Dear yarn store workers…

I know, I know, it’s my fault. I didn’t wear a hand-knitted piece of clothing when I went into your shop, like one of my sweaters. I always try to do that, but this time, since I was on my way home from college for the holiday, I hadn’t planned to stop in. It was an impulse decision to stop in and I was unprepared. I should have known what would happen. You’d think a girl would finally start to expect it.

You have to understand, though. It’s just so insulting. I know you’re just trying to be helpful/friendly/conversational. But I get it time and time again. This time was particularly bad.

“So have you moved on from scarves yet?”

Why yes, thank you very much, I have indeed moved on from large rectangles. Please, tell every freaking shop worker in the country. I know that I look young, and yes, I’ve only been knitting for a little over 2 years. But I’m continually insulted by you suggesting that I’m a beginner knitter/don’t know anything. My age/youthfulness does not automatically mean that I’m still in beginnerdom.

Everytime that you assume I’m still on scarves (or something similar), I become seriously resentful and less likely to frequent your shop. It’s in your best interest to politely inquire about my skill level before you assume. Because you know what happens when you assume. I’ll give you a hint. It’s a clever play on the spelling of the word ass-u-me.

In this case, I probably went a bit overboard listing my knitting resume, you know -that I’ve knit 3 sweaters, 10 pairs of socks, done fair isle (both flat and in the round), lace (like the swallowtail shawl, above), felting, needle felting, acid dying, pattern writing and even worked for a whole summer IN a yarn store. I hope I didn’t make you feel stupid or silly.

But if I did- you kind of deserve it.

And while it may be easy to say this was an isolated incident, it really wasn’t. In my first trip to a yarn store, I was practically lectured about how chenile worms and that working with “Touch Me” might not be so great for a beginner…but then I told her about how I was going to felt it (a la the incredible Velvet Oblivion pattern from Knitty, see at right) and she shut up. Or the time that I bought some superwash wool and the shop owner tried to tell me that it wouldn’t be good for felting (felting and beginners often go hand in hand) – no freaking duh. Another time, a shop owner pointed me toward the simple acrylic blends and served anther customer. I overheard the shop owner tell that customer that the alpaca she was fondling would “grow.” The customer asked why and when the shop worker couldn’t answer, I proceeded to tell the customer about the fiber structure of Alpaca (versus wool).

One time, I was in a spinning shop and I bought a bag of miscellaneous fibers and colors for needle felting – and the shop owner told me (in a particlarly condescending manner) that was what it was for and it would be bad for spinning. Thanks for telling me what I already know. Really. Thanks for that. OOH – and I’ve also loved the suggestions that I buy the Stitch and Bitch books (all of which I own and moved past).

Please. Please. Please. Please. Give me the benefit of the doubt. Ask me what kind of things I knit before you assume. Do not assume that every young-looking person who walks into your shop is just learning. The same goes for men/boys as well.

Thanks.

8 Responses to “Dear yarn store workers…”


  1. 1 Punkin541 November 23, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    I agree. One of the ‘soapboxes’ I stand on is ‘customer service’. Although I no longer fit the youthful-looks category, I have been wrongly judged, categorized, and filed based on other things. When I worked in banking long ago I found that we had some very wealthy people come into the bank dressed in ragged clothes and so we were to treat everyone the same. Ask questions! A customer/client cannot and should not be judged based on looks alone. It applies to all areas where one is working with the public.

  2. 2 Carol November 23, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Yup, I hate being judged. Just goes to show you, that old saw about not judging a book by it’s cover? Still valid!

  3. 3 Monika November 24, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Wow, they really pissed you off! ;o)

  4. 4 spoiledamerica November 24, 2006 at 2:48 am

    I always wondered what types of conversations took place at a yarn store… thanks for sharing!

  5. 5 Lufah November 24, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve experienced the flip side of this – A few years ago, I worked at a quilt shop. At the time, I was in my mid-to-late 20s, but I tend to look a bit younger. Anyway, I had people come in, look at me as if I knew absolutely nothing about quilting, and then ask to speak to the owner, since they assumed she would know more about quilting than I would (even though I had quilted for years longer than the owner had!). I would patiently ask them what their issue was, they would tell me, skeptically, about the problem they were having, and I would always be able to help them out. Of course, inside I was seething – you know, sorry for not being an 80 year old Amish grandmother who’s made 12,000 quilts. Forgive me for being guilty of YWC – Young While Crafting.

  6. 6 Carrie K November 24, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Oh, and Touch Me worms? Bah. I didn’t know that. But I love that pattern for it.

  7. 7 NORA November 25, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve just posted about knitting and age-related assumptions also – it’s a saga that’s becoming incresingly tiresome.

    BTW: You ought to submit this to Yanival.

  8. 8 Patty (Your SP9 Hostess) December 2, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Good for you Nicole. Even at MY age (43.5) they sometimes do that because I am taking so long choosing yarn or patterns or books. Well, if I’m going to spend oodles and oodles of money in YOUR shop then guess what, I’m taking my time. So bug off, eh?

    You’re far more advanced then me, you wild one. I’m chicken to try lace. It looks so complicated that it really makes me back away from it. Yet it’s soooo gorgeous. Was that your first lace project?


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