What’s in a name?

I had the privilege of being at the shop the day the Funnies yarn from Dibadu arrived. The trans-Atlantic journey from Germany did nothing to dampen the almost technicolor hues of the yarn that Michele and I eagerly unpacked from their dull cardboard box. This surprise of brilliant color and content inside an unassuming, everyday package reminded me of our own funnies – the Sunday comics section, bright and enticing and tucked inside the black and white of the rest of the news.


The name Funnies, however, came from the dyer’s desire to appeal to the majority English-speaking knitters and hookers on Ravelry while speaking to her goal behind such bright dye lots in the first place – to bring joy to the knitter and crocheter through color. Color is the way Barbara Wolff sees the world. Literally. Wolff is a synesthete. She sees color in words and sounds, she says she even tastes it. Her whole life is color. “Every day of the week has a colour, every tone I played on the flute every tune I [sing], every feeling, and so on.”

It made me wonder what color Wolff sees when she utters the name of her yarn company, Dibadu. Many fans of her yarns have guessed at the origin of the name. Some thought it was a combination of the owners’ names (Dirk and Barbara) plus du, the German word for you. Although Wolff likes the idea of a communal trinity between yarn makers and knitter, she confessed that the story was not as exciting. When she and her husband started selling her handpainted yarn, they didn’t know where their journey would lead them. “So we looked for a name without any associations which could be pronounced in nearly all languages without twisting the tongue.” And of course, as a modern international business, they needed a domain name that was still available.


I’d like to think, however, that the musical sound of the name transcends both meaning and language and was, if unintentional, perhaps an unavoidable unconscious decision. Wolff is, after all, a musician by training: she plays the flute and recorder. The German phrases which appear on each skein of Stitchpainters (the DK weight yarn) and Sockpainters (the sock weight yarn) are actually lyrics pulled from traditional children’s and folk songs. Though she wanted to appeal to a wide range of international knitters with her company and yarn names, Wolff also wanted to pay homage to the German music that has inspired her throughout her life. And if Dibadu is at once an unconscious lyric, a piece of music, as well as a word, what colors are composed in this name? According to Wolff, “Dibadu is midnight blue. A warm deep blue…”

If you are looking for a project to knit with your skein of Funnies, I would suggest creating a fabric with which to highlight the colorscapes created by it. Something with a simple stitch repeat like a baktus or a honey cowl would knit up beautifully with just one skein. Once you’ve finished, please share your projects with us by wearing them down to the shop or posting pictures here on the blog in the comments section of this post or on our facebook page.


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One Comment

  1. http://yahoo.com on February 10, 2013 12:26 am

    Your entire posting, “Dibadu – Handpainted Yarns from Germany – A Yarn Tale” was indeed
    worth commenting down here in the comment section!

    Basically wished to point out you actually did a
    superb job. Thanks for the post ,Cynthia

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