Friday, 4 December 2015


Among the vintage patterns I was recently given were some that triggered memories such as the knitted swimsuits, and thoughts of knitted tea cosies, fashion trends, and socks.    

But this pattern made me chuckle and think of my blog friend Julie Kirk at notesonpaper. Not because she has a gay dog, or any dog for that matter (she is more into zebra's!) but because she has a great sense of humour and I'm sure this pattern would have made her smile. 

And it also made me think of about how the use of words has changed because in a former life I was Brown Owl and one of the Brownies favourite songs was about a kokaburra.  Do you know it?
This was the version in our song book:

Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Sing Kookaburra, sing Kookaburra 
Gay your life must be. 

I've sometimes wondered whether the words have been changed now that 'gay' has taken on new meaning. I thought I would check on Google. I found an Australian version of the song and discovered this has a different last line: 'sing your song for me'. I wonder if this is the original or when change happened?  What ever the case if you watch the video be warned, it is a catchy tune and might have you singing along or it playing in your head all day!

It also got me thinking about meaning of other words that have changed over time, and at this time of year a phrase you often hear associated with Christmas is:'naughty or nice'. It is the title of a film where Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) keeps a book listing whether the children have been good or bad. Something that has recently been introduced into UK from America is the idea of Elf on the Shelf.  This character moves into the home on 1st December to watch if children are 'naughty or nice' and to report back to Father Christmas. And you can find out which list you are on because I found a list of questions which will give the answer...  don't let on! There is time enough to put things right unless you have been extremely naughty, and you might want to complete it yourself. I did, and apparently my halo is slightly wonky but I am on the nice list. If I tidy my bedroom my halo might straighten!

'Naughty but nice' is also something you might think or hear this time of year. It means something indulgent, that we like but shouldn't have too much of. Christmas pudding or sherry trifle with lashings of cream, for example.  

I started by saying how over time some words have changed meaning. Well, naughty is a word we use to describe something bad. But did you know that once upon a time it meant that you had naught or nothing? 

And nice, a word that we use to describe something we like?  This once meant 'silly, simple or foolish'. Nothing like how we use it today!

I was going to say that the gay dog looks nice in his crocheted jacket, but perhaps I won't. I might go on the naughty list and get naught in my stocking! And if my stocking is knitted it would have started with a clue (or clew) because this word once meant a ball of yarn! If you want to find other words that have changed meaning I found an interesting list and Ted video

But right now, I have nattered enough and it is time to tangle with tinsel and put the wool down. Which reminds me? Did you see Kirsty Alsopp's Handmade Christmas this week on Channel 4? I was pleased to see the winning Christmas tree was decorated by hand crocheted baubles and garlands - beautiful!!
If you want to crochet decorations for your own tree I found some patterns and here is another for a knitted Christmas bauble.

I hope your own Christmas plans are taking shape and would love to hear about your own handmade Christmas, or thoughts on how meanings or words have changed.  Thanks for popping by, see I'll be back tomorrow with this months 5in5.


  1. I was already singing it before you warned me. I sang it when I took a photo of a Kookburra in October!

  2. Well, I *did* enjoy that pattern and - although I didn't say at the time - but I actually had a copy of it even before you sent it to me! I think I might have sold it now ... but, either way, I have my own copy *now*.

    Great post - I love the etymology of words. I'm currently reading the Ali Smith novel 'How to be Both' and there's a few moments about the meaning of words, including the the word 'maze' isn't just a place you can't find your way out of ... the word 'maze' originally meant a kind of confusion .. and then 'amaze' came from that!

    Isn't it fun that there are endless stories behind the words that make up the stories?!

    1. Funny that you mention the word MAZE Julie. I quote from the meaning of words link I included:
      Clue: Centuries ago, a clue (or clew) was a ball of yarn. Think about threading your way through a maze and you’ll see how we got from yarn to key bits of evidence that help us solve things.
      Yes, I love all the stories behind these words, and I like the connection we share here.

  3. I thought Elf on the Shelf was fun until I heard about the whole list thing. That's overkill! Mind you..because my dad was from coal mining stock we were always told we would get coke in our stockings if we didn't behave. No one else in our little country town, far away from any mines, had heard of that one!

  4. My husband teaches music in primary school and sometimes worries about 'inappropriate' lyrics - I always say that if it was ok for us we shouldn't be so silly and just keep the lyrics as they are. No 'Baa Baa Woolly Sheep' here thank you!
    As a teacher I dislike how the word 'gay' is now used in a derogatory fashion, to mean rubbish or useless. But I suppose the English language has always changed and evolved x

  5. Interesting topic! I loved the crotchet tree on Kirstie's handmade Christmas. We have lots of red and white handmade felt decorations on our tree. Off to look for some crotchet patterns!


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