Naming Conventions

I wonder what the “Chinese Waitress Cast-On” calls itself when it’s at home.

I’m bringing this up today because I don’t have much knitting progress to show you. I’ve been working on the Dragonfly socks (which I will include a picture of) and the And So Are You shawl (no picture, since it would look the same as the prior picture), but they look about the same as before. Granted, the socks are a lot closer to being done, but they aren’t there yet.

And that got me thinking about other knitting-related things I could talk to you about.

Specifically, the cast-on I used for this sock.

20140529-111520-40520317.jpg

I heard of it as the “Chinese Waitress Cast-On.” And the links I’ve found online indicate that the person who made it popular learned it from a Chinese waitress, hence the name. But that waitress (and how cool would it be to get knitting tips from your waitress? Talk about earning your tip) must have called this cast-on something else. Even if it was the only way she started any type of knitting, surely she had a name for it.

So why don’t we call it that? Granted, our name for it is catchy and memorable and describes the way it came into our culture. But it seems rather racist, whether intentionally or not. Why not call it “Suzy’s Cast-On”? Or name it after the restaurant or the meal being eaten at the time?

(Yes, in that example, I used my cat’s name instead of a typical Asian name. It seemed simpler. And my cat does think she is the center of the universe, so why not?)

It’s probably a bonus that this cast-on was named after the teacher and not the student. And I doubt that the student meant this to be a racist thing. But growing up half Chinese has made me a little more sensitive to ethnic jabs than people who are white. And so I wonder: much though I love this cast-on, and how wonderfully stretchy it is while remaining lovely, is there something else I should be calling it?

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One thought on “Naming Conventions

  1. Lorraine says:

    Nicole- It may be a great cast on, but it seems to take a while to do it.

    I don’t know why someone would call it that- not exactly pc, is it?

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