Friday, October 13, 2006

Knitting Rhymes,Old and New

Uncle Pookie has had to be away a lot this week, and I have trouble sleeping without him, so I pulled out my homemade knitting needles to learn to knit with. Night before last I learned the double cast on and the knit stitch with the help of the wonderfully clear instructions at KnittingHelp.Com. Last night I learned to purl--badly; KnittingHelp made it very clear, I was just clumsy in my execution. Tonight when I tried practicing it again, I was actually worse at it, and I wondered if a purl rhyme might help.

I already knew the traditional rhyme for the knit stitch

In through the front door,
Once around the back,
Peek through the window,
And off jumps Jack!

This is for English knitting. KnittingHelp/Amy Finlay modified that, to make a Continental knit stitch rhyme:

In through the front door,
Up over the back,
Peek through the window,
And off jumps Jack!

I've enjoyed reciting that one many times already, and I think rhymes can help people learn.

Googling for a purl rhyme I came across a few knit rhymes, all slight variants on that first one I gave, except for this one:

Jack goes in,
Puts on his scarf,
Comes back out,
And takes it off.

As for purl rhymes, I found the generic knitting rhyme

Under the fence,
Catch the sheep,
Back we come,
Off we leap!

It's generic because it can be used for either knit stich or purl. I also found the similar

In front of the fence,
Catch the goat,
Back we go,
Jump off the boat!

I don't like this one. Not only is it similar and generic, I can't figure out what the goat's doing on the boat--I mean, really, what's going on on that boat that they need a goat and a fence and why would it drive someone to jump off?

The only purl-specific rhyme I found was the charming

Down through the bunny hole,
Around the big tree,
Up pops the bunny,
And off goes she!

That's cute, but I thought the second line made it sound a bit more suited to English knitting, so I decided I'd make my own. My wanting to emphasize the backwardness of purling, led me to start off with "In through the backdoor", which I'm afraid stalled me for a bit, as I have a somewhat soiled mind, and that line has, well, connotations. But here's my Continental purl rhyme:

In through the back way,
Then rope the hog,
Back out the gate,
And jump off the log!

Okay, so it's not actually so Continental-specific as I was thinking earlier tonight--remember I'm somewhat sleep-deprived--and it's not going to appeal to little girls the way the bunny rhyme would, but I like it. It's easy to remember and I think it's already helped improve my purl stitch; I don't know, maybe that was inevitable when I practiced a little more, but the rhyme, especially the second line, did make me slow down and focus on what I was doing. Anyone who wants to emphasize the ease of purling--obviously, I wouldn't--could modify it to have themselves (and the hog) falling off the log. Of course, PETA is probably against the roping of hogs, even in verse, so I came up with some other purling rhymes, involving scarves and wharves and such, with nary a swine in sight, but I don't like them much, so I'm sticking with my hog purls.

I'd enjoy reading any knitting--or for that matter, crocheting or sewing--rhymes, that others have heard or written.


Kirsten said...

I like your post! I've got one more for you though. At the yarn shop at home they taught the 10yr old girls one of the original rhymes and they then edited and made it their own. Here it is in all its slightly gross, appealing to a 10yr old glory!

In through the front door.
Grab your scarf.
Back out the front door.
Before you barf.

Anonymous said...

I learned the bunny rhyme for the English knit stitch as a child. "Around the tree" sounds like the English knit stitch to me, not purling at all. Whereas "catching the sheep" sounds distinctly like English purling. It all depends on how you're wrapping the yarn of course.

Anonymous said...

My sister taught me for continental knitting in through the front door out through the back jump in the window off pops jack once she told me that I got it like that (snaps fingers)