pirn from the shuttle and replaces it with a fresh one, thus allowing for uninterrupted weaving.
Webster's says:  ME chiefly Scot:  A device resembling a reel.
Though I usually distrust Wikipedia, it looks as though they have it correct, evenly technically. I still wouldn't know what it was if I only read Webster's, but don't you just love the smell of old dictionaries?
Another term that's been intriguing me lately is Nupp.  Yup, nupp!  It's the word used in the pattern I'm following for the angora stole I'm knitting.  Knit five stitches into one on the right side, and purl them together on the next row.  It makes a Lily of the Valley-esque flower bud.  The first few times, it's a challenge, but the instructions warn to do the yarn-overs loosely.  And as you can see, I am cruising right along with it.  It's so much fun to knit, I have trouble stopping when I need to do things like, oh, go to work!  
  From a quick internet research, it looks as though it comes from Estonian knitting, using any 3 or 5 or 7 or 9 stitches to create a bobble-like effect.  Most bobbles I've knitted in the past have used several rows, not just two, but this is specifically--usually--used to recreate Lily of the Valley flowers.  Interesting..
  Webster's doesn't mention it.  Nor does the American Heritage dictionary.  I wonder if it's from the Estonian language?
  LouAnn was very busy yesterday, winding warps onto table looms for Kid's Camp (did you hear there's an Adult Kid's Camp this year?  Intriguing!  Do kids teach us how to be kids again?) and took lots of photos of endings, but missed a few beginnings. 

Pat has put a black warp on B, and wound a beautiful combination as weft.  This photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful way the jewel tones swirl around each other, but I sure hope I can buy a couple of these placemats when they're done.

 And speaking of bright, right next door is Bonnie's hand dyed warp she's beginning to thread for some shawls.  She's planning on plain weave so the colors can sing better.  I love it!  She's one of only a few front-to-backers left on our team, but it's what she does best!  Don't mess with success!

And I finished threading the heddles on Big Bertha, a little after 2:00.  I have a couple more errors to contend with, and must confess that I had to unthread the last third of the warp due to poor math skills.  I lamented at lunch time that I would so love an error-free warp, and was told I had plenty of company.  It's nice to know, but still, wouldn't it be nice?  Ah, well!  It's how we learn, right?
  And next week is Dye Day.  I'm so looking forward to it!  And many of us will report on it during and after.  Until then, Happy Weaving!


LA said...

I missed a bunch of things yesterday....they switched places with Bonnie and Andy's looms...and I didn't get a picture of that, either!!!! Your shawl is truly lovely...I'm glad you're enjoying the process!

Bonnie said...

I am glad that you get to make dye day. I know you love to dye. How beautiful that shawl is. Ok, I have to say it. Wow, what goes on in that brain of yours. You enjoy "words" don't you.

Theresa said...

I love to look up word origins too. Thanks for the weaving word lesson. Didn't even feel like I learned something it was so fun, but I did!! Your knitting is beautiful, love that Lily of the Valley pattern.
Enjoy dye day and adult camp. Can't wait to read about it all.