The Language of Spinning

My latest project, chronicled in my designer group on Ravelry, deals with spindle whorls. Not just any spindle whorls, OLD spindle whorls. Digging through archaeological records has been an awesome blast into the past (both mine and the history of the craft)!

Many of the whorls I’ve been looking at have either been on auction sites or in foreign museums. While Google so generously translates many of the pages, now, I’ve been discovering a fatal flaw: it doesn’t know many knitting or spinning terms. It seems baffled when it comes across a spindle or a whorl or a spinning wheel, and a good deal of the time I find myself rushing to copy and paste into a translation website (often another failed adventure) or popping on Ravelry and asking for translation help.

Ravelry is, as always, a treasure trove.

The Swedish word for spindle whorl? Sländtrissa. It’s a compound word. Slända is spindle (the spinning kind, not the manufacturing kind) and trissa is disk. A spindle disk. And the Swedish (particularly Sami) whorls? Yep, you guessed it. They’re the flat kind of whorl (vice the ball or other more unusual shapes).

Arabic? They use the same word for spinning wheel and spindle, as far as I can find. Mighzal (mim, ghayn, zin, lam, for those following along… I need to get this thing set up for some Arabic!)

I want a phrasebook geared just for fiber crafts, with a section for a dozen different languages. Pick up the book, and you can finally knit that amazing German pattern, or figure out what that old Latvian chart direction is saying, or heck, maybe try to do some Japanese crochet patterns. The research that would be involved in such a thing would be immense, but the gratitude of millions of befuddled knitters… now THAT would be a prize.

2 thoughts on “The Language of Spinning

  1. Marcy Habetrot

    “Arabic? They use the same word for spinning wheel and spindle, as far as I can find.”

    Yah, I’ve run into that a few times, too. My guess is that they’re just using a generic term for tool that makes yarn.

    Hey, when you’ve gotten that phrasebook compiled, you’ll let us all know, won’t you?

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