15 October 2010

Glitter and bead-spangle, haute couture

I was vaguely ranty last week about an email I'd received from Phildar, a French yarn company, with the subject 'avez-vous déjà tricoté votre Snood?' (Have you knitted your Snood yet?)

The accompanying photo was of a ghostly pale young woman with bleached platinum hair wearing what appeared to be the bottom half of a brown and red sweater around her neck. This had the caption 'Snood mania ... vous n'y échapperez pas!' (You can't escape! Possibly a play on words here, since the French term for a scarf is écharpe)

Excusez moi, s'il vous plait, mais ... quoi?


Whatever that girl was wearing, it wasn't a snood. Yes, yes, I know the term was coopted by high fashion last year to mean a sort of scarf large enough to be wrapped around your head like a hood, and I didn't like it then either. English has a number of perfectly good words that can mean 'piece of fabric wrapped around your head and neck for the purpose of keeping you warm,' including hood, scarf, kerchief, shawl, and cowl. We can even talk quite happily about hybrids like hooded scarves without resorting to neologisms. Trust me, if you say 'hooded scarf' to an American knitter, she will know exactly what you mean, and probably have 5 patterns at her fingertips. The same is probably true for knitters elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

There's also the quibble that calling a scarf-hood hybrid a 'snood' would make more linguistic sense if instead of a scarf it were a snarf, but, it isn't, and snarf means something else.

According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) sitting on my desk, a snood, as a noun, may be defined as:
1a Scottish : a fillet or band for a woman's hair
b : a net or fabric bag pinned or tied on at the back of a woman's head for holding the hair
It may also be used as a verb (transitive), meaning 'to secure with a snood' (e.g., 'I snooded my hair and went to work in the cannery.')

As it happems, I am knitting, not a snood but a hooded scarf -- Pfeiffer Falls -- with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, in a colour called blackberry. I just packed up all the half-finished (or half-started) things that were sitting around and cast on. Sometimes it's good to do that.

I am willingly on Phildar's mailing list. I occasionally buy patterns from them, though I think I will pass on the brown and red thing. I did not ask to be on a Martha Stewart mailing list, from when I received an (apparently legitimate) email this morning announcing 'You've been selected for The Martha Stewart Living Glitter Set!'

... what?

Charles Wright

1 comment:

  1. You like Charles Wright, too? He was my teacher; he's a really fine person.

    Co-opting of words is a peeve of mine as well. The first I heard of a snood was in "Little Women." Meg, I think, was always wearing one.

    I wouldn't wear a snood, but I'd certainly wear one of those looped scarves. I've made several already!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...