I recently visited a cute little yarn shop owned by a fabulous indie-dyer. She carried the most beautiful yarns in her shop, many of which I have never even heard of before. I am super impressed with my willpower. I only bought a few skeins, and they were all meant for particular projects I wanted to start. That usually never happens.
I spent about an hour oohing and ahhing at all of the squishy goodness she had lining her shelves. An entire wall of the store was dedicated to her hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns. Her work was so unique. I literally spent half my time in the store just looking at each colour-way and admiring the patterns.
We chatted a little as I roamed the store. She was an avid knitter. I flip-flop between crocheting and knitting regularly (difference #1). She loves fingering weights, I love bulky yarns (difference #2). She knew a lot about yarn, while I am still learning a lot about yarn (difference #3). It was apparent that this fellow knitter and I were not really on the same page.
I don’t personally think there is an issue with either of our crafting tastes. It shouldn’t matter at all. The only thing that should matter is that we both love what we do. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, as with anything. Why should yarn be any different?
Talking to other people who knit or crochet is just the most exciting thing. I get to hear about other people’s experiences, maybe learn a new trick of the trade, or even simply swap yarn frustrations because there’s about a million of them. Being able to connect with essentially a stranger on a topic that is so close to heart really makes you realize the power of the crafting community.
It took about two minutes for our conversation to turn sour.
I mentioned that it was one of my first times shopping at a specialty yarn store and how I wish I could do it more often. On a student budget, it is extremely difficult to indulge in such high quality yarn. I explained how I am more of a commercial knitter and I rarely keep things for myself, but when I do, I use the nice stuff. Whenever I offer this explanation, I am usually faced with understanding, maybe the tiniest bit of sadness or pity at the fact that I don’t get to make things for myself often.
The shopkeeper basically asked me why do I bother knitting if I don’t use the highest quality yarns available? I was quite shocked by her response to my tales of woe. I couldn’t even think of a response at the time. She proceeded to insist that I was holding out on my customers by only providing them with items that are made out of commercial and mass produced yarns. I ended up accepting defeat, quietly paying for my items, and leaving her store feeling confused and a little hurt.
Did I just encounter my first yarn snob? I’m thinking that’s what happened. I knew they existed but I didn’t think they were so mean.
I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to approach this issue. I let the conversation sit with me for about a week before I decided I needed to address what I experienced. Semi-anonymous blog post, here I come!
I think everyone who knits or crochets has a peculiar love affair with yarn. I didn’t realize how much the type of yarn mattered to some people. I see minor differences between yarn available from Michaels and yarn available only in select specialty stores. They both have their pros and cons.
Money is the biggest factor in my yarn purchases. I am on a student budget and I do rely heavily on specific profit margins for items that I make, seeing as I sell almost everything. Yarn from Michaels, JoAnn’s, and even Walmart are nice on my wallet. I made a queen sized squishy 3-stranded blanket for $12.00. You can’t do that with Malabrigo yarn without spending at least a couple hundred dollars.While with the Malabrigo you would have a wider colour range to choose from and the blanket would probably be a little softer, it would work up very similarly to the blanket made with cheap yarn.
The contents of the yarn is another hot topic. I know most people who are slightly yarn snobby love working with wool and wool blends. I personally find most/all wool extremely itchy and I hate using it. Cotton is nice sometimes, but it doesn’t give off the same look as some of the chunkier worsted acrylic yarns we all know and love. I swear I’m not hating on the wool. But you have to admit it’s not the softest material to work with. I base most of my yarn choices off of what my customers say. If I get a lot of compliments on how soft a scarf is, I will keep buying that yarn. If someone picks up an item and quickly puts it down, claiming it feels scratchy or rough, that yarn is leaving my stash.
I guess what I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t discriminate how people express themselves. Maybe the commercial yarn is all some people can afford. They shouldn’t be treated poorly because they are unable to purchase the finest merino blends. Maybe some people have allergies to acrylic yarns. They obviously need to be careful and inquisitive when they are making their purchases. Everyone has different reasons for their behaviour.
Knitting is an art. It should be accepted and treated as such. Like painting, each artist has a preferred medium. There are so many to choose from; who is to say what is the best choice? It shouldn’t matter what yarn is used for a project. If it brought the maker any bit of happiness during the process, it should be loved.
11 thoughts on “Is it okay to be a yarn snob?”
Please don’t let this negative experience put you off specialty yarn stores. The one I usually shop at has an owner who is much more understanding that budget is a factor. Whenever I ask her for help in selecting yarn for a project, her first question is how much I would like to spend. As long as you’re letting the people you crochet and knit for know what material you used (I’m one of those people who can’t wear acrylic), I see no problem at all in the way you’re going about it.
