How to Be A Crochet Ambassador
For the past two weeks, I’ve been filling in for other employees at Yarnivore. It has been totally exhausting, and I had to cast my design work to the side for a while (don’t worry, I’ll still make the deadlines!). But I wanted to share a little bit more about why I work there and what it brings me, as a crocheter, as a designer and as a person.
When I was living in New York, I only went to a couple of LYSs. I didn’t get cheerful service when I said that I was a crocheter, so after a few tries I stuck to the plentiful scrap boxes we had at Soho publishing. Then I moved to Montana and began to write my first book. Initially I visited the two shops there as a means to research yarns, but what I found on the way was a great community. Barb at the Bozeman Yarn Shop asked me if I wanted to teach crochet, and a few months later asked if I wanted part time work in the store. I was hesitant at first, but once I started I realized that just being in the store helped generate a lot more interest in my classes and in crochet. It was also totally inspiring for me to see what other people were doing with the yarn we carried. Sometimes I inspired customers, sometimes they inspired me! On a personal level, it also helped me to get out of the house during a very stressful time in my life. Working from home can be lonely, especially when you are new in town, and living in a basement very far away from my hurting family was making me crazy!! Having somewhere to go a few days a week was so important for me. To be honest, I think that’s also important for our customers –they come in regularly for yarn, lessons and classes.
So I knew when I moved back to San Antonio that I needed to march right on in to one of the LYSs and beg for a job, which is exactly what I did. It wasn’t hard, and I didn’t end up having to beg because Tammy at Yarnivore snapped me right up! One of the things I love about working there is connecting with crocheters. I have no idea what it was like before I got there, but there are a ton of crocheters in the greater San Antonio area. Now that they know I’m there to answer questions, they keep coming in to see what’s new. I was completely thrilled last weekend when Jeannie (above) walked in wearing the Pretty Petals Tank Top she made from Crochet Adorned. I hadn’t met her before (she lives in another city), but she bought the book on an earlier visit and just happened to be wearing the top. Her version was so well made and I was honored to see it in action. I know leisure time is limited and I often tell my students that I get paid in appreciation, it’s really exciting when someone takes the time to work one of my patterns.
I also get the opportunity to teach*, which keeps me in touch with what counts as easy or difficult in crochet. Crocheting is not hard, but reading patterns can be– and teaching crocheters makes me really think about what makes a pattern easy to understand, and what I can do to motivate crocheters to explore the possibilities of creating beautiful fabric. I get to be a show-off –not only of my work, but of other skilled crochet designers (like Robyn Chachula, Doris Chan and Dora Ohrenstein). In my “spare time” (ha, ha) I make samples and teach classes based on their patterns. I love that we have so many crocheted samples in the store that are not just granny squares or double-crochet swatches (not that there’s anything wrong with those)– we have the same advanced samples that are abundant for knitters, to show crocheters what they can aspire to. I know I’ve done well when I hear knitters admiring crocheted pieces in the store. There are many, many needlecrafters who do both but haven’t thought about crochet in a while, and it’s only now working its way into the spotlight.
I think that as a craft, crochet is finally primed for its heyday, and that’s exciting. But without a community to share, it’s hard to get the fire going. So I’m writing this post to encouarage you, wherever you are, to seek out your local yarn shop. You don’t have to want to work there. But, bring samples of your best work. Show the owner what crochet can do. If you feel you are skilled enough and have the time, offer to teach or make samples for the store. I’m not saying that every yarn shop is friendly to crochet, but to be frank, some of them aren’t friendly to knitters either. It’s not you, it’s them, so it’s worth a shot to extend an offer. And it really doesn’t need to be an us/them (knit/crochet) battle- we all love yarn, and most people do not actually look down on one craft or the other–they just know their craft, and they are having fun with it. So be a crochet ambassador and find your local community. Maybe it’s not in your shop, maybe it’s in a library or a CGOA guild. But the only way we can move crochet forward is by sharing and inspiring each other. It really is up to you!
And hey- if you already have a crochet friendly yarn shop, I’d like to hear about it! Please post in the comments and describe what it is about the shop that inspires you. And actually, I’d even like to hear what makes a good yarn shop in general, for any fiber artist–knitter, crocheter, tatter, spinner. It’s good fodder for an article I’m putting together, so I may even email you to learn more.
*Ps. The photo above is of my Broomstick Lace Workshop. Yes, we’re wearing pipe cleaners on our heads. We know how to have a good time!