Every once in a while, there is a post on Ravelry that I can’t seem to let go because it is 1) interesting or 2) has something so strange in it that it embeds itself in my mind and it just won’t leave.

This case falls under the second scenario. I found it while reading the almost but not quite heated topic Knitted Lace: True or Not on Ravelry. Now, while that thread was supposed to be about discussing why some lace is referred to as “lace knitting” while others are referred to as “knitted lace”, I found this tidbit that referred to yarn itself:

The textile industry involves plenty of chemistry and engineering, it is scientific and technical, in a way that cannot be directly applied to hand-knitting.
In the textile industry “yarn” does not mean “warm fibre for knitting with”. I had never seen this usage of the word “yarn” until I joined ravelry, and it is a usage that can cause confusion.. -amdm, post #29

Now, there is probably nothing inherently wrong with this statement. I wouldn’t know about what the textile industry does or does not call what it works with because I have never worked in the textile industry. It is simply the last part of this statement that I have trouble wrapping my mind around. Here it is again, with the part that I’m talking about singled out and bolded:

I had never seen this usage of the word “yarn” until I joined ravelry, and it is a usage that can cause confusion. -amdm, post #29

From the context of this conversation and from this statement, the usage of the word yarn that amdm hasn’t heard of is “warm fiber for knitting with”.

So, I took a quick peek at amdm’s Ravelry profile because I thought it might have been a cultural thing, since Ravelry is home to many people from all over the world. I can see that they are from Calcutta, India while I am unabashedly American. I only know one other person from India and that is my childhood friend Pooja’s  mother. Now, Pooja did crochet and she (and her mother) always called the stuff that she used to crochet (and the stuff that our other friend Rebecca and I learned how to knit with) “yarn”.

This just feels rather strange to me because what else would you call the stuff that we all like to knit and crochet with? I even checked with the OED to see what the actual definition of “yarn” actually was. There is really no surprises here, the definition is:

  1. Spun thread used for knitting, weaving, or sewing
  2. (informal) A long or rambling story, especially one that is implausible.

So, I just don’t know what to think about it. I suppose that amdm could always just be posting that to be contrary, but I like to think that we are better than that on Ravelry and it gave me a few fun hours of trying to figure out what else we could call “yarn” (string, thread, stuff that we all knit/crochet with).

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