An Attitude I Just Don’t Understand
Alright y’all. I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but this weekend when I was working at Yarnivore I met a customer whose story just infuriated me. She told me she had some things to return but wanted to exchange them for classes, and wanted to know if we would “actually” teach her to crochet at our store. She had been to another yarn shop that was closer to her school, and they told her she could learn either knitting or crochet in the beginner class. But, when she got there? They forced her to learn to knit by telling her that she didn’t want to crochet–and when she insisted she did–they told her she should learn knitting first in order to get the foundations. (Not true!) She took her four classes and then continued to show them the things she would like to crochet, because she likes the crochet look (as you and I know the two crafts are equally beautiful, neither better than the other). They continued, “Oh you’re right, that is crocheted but you don’t want to crochet.” They went so far as to tell her that crocheted baby blankets were dangerous because they had too many holes. That’s when I just got angry. I explained that Hell Yes I would teach her, I had written two books on crochet and if she still wanted to learn to knit too, I would teach her that as well.
What, I ask you, THE F? Seriously. I understand that there are yarn shops who do not have a crocheter on staff. That is to say, I know this to be true. As a business practice? Seems stupid, if you ask me, because you can double your client base if you have both knitters and crocheters coming through your doors. And I understand that LYSs are their own special little thing, many started by knitters and therefore focused on knitting, but again, if you are a serious business, and want to keep your doors open, serve your customers! And honestly? If you can’t serve your customers, you are going to lose them anyway, so why not send them on over to a store who you know can help? At least that way they may return to buy yarn from you, even if they go to another shop for help (many of my crocheters do this).
“I don’t crochet because I’m not a hippie.” Do I look like a hippie?
“When people ask me whether to learn to knit or crochet, I say, that depends, do you want to make clothes or stripper clothes?” !!! I happily changed her mind and she has been crocheting several projects from my book.
“We don’t do that here.” (NYC yarn shop, c. 2005 when I was first learned what an LYS was. I did not shop at NYC yarn shops more than a handful of times in the seven years I lived there because I was afraid they would all be this way.
“Oh crochet? We have a sample in the back.” ! Surprise, another granny square. Nothing wrong with granny squares, but there’s more to crochet than that.
I tweeted about this situation and here are some of the responses I heard from crocheters around the world:
@Anne0731 My pet peeve is hiding I am a crocheter at the yarn shop!
@StitchStory I literally had a salesperson walk away from me in a yarn shop, when I told her I was looking for yarn for a #crochet project! [AND] I wonder if this craft bias is a western phenomenon?In Kuwait,Crochet is more popular than knitting!
@CraftandBurn I have been turned away a few times when asking for help with a pattern. Thanks, YouTube
But in better news…
@Sheryluvsyarn Other Houston area stores are sending crocheters to @yarntopia because we have a pro crochet rep. Their loss!
@TheLemonadeShop this is so weird because the shop I work at is split 50/50 between both! I have never run into that! How rude. :/
@ACuriousGirl I think it’s crazy yarn shops are anti-crochet when all my knitting friends are pro #solidarity
I am very hopeful that this is changing. I liked to think that people were just expecting that kind of attitude walking into yarn shops and maybe taking things a little too personally, but I’ve heard too many stories from real live customers who walk in our doors and are SO EXCITED to see that we have just as many crochet samples as we do knit, many cubbies in the book shelf dedicated to crochet, 5 different brands of hooks!!! (Bates, Boye, Clover, Chiaogoo, and now Addi Clicks) and most importantly, REAL LIVE PATTERN SUPPORT.
Don’t get me wrong–I love knitting. I knit too. I help knitters with their questions as often as I help crocheters. I just don’t understand why crocheters should get the short end of the stick when they are spending just as much money at LYS. Don’t tell me they don’t spend money at your LYS- I’ve had crocheters come in and drop $400 on nice yarn–didn’t even bother to ask if we had classes or books, because they just assumed we didn’t. Whether you know it or not, crocheters already ARE shopping at your yarn shop. Imagine how much more you could sell if you actually reached out to them? At Yarnivore, if someone comes in asking for shiny material to tie flies for fishing (this has happened), we help them. We don’t say, “Oh no, you cannot use that glittery roving for fishing!” I don’t care what you are doing with your yarn, I am here to sell it to you!
I dream of a world where crocheters have a community in their LYS just the same way that knitters do. I don’t think it’s 100 percent up to the yarn shop, but I know it has to start somewhere. If you’re a crocheter who has been hiding your hooks, fess up. If your yarn shop treats you like dirt, shop online. To go so far as to lie about the safety of a crocheted item to trick your customer into knitting? It’s just ridiculous.
If you’re a yarn store owner with questions about how to appeal to crocheters? Start by hiring one. Even one day a week will make a difference in the shop–and it may be a slow build. I started off only teaching at the Bozeman Yarn shop and no one signed up for my classes. Then I graduated to working there a couple days a week, and once people knew who I was, they started signing up. Since I’ve left? They continue to have crochet classes–even more than when I was there, taught by a number of local crocheters. If you can’t afford to hire someone, at least arrange an exchange wherein they will give private lessons in your store (therefore you pay nothing, but still get the sales of yarn and tools needed for the lesson). Ask a crocheter to work up several–not just one–samples for you. You can find a number of gorgeous patterns on Ravelry, and use their in-store sales program so that you don’t even have to invest in having “in stock” patterns. Choose a 1 or 2 skein pattern and a nice quality yarn, not the cheapest stuff in the store. And if you do nothing else? Don’t spread lies about crochet. Keep your mouth shut. There’s no reason to make someone who loves their hobby feel inferior to you. None.