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.