Monday, 19 July 2010

You say tomato...

Quiz! Hooray! What is this?

  1. A happy place.
  2. The kind of place which Mary Queen of Shops would go faint on entering.
  3. A Local Yarn Shop.
  4. A wool shop.

And what might this be?

  1. An abomination. Please delete it from your blog. I have now unsubscribed, in a mute but telling protest.
  2. A magical substance, carefully spun from the combings of a friendly Muppet.
  3. An exploitative by-product of the petrochemical industry, directly responsible for the deaths of 3 endangered species that we know of.
  4. Wool.

And the answer in both cases is number 4.

O but wait! Let me explain! It isn’t doublethink. I am not mad. I am in the grip of a dilemma. Half of me knows that yarn is better being called yarn. After all, it can be made of lots of different things. It may be made of cotton. It may be made of bamboo. It may be made of silk, or cashmere, or acrylic, or the cut up tshirts which I am going to give up on and bin crochet a rug with one day. And all of these things (says she, putting on patient and slightly patronising face,) are equally valid. However. I am British and although we have learned to say yarn – it doesn’t feel natural. Well, it doesn’t feel natural to me. Because it isn’t yarn! A yarn is something fishermen with beards tell you while they are doing things with their nets and chewing on a whelk! It’s wool. Wool is the name for anything stringy you can wrap round a needle. 100% acrylic, squeaking and giving off static sparks? Wool. Warm, yielding Qiviut, spun from the pale underbelly of a virginal musk ox? Wool. Dishcloth cotton? Wool. Laceweight mohair? Wool. That weird jelly stuff? Wool.

I know I’m wrong. Even the man on Chesterfield market calls it yarn now:

And he once stuck my mother out that you can’t get aran weight cotton mixed with microfibre (Rowan All Seasons Cotton, man on Chesterfield Market!), and now they do not speak. So, where do we go from here? Do I need retraining like on A Clockwork Orange? Do I need to snap an elastic band on my wrist every time I think rebelliously, it isn’t yarn, it’s wool? It’s all very difficult. Does anyone else have this problem?

(Also while we’re at it, it’s scone to rhyme with moan. Just thought I’d clear that up.)


Anonymous said...

YES!! I have this problem!!! It has taken me around 3 years to stop saying wool and start saying yarn, and it still doesn't feel right :D

Susie said...

Hooray, someone else! Perhaps I'll get militant and reclaim wool as a word ;-)

Artygal/Lalheg said...

Just enjoy being bilingual!

Agree on the scone pronunciation 100%

Keith said...

You are not wrong. Don't let these horrible American words take us over.

Susie said...

aaaand just feeling compelled to say I don't find anything intrinsically horrible about american words; it's just that it's wool to me. Waves to nice american readers.

(There you are K, I make you comment and then I tell you off. Is it like old times? ;-))

Silver said...

...How else would one pronounce "scone" aside from to rhyme with "moan"? (Unless there's an entertaining Scottish way. I might be all right with that way, too. ;))

Susie said...

Ooh, Silver, it's a vexed issue. Some people pronounce it to rhyme with Gone. Those people, however, are quite wrong.

Silver said...

Or maybe to rhyme with yawn? ;) (This being my not-so-clever way of frivolously implying some connection between a lethargic/boring way of thinking and the pronunciation of "scone"...)