That is so great you are able to buy from someone who is so understanding! Unfortunately, most stores I have shopped at that are specialty yarn stores have been a little on the snobbish side, but I understand where they are coming from. And yes allergies can be a very big deal when it comes to kind of yarns you can use. I tried out a new yarn once and I had a very weird itchy reaction to it. Thankfully it was a cheaper yarn so there wasn’t much harm in throwing it out. But again, I’m glad you are able to deal with helpful shopkeepers!
I completely understand where you’re coming from! I posted recently ‘How much?!’ I do try and buy what a pattern stipulates but I recently bought one pattern and it recommended 20 X 50g balls of DMC Natura, at £3.49 a ball, that was going to work out at over £70 to make the item, I went to my local yarn shop and explained I wanted an alternative, they were vey good and recommended some alternatives, but it works out far to pricey for my liking, the shop worker said ‘there are some items that matter enough, and some that just don’t’ which made sense to me. There’s being a snob and there’s understanding what you’re buyer wants, appreciates and what they’re willing to pay for! And no need to be rude! I’m glad u haven’t encountered that yet 😊
Wow that is so much! I’m from Canada so that would easily cost me $150 to make that pattern. There are so many yarns available now that we should be able to choose freely without judgment. I’m glad you were able to find someone so helpful to suggest alternatives!
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You could easily get carried away couldn’t you! Where abouts in Canada are you? I’m in UK but half Canadian 😊
You met a yarn snob.
I use acrylic yarn for it’s ease of care and durability. I have upgraded from the cheapest acrylic to a slightly more expensive, but better feeling acrylic. I might spend $1 more per ball. But I am not going to bat an eye at the people who only knit with yak yarn, or rabbit fur. That is what you like to knit with. I like to knit with acrylic. And the majority of the people I knit for- would not appreciate the extra care that animal fibers require.
Yes! Everyone has their own favourite and you shouldn’t be judged for it. When I first started knitting I bought stuff from the Dollar Store or the cheapest acrylic yarns I could find from Walmart or Michaels. I have upgraded slightly, but I like where I am. No judgments required!
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With thanks! Valuable information!
I think we shouldn’t use “yarn snob”, for that woman, just rude. I am a selective? yarn “snob”, I use and indie-dye wools. However, just because I don’t like acrylic (or cotton, or Phentex, for that matter) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Sorry you got the gears, but not everyone who prefers wool, small needles, expensive needles or acrylic, chunky gauge, Walmart (I love these needles for hats) is right to say ANYONE is wrong.
I had to throw my 2 cents in ’cause in my group we have them all… and we all can sometimes get a little snobbish (about brands and materials). We do NOT attack anyone. It’s just fine to be honest with yourself AND be proud to say, “I knit (crochet, cross-stitch, whatever), what’s YOUR super power?” LOL just between you and me… acrylic isn’t always cheap… there are a lot that are luxury items. Good article and happy knitting
I totally understand where you’re coming from. Rude is definitely right, and I guess what set me back was the semi-personal attack I received for mentioning that I occasionally use acrylic yarns. Personal preference, everyone can choose whatever they want to work with! I just don’t think that if there are differences in opinions that it should result in personal defamation and backlash if they don’t align. Hopefully that makes sense 🙂 And thank you for your comment and time in reading!
I think she was just curious and sincerely wanted to ask where you are coming from. I just started knitting and I only had ONE skein of acrylic yarn. I tried to swatch it and hated every second of it because it was so rough. I went to Michael’s for the first time today, having shopped in LYS in Europe and the US since I started knitting, and I left pretty depressed. The yarns are so rough. I got a bulky polyster yarn that reminded me of the microfiber rags I use to towel dry my dog, and the purpose of the yarn was to make a dog rug. I can’t imagine having babies use it. It literally says on the yarn “Blanket” and it’s definitely not breathable enough to be blanket. It would suffocate any human who uses it. Anyway, you do you. I am willing to shell out 200USD for skeins of yarns for sweaters because that’s good value for me, knowing if I buy a pure wool sweater in a department store would be at least twice as much. It’s not cheap, but I value it and I take care of it, and I am willing to spend time to care for it because I know it will keep me warm without feeling scratchy and without the added bulk.
I know it’s been years since you posted this, but I felt so bad knowing I am a yarn snob. I WANT to like acrylic and maybe someday find a purpose for it. But for now, I only got polyster for my dog, and that is it. I am not judging other people for having to choose synthetic yarn for the price, because everyone values different things. I don’t spend 100USD on Lululemon yoga pants because I feel it’s not worth it, but I do enjoy spending money on yarn. It’s the same thing with you.