Do you ever dream about having the job where you get to name the colors of the t-shirts in the J.Crew catalog? Irish Moss, Sepia, Shadow….Well, in a smaller way, this is one of the things we do whenever we introduce new yarns, colors and patterns. Sometimes the name of a pattern is obvious, “Striped Cowl” for instance. We will call the pattern “Striped Cowl” for months and months while it is being knit, written, blocked, photographed, etc. Then the big day comes when Kate sits down at her desk to format the pattern. The inevitable question looms before us, “So…what do you want to call this?” We quickly rack our brains, bounce imagery ideas, place names, feelings, check Google, click through pages of Wikipedia and double check Ravelry for repetition. In the end, we like to name patterns in groups thematically–as we do our yarns. So, “Striped Cowl” became “Poplar Cowl”, named after a beautiful street in Center City Philadelphia.
You may not have noticed, but there’s a theme to all our yarn names. Canopy: Fruits of the Forest–all the colors are names of flora and fauna of the rain forest and jungle. Road to China: Silken Jewels–all the colors are precious gems, stones and metals, etc. When we were brainstorming names for the series of our new wholesale hat patterns we were continually drawn to Scandinavian and Northern European influences. A lot of knitting pulls from these traditions, which is fitting as the climate is right for lots of knitwear, but also because the bright colors, layers and folk traditions are so inspirational for accessories in particular.
The naming began with one of our fantastic test knitters, who while knitting Meritursas, thought the motif looked like an octopus.
From that day forth, the hat was called “Octopus Hat”. For reasons that may or may not be immediately obvious, we thought that name wasn’t quite perfect for the final pattern. However, since we had kept turning our thoughts northwards to Scandinavia we wondered how one says ‘octopus’ in Finnish? Answer? Meritursas, pronounced meri-TUR-sus. When Kate knit a second hat in a smaller gauge we went back to ‘octopus’, this time in Norwegian.
En Blekksprut, pronounced en BLEKK-sproot. Two down, four to go! Now, since we had found our hat naming theme, so to speak, it went pretty quickly. Courtney’s purple cabled hat, which had been called ‘cute hat’ around the office became “Kiva Hattu,” pronounced KEE-vah HAHT-too, which is Finnish for, you guessed it, Cute Hat.
Krummholz, pronounced KROOM-holts, with its twisting leaves lace pattern, is also the German word meaning twisted, crooked or bent wood.
It’s lighter weight version is the Swedish word for orchard and the trickiest pronunciation of the lot. Fruktträdgård (or, literally, fruit tree garden), pronounced FROOKT-trahd-gourd (roughly). The ä is like the ai in the word fair and the å is more of an o sound, like in yore. For the first syllable, frukkt, purse your lips forward and make an ew sound. The t on the end is a hard sound, distinct from the t in the following syllable.
Stratum is the odd-ball of the bunch. Surprisingly in English, stratum (plural strata) is the geological term for distinct bands of rock and soil layers. The garter ridges created a layered, textured look so we wanted a word which related to this visual effect. It was such a perfect name, we didn’t even think twice about changing it.
So, that’s it! A little insight into the methods of our madness, and hopefully some help in the pronunciation and reasoning behind what, at first glance, are some pretty unique hat names.