The Whole Nine Yarns

Knitters, crocheters unite for quiz round … not that they were ever not united

Published November 17, 2023

Eric Keihl is the managing editor for Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Each week, he will accept a reader challenge to write a entire, quiz-ready trivia round on some tricky or obscure subject. You can challenge Eric here.

This week’s theme is “Knitting and crocheting,” suggested by Jennifer Tidwell at Glass Half Full in Austin. Thanks, Jennifer!

Full disclosure, the theme Jennifer suggested was “Knitting versus crocheting,” but I didn’t find much of a rivalry between the two hobbies, and my attempts to start one led to me getting permabanned from all the good needlework forums.  

We can at least do a quick breakdown of the differences between the two: Knitting works thread with two (or sometimes more!) needles, crochet with a single hook. Knitting forms stretchy interlocking loops, crochet stitches are more like knots, and a bit less flexible. Crochet is a little more forgiving of mistakes: Dropping a stitch in knitting can create a whole ladder of sadness underneath it. Crochet is generally a little easier to pick up, knitting has access to more complex patterns, like this (photo A below) upsetting piece by Swedish artist Katarina Brieditis. But counterpoint: this (photo B) offputting creation from Britain’s Xin Lee.

Only correct conclusion: knitting and crocheting are equally lovely hobbies, and I’m backing away slowly from both of them with my hands in the air. On with the round!

1. The two most basic knitting stitches are the knit stitch, duh, and what opposite one that does not require a live oyster? Purl 

More advanced knitting stitches include the strawberry bobble, the fisherman’s rib, and the crowbar giraffe. I’m just bluffing about that last one… or am I?

2. This bleachy-looking piece is part of a sprawling art exhibit that recreates what endangered ecosystems in crochet form? Coral reefs

Learn more about the Crochet Coral Reef here, or check out a satellite reef made by local artists in a city near you. And maybe donate to a coral preservation charity: They’re the only kind of polyps we want to save!

3. Dakota Fanning, Jessica Capshaw, and David Arquette all sported their favorite pink hand-knits in Celebrity Scarves 2, a book that helped the Avon Foundation raise money to fight what type of cancer? Breast cancer

When she was 11, Dakota Fanning knitted a scarf for Tom Cruise to wear on the set of War of the Worlds. And the quiz editor’s heart grew two sizes that day!

4. The first step in any crocheting project is making what type of knot that’s also vital for a noose or a masked nu-metal band? Slipknot

Slipknot’s grimdark discography includes the albums All Hope Is Gone, Antennas to Hell, and, scariest of all, Iowa.

5. The cutest on-camera moment of the Tokyo Olympics goes to Britain’s Tom Daley, who knitted himself a cardigan between heats in what sport’s synchronized and platform events? Diving

The cardigan was Olympic-themed, natch. Daley maintains a separate Instagram account just for his knitting and crochet work. It has 1.2 million followers, or eight times as many as the non-needlework-related account of former PM Liz Truss.

6. Try not to think about it too much: In 2012, Japanese scientists published a study on using crochet hooks to remove stents from what tube that’s over four times longer in males? Urethra

Not that it makes it any better to think about, but the study in question was only removing stents from women. For the record, there’s at least one recorded case of someone waking up with a crocheting hook in their urethra… and another of someone getting one in their brain without any ill effects. I’m suddenly starting to understand those “for external use” only warnings I see everywhere.

7. One of the big villains of A Tale of Two Cities is French revolutionary Madame Defarge, who enjoys knitting next to what device that eventually gives Sydney Carton a bad haircut? Guillotine

Defarge is based on a real group of revolutionary ladies called the tricoteuses (“knitters”) who supposedly did do their needlework next to guillotines. What a rad TikTok that would’ve made.

8. Modern Crochet, Dance Now, Boredom Weekly, and Frown Digest are some of the fine publications read during work hours by what many-armed SpongeBob character? Squidward

Don’t let the name fool you, Squidward is canonically an octopus… albeit one with only six limbs, to help out the show’s animators. Of course, calling yourself a squid and then having 60 percent of the required limbs is just the sort of clever obfuscation an octopus would pull, so… checkmate to you, Nickelodeon.

Bonus. The schmanciest knitters and crocheters might pay $300 an ounce for yarn from the vicuña, a llama cousin from the highest reaches of what mountain range? Andes

Why’s vicuña yarn so ding-dong expensive? Well, they used to be endangered and supplies still haven’t caught up, partly because each one only makes about a pound of wool per year. And this snooty luxuritude isn’t new: in Incan times, only royals were allowed the privilege of wearing vicuña wool.

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