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A Crochet Newbie's Orientation to the LYS

Recently I have been teaching a bright young woman friend how to crochet. She is a clleague at work so we have spurts of time when I can teach her a stitch or answer a her cro-quandries. She is learning quickly and very apt at understanding the concepts. On her own, she explored JoAnn Fabric and Crafts and found some yarns to make a special scarf for her mother. After her first lesson, mom requested the scarf, so the pressure was on! I talked to her about the differences between acrylic and natural fibers and also the price point differences.

Her new exctiement about crochet and her carry-along project revealed to her that she also knew others who loved to crochet. She saw some other neat projects friends were doing and Two or three scarves later, I thought she was ready for her orientation to the Local Yarn Store. I chose "I'd Rather Be Knitting" in Long Grove, IL not because I have any allegiance to this store but because of its convenient location for us both to meet there.

Knowing that the vast array of textures, colors and prices could be overwhelming to this Newbie, I invited to take her and give her the rundown. We were greeted warmly by the owner who had no other customers in the store. She asked if she could help and I explained I was giving my friend, the new crocheter, an orientation. We wandered around the store and I pointed out the various brands and fibers. Luckily, the store has two rooms and we were in the "other one" when Newbie asked me, "Now, didn't you say I can get this Debbie Bliss yarn at JoAnn's?" I cringed and said, "I think that was Debbie Mumm."

I felt I had to whisper when I showed her the Plymouth Encore. I wanted her to know that this is the best equivalent of what she will find at JoAnn for basic crochet and that the store was offering an incredible variety of color and shades. I explained variegated and hand-dyed and showed her some of my favorites. Of course, she was attracted to a gorgeous hank that cost $56.00. Sticker shock was setting in.

We made our way to the front room where the owner was busy at the front desk. I think newbie commented on a swatch and I explained it was knitted. At this point the owner jumped in and declared, "You can make knitting look like crochet, but you can't make crochet look like knitting. I tried to refute her and said that there are books that show how to make crochet look like knitting stitches. "NO" she said in an even louder voice, "YUou can't make knitting look like crochet." I continued and explained that my freeform crochet often fools knitters because it is so textural and colorful, but knew I had to let it drop.

So with the shop owner now standing within earshot, Newbie says, "So would this skein be like a number 4?" Yarn shop owner pipes up with "What do you mean #4?" I explained that it was a way of designnating yarn weights and she started to roll her eyes back in her head realizing we were talking about cthe Craft Yarn Council and their campaign to standardize Big Box (Michaels, JOAnn) yarns, but she thought better of it and caught herself.

She went on to say that she doesn't crochet much but has two wonderful crocheters who work for her. I knew that because I taught one of them crochet when she worked in another LYS. At this point I had an opportunity to tell her I am with the Crochet Guild of America and she recognized my name. So now she decides she's going to be a little more hummble. To her credit, she was friendly for the most part, but I just felt like she was eavesdropping the whole time and really hoping to snag a sale in the last hour of her day.

So now we're there past closing time and newbie didn't buy anything but I bought 3 skeins off the sale table! I told her thank you and that we appreciated her help. She made sure to tell us she is a "crochet-friendly" yarn shop. Did she feel she needed to explain that because we might not have figured it out on our own because of her behavior? The name of her store, "I'd Rather Be Knitting" instead of "I'd Rather Be Stitching" was our first clue and maybe that was why I felt like I had to measure each word I used to Newbie.

Over coffee afterwards, newbie mentioned that she felt the dis-cromination. Had I mentioned that Newbie is a quck study?


BklynVonne said…
Rock on, Queen!
jocelyn said…
I, for one, would like to know how many other crocheters routinely have experiences like this in theirs or any LYS. I, personally, am tired of being made to feel different when I tell someone at a LYS that I am a crocheter. I know from other designers that there ARE crochet friendly LYS out there. Are they that few and far between, though?

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