Wednesday, September 12, 2012
On Being Mid-Atlantic; Whither Stocking Stitch? The Eggcorn!
It's totally unconcious, "tom-aaah-to", "yog-urt", my overuse of "lovely", that sort of thing, but I do feel like I am pretty bilingual, with equal capacity to function and be aware of language on both sides of the Atlantic.
This week, however, I had a surprise...
In the last little while, I'd heard more than one knitter clearly enunciate "stocking-knit", to describe the fabric you get when knitting on one side, and purling on the other.
I asked on Twitter if this was just a mis-reading of "stockinette" (as I felt it might be), or whether it was a regional pronunciation.
A Canadian in my tweet-stream suggested that it might be a sort of portmanteau of "stocking stitch" and stockinette", a sort of compromise pronunciation, somewhere between the two. This seemed to me a reasonable answer: after all, if you're learning a word that you haven't seen written, you are led by how others say it (witness common mistakes like "I should of done my homework last night", and my confusion about the name of the Canadian film director Ruba Nadda - until I saw it written down, I honestly thought it was a man, called Rueben Atta.). (This led to a different discussion, too, about the phenomenon of the "eggcorn".)
Anyway, I retweeted this reply about the portmanteau theory, and received a number of puzzled replies back, questioning "stocking stitch". I was quietly amazed.
Stocking stitch is the UK term; and stockinette is the US term for this fabric. (There is debate about whether you need "stitch" after stockinette; my preference is not, e.g. "Work 10 rows stockinette, then bind off" (bind off vs. cast off is a dicussion for a different day))
I had believed that Canadians tended towards the UK usage, and that the US audience would be familiar with both terms, even if they preferred one. From the replies on Twitter, it seems like I'm totally off-base on both of those assumptions...
Brits & Canadians: What name do you use?
Americans: Have you ever encountered "stocking stitch"? Did you know what it meant before I mentioned it?