Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Helpful Advice? Well, that depends...

Helpful Advice. We seem to get it everywhere: from our family, from our friends, from our bosses, and even from strangers.  But what happens when the helpful advice is neither helpful, nor requested?

Last week I posted on my CrochetWithDee facebook page a stern warning while I was out playing with yarn at a public venue:  Anyone who attempts to approach me and give me advice on my knitting will be poked!  I've since deleted the post because I really don't want to be an advocate for violence; I was just completely frustrated when I posted that: I was struggling with understanding why so many people felt compelled to tell me that my knitting technique is "wrong."  And I still don't.  My method is not "wrong," it is "different."
Knitting at the Peabody Museum, 2008

Personally, I don't like using the word "wrong" when talking about someone else's stitch work technique UNLESS they have asked me for my help  -- after all, maybe the technique they're using is one they are quite content with.  Or perhaps it is the only method they currently know that gets them the results they want.  Or maybe it isn't really about the style, but more about the process that is making them happy.  

Admittedly, with the recent cancer diagnosis for my father (found out today Dr is optimistic he can be cured), I am a wee bit stressed.  So am I just a little bit more sensitive  right now?  Perhaps.

But -- maybe I'm touching a  raw nerve here for other yarnsters too.  In talking about this subject with a others who enjoy both the crochet and knit world, the negative-vibe intrusions are not just happening to me!  They confide they get the "wrong" comments too.

I totally get that we want to help others; I think that is part of our nature.  However, I also think it is important to examine HOW we're going about it.  If I see something that looks different from what I am accustomed to, I'll ask if it is OK to interrupt and ask questions about the project, about their technique. If they're willing, maybe I'll ask for a demonstration. If that crafter should inquire me for help, that is when I will offer it.  And I do so by building upon the experience they already have.  The last thing I'd ever want someone to do is to put the hooks or needles down because they feel they'll never grasp it based upon someone else's unsolicited "helpful advice." 

I have been tracking my knit adventures since 2008, and in that time, although my knit projects have been few, I have received only ONE compliment on my technique.  And it was an AMAZing experience!!  In 2008 I was practicing my stitching at the Peabody Museum when this woman stopped and watched me for a few minutes.  She asked if she could interrupt me for a moment and I said yes.  Then she asked me where I learned to knit... I held my breath because I thought another "wrong" comment was going to follow ... then I heard music to my ears!  She said she had traveled the world studying all the knit techniques she could find, and the way I was creating my stitches she had seen practiced in only one other place -- in a small remote village known for their extraordinary lace making.  I've since forgotten the name of the village she mentioned, but her comments to this day still ring of encouragement to my ears:  My technique wasn't "wrong!"  It was "rare," and it was"beautiful." How about you?  What are the most beautiful words a stranger has told you about your crochet or knit work?

Regardless if we crochet or knit, and regardless of how we hold our tool(s), our yarn, or make our stitches, I ask, let us make the experience for all yarn lovers a positive one.  Unless we are solicited for it, lets hold off on the advice intrusion and focus more on the beauty of the moment, focus on the yarn poetry in motion.  Encouragement is what bonds us together and enriches our experience. And as a perk to our efforts, no one will be poked with a knitting needle or a crochet hook.  :)


Maven said...

Well, you know what they say about opinions, don't you? :) (Just like a familiar *ahem* "orifice," everyone's got one.)

Unrelated note, but related to your photo in this post: LOVE LOVE LOVE that pull over sweater!

CrochetingWithDee.com said...

LOL; you're so right, Maven! :)

Thank you for the compliment on the piece I'm wearing in the photo. Project details can be found here: http://ravel.me/CrochetWithDee/rcpm

ladynthread said...

Dee- There was a wonderful knitting maven by the name of Elizabeth Zimmerman who had the following advice in her book "Knitting Without Tears":

"There are scores of different ways of doing things in knitting, and none of them are wrong, but they are sometimes unsuitable.

There is no right way to knit; there is no wrong way to knit.

The way to knit is the way that suits you, and the way that suits the wool and the pattern and the shape that you are currently working on."       

Keep knitting!                 

CrochetingWithDee.com said...

Those are most beautiful words: "There is no right way to knit; there is no wrong way to knit."

Thank you for sharing that!! <3