Thursday, March 2, 2006

Needing to Blur the Line

Look away, readers, there's nothing here to interest you if you're a crocheter.  {{insert huge bah-hum-bug here}}

How is it possible that the divide between crocheters and knitters continues?  Why is it there?  How can we blur that line and make us all one happy family?  These are questions I often ponder, and more so when I feel prejudiced against when I am shopping for supplies.

Part of my Birthday Week Extravaganza included visiting some "new to me" yarn shops.  The first yarn shop was quaint; I loved how they had the fibers displayed into two categories:  regular fibers and fancy fibers.  Then the fibers were sorted by color.  I got to talking to the employee -- and all was fine until she discovered that I'm a crocheter.  "Oh, I have nothing here that will interest you then," she stated. 

My mouth dropped; I was stunned.  I quickly gathered my composure and did a little tap dance step thrown in with a little "Vanna White" move where I stretched my arms out wide and moved my hands around to showcase the merchandise in front of me.  I asked, "What do you mean you have nothing here that would interest me?!?"

"Crocheters make afghans," she replied. 

"Yes, they do," I calmly answered back.  And then I went into "Crochet Promotion" mode and continued, "... and they make a lot more than just afghans!" 

"Oh," she replied.  "I've only seen afghans.  I only crochet afghans."

"Crocheters," I boasted, "can do anything knitters can do -- we all use the same fibers and many of the same tools."

She didn't seem to want to hear what crocheters can create.  "I don't have any hooks for you," she replied.

I thought, does this woman want my business?  If so, why is she trying so hard to discourage me from making a purchase at her shop?  Why would she care HOW I'll be using the fibers?  It was my birthday and I was in a spending mood:  why would a shop NOT want to make a sale?  I decided to pay for what I had already selected and leave rather than inquire about an expensive fiber I had already whipped up into a project in my mind.

She admitted she was a new employee.  Maybe the attitude towards crochet was her own, and not the shop owners.  Maybe I should send a little note to the owner asking why crocheters are not embraced the same as knitters are.

I recall a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks back on the topic of crocheters vs. knitters and she presented me with a fresh perspective.  Crocheters tend to create more items to give away, and thus will look for the best sale for the most yardage.  Knitters tend to keep the items they create and thus will spend big bucks for the best fibers to use for themselves.  Is there truth to this?  Is it possible that this is one of the reasons that the Art of Crochet is looked at, or rather looked down upon, as a lesser art form?  If this is so, we need to change this attitude. 

After all, both crocheters and knitters stitch from the heart.  What difference should it make if the stitcher keeps the item or gives it away?  What difference should it make if the fiber was bought on sale or not?  I would think that as long as the stitcher was enjoying the process then the art form should be encouraged.  Don't you?

The second shop I visited, just minutes away from the shop I now dub as "The Snobbery," was, well, uninspiring. 
 It looked like the store had been in a severe wind storm and all that remained was chaos.  Granted I was asked if I needed help when I first walked in, but again, once it was determined I was a crocheter the help disappeared.  I found that odd because this shop that I dubbed "The Pig Pen" did carry some crochet books. 

Finally, after finding some fiber that did interest me, I went up to the register to pay.  But I was placed on a lengthy "hold" as the employee decided that was the perfect time to start talking to a woman about placing an advertisement.  That didn't make sense to me either.  You have a paying customer and NOW was the time to discuss placing an ad??  Was I placed on "hold" because I was a crocheter?  Would a knitter have been given the same kind of treatment?  I don't know.  But I do know that I did not make the additional purchase I needed assistance with. 

On any other day/week I would have walked out of both shops without spending a single penny based on the way I was treated.  But since it was my Birthday Week Extravaganza I wanted some special fibers to play with.  Between the two stores I spent about a hundred dollars.  Far short of the several hundred I could have spent at each!  And if I'm just one customer that feels this way, then think about how many other crocheters feel just as I do.  Jaded.  Unwanted.  Under appreciated.  And if you're a shop owner, think about the amount of sales you're letting walk out of your store and never return.  Is turning away crochet customers worth it???

