Wherefore art thou Turnalar?

One of the contributors for the Summer 2013 issue of Sockupied recently asked how our sock patterns get their names. Should she come up with an evocative name, or would we change it when we put the magazine together? Well, I told her, it depends. Naming sock patterns is one of the oddest things I do in my weird (but fun) job.

Call It What It Is

Many socks come with perfect names. Leslie Comstock’s Turkish-inspired socks in the Fall 2012 issue came perfectly named: the Turkish word for cranes, “turnalar” is distinctive without being unpronounceable, and the long elegant limbs of the crane echo the curves in the stranded colorwork motif. The stranded colorwork pattern from SpillyJane came with the only name her design could have: Oak + Acorn was her tribute to a beloved tree from her childhood.

Turnalar Socks by Leslie Comstock Oak + Acorn Socks by SpillyJane

The sock patterns from our featured designers keep the names they come in with. The designs allow us a peek into their creators’ minds and inspirations, and their names complete the picture. Cat Bordhi’s Flutterby Socks combine her sense of whimsy with a passion for nature. Ann Budd’s Gansey Clock Socks have a straightforward name—I’d expect nothing else from Ann—that explains the cultural source and design elements in her handsome design. Chrissy Gardiner’s Fall 2012 pattern, Chardonnay Socks, hints at the grapevine motif in the design but also celebrates the viniculture of her beloved state of Oregon.

Gansey Clock Socks by Ann Budd Chardonnay Socks by Chrissy Gardiner

I Dub Thee Pumpion

But what if a pattern comes without a name? Cookie A’s socks for our first issue, a gorgeous feather-inspired pair with twisted stitches, came in a file titled simply “Socks.” Cookie’s inspirations are so varied that I was stumped at first, but the bird motif sparked an idea. Wikipedia to the rescue. . . . Exploring the taxonomy of birds led to “passerine,” the genus that includes perching birds.

Passerine Socks by Cookie A Pumpion Socks by Julie Suchomel

Sometimes the perfect name is taken. The pumpkin-themed socks from Julie Suchomel in the Fall 2012 issue include gourds and vines, so Julie named them Pumpkin Patch. Unfortunately, several other sock patterns had claimed the name first, and we wanted a name as special and classic as Julie’s design. Back on Wikipedia, I learned that the etymology of “pumpkin” included pepon (Greek; sounds to me like some kind of bird), pompon (French, but with an entirely different contemporary meaning!), and pumpion (British).

Which leads back to our upcoming pattern, a delightful contribution from a featured designer I’m really excited about. She chose her own name, a word I didn’t recognize that made perfect sense when she explained it. You'll have to wait for our Summer 2013 issue to see it for yourself.


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