In the latest IDC newsletter, an extract is given from Aunt Kate’s Crochet Work (priced one penny). It details how, in a hospital where military and naval officers were being cared for, the nurses attempted to teach their patients crochet. When initial scoffing and derision gave way to boredom, the men learned “the German Stitch”, and started making waistcoats. They subsequently re-named this stitch “The Idiot Stitch”, and the hooksters involved became known amongst themselves as “The Idiot Band”. Now, I don’t know what this German Stitch refers to, but I would hazard a guess at it being double crochet (UK terminology), as it is the first stitch we all learn after the foundation chain.
This reminded me of the variance of names on horticulture and the confusion it can cause. I remember a German gardener I once worked with told me that what we, in England, call the English Oak, is known in Germany as the German Oak! The scientific (Latin) names help avoid such confusion as even within a single country, names can vary. For instance, Wild Garlic is one of the accepted names for Allium ursinum, though it is also known as Ramsons. But I’ve heard Wild Garlic be used about another plant entirely, one which is referred to in the plant i.d. books as Three Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum). Both reek of garlic so are equally deserving of the name, but botanically they are different: one flowers in a flat-topped umbel held on an upright stalk, and has broad, dark green leaves; the other is paler green, not so glossy, and with flowers formed into a single-sided umbel, on a stalk which tends to droop like an English Bluebell’s. Both have also been known as Stinking Onion, and Ramsons has the additional vernacular names Stink Bombs, Stinking Nanny, and Londoner’s Lilies.