Let's face it, if I don't feel welcomed in your shop, I'm not going to become your lifeblood customer; I will not be returning to the "Snobbery" or to "the Pig Pen" unless there is a change.  Yes, I know it's wrong to do name calling, but I'm upset with this stigma that my art form is not considered as worthy as another.  Change my mind about the way you treat your customers and I may change my mind about your shop, and perhaps the name I've given it.

Until then, since I'm a crocheter who flies through a huge amount of fiber annually, AND since I'm a customer who happens to like buying the "finer fibers," I'll take my business to the shops who will appreciate this in me.  I'll frequent the shops who greet me warmly and who will happily answer my questions about particular fibers.  I will utilize those little shopping bags you put my yarn goodies in that have your name on it and proudly tell other crocheters to visit you too.  I will do this because you appreciate me; because you appreciate my art form.

It's time crocheters are looked upon the same as their sister fiber art, Knitting. And with March being National Crochet Month, I can only hope as we do various things to celebrate it that we are able to change some opinions about it.   May we all (crocheters & knitters) continue to stitch from the heart andappreciate each other's artistry as we work to blur that line and become one big happy family!  :)


Anonymous said...

That's a very common problem with yarn shops. They think if you crochet, you're not willing to spend the bucks for the yarn. I visited one of the LYS here and everybody was struck by the chenille poncho I was wearing. One clerk said "yes, I remember you bought that yarn here and here are the instructions". She was wrong on both counts. The yarn was Lion's bulky chenille (which they don't sell) and my poncho was crocheted, _not_ knitted.  Then the employye and some of the customers studied it, trying to fit it into their heads that it was crocheted. They couldn't/wouldn't do it.  they kept saying "are you _sure_ you didn't knit this?"
But you're a better person than me - I would have just walked away without purchasing anything. But I'm mean like that.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little meaner. I'd familiarize myself with their return policy, and if it says I can do it, I'd buy a truck load of their most expensive yarns, then return it all a week later.

Anonymous said...

I travel alot so I always try to find every yarn shop along the way, and I too have went through this. I must admit I am not as nice as Dee for I simply leave the shop. It really makes you wonder at the loss of revenue these shops are having when we who crochet are 3 to every 1 knitter.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Way to go, Dee.  I agree that the beautiful work crocheters do needs recognition. How sad that shop owners/employees lump crocheting into what they perceive as a boring, old fashioned afghan producing art form.  Doubt that they would even consider it as an art form...sigh.   A truly savvy shop will know that whatever method is used to create lovely items with their fibers, it means money for them and satisfied customers.   If it is strictly a "knit shop" then they should say so but just think of all the business they would lose from us diehard crocheters.  I do knit as well as crochet but enjoy crocheting first and foremost.  
There are just too many wonderful fibers out there to limit them to one method of creation.  
Crochet hugs,

Anonymous said...

Hi Dee,
I just received word of your posting via a discussion of the yarn industry group. mostly yarn shop owners and I thought I would comment.  I happen to be a yarn shop owner who welcomes crocheters.  Several of my employees are expert crocheters and we offer a number of crochet classes.  We have a crochet corner in the shop and I try to buy the latest in crochet patterns.  My staff really wants to see more patterns and contemporary designs and they feel that is what is holding crochet back.  A lot of times we will find a really nice crochet pattern hidden in a knitting pattern book, so we try to mark it so we can remember it when asked about available patterns.  My personal opinion is that we've only touched the surface of what is possible in crochet, especially with all the fun new fibers that continue to appear.  I only want to be part of the big rise in crochet's growth and popularity.  I'm sorry some of my cohorts have not been receptive to you and crocheting.  So if you ever need a welcoming shop to visit come see us at Three Bags Full Knitting Studio in Northbrook, IL!!  Maybe I'll have to change our name to Three Bags Full Knitting and Crochetting Studio.  Hope you keep pushing us!!